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The Boat, During the Refit....


In June 2002 we sailed Zora to her new home in Casco Bay, Maine. She was hauled at Portland Yacht Services and put inside a huge warehouse for the next year. She was to undergo a major refit & renovation, and we intended to do nearly all the work ourselves.

January 3, 2003 For most of the summer, we were busy getting our Tartan 30 ready to sell, so we didn't work much on the new boat. In September we started making lists and began to tackle the daunting project of a major renovation. Neil's first task was to scrape the years of crusty bottom paint off. He supposed this would be a one- or two-weekend job and would involve grinding off the paint. After setting up a plastic tent around the boat to keep the rest of the building clean, donning a white protective suit and full face respirator in the 90 degree heat, and trying various techniques including sanding, grinding, chemical strippers, etc. he found that the most effective method was a plain 3" flat blade scraper and lots and lots of sweat! Working nearly every night after work and on weekends, the immense project stretched to 7 and a half weeks!!!!

Next we began removing the portlights and hatches. The bedding compound, although it had been leaking copiously in many places, was extremely tenacious in others. We discovered a miracle product called Anti-Bond, in a small yellow can. This stuff melts 5200! It made the port removal so much easier. We also removed the stanchions, pulpits, deck cleats, genoa tracks, etc. At the same time we began removing the interior joinery that was damaged and/or that we planned to rebuild differently. 

We found that the boat was very well thought out and well built in many respects. The deck-to-hull joint was strongly and securely fastened. The overhead panels were easily removable anyplace there were through-bolts for the genoa tracks or stanchion bases. The fiberglass had been cut away to allow wrench access to all the bolts. The electrical wire chases were all well protected with rubber washer chafe guards. Along the same vein, but causing us more frustration or amazement, was the "overbuilding" evident. They went bung-crazy on the interior joinery! Even pieces of trim inside lockers, which would never be seen, were bunged! And there was double-faced teak plywood (very expensive) used everywhere, even painted white in deck lockers or covered with insulation in the engine room. No wonder the company went bankrupt!

 We removed every piece of trim and furniture and labeled the backs before stacking them under the boat. It is going to be quite a project putting it all back together! Now the boat was beginning to look really awful. The owner of the yard commented that we'd brought in a perfectly good boat but now we had only half a boat! At this point, various friends and relatives were stopping by to see what all the fuss was about. Having never seen the boat when she was "whole", I fear that most of them think we are completely out of our minds.

Honestly, sometimes I do, too. But then I look at back at the "before" and "during" pictures of our extensive house renovation, which we also did mostly by ourselves, and look around at what a nice house it is now....and then I have faith that Zora will one day soon be beautiful. 

We removed the cabin house sides, which had totally rotted. We removed the cabinet faces in the main salon, and were pleased to find the chain plate knees still solid. We're having the chain plates tested before reinstalling them. We removed the entire galley, since we are rebuilding it with a different configuration. We'll try to reuse as many pieces as possible, such as the molded fiberglass dry locker, and as many cabinet/locker doors as will fit in the new design. The sheer amount of expensive, beautiful teak on the boat is amazing.

When Neil removed the huge refrigerator/freezer (which was located where our new nav station will be) he found the primary source of the mildew smell. He says it was positively black with a veritable mold farm. He's not generally sensitive to mildew (whereas I am highly allergic to it) but even he said he was overcome by it! Ugh! He had a hell of a time removing the reefer, by the way. It was heavily tabbed to the hull with sprayed-in (now solid) foam all around it. There was much swearing and sawz-all wielding involved. Glad I wasn't there for that part!

The old 2-burner stove was removed. Although it's perfectly serviceable and could be cleaned up, I think that if at all possible we'll spring for a new one. I'd like a bigger oven, since I do a lot of cooking and baking, and I would feel more comfortable with the modern, thermo-coupled burners and piezo ignition.

As this removal and "demolition" was underway, I was spending a lot of time hunched over the dining table at home working on the final designs. Some things could not be decided until parts of the boat were removed. For example, we'd hoped to put the new battery box under the starboard settee, where there was originally a 60 gallon water tank. But it wasn't until the tank was removed (a pretty big task, once again involving the sawz-all since it was a fiberglass tank tabbed to the hull) that we could really know what space was available and whether the batteries would fit. Neil built plywood mock-ups of the batteries as well as the polyethylene water tank we hoped to add to recover some of the lost tankage from removing the original tank. Happily, we were able to fit three group 8D batteries and a 30 gallon tank. Perfect!

As the boat came apart, we were also able to see where various components of our BRAND NEW electrical system would go, and I finalized my 12V DC schematics and circuit diagrams. One Saturday we had lots of fun removing the contents of the engine room and the old wiring. We tossed the ancient, huge battery charger (that was always shocking Neil) in the dumpster. I'm always worried about electrical safety (I say healthily so, Neil says neurotically so...) so that made me very happy. We made a pile of the myriad pumps removed, which hopefully we can reuse many of. We traced electrical circuits, being careful not to cut any of the proprietary instrument feeds for things we were reusing, like the Autopilot and radar, and ripped out the rest. We removed all of the old and very grungy hoses and pipes we'd be replacing..... We still haven't yet decided whether to totally replace the rigid grey freshwater system in place, or only some of it as needed. I'm all for replacing it all with nice clean new hoses, but much of it runs in areas difficult to access and Neil would rather leave them be. We'll see....

January 10, 2003 Well, my projects for the last week have been finalizing the electrical plans and cleaning out the bilge. Cleaning out the bilge has been a satisfying, albeit disgusting, job. Years and years of engine oil coating the inaccessible spots and gluing the dirt to the fiberglass presented a challenge. I put on a respirator, gloves, yellow tyvec suit, and armed myself with various scrub brushes and green scrubbie pads. I started out with Simple Green, as I wanted to avoid the more toxic products if possible. Simple Green actually did a great job on the dirt, but couldn't cut the engine oil stains. The Stanley "Dirty Job" gloves I bought, which were supposed to be chemical resistant, disintegrated after 3 hours. The next day I tried a degreaser called Greased Lightning. Good stuff. Spray it on, let it set a few minutes, scrub it around a bit, then rinse it off. The bilge is lookin' good.

My electrical schematics came back this morning from the marine electrician who had proofed them. Now we're almost ready to order the cable and start the installation. However, I have spent about 2 hours so far today trying to figure out the cable we need for the mast circuits. We're using Aqua Signal products: a Series 40 Tricolor/Strobe/Anchor light and a Series 20 Deck/Steaming combo. Everybody (West Marine, Sailnet, Hamilton's) carries these products, so presumably they are pretty popular and have been installed many times. However, the cable Aqua Signal specifies in their difficult-to-decipher instructions, while readily available in Europe, is nowhere to be found at these same suppliers. The tricolor needs round 14/4 of a specific O.D. I can find 16/4 to fit (a special order) but I am concerned about the voltage drop. The steaming/deck combo needs 14/3 or 16/3 no larger than .276". Smallest I can find is .333". The tech support guy at Aqua Signal was no help at all. Can you believe this? How can stores sell the light but not the cable needed to wire it? Aaaaargh!

Next: finally on to construction...