It has been weeks since I´ve been in person at the building site of my new boat. Apart from the fact that a severe Influenza had caught me instantly after coming home from Duesseldorf boat show (I shall call it an epidemic as 90% of our whole team and many, many other exhibitors, dealers and friends had been down for days!) I had to wait another whole week until I was good to go, at last!
The shipyard had sent me some pictures of the progress last time and judging from a last phone call with yard-boss Heiner his team was making good progress. I couldn´t wait anymore and as I turned the keys to open the large building shed, my heart jumped: There she was, ALPHA, the beauty! And boy, Heiner hadn´t promised too much: There was quite something to see again.
Meticulous test-fitting of the deck
For the last week, as Heiner told me, the team had attached the large GRP-deck to the crane. The guys can now lower the deck time after time to check the form-fit and force-fit accuracy of the whole fit. As almost all bulkheads (the last one is yet to be mounted) are already laminated to the hull, this meticulous work is needed to check the upper sides of the bulkheads: We do not want any movement, screeching sounds or slackness in the end!
They had raised the deck to some 50 centimeters of distance to the hull and placed a little ladder for me so that I could come aboard. As I stood in awe at ALPHA´s stern I texted to Heiner: “I cannot describe how awesome this feels!” And it´s true: This is a huge, huge, huge boat and it is very hard to find words to describe my feelings. There are so many corners to check, so many things to see, so many answers that pop up, much more questions that arise. So, let´s calm down, check the boat from stern to front then …
Omega 42 aft section: Huge stowage!
Standing on the building rack I peered into the last part of the boat. The Omega 42 has huge overhangs, of which the knife-sharp bow is most impressive. But also the long sleek aft section is very beautiful. Underneath I´d say surely 3 meters of open volume are there to be utilized. A huge chunk of space hidden!
This is where the tiller mounting and everything connected to the steering mechanism will be fitted, the strong auto-pilot as well. Also, in the aft part, lockers for fenders and docking lines will be situated. That´s a lot of space there. I also plan to fit a jacket for a foldable gangway here since ALPHA will of course be moored stern-first at least in her second or third season when I am going to bring her to the Mediterranean.
Partitioning the boat´s stern into “interior” and “exterior” is the said last bulkhead. The guys have roughly brought the large wooden piece to shape and placed it on its very position. In the coming days this bulkhead – as all the others as well – will be glued to the hull with a string bonding agent including a kind of spacer made of synthetic material. Then the bulkhead will be laminated to the hull to form a rigid unshakable bond.
The “interior” of the aft section in ALPHA, according to the general layout plan, will be a pilot berth to port side with a large bunk and, rounding the engine housing, a large locker room to starboard side. The guys have already begun to fit the subconstruction for the deck here as I could clearly notice. Here I will be able to store spare parts, equipment, spare sails and all the stuff a cruising yacht needs to have aboard.
Vis-à-vis in the pilot´s berth I saw the Styrofoam mock-up model of the Diesel fuel tank. The crew as also finished the Diesel-engine housing already and fitted the base mounting for engine and saildrive. I guess when the deck-fitting is done, this is the first major technical installation the guys will do – and I am so excited to document this part of the building process in detail!
Hard to imagine …
Standing there and looking back it´s hard to imagine the deck being fitted. I can clearly see the shape of the seating benches and above me, hovering, the positive “cast” of the deck almost there in place, yet it´s still almost not comprehendible how it will be like. There is still so much to do here: Felt for the walls, paint, panels, heat and noise-damping and some lights. It´s still very raw.
But also it´s getting there, step by step. Heiner´s team working on my boat comprised five specialized people of which two to three are constantly working on the boat. Depending on the specific jobs, things cn change now very quickly. Many questions will have to be answered soon which will determine the looks of the boat forever. Just like this one: “How are you guys planning to make the entryway ladder down into the salon?”, for example. I texted this to Heiner – now we are discussion the different possibilities, iterations and cost of course.
Huge progress amidship
I leave the almost barren aft section and go forward. Entering the galley area from the quarter berth I detect a big new locker. It´s a two-part big cupboard that will either house clothing or – most likely – cutlery and crookery for the galley. As usual, the team has made a simple and neat approach for the solution, something I really like about Heiner.
On the opposite side of the galley all bulkheads and walls of the bathroom are in place. The one and only door will be here and I rejoice seeing the nicely shaped light bend doorjamb. They have taken out the GRP-floor of this cabin for laminating and fitting the massive wooden walls of this room, but I can spot marks there.
On the picture above to the right side of the WC´s door you can see the massive main bulkhead. This is where the entryway ladder will be mounted. Five (or maybe six?) steps to the cockpit. This ladder is not just a central part of the boat´s interior as it must ensure a safe and fast passage from down above and vice versa, it will be a deciding detail design-wise as it will be defining the salon visually. I am going to post a dedicated article on the ladder-concept and making soon.
Like Damocles´ sword …
Sitting down on the benches in the salon I raise my face. The massive deck is floating above my head. It looks so nimble and light, yet it´s a huge and heavy part apparently. Like Damocles´ sword it´s hanging there. Looking at this I realize just how big my new boat in reality is: Something completely different for now!
As the salon´s furniture is finished in principal (the guys are working on the floorboards as Heiner told me), I turn my head and look to the bow. Again, above my head this huge deck is both intimidating and exhilarating. Another set of questions are battering my head: What about the hatches? My Omega 42 will receive the original look intended by Peter Norlin in the mid Seventies when he had constructed the yacht.
Just one big skylight hatch behind the mast, one another before the mast (that will function as escape hatch as well). That´s it. On the roofing there will be two slim elongated portlights to either side and two small opening portlights for the bathroom and the galley. That´s it. I already seek contact with Gebo hatches, manufacturer of the products I´d like to have in my boat.
There are thousands of questions coming up: How will we design the lighting aboard? The roofing panels and cushions? There is so much to do, so many things to be kept in mind. But the nice part about it is that Heiner is very structured and professional. He won´t allow a brain overkill neither for me nor for his team and as such we discuss those issues right when they appear and become important. There´s no sense in getting myself brainfucked facing all those details. Yet … it´s so much fun! This is all impossible with a production boat: All is pre-determined, all is set.
In the coming weeks
After crawling ALPHA for more than one hour and taking almost 200 pictures, I leave the boat finally. Another visit at the shipyard is done and I feel deeply satisfied. Learning new things every time, I received many answers to many questions in my head; defining many, many more with big red question marks, open to discuss and clear with the team.
For now I look forward to the day when principal woodwork is done and the guys start to fit the engine. At the same time I am busy organizing the casting of the 3.5 ton lead keel (this will be absolutely awesome!) and I also started communication with Quantum Germany about the sails for ALPHA. Honestly – I cannot imagine this boat swimming by May or June this year, but thinking of the skilled team at Mueritz yachtbuilders I chill down, they will surely make it work!
You might find interesting to read:
All building reports so far
What is the fuzz on the Omega 42 all about anyway?
Sailing the Omega 42 for the first time