This website covers the two boats we have had, our various projects with them and links to information we have found for the two boats.
Our first Maringret was a Swedish made Maxi 95, hull 647 from 1977. We bought her in 1998 and sold her in 2004 after 5 1/2 years and over 10,000 miles.
- Click here for our page of information on Maxi 95s
- Click here for our page of information on our Maxi 95 and our various projects
Our second Maringret is a Swedish made Hallberg-Rassy 41 ketch, hull number 20 from 1976. We purchased her in late 2003 and currently sail her.
- Click here for our page of information on Hallberg-Rassy 41s
- Click here for our page of information on our Hallberg-Rassy 41 and our various projects
We started looking for a boat in the southern and eastern UK in the fall of 1977. We visited the boat shows, all sorts of brokerages and watched the advertisements in the sailing magazines. In the spring of 1998 we bought “Maringret”, Maxi 95 hull 647, built in 1977. She had been ashore for 2 or 3 years under cover when we bought her so we knew we had some work to get her ready for the water again. This web page is the description of those activities and how they have continued on to the present as our plans for cruising aboard “Maringret” have expanded.
Our first Maringret (click to enlarge)
As we started to range further afield and live permanently aboard we decided we needed to relocate to a larger boat. We were interested into going further off the standard cruising routes and this implied increased levels of self-sufficiency and provisioning. We looked at lots of boats at boat shows and rejected most of them because if they were affordable then they were not robust enough for us. Conversely the ones that were robust enough were far beyond our budgetary constraints. As we were doing a minor refit on the Maxi 95 we met the owner of a Hallberg-Rassy 41 who offered to show us around. It was uncanny to step into a boat so different and yet feel quite at home. The fact that they were only one year apart in age meant that the construction techniques and materials were very similar between the two boats. The idea of changing boats sat with us for about 12 months before it came to the action level. We then set out to locate ones that came up for sale, narrowly missed seeing one before it sold, saw one that was in unfortunate shape and then found the one in immaculate shape which we purchased.
Our second Maringret (click to enlarge)
Where to start? Buying your first boat is definitely a learning situation. There are lots of websites out there that deal with the topic, although each purchase consists of a different person and a different boat. We started out without a tool collection other than a hammer, saw and screwdrivers from around the house. As an indication of the learning curve one goes through, we now have :
- one general tools bag (for when we’re too lazy to get the proper tool bag out and everyday things to fix);
- two electrical tool bags;
- one plumbing and gas line bag;
- one bag for rigging work;
- one bag with woodworking tools;
- the following non-power tools: bolt cutters, 4 saws, socket set, nut driver set, bench vise (we mount it on a plank layed across the cockpit), 4 clamps, hand drill;
- the following power tools: electric drill, rechargeable electrical drill, electric jig saw, Dremel multi-purpose tool;
- and of course all the brushes, thinners, solvents etc. for fibreglass care, varnishing and painting.
Of all the above tools there isn’t one that hasn’t been used – we only get tools when we need to. Each tool or class of tools implies getting up to speed with the various techniques. Not everyone would enjoy this but some do thrive on it.
This leads onto another topic which is whether to get the work done for you or do it yourself. This is very specific to each person and their immediate situation but still there are some general observations that we can make:
- If you find boat work therapeutic then follow your inclinations.
- If you find boat work exasperating then perhaps you should follow those inclinations.
- Time constraints of job, family and other commitments will enter into your decision process. Most people we have met who enjoy doing boat work also enjoy the unhurried nature of the work, trying to squeeze boat work into an already busy life could be the wrong thing to do. We started off having most things on the boat done for us as we didn’t have the time, tools or skills but over time we have taken more and more under our belt and now there are not many jobs that we would not tackle.
- One important lesson we have learned is that having a paid person do the work is no guarantee of the outcome of the work. We have watched boatyards undertake work that was as foreign to them as it was to the paying customer. They then precede to perform the work with the equipment installation manual in one hand leaving one hand to do the work. You are paying them to learn their way through the work and although they may have some general knowledge from years of working with boats, don’t under estimate what a motivated owner can do compared to a yard work on an hourly basis. We have had gas work, wood work and electrical work done that we have had to redo ourselves. And the product of our efforts was much better and in the case of the gas and electrical work, much safer.Our favorite story on this topic is when we had some old instruments removed from our cockpit bulkhead. The yard that did this work made a colour match when they filled the resulting hole that is virtually perfect, the tradesman truly knew his work to a masters level. At a second boat yard a year later we asked about having a similar colour matching job done for a chip that had been taken out of the gelcoat (the chip was taken out by the same second yard through misuse of tools but that is another story). Anyway the “colour matching expert” at the second yard came down to the boat and worked his magic before pronouncing that our gelcoat colour “couldn’t be matched”. I subsequently took this up with the yard foreman who told me quite sincerely that his man “was the best in the business” and that “it was too complicated a subject to explain to a lay person.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that his man had tested the colour across the area the first yard had filled and perfectly colour matched – in fact the first yard had done the job so well that the second yard’s “expert” didn’t even detect it! Our conclusion from this is that the term”expert” is a relative rather than an absolute term.In most recent times we have used outside help for specialty work (e.g. laminating the new countertop in a big press or welding stainless steel) and when we were short of time. We’re running about fifty-fifty on the experience, meaning half the work completed just wasn’t up to our standards. Get references on the companies or individuals, ask around the marina or yacht club for other’s experiences. Through having boat work done in all sorts of countries we have found that the 50-50 ratio seems to apply to all countries. It seems that half the tradesmen out there just don’t turn out the quality comensurate with their billing rate.We should point our that we have had the pleasure to work with a handful of master craftsmen who we would recommend to anyone. Sadly they are in short supply.
- It is hard to earn back what you will spend on good tools if you only fix one “widget” This doesn’t mean that you have to fix everybody in the marina’s “widget” but rather that buying a socket set to tighten one nut will not earn back the cost of the tools. But if you know that you will be working with the nuts on your boat on an ongoing basis then it may be worthwhile to purchase the tools.
- Balance the cost of your tools. There is an old adage that “only a bad craftsman blames his tools”. This is true but in the situation where the tool will get abused, possibly going swimming, or become a rust victim we sometimes get cheaper tools which we then view as “disposable”. Not that we throw them out but rather that we are prepared to see them depart should they come to the end of their useful life (or go swimming). An example of this is the electric jig saw we have for ripping wood. We bought the cheapest we could as we knew we would never do finishing work with it and you only cut so much wood on a boat. Having said that, it was one of our first power tools and is still with us. The flip side to this is that good tools pay back their value many times “when they are used continuously and taken care of”. And yes, good tools are a joy to work with. We bought very good tools for the electrical work and also our Dremel multi-tool. We bought a cheaper clone of the Dremel for the galley project and burned it out. The Dremel would have been a better investment in the long run but at the outset we weren’t sure how much we would use it on a boat – now we know. Then finally there are the tools we borrow – an example was the big crimping tool for fixing the ends onto battery cables. It just didn’t make sense to buy (and carry) such a tool. This is an example of where renting tools would make sense.
The discussion above really revolves around knowledge levels and skill levels. For someone with the time, the skills and the tools, anything on a boat can be done. It is in your own best interest to be frank with ones self regarding skill and knowledge levels. Perhaps the most important area for a neophyte boat owner is in the original purchase. If you have the skills and knowledge to survey a boat for yourself then go ahead and do so. But if you don’t, and almost all of us don’t, get a professional. Our experience is that we were lucky enough to have an excellent surveyor recommended to us when we were boat hunting. A first boat we looked at and made an offer on turned out to be osmosis riddled even though it was less than 5 years old! Having the surveyor on our side got us out of buying what would have been a major project and loss of money as well as getting us back our 10% deposit which the yacht broker claimed we forfeited by not completing the purchase. When we found Maringret and had him survey her, his detailed 15 page report highlighted every defect, enabled us to present the professionally verified condition to the insurance company (who were a bit dubious of the condition of a 20 year old boat) and has served us a great start on our list of work on the boat. We did not get the engine surveyed and this cost us a new engine. We had opted to have the local boat yard do the survey and when the engine died after 20 hours of use they demonstrated that their real expertise lay in legally avoiding any liability for something that was obviously incompetence. The marine engine specialists who replaced the dead engine insisted that even a simple compression test would have picked out that one cylinder as basically shot.
A final comment on surveying a boat for yourself is that it is reminiscent of the lawyer who defends himself, the saying being that such as lawyer has a fool for a client.
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