My husband and I borrowed a car and went into town to grab some groceries. We ran into another boat owner at the local Greek AB Grocery store. He asked us if we’d be moving on soon and we replied enthusiastically, ‘YES’! We’ve just finished a six-week period on the hard with our boat, Britican, undergoing a major refit. Now that we’re finally back in the water, we’re super excited to get going.
The boat owner didn’t reply to the same question so enthusiastically
He responded by saying, ‘when I purchased the boat I thought it was in better shape than I was led to believe. Now that I own it and have scratched below the surface I’ve realized that it might be quite some time before I can get in the water.’
Interestingly, I felt as if we could have said the same thing a year earlier – we were definitely led to believe the boat was in much better shape than it actually was.
I wonder how many other used boat owners nod knowingly at this tale of woe?
The guy at the grocery store was starting his ‘refit’ journey whereas we’ve just finished ours (I hope)! Watch the video below showcasing the final stages of our refit. Afterwards, continue reading below to finish the article 🙂
So, what is a refit and what happens when a boat undergoes a refit?
I thought it was the process of taking a boat into a shed, stripping it down and replacing everything. What I’ve come to learn, however, is a refit can include processes such as major engine servicing, rigging replacement, rewiring, new fixtures/furnishings, or servicing of the various components. It can be one item or several.
Over the course of three separate periods we’ve endured a serious refit process
Before the autumn of our first year sailing, we unexpectedly spent three weeks in Preveza, Greece taking apart our engine and generator, servicing all the components and then rebuilding and painting the engines. Thanks to Andrea Blasi, one of the most amazing boat engineers I know, our engines work and look as if they’re brand spanking new.
Our repairs were unexpected – we thought our engines were in good shape! Boy, were we wrong.
Read my article, ‘We’re not idiots abroad – we’re idiots on a boat’ to fully understand the process we went through.
After our engines were glistening in the light we left Preveza, Greece and ‘wintered’ in Marina di Ragusa, Sicily. For the six months we were stationed in the marina, a company named Stella Maris (previously Andy Willet Services) helped us to do a variety of things.
The team from Stella Maris (bases located in Southampton, Sicily and Spain) fixed leaks, changed electrics, installed an exhaust fan for our massive battery bank, changed pumps, taught us how to maintain our teak deck and properly polish the boat, fixed our safety lines, had our cockpit table varnished, helped to remove and replace our sails and running rigging, sourced and delivered required parts and on and on.
The team at Stella Maris has been top-notch
I would recommend anyone sailing in England or the Med to get in touch with this company – they truly are a class act.
Speaking of sails, we ordered a new main and genoa from Sanders Sails in Lymington, UK
Our previous boat was a Moody 346, based in the UK, and having dealt with Saunders Sails in the past, we were once again delighted with the service and quality offered.
When we were in the UK during a Christmas visit with family we enjoyed a tour of the Sanders loft and witnessed first hand how our sails were being made. Every day I hear from cruisers disgruntled by a wide variety of sail makers, so it’s important to seek out good recommendations. My husband and I have been extremely pleased with Sanders. The quality of the sails is great. They were delivered on time. And the cost was sensible.
After our stay in Marina di Ragusa, my husband, a friend (Murray), my daughter and I all sailed 47 hours back over to Preveza, Greece. The plan was to have the boat pulled out of the water, placed on the hard and the final bits of our refit finished.
The ‘final’ bits were the scariest!
Within a day our boat was hauled out of the water. Watching our 33-ton house being moved made my stomach twist and turn. When the boat came out you could hear a variety of noises – creeks and groans. It’s as if the boat knows that it’s going to have to live in a foreign dry environment and isn’t happy.
Not long after Britican was propped up over scaffolding, the boom and mast came down. The cost to hire the crane for the mast removal made my eye’s water. You can only imagine how I felt when I saw the fees for new rigging (rigging is the wiring/metal ropes that hold the mast in place – there’s a backstay, forestay, shrouds and all those wires between the spreaders). Not cheap!
The main reasons for our rigging change came down to insurance and safety purposes
After ten years insurance companies get funny about rigging. They’ll insure you for a de-masting (mast breaks off) but after the 10 years the percentage they’ll cover starts dropping from 100%.
Our boat was made in 2003 so we were overdue for a rigging change. Furthermore, we felt it would be less expensive to do the big job in our own neighborhood rather than sourcing a reliable provider in the Caribbean or Pacific. And of course, we need to consider safety!
As a side note, if you ever buy a sailboat keep in mind that it’s a huge cost to have the rigging changed
Make sure to ask the previous owner when the rigging was last changed (or if it was ever changed) and figure the potential cost into your negotiations.
Aside from having our rigging renewed, we had our rudder serviced, the hull scrapped back and antifouling painted on. The prop was cleaned, the anchor repainted and marked with colors for depth indicators. We also had the material surrounding our engine and generator bays replaced – the old stuff was disintegrating and the dust was clogging up the engine! Our front saloon windows – the element that makes our boat a deck saloon – were taken off, stripped back, primed and repainted.
My husband sent our safety raft off for servicing, our steering wiring was replaced, a new watertight fuse box was installed, our windless was changed (we broke the last one by neglecting to loosen the winch when using it to tighten marina lazy lines!)
Sounds like quite a bit – yes? Well…it’s been a journey
The plan is to make our way to Grand Canaria by November this year and then sail across the Atlantic with the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. And the…we’ll keep on sailing – perhaps we’ll make it around the world.
And the amazing guy that’s done our final refit is Vittorio Malingri – a very famous professional sailor. Vittorio has been around the world and crossed the various oceans many times. When he was 16 his family went around the world – since that trip he’s never left the sea. He’s competed in the famous Vendee Globe race – solo around the world non-stop with no assistance. If you want to read my story about how we found Vittorio at a chance meeting (in the middle of a bay), read: The trials of a new boat owner – a tale of coincidence, corruption and contempt for the marine industry
From our perspective, we’ve done everything we can to make our boat as safe and comfortable as possible for our trip. Is it overkill? Perhaps? I don’t know. I don’t think so. Between Andrea Blasi, Vittorio Malingri, Stella Maris and Saunders I think we’ve formed a pretty amazing team of people that truly want to see us enjoy a safe and successful voyage.
From a logical perspective, I think we’re covering everything that’s really important for a 3 – 5 year world circumnavigation
Ironically, we purchase this particular 56’ Oyster because the previous owner apparently spent a fortune getting the boat ready for the same trip – a world circumnavigation!!!!
So…coming back to the beginning of the article…Just like the man we met at the grocery store in Greece, when we purchased our boat we thought it was in better shape than we were led to believe!
At least the person who buys our boat when we’re finished will have a recorded history (on the Internet, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter…) about all the love, attention and money that’s been paid into Britican.