As Ascension Day holidays are approaching with a bank holiday on Thursday, like so many others, I decided to not only take the Friday off for a long weekend but to be work-free this whole week. Well, it doesn´t work that way in the boating business, Monday and Tuesday still loads of work, but anyway, this Wednesday is a happy day. Why? Because I again went to see my new boat, the Omega 42.
A short 1.5 hours drive from my hometown of Luebeck, right in the middle of the picturesque landscape of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, at the shores of Germany´s largest lake, Mueritz, a small shipyard is situated: Mueritz Boatservice. The dedicated team around Heiner is specialized in building and maintaining the inshore boats and lake-optimized sailing dinghies. And … Omegas, of course.
Can´t get enough of these lines …
As it was pretty early in the morning this day and with myself arriving way before the scheduled meeting, I used the time to stroll around the hull of the Omega 42 which was still on its position on the large outside area of the shipyard, right where I saw it the first time back in 2018. What a journey!, I through to myself.
With almost 100 yachts sold and delivered to their owners by myself, I would consider me as a pretty experienced boat dealer. Nevertheless, now, changing position and being a customer and client myself, it´s a tough rollercoaster of feelings. Enthusiasm and pleasant anticipation are the upside, gnawing doubts and constant questioning of my decision are the downsides. Especially after I´ve made my decision and finally closing the deal. A sobering experience.
But, now, touching the hull, rounding the boat for the hundredth time and feeling the joy of looking at those beautiful lines, I also re-assure myself that this was the right thing to do. This boat, those timeless lines, this awe-inspiring design by Peter Norlin is touching the depth of my heart, triggers something deep inside me and lets my blood reassure rise. Much more than the other candidates did – yes, I´ve made the right choice!
I went to see Heiner and the boat today for two reasons: First, to finally sign the contract of purchase and second, more important, to discuss with Heiner the general concept of the boat. Latter is of utter importance: Since this yacht is a semi-custom boat everything that is done inside is handmade, no prefab or standard. All is custom made and thus must be talked through. Heiner and I agree: This is a sailboat first and foremost and so we want to make her simple. Simple. Simple.
Business first: Contract signed
But, of course, to have a legally binding basis and a contract to be working on, the papers have to be signed. We had agreed on a budget the days before already and a rough set of items which would be included in this budget. More interesting for me are the items which are not included and therefore my responsibility to acquire: Engine, riggig, sails and details like cushions and so on.
As I mentioned before, I witnessed almost 100 contracts of boat purchase before in my life. But from the other side of the table as the seller. This time, changing perspectives, I sat there as buyer. Projecting all my hopes, demands and trust into that person sitting in front of me. Transferring my good faith in the competence and craftsmanship of Heiner and his team. By signing the contract it´s not just my hard earned money but also my hopes and dreams which are now in his hands. It´s quite a lap of faith, but a big moment, when you sign such a paper.
Wishes & ideas: Yard talk
With formalities done, hands shaken and all back-slapping done, Heiner brewed a fresh coffee and sat down: “Let the real work begin.”, he said and we went to a chart where the Omega 42 plans had been sticked too. There have been built many versions of this boat since 1979 and even Heiner´s first newly-built hull #001, the WINDFAENGER, is an iteration of the original Norlin-concept.
“Let´s talk the boat through from bow to stern and be clear on the principal concept of your boat”, he said. We both agreed that we want to produce a sailing machine. Norlin was a very passionate sailor himself and his boats always had to have proper sailing capabilities first and foremost. Only then he went for comfort and amenities. Also, because of the budgetary restrictions, Heiner has to come up with simple solutions which not only do not exceed the financial limits but which would also be practical, simple and good looking. I want a no frills-boat above all, and I am happy to say that this is exactly the working idea of Heiner as well.
The principal concept of my Omega 42
“Most of the classic Omega 42 boats are too heavy”, Heiner says. One could see it when judging their waterlines. Norlin intended the boat to be at 7.4 tons. Many boats are heavier: A heavy interior fitting with loads of heavy massive wooden furniture and of course a lot of surplus payload. By utilizing modern laminating technology and synthetic sandwich core materials he was able to build #001 WINDFANGER to weigh in just a tiny bit over 7.0 tons. Which is great!
„Your boat will be even a bit lighter!”, he promises. “We will throw out the heavy stuff at first, a good thing of the budgetary restrictions.” This includes a lot of the massive wood, like the beautiful but too expensive (and heavy) ceiling in the fore cabin and pilot berth. Also, we won´t fit a Diesel forced heating system but instead install modern infrared-heaters (which of course will only work when connected to shore power). In the galley there won´t be a Propane gas stove, which all in all will save around 8.000 to 10.000 Euros as the whole system from Gas locker, piping et cetera will be substituted by a simle two-flame spirit alcohol stove.
No baking oven as well (I never bake on board, I am more a cook). This makes it easy, fast and simple. Maintenance-wise it will again save a lot of money and hustle in the long run. Talking of heavy and expensive stuff, we agreed to have just one door on the boat: The one to the bathroom. Fore cabin and aft pilot berth will be closed off by simple, but nice and maybe colorful curtains.
The cupboards won´t have doors and flaps. Instead, most of them will be open. This makes finding things easier, loading when boarding the boat for a sailing trip and de-boarding will be faster and of course since there are no flaps, ventilation will be much better. Thinking of my experience in heavy winds last week on the shakedown cruise of a new Oceanis 34.1 I am happy that there won´t be a single fitting that could break down, corrode away or start to squeak.
Regarding the wooden bulkheads, the few facings the boat will get and the floorboards, we decided to go for massive Mahogany and matte lacquered boat-grade plywood. I went for the light caulking of the floorboards, because it looks good and also reminds me of my OLIVIA, the good old King´s Cruiser of Pelle Petterson, another great Scandinavian designer of that era.
Since there isn´t any wooden ceiling at the walls, Heiner implied to use dark and light felt. The dark felt will be put in the back of the cupboards and shelves, the light felt will be used for the roofing panels and right next to the cushions. It will achieve a nice horizon-effect, the material is easy to apply, simple, lightweight, insulating and easy to clean/maintain. We talked about the 12 V plugs, the lights (very simple LED-lighting and just one single big light for the whole salon), we discussed technical issues like electronics, autopilot and anchor. Four full hours of discussion, ideas, web-checks and looking at the plans. Exciting!
Omega 42 competence at work
I have a good feeling about Heiner, the shipyard and his team. My boat will be a unique one-of-a-kind. She is made especially and just for me. His team of dedicated, skilled craftsmen seemed happy that hull #002 now found an owner and that works can finally start. Their expertise in building Omega 42-boats from scratch, the lessons learned from the first boat WINDFAENGER provide them with a huge basket of experience, good and bad, to build me a wonderful sailboat. Making hull #001 alone did stir up the Omega-community in such a way that his shipyard even receives classic 42s for refit.
After we finished our first concept meeting we went down into the workshop where an Omega 42 from 1982 is currently in refit. The owner bought the boat down at Lake Constance and specifically chose Heiner and his team to elaborately refit and maintain this beauty: Teak deck, electronics, keel and such. There are more than a dozen high-class shipyards right at the shores of Lake Constance, this owner paid for a 1.000 kilometers heavy duty yacht transport to bring her here. This means something.
I say goodbye to Heiner and jump into my car, not driving home by one hour more to the East. Arriving in the wonderfully romantic nature reserve area of the Island of Usedom. Here hull #001 WINDFAENGER has her homeport. The happy days for me will continue as Stefan, the owner of this yacht, had invited me to sail this boat the coming days. One highlight after another. A great week. And an article you can be looking forward to for sure!
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