Sunday, May 15, 2011

The refit.....early days

After our welcoming party at Challenger Harbour themed appropriately as Doctors and Nurses, The Doc was beginning to feel like home. Our early sails on her were tentative and were more a matter of just feeling our way into this very new sailing experience. The centre cockpit was fine and the helming position was such that you could sit on the aft cabin top and steer with your foot. If you tired of that whip on the Course Master auto- pilot, and lounge along the teak cock-pit seats, lifting your head every now and then to check ahead and to count the number of S&S 30s, 34s or 39s you happen to be passing. We were used to 6kts and the occasional 7s on Norlee but this brute was idling at 7 kts and 8s were becoming the favoured cruising speed. Even with her tired old headsail, hideous wire halyards and corroded blocks and sheaves we could see this was going to a fun boat to sail. And so we proceeded to have some fun for the first year with sails down to Busselton,  Rotto and Garden Island taking up our weekends and holidays. What about the refit I hear you say. Well, it’s coming. We ended up building a house on a block on the canals in Port Geographe, initially for investment but the idea of living away from the city and sailing Geographe Bay was something we often thought about. When a Head of English position was advertised in the West for a school in Busselton it seemed too good to say no. We arrived in Busselton at the start of 2008 and lived aboard The Doc for the first 6 months while the house was being finished off. Once we were comfortably land dwellers and work was more or less under control, Diana decided to retire and apply for the position of Boat Refit Project Officer. There was only one application so, after a gruelling interview at a restaurant in town she had the job. The first thing you do on a refit is to write out a list and we had two: one general and one electrical and they went into the little blue book. Looking at them, turning page after page I suddenly had a thought, why don’t we just buy a new boat? There were a few must dos but there were also a lot of “ extras” that from our previous cruising experience we knew would make our life more comfortable. I’m going to write out the lists now just to give you some idea of the scale of the project and to give anyone considering a refit what it might involve:
Fly screens
Window coverings
Cockpit cushions upholstery
Perspex windows replace
HF tuner get working
Storage hatch/dinghy wheels
Wind generator
Solar panels
Service winches
Re-veneer  table
Replace cupboard latches (34)
Battery covers
Recondition propeller
Led lights down below
Re-rig standing rigging
Mast repaint and refurbish replace running rigging, sheaves...
Deck wash bow and stern
Cover anchor well
New hatches plus fit new hatch over saloon table
Pressure water
Hot water system to fit
Fit new solid boom vang
Fit double sink
Replace canvas dodger with fibreglass
Build bimini shade over wheel and get covers
Build davits and solar frame
Repair rot and cracks in deck, then bog, fair, bog fair bog and fair before priming
Paint deck including gloss on trim and coach roof
Remove eutectic fridge and replace with 12 volt isotherm system
Repaint old fridge for freezer use
Replace all batteries
Fit freshwater shower on swim platform
Replace all instruments with Raymarine ST 60
Replace anchor chain and buy 2 new anchors
Sand and revarnish interior teak
Check existing life raft and replace if necessary
Recondition fresh water cooling system
Fit new exhaust muffler
OK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! enough I hear you say.....well that covers most of the biggish jobs but along the way you do a myriad of smaller things that all add up. Now, onto the electrical list.......are you ready????
Fit 12volt sockets
Replace all nav lights with led
Rewire all electrical appliances and re-route tinned wire to a new switch board
Wire up solar panels, wind generator
Fit new cabin lights
Fit new 240 volt sockets
Wire deck wash and pressure water system
Fit new mast head lights
Wire dodger speakers and lights
Fit new v-berth reading lights
There was more done but I think you are getting the idea of the what a list of jobs really means when you come to refit an older boat that has not had quality TLC for a large part of her life. Needless to say, we have crossed off almost every one of those jobs and are now waiting on the arrival of our water maker and it to be fitted and then we are gone dear readers, gone, gone, gone and gone. To tell the detailed story of the refit, the moments of despair when the boat looked like an amateur shipwright’s experiment to the moments of joyous hysteria when hot pressure water flowed through taps would take pages and pages and probably be of interest to those who suffered their way through so I’ll spare you the saga. Special mention needs to be made to a few people who were with us all the way. Project manager D Neggo excelled in her position and definitely earned her bonus (unlimited brekky in bed). She researched everything, coordinated workers, refitted both heads, sanded, drilled, designed and help build the dodger and was driven by an energy that was staggering. Our shipwright, Brian McRae, was an elusive tradesman you are lucky to get hold of. He doesn’t advertise his services and if he chooses to help you, it’s a blessing. He chose to help us with this massive job and over a period of about 2 years together we slowly chewed through the list. Our sparky was another quality tradesman by the name of Kevin Smith and I’ll never forget seeing him up the top of our 20 m mast with soldering iron in hand wiring up a new mast head light, then heat shrinking the connection just to finish off the job. We have been blessed to have quality tradesmen who, in retirement, did not charge the usually prohibitive rates most marine trades hit you with. Total cost of refit and I know this is probably the most interesting bit:...... approximately 70,000. Add that to the 130,000 for the boat and you’re looking at a very comfortable live aboard yacht that will be our home for years to come. 

So, I’m sitting now at the nav station and when I go up on deck I see a stylish hard
dodger, new windows, a solid, freshly painted deck, a davit frame that holds a dinghy, solar panels and a brute of a wind generator, new stainless hand holds, a new bimini, new life raft and a cover over the anchor well that somehow finishes off the boat. What is not so obvious are the 12 hour days when the boat was on the hard in Bunbury and we had drive back in the dark, the hot sweaty days of sanding, bogging, fairing and priming. The waiting for tradies to get jobs done so other jobs could go ahead, the endless trips to Bunnings, Whitworths, Bias and the discovery of West marine online chandlery service. The dust, dirt and mess that greeted us every time we went down to the boat. But, it all comes to an end at some point. We have been living aboard in Challenger Harbour since early March finishing off the list and getting ready to throw off the mooring lines to a new life. It’s now the 15th of May and we should have been gone but the water-maker has had delays in getting here. It will be here on the 18th and hopefully fitted by the 20th and, dear readers; we will be gone on the 21st.., permitting of course.
 Next report will be on route to anchorages north, stay tuned. Rob

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