Our first Boat Refit Tips video

Just uploaded:

We would love it if you watch the video and like it 🙂 Comments on the video really help too, we will reply to them!

As we work to build our Sustainable Sailing YouTube Channel it would really help us if you subscribe (and hit the notify bell). As you look on the channel we are going to be standardising on Orange thumbnails for Tips, Red for refit Progress and some other colour for more reflective/theoretical videos.

We have lots more Boat Refit Tips videos planned (and we think we will keep them under 10 minutes long so that they focus reasonably tightly one issue). Do you think that is a good way for us to go? Any suggestions of what you think we be helpful?

Next Bow Roller video is here

Just published this:

One of the challenges we face by trying to sustainably pace ourselves is that a job like fitting the new bow roller takes quite a few visits to the boat. However, we think the process of filling from the new backing plate to deck level using scraps of FR4 with thickened epoxy is a little novel.

This is an area that just need to be strong in compression (sandwiched between the backing plate and the bow roller). FR4 is ideal here as we will never need to worry about water ingress through the bolt hole causing rot. It is a lot quicker (and better in compression) than building up with layers of fibreglass. We don’t need to worry about cosmetics as this part is going to be completely buried. Nor do we need to worry about a smooth finish on top as it will be covered by a larger FR4 board that will be bedded with more thickened epoxy. This board will also include raised bases for the forward pulpit feet to keep them drier.

Later we will create the curve at the aft end with a small wood batten and then the whole lot will be encased in fibreglass cloth to fully tie it to the bulwarks and give us a surface to fair up before painting.

Adding more simplicity :-)

We have been busy with the rest of life this month (September is always a very busy time at work for us both).

However, our thinking has been progressing and we have been finding lots of inspiration from very small boats and from other people’s projects. So for example this video from Sailing Magic Carpet

It ties in with our Foredeck and Forecabin plans update or at least it confirms that we are making some different choices.

Our chain lockers were quite similar. We totally agree on the need for more space for chain and for the weight to be further aft. Initially our plans were quite similar (see Plans for anchoring). However, this is where we have been able to simplify things a lot.

A combination of things have meant that we are completely changing our forecabin, it will be a lot simpler in many ways. We started that thinking in Foredeck and Forecabin plans update but we can now go further.

The two key things that have led us to a simpler solution are Water and Beds.


When we decided to remove the stainless steel water tank and use some of the space for our batteries we have been through a number of ideas for water tanks. Now we have realised we can build them into the hull and this gives us huge advantages:

  • far greater capacity as no wasted space
  • much safer. They strengthen the hull and create extra crash boxes

We also realise that we can use the same technique for the batteries (rather than a drop in box build it into the bull), for the chain locker and for storage/crash boxes.


Already we have reduced the number of beds by removing the fold out pilot berth above the starboard settee (it has saved weight and created a much more usable space). We have also replaced the “V” berth in the aft cabin that worked best as a 2 singles with one double Pullman style berth.

When we realised that the “V” berth in the forecabin wasn’t actually long enough for an adult, let alone 2 it simplified things a lot. It also means that we have a chance to create a much better chain locker than Magic Carpet 2.


The key limit on the “V” berth length was avoiding having the chain pipe come down through the middle of the bunk. By moving to one single bunk we can move the chainpipe slightly to starboard so that there is plenty of space for the single bunk to extend past the chainpipe on the port side. Not only does this make the bunk full length and a good width it also means that we can use the chainpipe to drop the chain vertically into the chain locker despite moving it aft. That is a huge advantage over our original plans and what Aladino can do on Magic Carper 2 where the chain slides into the chain locker almost at the bottom – the chain can stack better, be further aft and have a deep crash box forward of it.

I’m now planning 4 watertight areas under the original”V” berth height. Each of them will be considerably higher than the waterline and all of them will be able to have a removable, watertight lid.

At the very forward end there will be a proper crashbox that we will probably fill with foam (there will be another forward of this beyond the foot of the bed that will also be filled with foam). These crashboxes will mean the whole bow from below the waterline to the bow roller will not be able to flood the boat if damaged.

Aft of the crashbox will be the chain locker. When at sea we will disconnect the chain from the anchor and attach a line between a deck bung for the chainpipe and the chain which will drop down to the locker. That will allow a watertight lid to be fitted over the chain locker. The bottom of the anchor locker will drain into a much smaller locker aft of it. This will have a pump to remove any water that comes in to the chain locker with the chain. This small locker will also have a watertight lid so that the two act as another crashbox.

Aft of this will be a full width built in water tank. The top of this will be the “footwell” when sitting on the bunk. It too will act as a crash box so a hole in the hull here will contaminate this water but not flood the boat.

The doorway into the forecabin will no longer be full height. The bottom will be level with the top of the water tank with a step in the heads compartment so that you can get up and into the cabin (no standing headroom but full sitting headroom on the bunk). The heads compartment will be your dressing area. There will be a door for this cabin, separating it from the heads.

Additionally, I want to learn something from the older Amels (like Delos). So we will carry a sheet of wood that can be bolted over the doorway on the forward side of the bulkhead. It will have a rubber seal so that the whole forecabin can be turned into a watertight crashbox. I can imagine that when sailing with only the two of us we might put that in place quite often when at sea (and just use the forehatch for access to the forecabin as a storage area.


By embracing the limits on the size of the forecabin which mean a V berth for two adults isn’t practical we end up with a much simpler, stronger and safer boat that will suit our needs much better. We don’t need to be able to sleep 3 couples and 2 singles on board, but we do need to carry enough water and would like extra protection from potential damage caused by debris floating around our oceans.

Thinking about this has also helped us think about simpler supports for the Bow Roller, Anchor Windlass and Inner forestay. So we can hopefully progress them soon.

Once I can get the companionway steps removed, this approach of watertight compartments built into the hull is going to make the battery boxes much simpler and more compact. I think the outcome will be larger water tanks and being able to move the Inverter and Mains Galvanic Isolator into the motor room so that we can keep the wet locker behind the steps.

It takes a long time to simplify things, but the results are well worth it.

Cabin sole (floor) upgrade plans

We already know we need to make significant changes to the floors of all parts of Vida. Some of the drivers for this are:

  • The aft cabin has been remodelled so that the original floors don’t match the new shape of the aft heads or the storage under the new bed.
  • The corridor to the aft cabin is now wider. We have been able to move a little space from the engine compartment as the electric motor is so much smaller than the diesel engine.
  • The aft part of the main saloon floor needs to include a watertight lid to the new battery box with reconfigured support beams.
  • Forward of the battery box we are planning a new built in water tank (although we are updating this at the moment) which needs access and changed floor supports
  • The forward heads is becoming full width and needs a new, larger shower grating and changed shower drain.
  • The new forecabin layout won’t have a full height area and so the existing floor will disappear into a second built-in water tank.
  • We no longer need some of original loose access panels (for old water tanks, seacocks and speed sensor).
  • We want to have all our floors secured to avoid the danger of things flying around if the boat gets knocked down or rolled, yet we also want to have access to the whole bilge for storage and for inspection/repair.
  • I hate creaky floors! Some of our boards are terrible for this and it is very limiting if you can’t move around quietly when others are asleep. This requires a careful mix of rigidity and flexibility to cope with the movement of a boat in waves, however, I am sure we can improve on the current situation.
  • Wear and warmth. In high traffic areas such as the bottom of the companionway the teak veneer on the floor is very worn away. The teak is also cold due to the lack of insulation underneath it. So we are looking to refresh both the look and warmth of the floors. We quite like the rubber style tiles with round bubbles on the surface.

One of the challenges that we have been struggling with is how to secure the floorboards. Currently screws have been used but they have been taken out and put back in so many times that the grip is much diminished. When we look at commercial offerings for securing floorboards they are way outside our budget so we have been looking alternatives.

What we are looking at now is to fit Blind Self-Tapping Inserts into the floor supports and then fit the boards with countersunk M6 bolts (using Torx heads as it is easier to get a good connection to loosen or tighten even when the boat is being thrown about). Bolts will provide a repeatable and reliable fixing that can be left off when loading stores or doing jobs. So access can be free and easy when it is safe while being secure when at sea.

By using rubber tiles such as these light grey ones we think we can have a warmer floor that is hard wearing and fresh (also fitting our plans for a light, modern interior or this example that we like). It also means we can use cheaper plywood, without a beautiful veneer as a base. In many cases we are going to need to update many of the floor supports due to the various changes and in the process open up storage and remove creaks. Part of that work will be to create a slightly wider fixed perimeter around the edges so that the opening sections are easier to lift.

Mast preparation continued

With a beautiful day we had a nice slow morning with family and then got back to preparing our main and mizzen masts for painting (well we also washed the dinghy and equipment).

We now have all the wiring out of the main mast.

We have put messenger lines in for them all.

We have removed both winches (a single speed Lewmar 8 and a double speed Lewmar 16, neither self tailing) and all other fittings showing any corrosion.

I was a bit annoyed by the winch mounts. The winches has been fitted with bolts that were too long and so instead of beinfg simply bolted to the winch mount some of them has gone into the mast itself. That has caused more corrosion and extra holes.

So everything is off and the masts have had a wash including a wash of the inside with a hose.

We have decided we don’t have to do a perfect job immediately, so we have not removed anything that we still need and that isn’t showing any corrosion eg spreader roots, spinnaker pole track. Similarly we have decided not to remove winches and cleats from the mizzen (upgrades can come later).

Tomorrow, is clean with acetone, sand, clean and get a coat of primer on. Then we can fill holes we don’t need to reuse with thickened epoxy, then we can sand and clean before a 2nd coat of primer. That then buys us some time for the rest of the work as the aluminium won’t be able to oxidise.

Another task has been looking at all the hardware we need to fit to the masts.

We are now looking at re-purposing the existing Lewmar 16ST for our mainsail reefing. Then 2 Harken 20ST for the halyards. If we can find something suitable secondhand then we will go for that instead.

We are only going to fit 3 actual halyards and supporting hardware at the moment (Yankee or Genoa, Staysail, Main) but with messenger lines for 2nd headsail, trysail and spinnaker.

We are also going to upgrade from cleats to Rope Constrictors for these halyards, skipping all the generations of clutches. Rope Constrictors are about twice the price of a standard clutch but they don’t damage the Halyard at all. But a replacement Halyard is about three times the extra cost. We have found 2 sources Ronstan and Cousin Trestec.

We are going to replace the tired halyard exit sheeves with the newer, simpler plates (and go from 2 to 5 of them so we have support for all the halyards we will ever need.

We have decided to simplify the lighting. We don’t have a simple way to fit lights to the spreaders and get the cables into the conduit at the front of the mast. That means keeping the deck light and the steaming light on the mast Deck light is lower than the spreaders, steaming light is above. However, it looks even simpler to get a combination LED steaming and deck light. One less cable to run up the mast.

Anyway, painting and filling is the first priority. All the fittings can wait for a while.

Foredeck and Forecabin plans update

We have done a lot of thinking about our foredeck (mostly related to anchoring, sail plan and dinghy storage).

During one of the lockdowns we did some thinking about how to use the forecabin beyond the anchoring plans in terms of layout. We checked a lot of those measurements when we were able to visit, however, we didn’t really check the forecabin as it was full of stuff.

Now that we have cleared space we were able to see how the plans above and below the deck can work together.

Length is our key challenge, above and below decks.

On deck we want to store our 2.9m rib upside down on deck in front of the mast. Actually we can store it so that the two tubes slightly surround the mast, but to get it on and off the deck it is going to be a million times easier if the gap between the dinghy and the inner forestay is at least 2.9m.

Starting from the bow we need to cut the existing locker hatch so that the forward part becomes part of the fixed base for the bow roller extension.

Aft of the bow roller will be the electric windlass. We will need to cut the aft section of the locker lid so that becomes part of the base for the windlass. The windlass needs to be far enough aft that we can have a small opening to the locker below (just to store ropes). The opening to this locker space is critical as we need to be able to get our arm and head in to be able reach 5 nuts (3 from the deck, 2 from the bow) that need to go on the bolts holding the bow roller in place. On the other hand if the windlass is too far aft it will interfere with the inner forestay and the dinghy being on deck.

In the end we have decided on a compromise 🙂 The windlass will be directly on to of the existing chain pipe. We will cut the locker lid to position the windlass here and we will add a glassed in network of wood beams under it that the windlass will be bolted to. The aft section of the existing lid will end up sandwiched between the windlass and the network of beams. The middle section of the lid will be refitted with hinges and a latch. If we find we can’t get good enough access to all the bow roller nuts then we can unbolt the windlass and remove the aft section of the old lid to give us more space.

All of that leaves little space to attach the inner forestay. However, as we do not want a low tack point or a low foot for the staysail or storm jib (because they have to be above the dinghy when it is on deck) we have a little more freedom. So we are going to use a bridle, one leg connected to the deck each side of the tail of the windlass. The tensioning of the inner forestay will happen between the top of the bridle and the bottom of the shroud (which is where the tack of the sail will be attached). Conveniently this means the bridal legs are attached (using the same system as all our chainplates) right next to the bulkhead that is the aft end of the existing anchor locker. We will strengthen this to handle the extra loads with the network of glassed beams for the windlass.

So, we are confident that we can fit everything on deck. There will still be room to move when needing to raise/lower/reef the staysail and for anchoring.

Below decks we have reached a new set of compromises. First, the acceptance that the existing forecabin was never really suitable for two adults. The longest measurable bed length is 6 feet, that assumes you have your head right in the aft outer corner and your feet taking the opposite corner at the forward end.

So rather than try for a substandard double bed that puts limitations on what we can achieve for anchoring we are going to put in a much better single berth that will allow us to improve the chain storage and fit some crash bulkheads.

To achieve this we will move the ply foot board from the V-Berth. Approximately, 100mm forward of this (which is just forward of the where the chain drops down from the windlass) we will put in a watertight crash bulkhead (with little inspection hatch). This means the berth will be 100mm longer, so more full adult size.

With just one full length berth on the port side we can bring the chain down inside a low friction tube that curves to the starboard side (so the berth can be a more comfortable width) and brings the chain much further aft to a carefully shaped “bin” that is the correct proportions for the chain to self stack behind the current anchor locker.

This frees up what was the chain locker and the route to it for an additional watertight crash bulkhead. This is the area most likely to be damaged by hitting a floating object and will give us some protection. It also moves the weight of the chain about 1000mm further aft than it actually was (about 500mm aft of where it should have been).

We will change the current floor level of the forecabin which provides a tiny space with headroom with a too small awkward step so you can get on the bed (which is then too tall compared to the floor to use as a seat). Instead there will be a new floor at the right height to sit on the single port bunk. You will climb up onto this from the heads compartment (which becomes your entrance/dressing area) as you enter the cabin. The reason for this change is that under that new floor, running full width, right down to the hull and forward to the new chain locker will be a built in GRP water tank (to make up for the loss of the water tank in the bilge which is now for our batteries).

The starboard size of the forecabin will now be a dedicated storage area (which means it should be a lot easier to free up the port side bed from a storage area to be available for single guests).

We will therefore ensure that the dinette in the saloon is easily turned into a comfy double bed with thick curtains separating it from the galley/companionway/chart table. That means we still have capacity for 2 double and 2 single beds which is plenty. When sailing we can have 2 excellent sea berths in the saloon plus the aft cabin. If we find the aft cabin is too close to the stern for comfort, and we need a 3rd sea berth often enough, then we can create “pop-up” quarterberth in the corridor leading to the aft cabin. All of which means we are happy with the choice to reduce the number of beds from the theoretical (but completely impractical) original 8 too 6 by switching the forecabin to a single and not having a pilot berth above the starboard “sofa” in the saloon.

What we like about this plan is that we have significantly reduced the amount of work to get the foredeck and forecabin ready for our launch compared to what we feared. We also gain a far better chain storage, a large water tank so that we are heading back to enough capacity for ocean crossings, and watertight crash bulkheads that are better than we expected (with less work too). Plus on deck we have a workable solution that gets us much better anchoring, a proper cutter rig and space for the dinghy on deck.

Battery bank installation progress

Today has included a huge amount of lifting and moving. A large part of that was lifting all 8 batteries on board. You can see the preparation for this in Low down progress

First battery bank has a nearly finished box (needs final epoxy coating and painting plus a lid).

The second battery bank will sit on top.

We need to make some changes to the floor supports. We will fit a new central floor board that will be the watertight lid of the top battery bank.

The top bank will also be 4 batteries and is both longer and wider than the lower bank. The hull shape means the batteries take up a lot less space this way round. Fortunately we have bluetooth access to the BMS of the lower batteries (and the top one that will be under the steps).

We are going to make sure that even if the bilge filled with water our batteries would not get wet (and there will be no exposed battery connections under the water at that point).

Anyway the bilge that water flows into is nearly a metre deeper that where the batteries are, that bilge will have an automatic electric bilge pump, a high water alarm and a manual bilge pump.

Starting to fit the new bow roller

No progress yesterday as we went to a distant family funeral. Then today has been one of those days where you plan one thing and end up doing something completely different.

Jane was going to work on mast tangs and I was going to work on the main mast. However, when we discovered from Keith at Anglesey Fabrication that our new bow roller was ready for fitting we switched to that.

After struggling to lift it up the ladder last time we decided to do it sensibly with our man overboard block and tackle.

Once in place we had to figure out the changes to make to be sure it fits properly and all the original holes line up.

After some grinding, cutting and drilling we have a good fit. We drilled out the old bolt holes which go through a solid timber core. In total 80mm thick. The edges of the timber had clearly got a bit wet at some point so we have then filled it with thickened epoxy and will drill new bolt holes through that.

We cut the old softer gap filler and have used thickened epoxy to fill everything. We now have some plastic and foam tiles in place to hold everything while the epoxy cures (helped by a fan heater). Just after we finished some rain came so we now have a fan heater in the old anchor locker and a tarpaulin over the lot.

Now we need to order new bolts and start preparing a replacement for the forward end of the old anchor locker (which becomes the backing plate for the new aft extension to the whole assembly).


Hopefully we will have the actual roller fitted early next week and then we can test with the anchor and sort out the various rigging attachments and the “cage” to stop the anchor escaping and damaging the dyneema rigging.

Given that the bow roller assembly is critical to our safety while sailing (forestay attachment and holds the anchor in place) and when anchored (for obvious reasons) we are happy to have something that is oversized and that we are very confident is extremely well attached to the boat. Gary from GRP Fabrications thinks we plan to use it to attack marinas like a modern day Roman Galley 🙂

I’ve just checked and it has all gone hard to the touch so I have been able to pull off all the plastic, wood and foam. Ready for a quick sand and then we can continue with the support base and backing plate for the aft part 🙂 Not tomorrow though as lots of rain is forecast.

Slow progress preparing the Main mast for refurbishment, plus tangs continue

Today has mostly alternated between rain and drizzle which has dampened progress. Most of the jobs inside are still easier when we can do the timber cutting and sanding outside. So when we could, Jane continued with the work on the mizzen tangs while I started on the main mast.

We have improved the working conditions for Tang manufacturing with a seat 😊 Also it is definitely worth stopping and recharging the Dremel before the battery goes completely flat.

Before I started on the main mast I had another good look at mizzen. We think this is a newer mast (but we don’t know when it dates from), it is a Kemp (still made by Seldon I think). The key finding is that the track in the aft edge of the mast (for the sail slides) is shaped on the inside as a T. This means that we should be able to slit a pvc pipe and slide it along the T. This way we get a wiring conduit that is fixed in the mast without any riveting. We will need to plan how to get the wires out halfway up the mast so that there is no danger of them being cut by the edge of the pipe.

Main Mast

We had some work done by North Spars when we first got Vida, that was to remove an aftermarket roller furling. However, two years on it is obvious that a more thorough refurbishment is needed.

I wouldn’t want to trust the spinnaker halyard that used this block for much!

The similar block for the spinnaker pole uphaul has really scuffed the mast 😒

A which handle pocket had been installed in a very dodgy way between these cleats, so that has come off. Here it looks like the mast was originally gold. What I’m not sure about is how it has ended up silver (with lots of green growth). Has the gold worn off or was it removed or was it over coated?

Both winches work, although they need servicing. Currently there are cleats for the halyards, they seem original but there are extra rivets around them. For safety I’m planning to fit clutches above the winches, if you are hauling someone up the mast with a non self-tailing winch I think that is essential. So maybe the cleats can come off later.

The lights and wiring are a complete mess. The tricolour at the mast top has disintegrated from UV damage. This fitting was for the steaming light, which was full of water.

This is the deck light. Like the mizzen I want to switch to lights on the spreaders so that the whole deck can be lit with fewer shadows. No photo but it looks like there is a wiring hole inside the spreader root.

This shows the gunky mess where the wires come out of the mast at the bottom. You can see where I have cleaned up some of the corrosion using our new ScotchBrite pad on the grinder, it was much more aggressive than I expected (and probably more than I need).

You can also see the mast foot. I have managed to get the screws out (about half unscrewed and the others I had to drill). I have not managed to get the mast foot off yet. I need to try the hot air gun next. As the mast head is welded on I would really like to get the foot off. Partly because I want to see how much corrosion there is and partly because it is the only way I am going to get a good look at how the wiring is routed and what options there are for a conduit.

I have got all the Shrouds and Stays off, including the roller furler.

The spacing for the forestay is a bit tight. So I think we might need a closed stainless steel thimble here rather than our tangs. The mast top is wider at the forward port side which is why the forestay attachment point (between the two holes) doesn’t look central. You can also see I’ve removed the little end plates that stop the sheeve axles from escaping.

So now I have another little pile of mast rubbish.

But we also have the full paint system, three types of paint, all of them two part. Just need some better weather!

At the moment I don’t think we will remove everything that is riveted to the mast, there are no signs of corrosion around them. But I might change my mind 😂