Blog 1 - The Foxy Lady in Bits and Pieces
This is a bit about the boat, how I got her and what we did to get her in shape. For you more salty readers I will put some more detail in here. I know these sort of blogs helped us a lot when we were making our preparations. My sincere apologies for boring our more land-bound friends. I’ll put down a complete list of jobs completed and an equipment list at the end of this blog but here is the main info.
The pedigree information
Model: Voyage 12.5
Year of construction: 1989
LOA: 12.50 mtr
LWL: 10.15 mtr
Beam: 4.05 mtr
Drau;ght: 1.65 mtr
Lightship displacement: 9800 kg
Ballast weight: 3350 kg
Registered tonnage: 16.81 mT
Engine: Perkins Prima M50
Sleeping accommodation: 10 berths
Cabins: 3 x bedroom, 1 x saloon and galley, 2 x head and shower
Fresh water tanks: 450 ltr
Diesel fuel tank: 160 ltr
- Main Sail, 31m2, 8.77 Oz / 372gr, High Modulus Marblehead Dacron, cross-cut
- 135% Genoa, 43.3 m2, 8.77 Oz / 372gr, High Modulus Marblehead Dacron, cross-cut
- Asymmetrical Spinnaker, 105 m2, 1.5 Oz full radial ripstop Nylon with snuffer
- Main Sail, Dacron (Spare on board)
- 100% Jib, Dacron (Spare on board)
- 130% Genoa, Dacron (Spare stored in the Netherlands)
How not to buy a boat
Since we were used to sailing a 33 foot steel yacht we knew that this would not be suitable for our ambitions. This boat was going to be our home for the foreseeable future and I’d definitely like to be able to stand up straight everywhere and turn around inside without knocking 386 things over. So I tried to do it right, digging around on the internet in search of a ketch rigged yacht, at least 40 feet in length, with strong bones. And I found her, in Greece. But as I was organizing flight tickets to go and see her, I received an e-mail from my good friend Willem. The guy that actually taught us how to sail had come across a 41 foot Jeanneau Voyage which was going under the hammer in an internet auction. What to do? I was out at sea working so I could not go and inspect the boat. But how bad can it be? If I could get this for a steal, the money I save I can invest to fit her out just the way I want to… right?
I’m a firm believer that realizing your dreams means you are going to have to take certain risks. Taking chances with big decisions had brought me many beautiful things in my life so far. So after a few clicks of the mouse and a few buckets of sweat pouring down my back. I was the proud owner of a 25 year old sailboat which I had never seen, and all my savings were gone. Quite an unnerving feeling.
The Foxy Lady as I found her
Clenching my steering wheel but with a big smile on my face I took the 3.5 hour drive into our neighboring country Belgium, where the Lady was kept on the hard. My dad came with me. On arrival our first impression was ok, I mean it had all the bits: keel, mast, rudder, winches. Although she looked like she was in need of some “sweet sweet loving”, the inspection of hull and rudder construction, keel connection, rig and the most important things on a sailboat was satisfactory. She even had a fresh coat of antifouling. Only after we found a dodgy ladder to go up on deck and inside the amount of work needed became clear. Apparently the previous owner had not set foot on board in the last 4 years and she was no longer sailed. Which is disastrous for a sailboat as the salt and sunlight slowly consume her as she just sits there. We also heard that at some point she had popped a hose on a toilet and sank in its berth. Bringing the water level inside up above the floorboards. Long story short: Most of the wiring was wasted, everything that is supposed to run smooth was stuck, everything that is supposed to be solid was loose, all upholstery and matrasses were moldy as were the ceilings and walls. But let me tell you this guys… she might have been smelly but she was mine, and I fell in love with her beautiful lines straight away. So we opened the now luke-warm bottle of champagne to celebrate and rolled up our sleeves.
Step 1: Get her afloat!
The first step was to try and get her back in her element, but there were a number of things that had to be checked and/or done before we could do that. Since all seacock valves on the thru hulls were corroded and stuck in the open position they were all removed and replaced, Luckily Jeanneau had fitted very strong looking thru hull fittings originally. Since we replaced all valves we also renewed all hoses on the engine intake, toilets, showers and sinks. For some reason none of these had breathers in them so I fitted them as well. Then it was the engine. It looked dirty but started at the first turn of the key. Wow! I did not expect that! Topped up fluids and had a local mechanic check it over as me and a friend applied an extra coat of antifouling. I had to replace the throttle handle mechanism and cables because they were corroded. It took me, some friends and my girlfriend at the time about 2 weeks to empty all cabinets, throw away stuff, keep stuff, and clean the boat in- and outside top to bottom. And then finally she went back in. No leaks... that is what I call a job well done. Thanks to everyone who helped out!
Step 2: Make her sail!
Since she was now back in her element I was naturally very curious how she sailed. So I inspected the mast, chain-plates and standing rigging. I found 1 broken strand in the forestay so I replaced this one, also the furler systems needed servicing. Since all blocks and pulleys were stuck these were all disassembled, cleaned, replaced a bearing here and there, greased and put back together. Changed out dodgy falls and sheets and fitted the old sails that actually still look pretty good. The first sail was beautiful, on a sunny day up and down the Belgian coast. She handled well, trimmed ok, sailed a stable course and was pretty fast. By the time we headed back the fall had wrapped itself around the Genoa furler so it was a very embarrassing sail back into port with the genoa tied back to the forestay. But a few small adjustments fixed this easily. I felt very happy.
Step 3: Electrics
Since most of the wiring on the lady was dodgy and corroded, the instruments did not work properly and the batteries could not be charged. I could have done it myself but I’m simply more of a mechanic then an electrician. It would have taken me years and it would probably still not be a professional job. So I decided to pull my wallet and have the job done properly. I sailed the Lady to the Netherlands where I found a very good electrician to do the electrical refit. He cleaned up the distribution panel and placed a new charger, inverter, batteries and main wiring. Replaced all instrumentation, fitted a plotter and new radar, AIS, solar panel, and changed out all navigation lighting to LED. I have changed out all cabin lighting to LED as well. I’ve tried to repair the anchor winch as the gears and bearings inside were wasted, but could not find the replacement parts. So he also replaced the anchor winch.
Step 4: Turn her into a comfortable home
I took quite a bit of time to turn the lady into my home, starting with the big stuff like all the woodwork in the cabins, replacing or fixing all rotten parts and varnishing the floor again. Since all upholstery was beyond saving I had everything made new, including all matrasses to size. The bunk bed in the starboard aft cabin was sacrificed to become storage for tools, dive gear and spare parts. The reason so many things were moldy or rotten is that we had quite a lot of leaks coming from windows and such, so the ones that leaked were removed, cleaned up and placed back with new sealant. This was going to be an ongoing job on the lady as new leaks seemed to appear every few months. As I write this we’ve made it all the way into the pacific and as I look around I believe every window has been out at some point, and there is still work to do. Just shows…. A yacht is never finished.
Step 5: Cosmetics
The 4th and last year we hauled the lady out again and got to work on the cosmetics. We started by scraping off all antifouling paint. This is the paint under the waterline that slowly wears down while sailing and prevents marine growth on the hull. It’s pretty interesting to dig into the history of the boat like this with every layer, in some places 7 layers thick. We scraped her down to the very strong original primer and in some places all the way to the gel-coat. Re-sealed the keel to hull connection with a self-vulcanizing rubber and sanded the whole underwater ship. As a coatingsystem I went with 1 layer of intermediate primer and 2 layers of soft anti-fouling of contrasting color. I use different colors as it makes it not only easy to check your coverage during application, but also makes it easier to monitor the coating wear until recoating is required.
Next we tackled the freeboard, the ugly old waterline was removed and a new one painted on. Also all scratches and dents left to us by the previous owner were sanded out and repaired. If you never worked with gel-coat before, it is best to get some help from someone who has. It proved more difficult than expected and I would not like to do it again. We put the lady thru a 5 step polishing and wax program to bring her back to a mirror shine and had the name and port of registry put on again.
Step 6: Check the bank account
After you’ve spent a few years and a lot of money doing all the above and below, you’re once sufficient funds may no longer be so sufficient. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Since you will probably not return for a good few years, your accumulation of expensive and completely unnecessary crap bestowed upon you by western culture can be sold! So get rid of the house, get rid of the car, bike, fridge, washing machine, sofa, tv etc etc to fatten the cruising kitty and I’m sure everyone will have enough money to keep going for at least the first year. Trust me, when you’re knee deep in a beautiful valley stream, beating your laundry against a rock, the last thing you’ll be missing is that expensive washing machine.
A last word of advice: Think big!
We are just a couple of guys trying to follow our dreams and doing all this for the very first time. And there are a lot of things we would have done differently. We like a bit of comfort but also meet a lot of cruisers that don’t even have a fridge on board. Your most important first job is to figure out which one you are! A set of good paper charts, a sextant and a good pair of eyes can get you around the world. But if you’re like us and are planning to make long passages and sailing the remote destinations of our world in relative comfort, you have to think big, and I’m afraid you’ll have to spend the money.
One of the biggest struggles on the lady is power. You will soon realize that efficiency beats cosmetics every single time. If I had to start this project all over again I would build a big stainless steel frame on the back of the boat to carry the dinghy, the wind charger and at least 500 watts of solid solar panels. Also a self-steering wind vane instead of the autopilot would help us a lot reducing the power consumed on passage. Bear in mind that sailing the trade winds is mostly broad reaching or downwind sailing, so a tow-generator to supplement the wind generator (which is great at anchor) is definitely something to think about.
Then there is fresh water. Me and my crew don’t mind being salty so our shower pretty much consist of the sea, and a bucket on a rope (buy shampoo that foams in salt water!) Our drinking water is always bottled and we do dishes with seawater. Like this our 450 liters of fresh water lasts about 1.5 months for 3 persons, less when we have to rinse our dive gear a lot. But most yachts have a reverse osmosis machine to turn seawater in to drinkable fresh water. We sometimes spend a whole day carrying fresh water from a tap or clean stream back and forth to the boat in jerry cans, we don’t really mind. But with this and a dive compressor we would be completely self-sufficient.
- 45 lbs CQR anchor with 65 meters of 10 mm galvanized chain
- Drogue sea anchor
- 10 kg umbrella dinghy anchor
- Maxwell HRC10-10 1000Watt electric windlass
- 35 meters of 10 mm galvanized chain (spare)
- Plastimo cruiser ORC life raft
- SART active radar beacon
- 1x Personal AIS locator beacon
- 12 x rocket parachute flares
- Signaling mirror
- Handheld submersible VHF radio including spare batteries
- Iridium GO satellite phone
Navigation and instrumentation:
- Raymarine VHF 60, DSC and dual watch enabled VHF radio
- Raymarine C95, MFD plotter running Navionics charts
- Raymarine Autohelm 2000 type S, autopilot with P70 control unit (electric, linear drive)
- Raymarine Radome, 5 kW RADAR system
- Raymarine I50, depth and speed system
- Raymarine I60, wind system
- Raymarine AIS 650 transponder
- 1x Perkins 35 Amp alternator
- 1x Mastervolt 70-3, 70 Amp battery charger
- 1x Solara walkover 68 Watt solar panel with MPPT controller
- 2x Victron solid 100 Watt solar panels with MPPT controller
- 1x Rutland 914i wind charger with MPPT controller
Now for the complete list of jobs done on the boat I have to really dig in my memories of the last 5 years, but I’ll do my best and you will have an idea of the time and effort that goes into restoring a boat like this:
- Repair, sand and paint bottom hull
- Gelcoat repairs freeboard
- Renew striping and lettering freeboard and transom
- Repair anode supports
- Remove all windows and renew sealants
- Remove and repair deck hatches and renew sealants
- Replace all water and diesel tank fill fittings/hoses
- Clean out all water and diesel tanks
- Replace all 8 seacock valves
- Replace all hoses to toilets, sinks and engine
- Place breathers in all hoses to toilets
- Replace seals and plungers in toilet pumps
- Repair boiler and PRV
- Remove, repair, sand and varnish floor
- Repair, sand and varnish remaining damaged wood work
- Replace several hinges, door handles and locks
- Replace ceiling front cabin
- Replace ceiling front head
- Repair or replace all blocks and pulleys
- Replace all worn down halyards, sheets and miscellaneous ropes
- Service all 7 winches
- Service boom and whiskerpole
- Repair mast fittings and trimmings
- Replace sails
- Replace rigging wires
- Change all inside lighting to LED
- Change navigation lighting to LED
- Replace all matrasses and upholstery
- Replace all cooking gas lines
- Replace shower lines
- Install new batteries and main switches
- Remove all redundant and replace damaged wiring
- Install new cable conduits and glands
- Install new instrumentation
- Install new inverter
- Install new battery charger
- Replace shore power fitting
- Renew cables to mast lighting
- Pull and connect cables to all new electronics
- Renew fuse holder and fuses
- Install new anchor winch
- Replace anchor winch foot switches
- Replace fresh water pump
- Repair fresh water consumption meter
- Replace all engine belts, fluids and filters
- Re-wire engine stop controls
- Repair engine room exhaust fan
- Repair raw cooling water pump
- Renew propeller shaft stuffing box gland
- Clean / service propeller and replace anode
- Replace throttle handle mechanism and cables
- Replace seals and closing mechanisms cockpit lockers
Written by Rick van Engelshoven.