Boat Projects Start Again – with Another Big Bang!

Boat Projects Start Again – with Another Big Bang!

I have read Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time. I know the universe started with a Big Bang, and as soon as it’ll be done expanding it’ll shrink again, and another Big Bang will follow. The same theory seems to apply to boat projects. Last year it wreaked havoc on our little boat, and we had to sweat for days and weeks on end to get everything back together. But in the end we had a much better boat than we started with. I’m really hoping that this spring we can pull it off again – on our new boat! During the Easter holidays we finally had time, and tolerable weather – it’s a rare thing for the two to happen at the same time during the Finnish spring – to delve into the boat matters and to take a better look at our projects.

At least the first part went exactly according to the theory: we produced a massive Big Bang inside the boat. The plan was to empty all the lockers, drawers, cabinets, shelves, bilges, lazarettes, and all other storage spaces there might be, and start cleaning up the boat. We didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped. We kept running into mysteries the whole time – a lot of tools and items neither of us could identify, or hoses and wires that didn’t seem to be going anywhere obvious. And we spotted a lot of places that had not weathered the winter so well. There are leaky portholes and hatches, buckled veneer, ice in the bilge, and mold inside a few lockers. Suddenly I felt really depressed – this was not supposed to be a project boat, at least not a huge project boat, and we are supposed to be ready to launch in exactly one month! And ready to leave this country in two months!

What a mess we made of our boat!

After we had filled five big waste bags with miscellaneous things and there was room to move around the boat again, I started to feel a little bit better. The sun lit up the space and made the mahogany glow in a really pretty shade of golden brown. It’s a spacious boat, after all! And it has standing headroom! When we got home that evening I dug up our list of hopes and wishes for our boat and went through it again. I used these symbols to mark every point we had made like this:
✅ Alright!
🔲 Not quite sure yet 
❌ On our list of boat projects

This is what the first part of the list looks like:

Our boat is…
✅ safe
✅ seaworthy
✅ well sailing
✅ solid hull, no core
✅ long fin keel
✅ skeg hung rudder
✅ keel stepped mast
✅ cutter rig 

Wow! Looks really good so far – every box ticked! And the list goes on:

Our boat has…
✅ enough space for two people for permanent, comfortable living
✅ a good sleeping cabin with a proper sized double bed
✅ 1-2 good sea berths and lee cloths for other bunks
✅ good galley with 
     ❌ fridge 
     ❌ freezer
✅ toilet with a shower
✅ spacious saloon with a good size dining table
✅ good ventilation
✅ good heater
✅ lots of hand holds and a well designed seagoing interior
✅ good, separate navigation table
✅ room for 2-4 guest
✅ an aft sleeping cabin 
✅ two separate sleeping cabins
✅ decent tankage for fuel and water
🔲 lots of storage on deck for lines, fenders, gas bottles, dinghy etc.
🔲 lots of storage for food!
🔲 lots of storage for large items

Still pretty good! Just two things absent that we find essential. Well, more specifically the first one is essential, the second a luxury. They will be installed before departure. The last three points will be determined once we start loading up the boat with food and cruising gear, but I’m already guessing the words “lots of” will have to be crossed out.

Moving on to the equipment list we start seeing more crosses… besides, we haven’t tested any of the equipment in action. I’m generally an optimist, but the realist in me says I may have to prepare for some disappointments – although the boat has been very lightly used for several years, time and particularly the long, cold, humid winters also eat away at equipment. Then again, it could be working just fine. All of the equipment on our boat was top of the line when new. 

It is equipped with…
❌ general safety equipment
❌ life raft
🔲 good ground tackle
✅ storm equipment such as storm sails, drogues etc
✅ windvane
✅ good autopilot
✅ radar
❌ plotter
✅ vhf radio
✅ ssb radio and (or) sat phone
❌ solar panels for self-sufficiency
✅ other ways to produce electricity (wind turbine)
❌ water maker
✅ good sails, also a cruising chute or similar
🔲 a good sprayhood
❌ bimini
❌ hard bottom hypalon dinghy

We are in the process of replacing the life raft. We found a reasonable deal at a boat show in February, and the new raft should be arriving any day now. While at the boat show we suddenly felt like throwing money around and also ordered a new dinghy to replace the flat lump that occupies our boat’s foredeck and doesn’t look like a very long term solution. We hope to stay out of marinas, so a good dinghy is really a must. On our way south we will make a pit stop at Gdansk, Poland, to have a stern arch for solar panels custom made for us. Watermaker will be a thing of the more distant future, as well as perhaps a new sprayhood and bimini.

Oh, the Big Anchor Question! It has been solved – here’s our new Rocna.

One big choice concerning navigation electronics still remains. Plotter or no plotter? There are a couple of different camps here with good arguments for and against. I think the whole topic of navigation – with all the associated equipment – deserves its own post, if not several. Stay tuned!

This is how the sea in front of our boat looked like during Easter – no sailing yet! But in the distance the water is free from ice and you can see boats there!

If you have tips, tricks and suggestions about equipping a cruising boat, or just want to say Hello, you can do it here!

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