There she was: The brand new 46 feet sailing yacht ready for delivery floating in one of our berths. Ready? Well, not quite: It´s still one week till the big day when we hand over the keys to the boat to her new owner and as one might acknowledge with ease: There´s still a lot of work ahead until this yacht can cast off and hoist her proud sails indeed.
This article is about the countless hours that pour in the task of readying the boat, getting her rigged and approved from all suppliers and subdealers before she can finally be handed over along with the documents and leave for the sea to stand her ground in the adventures to come.
Getting the Yacht from the Yard to the Home Port
It´s now 5 days after the warranted date of delivery of our transportation partner when the boat finally arrived at our marina. Five days late – that´s normally a no-go for the business and one week behind schedule can be a matter of a delicate penitent fee but in this case the delay wasn´t the fault of the yard in France, the transportation company nor road conditions: Flatly, it was a political decision.
We´ve had the G20 summit in Hamburg and since heavy goods transports – like the one of our 15 meters long yacht – need Police escorts through sensible areas in Germany, it have been the very last 7 kilometres of the long trip the boat had from the yard at the Atlantic Ocean coast to the Baltic Sea which are causing trouble. Those last 7 kilometres would lead the heavy-duty truck through a small town with narrow streets, roundabouts and loads of traffic. But there´s no Policemen available due to the summit thus the transport has to wait. Five days.
Finally it arrived and when I inspected the yachts I was relieved of not finding any spots, glitches or damages at the hull. Leaving a 400.000 Euro-yacht for five days on a Autobahn parking lot makes me nervous, but in this case the boat arrives in perfect condition at our marina. Time to bring her to the water and into her berth.
Unpacking a huge Gift Box
Since the Volvo Penta engine had been up and running for engine tests back at the yard in France, we only had to mount one steering wheel to drive her the first eights of a mile from the docking crane to her provisional berth in front of our office. There she is. A true beauty! Unfinished yet, but still a proud hull, flush sleek lines. I like it. Going down below deck is a different thing though.
In the saloon and the cabins a lot of stuff is piled up: Stacks of cushion, the boom, huge sacks of sails and plenty of accessory is stowed here seemingly without any system. Electronic parts which have not been installed yet as well as the owner´s specially ordered fittings. It takes two hours to empty the boat and pile up the accessories for a thorough index.
Besides, anything else is working and properly installed: Lights, pumps, showers, drainage, bow thruster system, galley stuff like stove and fridge and most of the electronic fittings like VHF radio. Some others are not: The safety equipment and of course the whole rigging is still missing: Our job for the days to come.
Completing the Yard´s Work
I´m first attaching some fenders to our hull as the berths next to the boat are frequently used by fellow skippers. Then I begin to assemble the reeling and put up the fence on either side of the boat: Which is of course a good occasion to thoroughly check for the quality of the Teak decking batten by batten – the yard made a good job here!
Setting up the reeling is a no-brainer. You just poke in the pales to the mounts and do some cranks on the grub screw to tighten the whole system. The reeling is delivered with properly cut wires so that this action just takes some 20 minutes for the whole boat. Nice!
The boat is now one step closer to being a proper sailing yacht. At the same time a fellow cleaning worker takes up her rag and cleanser and will scrub the boat´s interior thoroughly. First she cleans the whole boat. Then she is going to give the wooden veneers and massive wooden fittings a good scrub with some caring oils and lubes to message a nice deep gloss into the wood.
Rigging the Boat
The next day the professional riggers take up the job. It takes some three hours to assemble the huge mast for the 46 feet boat. Running lines for the running rigging have to be inserted, the spreaders and the shrouds are fitted, electric cables, navigational lights, VHF antenna, Windex and all the stuff needed are mounted and tested thoroughly. Then a huge crane picks up the mast. Two people directing it over the mast shoe.
“That´s the moment we would have to place a silver coin under the mast”, I tell my mate who is also watching this great moment, but we refrain from fulfilling a century old boatbuilder´s tradition for corrosive reasons of different metals. The mast fits just neatly. We sigh a gasp of relief.
Now the backstays are fitted and tightened as well as the Furlex-system for the mainstay. Shrouds are fitted to the chain plates and then it takes nearly one full hour for the two people to fit the mast to perfection: From time to time they will go away to bring some distance to the boat to observe the perfect curvature of the mast as well as his proper and perfect longitudinal position right in the center of the boat´s cabin roof.
When the riggers fulfilled their tasks, the sailmakers arrive right on time to do theirs: Unpacking the huge sails, fitting of the running rigging, halyards and sheets. Bringing them down the mast, through the boom, along all the rolls and blocks and finally through the clamps on the cockpit roof. That´s a lot to do on a boat this size and after three or four hours everything fits just fine.
After the sailmakers our friends, the saddlers arrive to mount the specially ordered and custom made lazy bag with a matching sprayhood and cockpit upholstery. A nice and individual touch to the boat that will ultimately set her apart from her sister ships of the same type.
Sea Trial and Delivery
One day before the owner arrives our friends from Raymarine and Volvo Penta arrive to have a check on the instruments: VHF and DSC are tested, chart plotter, auto pilot and slave instruments are calibrated and checked for function. We inspect the maintenance parts of the engine like coolant, oil, drive belt and impeller, we have a look at all valves and check the electric toilets for proper function a last time. The boat is ready to be delivered.
It´s a perfect Saturday morning when the new owner arrives. He is in a light mood and even though he receives his yacht with a one week delay he is full of joy. That´s because the boat is perfectly fitted, clean, has this “new car smell” and the sunshine, not the least the huge gift basket, do their part to satisfy the owner. I am equipped with a long list full of items to be crossed off: We are going through the ship together one by one to check for every item. The owner has to approve for proper functioning of … well, of everything.
It takes nearly two hours to check for every switch, lamp, valve, stove, cushion, function, stowage, fastener, light, gauge and stuff until I can say: “And now for the sea trial, Sir!”. We are casting off. It´s just a light breeze, not merely 9 knots of wind and after we´ve tested the boat at all engine speeds and the full functioning of the rudder, I hoist the sails (no problem with an electric winch) and it is precisely this very moment, when the new owner kills the engine and the boats sails gently along at 5.2 knots – this very moment, when I know: She is now his boat. He looks at me. He nods. And then his mind flies away as he blinks in the sun and … smiles.
Other interesting articles on that topic:
Sailing the Dufour Grand Large 460
A Day at Luffe Yachts in Denmark
My absolute favorite dream yacht: Alubat Cigale 14