This blog post has been in the skippers mind for a long time so it is long overdue to put it into words. It was always in our future life plans that one day we would sail to warmer climes so when we were both in a position to move from land based luxuries to a home afloat we made the decision to depart in the summer of 2018.
We had purchased Maggie, a 2002 built Beneteau Oceanis 473 in 2013 with the mindset that this was the boat that would take us on “the long trip” eventually. At that time, we were both working fulltime so our time spent onboard was minimal, day sails, a few weekends, and the annual summer two week trip around the south coast of Cork. To prepare the boat to support long passages between ports and extended stays at anchor, which of course is almost a requirement to being a liveaboard as time spent in marinas costs a lot of money particularly at summer peak time rates.
Over time we had collated lists of existing items that would need to be upgraded/replaced and items to be added before our departure to foreign shores.
The following detail is a list of the major works we completed prior to our departure in June 2018 and during our trip.
- Upgraded the existing liferaft to a new Seago 6 Person Liferaft
- Purchased a new McMurdo G8 EPIRB (the existing EPIRB required a new battery which would cost almost the equivalent of a brand new unit).
- Replaced the existing Danforth anchor and rusty chain to a new Rocna 33Kg Anchor & 60m of 10mm Chain + additional 60m of Nylon Rode.
- Replaced all thru hull fittings with True Design Composite Skin Fittings, Seacocks & Hoses.
- Installed a Haztec LPG Gas & Co2 Alarm
- Fitted a Rule Mate 750gph automatic bilge pump.
- Replaced all Standing Rigging & Stainless Guard Lines
- Installed a new Stay Sail including Fancor Furler
- Added a Third Reef Point to existing Main Sail (to reduce the main to the equivalent of a Storm Sail)
- Replaced Steaming/Deck Light Fitting including LED Bulbs
- Replaced VHF Aerial and cable
- Installed Spreader Lights
- Installed Opto LED Lamp at top of mast (Anchor Light & Tri-colour Nav Lights)
New Deck Installations
- Stainless Arch, Davits, Bimini Frame and cover
- Salt water Deck/Anchor Wash
- Stainless Bow Protector
- Installed a new Mastervolt Combi Unit 3kw Invertor and a Mastervolt Shunt plus an Interface Panel at the Navigation Table.
- Replaced the existing Fisher Panda generator with a new and upgraded Fisher Panda 5000i Generator.
- Installed 4 rigid Solar panels for 480w of free power.
- Replaced the original sixteen year old B&G instruments onboard as some were failing and the display units on deck had internal condensation. We decided to change to Garmin instruments and install a NMEA 2000 network so that all relevant equipment would communicate with each other and also allow to easily add new additions to the network in the future.
We installed the following Garmin instruments:
- Garmin Echo Map 75CV Chartplotter
- GMI 20 Windspeed & Direction
- Boat Speed & Depth
- Autopilot (using the existing B&G hydraulic Ram and pump)
New additions included:
- Vesper Marine XB9000 AIS system
- Furuno NX300D Navtex unit
- Installed Pressure and Temperature gauges on the main engine to monitor Oil Pressure & Engine Temperature.
- Made and fitted new Teak Companion Way Doors to replace the washboards for ease of access from the cockpit.
- Installed a Schenker 30L p/h Watermaker.
- Converted an existing Cool Box to a Freezer by installing a Penguin Refrigeration compressor, evaporator cooling plate and keel condenser.
- Purchased a new GN Espace Levante 3 Ring Gas cooker.
- Fitted a 32” Samsung Smart TV
Upgrades & new installations completed during our trip
As our previous blog posts show we enjoyed sailing and exploring new destinations. One of the first things that became apparent was that we needed to upgrade our existing Zodiac dinghy with its 2.5hp two stoke engine to a more robust tender. Travelling with a dog onboard means regular trips ashore. When at anchor landings to shore can be difficult, for example, beach landings you can encounter breaking waves and sand & stones scraping the bottom of the dinghy. We needed to upgrade to a Rib with a more powerful outboard engine. We purchased a Highfield 2.95m Rib with a 10hp Yamaha four stroke outboard engine in Lagos, Portugal.
- Anti fouling to Coppercoat
During our first summer Liam had been doing regular dives to clean under the hull and the supposedly hard wearing anti-fouling which was applied before we departed was wearing off quickly and would need re-application before the next season. This was something we had hoped to avoid in our first year so we researched options and following strong recommendations we settled on applying Coppercoat to the hull. This work was completed in Portimao, Portugal in November 2018.
- Galvanic Isolator
We installed a new Sterling 32amp Galvanic Isolator to protect from any stray electrical current when plugged into 220v shore supply during marina stays.
In the cockpit we added a new 12v Switch panel and a waterproof USB Charging point (used for charging the iPad when using Navionics Charts and iPhone) and a new LED White/Red Light underneath the cockpit table.
- Med Mooring
We purchased a secondhand two meter Aluminium Passerelle for Med style mooring which is Stern to docking to marinas or docks using lines attached at the bow (most commonly known as slime lines as they are always slimy and dirty from living on the seabed when not in use). This is also where our Deck wash was very useful to wash down the deck and clean the bit of the slime lines attached to our bow.
Added 2 x Stainless Steel Cleats on stern to facilitate using cross lines
Installed a Glomex Webboat 4G Light Wifi Antenna. This unit allows for one local 4G SIM card to be installed and also boosts nearby WiFi signals. We used a local SIM card (WIND 50GB per month) when we wintered in Sicily as the marina Wifi at our pontoon was very weak. This worked very well and allowed us to watch Netflix.
However, just before we left Muros marina in Spain on our return to home it stopped working so we will be following up with Glomex on this issue as the unit is just over one year old. Overall this device left us a bit disappointed as in it did not come close to offering what it claims to provide certainly not the up to 15 miles from the coast signal.
- Domestic Battery Bank
Re-located the domestic battery bank from the main engine bay to the Starboard Aft cabin underbunk storage area. For more detail and the reason for this job have a read of our blog post, High Temperatures Inside and Outside, from July 2019.
- Engine Bay
To boost the air-cooling of the engine bay when the engine is running we installed a new inline ventilation fan for the engine air-intake duct.
- Engine Alternator
The engine alternator started to fail during the journey from Rota, Spain to Vilamoura, Portugal. When we were motor sailing during the night the high voltage alarm went off on the Mastervolt panel showing a high voltage charge to the batteries. A new alternator was ordered and replaced during the stopover in Vilamoura, Portugal.
- Engine Throttle Control
Replaced the existing throttle control as it was getting stiff when moving from neutral to forward. Sourced a like for like piece so it was an easy fit using the existing cables.
- Automatic Bilge Pump
The Rule Mate 750gph auto pump I fitted before our departure started to malfunction and would not switch off once the bilge had drained so I replaced this with an Attwood Sahara 750gph float activated unit and added an independent bilge highwater alarm.
- Fresh Water Intake
Installed 2 Water filters (Activated Carbon & 5 Micron) at the inlet for the fresh water supply to the water tanks.
- Gas Line
When we purchased our GN Espace gas cooker the recommended gas line was 8mm copper pipe due to the distance between the gas cylinder and the cooker but the existing gas line onboard was 6mm. As this gas line was now seventeen years old it was time to replace and upgrade to the recommended 8mm line. When removing the old pipe a section which runs from the Gas locker located on the port side of the boat was routed through a conduit on the floor of the stern compartment and then led through the Starboard Aft cabin behind the bulkhead panels to the cooker. When I pulled out the piece of the pipe which was in the conduit it looked corroded and blue in colour where as the rest of the pipe looked perfect. Because of the shape of the conduit (curved downwards to the shape of the hull) this meant it held water so the copper pipe within was at times sitting in a pool of water. On closer inspection of the corrosion when I wiped away the crud it revealed a pin hole in the pipe. We do have a gas alarm onboard so it was not leaking gas but for how long more before it could leak? I don’t need to tell you how deadly a gas leak is on a boat so this was the one job which I was glad I did it when I did.
What worked well
While I can say that all of the jobs, upgrades and new purchases benefited both the boat (for performance and liveaboard comfort) and us there were a few stand out items that we think deserve another mention to say that we really appreciated them on numerous occasions :
- The Companion way doors in the cockpit were super easy to open/close as opposed to slotting in/out washboards and finding somewhere to store them around the cockpit. It also allowed more light into the saloon area.
- The Water maker allowed extended stays at anchor during our summer travels
- The Dinghy davits located high on the arch allowed the dinghy to be stowed high while at a marina and still allow access/egress using the Passerelle and also for ease of lifting the dinghy at night for security while at anchor.
- The Bimini, Arch, Sidewalls provided comfort and weather protection from both the sun and rain
- The Cooker was great for roasting and baking during the winter months and the Freezer allowed bulk buying of good quality meats when available and also for advance preparation of meals for long passages.
- Having the Stay sail in wind conditions of 20kn+ allowed the boat to sail flatter accompanied with a reefed main and also worked well when goose winged with the Genoa (no main sail) for downwind sailing.
- TV was great for winter viewing
- And not to be left out the Dyson V7 Motorhead cordless vacuum was used daily
As the maintenance and upkeep of boats is ongoing the most recent work completed on Maggie was the polishing of the blue side hulls
2 Replies to “The Skippers maintenance and upgrade report”
Great detailed account,will be very helpful
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Hello Liam & Mags,
Fantastic work was done, that’s sure. It’s now nearly a disco boat with the red&white light under your table. It’s a long time we had some contacts but I’m happy to read the evolution of your project. Are you sailing for the moment or is Liam still at work, Anyway, I wish you all the best from Congo RDC where I’m helping for the technical items on a hospital in North-Kivu.
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