You probably know this very, very satisfying feeling when you´ve reached something, got a step closer to your aims or finally arrived at where you wanted to go to. Right now I am saturated by such an exciting pride for myself that I can barely hold myself from looking at what I gained all the time. You wonder why I make such a big thing out of this relatively small fact? Well, let me tell you.

This is where I started: A sanded neatly cleanded interior
This is where I started: A sanded neatly cleaned interior

Refitting this 33 feet cruiser is such a huge task. The elder and experienced readers will know what I am talking about and I underwent a process of coming to see this project in a more realistic way over the past months. It grew and grew and grew and never stopped. The to do-list is a never ending story and while I am able to write off an item two or three new items will appear. Every corner I took a look behind was revealing some more things to do and besides that I realized that my time-management and planning was way too optimistic given the fact that I am right now some 8 weeks behind my original schedule. So, you may understand now why finishing this simple task of priming the internal GRP-surfaces fills me with joy and satisfaction: There is something to look at and say “Well, finally that one is done!”

Sanding Gelcoat at first – really necessary?

Regular readers of this magazine know that the first step of my yacht refit was a task of sheer epic dimensions although it seemed a simple and fast one at first: Emptying the boat, taking off all wooden panels and covers, free the ship from the old damping-materials and clean in thoroughly. It took me some 90 net working hours at last to achieve that goal – 4 week(end)s planned, 8 weekend needed. Next step was and currently is the refurbishment of all internal Gelcoat-surfaces of the boat.

First primary Coating, the it´s 3 layers of ordinary Top-Coat
First primary Coating, then it´s 3 layers of ordinary Top-Coat

Why is that? Well, what do you do when you move into a new flat? You are probably going to paint all walls white. You simply want the stink of the pre-occupiers out. You want to have a neat and clean white canvas, white pages to write your chapters onto. It´s the same with my boat. Being 40 years of age she is a true beauty and her structural substance is still on a high level. But having seen at least four pre-owners she is a bit worn out, everybody of my previous skippers has added something new to her and at last she looked like … well, a boat of 40 years of age. I want that out. Besides: Do you like that old-fogyish beige tone of the Gelcoat? Me neither. I sanded off everything to ready the ship´s interior for a new paint.

An exciting outcome!

After having worked for a whole weekend and looking at the outcome I am just proud. No, honestly. It seems odd but I do really take pride in my work even though this fresh primer-blue will soon be covered by a new color – a shiny white. But climbing out of the saloon and looking down the entryway into the saloon of my boat, seeing it all clean and varnished in blue was warming my heart and a thought was slowly seeking through my brain: This boat is going to be a fucking awesome cruiser!

Isn´t that a wonderful thing to look at?
Isn´t that a wonderful thing to look at?

No, honestly, don´t you know what I am talking about? When I tell my family or friends of my plans, when they come to see the boat and the chaos, the work ahead and all the stuff to be done it´s almost every time the same reaction: “Phuuh. That´s a load of work?! Do you really know which kind of burden you are about to carry upon your shoulders?” No, I don´t know. I am an idiot. No, really. An idiot. A romantic one too. I´ve invested a lordly sum into this … big plastic-bowl of chaos and have to work my ass off in order to get this back into water in time. But you know what? I don´t see the chaos. I really don’t. I do not even smell the odor of plastic-paint-grinding powder-Diesel-fumes. I don´t hear the screaming of the machines sanding off Gelcoat. I don´t feel my backbone aching (well … I do …) and I do ignore the hardship. Why? Instead I can hear the sound of the waves. The wind in the rigging and envision myself and my lovely family dropping anchor off the coast of the Finnish archipelago.

Cracking my backbone in the Lavatory

Having applied the second layer of top-coating of shiny new white in the fore cabin (here is the complete article on my plans with this forecastle) – by the way, the outcome is just brilliant! – I began to work my way aft beginning in the somewhat cramped lavatory. It was a mixture of trying to reenact one of these snake-boys of the Chinese National Circus to position myself in the best possible angle to reach for the surface and apply the paint evenly and without creating running noses or accidentally painting the wooden bulkheads or panels.

Taking a dump here will be better fun
Taking a dump here will be better fun

Painting the lavatory and the even more cramped entryway was a matter of some three net working-hours because it was just pure hell for my back. Yet before just masking the adjoining surfaces to protect them from getting painted by mistake was a masterpiece in body control. The outcome made me proud and was a nice foretaste of the next day when I was about to move to the bigger spaces in the saloon.

Looking fwd to have a chat here: New Saloon

Let me tell you – painting the saloon was pure joy. I could comfortably sit on the benches, position myself using all the space needed, even have my legs stretched out and paint the big surfaces in a matter of hours. It took me some 6 net working hours to have the port and starboard side saloon and benches painted with International Pre-Kote, my primer of choice. I also made up plans for the portholes and freeboard-areas, which I´d like to cover in wooden panels other than previously in plain white leather-coating. This will resemble more the classic sailing ship-character of a Swedish-made Hallberg Rassy or a Danish Luffe-yacht, both of which I do really appreciate for their brilliant designed and crafted interiors.

Saloon and Bilge in finished primer-blue
Saloon and Bilge in finished primer-blue

Getting down on my knees I did paint the small interstices between GRP and the upcoming new decking (here is quite an interesting article on teak-imitation for sailing yacht-decks where I think having a bit of white will be an interesting thing for the eyes of the beholder. Having finished working here and looking back on my work I could really see myself, my wife and my children sitting here around the dining table having dinner and a nice chat on where to go on to explore the sea and a secret bay tomorrow …

Quarter Berth and Navigator´s Place

With the quarter berth it was a battle with my backbone again and also again I was cursing myself for having bought a classic IOR-boat with an old-fashioned aft-section. It´s just a cramped place. Laying there head-down on my belly to paint the very end of the ship was tiring. Even my – up to this point marvelous working – gas-mask (here is a thorough test of health & safety equipment for a yacht refit) was not able to filter the smell of the paint. The air here was simply saturated by the biting smell of thinner.

A new Navogator´s Place
A new Navogator´s Place

Anyway, the outcome was satisfying and I went on to paint the Navigator´s place. That´s the ship´s place where most of my current thoughts and ideas go into. I´ve had quite a nice piece of joiner´s work with my chart table at hand but the base of the table was worn down to a state where it was impossible for me to keep it or refurbish it. I decided to rip the whole table stuff and r-build it from scratch. So, painting the whole area in a new color – white – is like having the chance to define this area out of nothing. I am thinking a lot of what would be the perfect Navigator´s place I´d like to work in, I do a lot of research and do sketches of where to put the radio and other equipment the best way. That´s definitely a hot spot on my King´s Cruiser 33 which is going to draw a lot of attention in the weeks to come.

Shiny new Pantry

The pantry. Problem child of my yacht. Unfortunately I wasn´t able to demount all of the wooden cupboards and stuff due to the fact that screws have been worn round or other factors – leading me to the decision not to remove the old hideous leather-coatings completely and thus having to somehow screen them either with new wooden panels or … just to ignore the ugly spots. Well, it´s something an ordinary visitor won´t notice at first sight I am sure but it´s there and I know it and it some kind of bothers me. But things have to go on and so I concentrated on getting the obvious done: At first one of the next steps will be the removing of the fridge. Besides the fact that my fridge is old (but perfectly working), this thing is totally unnecessary! I am going to have a lot of fun on board underway, but not being a millionaire or pensioner means that we will spend weekends on board: No need for a fridge. This thing is so huge, it will suck my batteries empty like nothing. Removing it will add a lot of stowage for more practical things in spite of Champaign-bottles and ice cubes I will never serve on board SY OLIVIA.

The Pantry on the port side of my Yacht
The Pantry on the port side of my Yacht

After having painted the pantry white a new oven is going to be installed, the LED-lighting as well as for the rest of the boat (here is the article on my LED-retrofitting plans) and a new water-tap the pantry will be the one place on board my yacht that will undergo the least changes in the course of the refit-program. Nevertheless I am sure that the refurbishment will add significantly to the appearance and attractiveness of the pantry itself.

Next Steps in Yacht Refit ahead

So, here I am. Some 8 net working hours after starting to apply the first primary coating to the Gelcoat-surfaces and standing proud before my work. I simply love it! If at first glance seeing the new refurbished yacht through all the chaos was a bit hard, now it is there, right before my eyes. I can really see the ship shining bright and new. Having a white painted interior, refurbished and freshly added wooden panels, a new ceiling covered in nappa leather outfitted with LED-technology … it is just simply the very first step of this dusty, stinking building lot to become a habitable lovely ship again. It´s a marvelous feeling!

A view to the Stern of the Yacht - cleaning the Engine is another Highlight I am looking fwd to
A view to the Stern of the Yacht – cleaning the Engine is another Highlight I am looking fwd to

Given that temperatures remain well around 10 degrees within the coming weeks I am planning to add a second layer of primary coating during the coming weekend and 3 layers of white the following Saturdays and Sundays to having finished whiting the former beige Gelcoat around the first week in March. Having met a specialist in yacht electrics last weekend we´ve made plans for the next big step: Removing the old wiring and re-installing the electrical stuff beginning at the batteries working our way up to the lighting and technical equipment. Above all, cleaning the engine room and have a professional boat builder taking a look onto the crack of the engine footing will be another chapter of an exciting story as well.

Stay tuned and hopefully stay motivated and excited as I am.