The Big Makeover

The Big Makeover

20. November 2019 Off By Søren

We passed the test – not a test we planned or even wanted to take, but one given to us by circumstances. The plan was to move aboard Carpe Diem mid-August where we moved out of our newly sold house, but reality is that we just moved aboard end of last week, 3 month later…  During these 3 months Laura, June and I stayed in a trailer we were so lucky to borrow from friends. When circumnavigating, the three of us will have to stay close to each other in a confined space, and we certainly tested how we could manage that, as the trailer has less space than our boat. Furthermore, we also tested how we react when plans don’t hold. And I would say we passed the test.

The Boat-factor

As we say, we forgot to take the “Boat-factor” into account when planning, i.e. a factor you need to multiply with how much time you estimate you need when working on a boat, to get the real time it takes. A factor that is always (a lot) greater than 1.

To be honest, we did not really plan, we just started, knowing that now was the time to get the big jobs done. So, the project expanded as we went along, and even though we let the yard handle more than first planned it was a bigger job for them than both they and we anticipated.

From the beginning we have known, that the boat needed a caring hand, see We Bought a Boat. There were cracks in the deck, paint peeling off, paint on the freeboard scraped off by fenders, wet core in the cockpit, old broken instruments, leaking hatches, and so forth. Plenty to deal with, and you can see examples of these in the pictures below. Some pictures are before, some during and finally some after.


Wet core in cockpit
Wet core in cockpit

First thing we did when buying the boat was removing the teak deck of the cockpit seating as it was damaged. This left a not so pretty cockpit, which we did not manage to make completely watertight, so the core of the sandwich construction got wet. There were also a number of instruments in the cockpit, and most did not work. Those that did were all placed so the helmsman had to ask people to move to be able to see them, or they made sitting quite uncomfortable. 

The instruments have now been removed and the holes closed using fiber glass and West System epoxy. We opened the sandwich construction and removed the wet balsa wood, replacing it with new PVC foam, and glassing with fiber glass and epoxy. The rest of the work in the cockpit was fairing and painting, which we had professionals at the yard carry out as part of painting the deck and freeboard.

Deck and Freeboard

At some point in time the boat has been repainted – but it was a poor job. The paint was reapplied on top of the original paint without proper sanding or bonding. The paint was applied on top of the non-skid areas, making it less non-skid. The result was paint peeling off around deck hardware. We also had a lot of cracks on the deck. It wasn’t considered by the survey to be due to construction issues, but we could not be sure. Maybe we had wet core here as well? Luckily not. I opened up into the core and the core was healthy. The cracks went through the gelcoat, but not through the top fiber glass layer of the sandwich construction. However, it did extend half a millimeter into the layer.

The layers of paint were sanded off, and at places with many cracks, a thin layer of fiber glass was added to reinforce. Before this, all hardware was removed from the deck. This actually requires taring the cabin apart to get access to all the bolts and nuts from the inside as well.

The freeboard had some scratches, but the worst part was areas, where fenders had eaten their way through some of the gelcoat. The boat had been left by itself for months, actually years, giving the fenders plenty of time to wear down the freeboard.

After a lot of fairing – one of the things taking much more time than expected – the deck and freeboard had primer and paint. And walking areas on the deck had Kiwi-grip applied as non-skid.

The deck was finished with new teak hand rails – the topping of the ice.


Entrance before
Entrance before

Portlights and hatches kept in the sun in many years get almost impossible to see through, as if they are cracked in thousands of pieces. Worse, some of the hatches and portlights were leaking and had cracks. Getting the hatches serviced would be really hard and probably without a really good result, and would cost almost as much as new hatches and portlights. So even though replacing is expensive this is what we went with. And we are really happy with the result. Luckily, we were able to find standard size Lewmar hatches and port lights that fitted (almost) right in.

The entrance to the cabin had a new acrylic sliding hatch and the door was changed from wood to acrylic doors. This way we will get more light into the cabin but also a better chance to communicate between those in the cockpit and cabin in bad weather where the hatches have to be closed.


Especially the last year while sailing Carpe Diem home to Denmark, I have been looking a bit worried at the rudder. In Carlingford I assessed that it was ok to sail the final leg home. But I was certain that is was time for dropping the rudder and either replace or maintain it. So, when the boat came up on the hard we took off the rudder. The condition was ok, but for a circumnavigation it is another matter. The rudder did have water inside, and the quadrant had corrosion. Also, the bearings seemed to be made of nylon, which expands in water. The rudder could not turn in the bearings, so the bearings were turning with the rudder.

I took the rudder to Jefa Steering, who produces rudders, expecting to spend a good deal on replacing to a new. But there was no reason for this, they said. With instructions on how to close any leaks, replace missing foam, and cleaning bearings etc. I went home with the same rudder. The rudder was opened up to check the foam – which was ok – dried out, missing foam were filled with epoxy filler, leaks were closed, fiber glassed, faired, primed and painted. The bearings were replaced with new made in POM, a material which looks like nylon but which does not expand in water (which could lead to the rudder being stuck, something you never want to experience). And finally, the quadrant was replaced with a new, so no more crusty material is part of the steering.

Scrap to cash – not that we’re selling.

We have turned most of the project we bought in Torrevieja in 2016 into a boat again, and most of the work going forward is more directly connected to preparing the boat for a circumnavigation. We are looking forward to this part, and still enjoy our “new” boat. We still haven’t made a scratch in the new paint – the day we do will be a sad day…

We also moved back aboard the boat and sailed it to Lynetten for the winter. Two days after this, we flew to Tenerife (where I am writing this) as the summer holidays were all about moving out of our house and working on the boat. After 3 months in a trailer at the yard we really needed this, so the timing was perfect. Maybe it wasn’t that bad planned after all…