I couldn´t believe my eyes when I got up today. Saturday morning, 7.30 a.m., a bit too early but I was so excited: Today was going to be the day that after several weeks without seeing my new boat I would finally meeting her again. But, just as last time, it had been snowing severely during the night, some 20 centimeters of the white stuff was covering my car, and worse, the roads. “Oh boy, not again!”, I was thinking, had a coffee and checked the forecast.
Well, minus 2 Celsius seemed okay and after postponing my departure for two hours I was determined to drive the 180 kilometers to the shipyard. If I wasn´t going to make it today, I wouldn´t be able to visit ALPHA for the coming three weeks: Boot boat show Duesseldorf is coming up and this means all-out work stress for me. One week before and after the show and 9 full days of trade fair – no chance to get there. So I fired the engine and drove – slowly and careful – to the shipyard. And I would not repent my decision!
All principal bulkheads are fitted
Arriving some two hours later, safe and sound, I was greeted by Heiner Francke, the boss. He hadn´t seen me for months either and decided to meet me although it was Saturday and his beloved wife already had a tasty lunch on the stove: “We have some things to discuss”, he told me, “Don´t leave too soon.” I nodded, but first let´s have a look on the boat.
She was there in all her glory. To be honest, there had not been too much progress since the last article, but those were the pictures taken by Heiner, not seen through my eyes. I figured that all bulkheads had now been finished and fitted firmly to the boat. I´d say two thirds of the boat´s interior are roughly finished now with only the pilot berth and engine compartment still open to be fitted.
The bulkheads of the Omega 42 are laminated to the hull. On the bearing surface of bulkhead and hull, the team of Mueritz Bootsservice had fitted a polymer buffer before laminating. This will make sure that there are no marks over time visible on the outside of the hull (something I hate seeing on modern production boats) and also reduce friction, stress and wear & tear. I couldn´t picture this detail unfortunately as this is not visible anymore, but it´s reassuring and good to know that the guys work like this.
Modular custom building
On the “balcony” surrounding the boat I noticed a large wooden construction. This instantly reminded me of the modern modular building methods seen in so many shipyards: I had to smile a bit, seeing it applied here too. The module contained of the side-walls of the ship´s head and a transverse bulkhead forming the front end of the engine-compartment. The cutout for the entryway was very apparent.
It reminded me of the fact that the ladder down into the boat is relatively steep compared to a modern-day cruiser. Where the big production companies try to avoid steep angles and more than 3 to 4 steps up or down, on the Omega 42 the entryway down is a real ladder. There will be no less than five steps and judging from the little distance from the entry-cutout to the door leading into the head, it will be steep indeed. I like it.
What I also liked was the detail: The shape of the door is not just a simple (and cheap to make) rectangular door. Although my Omega 42 is built under a strict cost-saving (and thus weight-saving) regime, the guys of the shipyard apparently applied a nicely curved door shape and also came up with a very nicely done doorjamb. Can´t wait to see the very door: It will be special because it will be the one and only door in my boat. Since I will mostly be sailing alone or with my kids and partner, I do not need any more doors. Neither the fore cabin nor the aft pilot berth cabin will be closed off by a (heavy) door: Instead, nicely done fabric drapes will be there to make for privacy.
When this module is fitted, that will be it for this building phase. As Heiner tells me, after this moment there won´t be free moving from the makeshift entry at the rear to the ship´s saloon and front anymore. His plan is to have this done until end of February, which are roughly seven weeks to go. In this time, the principal carpentry work in fore cabin, salon and galley will be done and finished.
As for the head, next time we will have to decide a few things. I already refrained from my plans to have an electric WC mostly for budgetary reasons. This would have meant a lot more efforts and working hours for the crew. The advantage of having an electric toilet in terms of comfort in relation to the plus of working hours and budget wasn´t that big anymore. Again, I myself and my family will be sailing the boat. We are pros, also when it comes to utilizing a pumping toilet. Some other questions related to the head will be: Shower or not? Warm water? Sink, tap and mirrors … the whole room isn´t thoroughly planned through as of now. What is set, of course, are nice Teak gratings, of course!
Playing around with the upholstery
The saloon of ALPHA is finished in principle. Apart from the salon table, which will be one of the last details, the benches and stowage is done. Again, we went for a cost- and weight-saving design. No round benches, no fancy stylish forms. Just two three- or four-seaters with identical measurements facing each other. The backrests have two large openings making some stowing behind accessible.
Underneath the benches, of which the seating area is completely removable, the two small fresh water tanks will be installed. The rest will be stowage too. Again, the carpenters of Heiner have come up with very nicely done details which are also straightforward, easy and as simple as could be. We will definitely not have any overhead lockers or shelves: First I don´t want to plaster the boat with stowage (containing mostly rubbish anyway) and secondly the boat is narrow and kind of “cramped” by nature so I want it as open as it can be. Less is more … certainly.
Seeing the salon in such a “near” complete stage made me play around with some ideas regarding the fabric and color used to design the cushion. I have nothing but praise for the high quality of Sunbrella-garments and so I checked their website upon arriving back home. The boat´s color code will be natural Mahogany in a few places and lots of matt-lacquered white. So I chose some classic monochromatic marine blue-tones, but also played around with some more eccentric designs. I also like the idea to have the curtains and drapes done in a colorful fabric. Well, definitely not the last word spoken, but real fun to think around this.
Fore cabin: Wide, open & spacious
Almost finished is the fore cabin, except for the two main shelves: Heiner´s team went for a nicely open and wide design. The berth won´t be very wide, especially for the feet of the occupants sleeping here, since the boat´s hull is so narrow and there are no hull windows like in modern cruisers making for natural light. In this, keeping in as open as possible will make the feelgood-factor increase.
Again, instead of just cutting cheap edges, the team made such a nicely bend partial bulkhead, that it is a pure delight imagining this cabin being finished. I remember two or three years ago when Beneteau showcased the then brand new First Yacht 53. Many furniture details in this yacht are done in so called “boule mouleé”-style: Essentially form-bond wooden layers making nicely shaped edges for tables, doors and such. Same has been done in my Omega 42: Form-bond laminated edge veneers, they will look awesome when glossy painted!
Underneath the berth area a load of stowage is usable but I will try to leave it empty, keeping the weight of the boat down. Since ALPHA will not receive a bow-thruster all the volume underneath the V-berth is open and free for stowage. I made my kids lay down and check for length and width, they loved it! Nevertheless I guess theirs will be the aft pilot berth and this will be the owner´s couple-area. Being here, reclined, and looking back aft makes for a great sight: The concept of not having any doors pays off.
It will be possible to look abaft for most of the ship´s length: This can be seen even now in this stage of the build. Moreover, now that Heiner made me happy and decided not to have a single-person-sized door leading from the salon to the fore cabin but a double-person-sized width: Just like in modern cruisers with their buttlerfly-doors. Open, light-suffused and breathtaking. Love it!
Apparently, Heiner´s team of craftsmen must be loving working on this project too. He tells me that already the working hours spent on the boat are more than projected. Most of them due to their enthusiasm and their attention to detail. In the end, they are boatbuilders and carpenters. They are creating a modern interpretation of a sailing icon. Their fondness of beautiful solutions and strive for beauty regardless of the time needed is something I am very thankful for.
But it´s also the hidden details, things nobody will ever see again once the marriage between deck and hull is commenced: I notice the cable ducts for 230 Volt and 12 Volt wiring. The cutouts for the ducts in the bulkheads are not just some sloppy, quickly cut recesses, but exactly measured, positioned, cut and trimmed. Chapeau!
Roaming about in the workshop I see some more parts soon to be fitted to the boat. All done so nicely, just like another big doorjamb that will be put on top of the forward bulkhead leading from salon to fore cabin. I can see Heiner´s point who of course must keep a balance between working hours spent by his guys and the budget paid by his customer (in this case, me), but I appreciate both the working attitude of the crew and him letting them at least some free room to be creative. This is what makes this boat so special.
Lightweight boat: Decisions
Special about my ALPHA will as well be the weight. Peter Norlin did construct the Omega 42 to have a displacement of 7.5 tons. This is the target weight my boat will have one way or the other. The question is: How heavy or lightweight can Heiner build the boat and how heavy will be the keel? We want a boat that is as light as possible so that we put max weight into the keel. This will make for a stiff, pointy and extremely light-footed boat. As such, every decision that could save weight is worth talking about.
One of the weight-adding parts of the boat are the floorboards. The Omega 42 is a classic sailboat and at first I wanted to go for the usual Nauticfloor boards. I´ve had those in my King´s Cruiser 33 and liked their classic look. Apart from the price tag of some 50 to 60 Euros per square meter, the weight is considerably. Heiner has a different proposal: Kiwi Grip.
We could use ordinary boat plywood in 15 milimeters – save a load shit of money – and weight too. They will be cut to size and lacquered with base coating and Kiwi Grip paint. This is often used in regatta boats, exactly for the weight-saving properties, but also because it´s easy to apply and t repair. I like this idea and ask Heiner to prepare a mockup for my next visit. Also, maybe a Kiwi Grip-floor in combination with custom made carpets in the salon and the dressing/undressing areas in front of the berths could be a nice solution.
All those open questions are not very urgent in this stage of the build, but I like to play around and think about those details. The coming weeks, as I said, will be used for finalizing the principle furniture building and bulkheads. I look forward to see the aft part of the boat being fitted and finally look at the boat sporting the final interior layout as projected. I think before painting starts we will have another serious meeting to finalize colors.
As usual upon leaving ALPHA, I go around the hull admiring her beautiful sleek lines. The guys have now polished the hull and removed the stains from being outside for some five years. She looks as tempting as ever! The waterline is marked and the wetted part of the hull already sanded for application of epoxy and antifouling – this color choice is already made: Her belly will be white for sure, sweet-talk for her gracious lines.
You might also read these related articles:
All information on the Omega 42 boat & project
How is the Omega 42 sailing?
Frontpage beauty: Omega 42 in the magazine