Thursday, May 30, 2013

And Miles to Go Before We Sleep...

Brigadoon underway with her new sails.

Upgrades, upgrades and more upgrades.

Captain Fatty Goodlander, one of the penultimate sea-gypsies of our time, speaks frequently about building boats that are safe and strong.  It's our goal that Brigadoon will be as safe and as strong as Bob Perry originally designed her to be, along with anything we can do to enhance the already excellent design.

It's said, by Beth Leonard, I think, that buying a cruising boat more than ten years old means you are going to end up committing to a set of upgrades.  The estimated cost of those upgrades is likely to approximate half the value of the boat.  

You got me right.  If you buy a used yacht for $100,000.00 you will end up spending another $50,000.00 on necessary upgrades and maintenance.  Why so much?

It's unlikely the sails on your yacht are new, or even in very good condition.  The cooking range is years old.  The batteries in the house bank and to support engine starting are a few years old.  The wiring to support the current house bank may not be up to snuff.  Hoses get old.  Faucets corrode. The cushions are likely old and shot. Stainless steel standing rigging gets brittle with age. Running rigging does not last forever and, especially if you live in the Northwest, do you really want sheets and halyards that are green from mold and mildew over the winter?

We've had Brigadoon since November 1, 2010.  We are over two and a half years into ownership. When I heard this number I started thinking about all the projects we have tackled in that two and a half years.  I talked this over with Kerry, my wonderful first mate. 

We added up the following changes to Brigadoon:
  • Brand new hand made sails from Carol Hassee and crew of Port Townsend Sails.
  • Haul-out and new bottom paint completed at CSR Marine, in Seattle.
  • Removal of old head/hoses and the installation of a Nature's Head composting toilet.
  • Fuel polishing to clean up the fuel system so we don't have yet another engine outage while under sail, like what happened on our first big vacation.
  • Replacement of every single piece of running rigging; all the sheets and halyards.  Every.  Single.  Piece.
  • Installation of a NMEA 2000 network, along with new hull fittings and mast instruments, including three Garmin GMI10 displays.
  • Brand new interior cushions, all custom made by Pam at Vashon Portage Canvas.
  • Brand new PFDs (6).
  • Two new memory foam mattresses.
  • Dyneema-based lazy jacks, designed, made and installed by yours truly.
  • Jack lines, designed, made and installed by yours truly.
  • Topping lift for the boom, designed, made and installed by yours truly.
  • Dyneema-based lifelines designed, made and installed by yours truly.
  • Dingy motor by Electric Paddle along with a new 35 amp/hour battery.
  • Ground tackle upgrade with the installation of our shiny, new and very functional Ultra Anchor.
  • A new faucet for the galley.  The old one was clogging and difficult to use.
  • A new range for the galley. The old brown porcelain Hiller range was literally rusting out on it's mounts, didn't cook very well, was untrustworthy and ugly.  We replaced it with a beautiful, brand new stainless steel Dickenson Caribbean two burner stove.
  • Bimini frame, free-sourced and installed.  I still have to hand-sew the cover. 
  • This does not count the numerous tools, shackles, pad-eyes, screws, nuts, bolts, and sundries to allow us to complete small repairs and maintenance.
We added this up.  When we got to the number, I watched in amusement as Kerry's eyes got wiiiiiddddeeee.  It was really funny.  But it made sense.  This was all necessary.

This all cost real money and, we are not, in any sense of the word, rich, or made of money.  But we had a plan.  The costs are not being piled on credit cards.  We paid for most of this with cash;that we saved and planned to spend.  Most of these were not surprises in any way.  The ones that were -- well, we paid that purchase off quickly.  It's the whole idea of making her better, but not going into debt to do it.  The Freedom Project is about, at the end, owning a safe and strong boat and not owing anyone any money -- anymore -- ever.

And we are not even done.  We still have to:
  • Replace all the stainless steel standing rigging.
  • Replace every single hose on the engine and all the belts (possibly upgrade to a serpentine belt.)
  • Replace the alternator with a more powerful unit.
  • Replace Wee Brigadoon, our beautiful little lapstrake dingy with an active rescue Portland Pudgy dingy/lifeboat.
  • Remove all the old and blistering bright-work (varnish) and decide how to finish the boat.
  • Reseal the decks before it's too late to do so.
  • Rebed and reseal every single stanchion to stop leaks into the boat.
  • Install a new, heavier duty, bimini frame that can stand up to offshore conditions.
  • Solar power.
  • Wind power.
  • Windvane steering.
  • New digital Radar.
  • and so on as we discover what we can do to...
Make Brigadoon as safe and strong as we can, making her as capable as she can be, so the only weakness is us; our skills, our knowledge, our commitment to the Freedom Project and our goals.  That we are working on too.

There lots to do and still time in our plans to do it.  Brigadoon can take us far -- and she will.   We only have to prepare her and ourselves and the world will eventually be ours.


  1. One more item for the first list: The tear out of toilet and septic system that came with our boat and the purchase and deployment of a Nature's Head Composting Toilet. :-)

    I sure do love our boat!

  2. You guys are so amazing! It makes sense, you know? Just like purchasing a house you have updates and upgrades to do. Your's is more vital though because its on water and not on land. I've always wanted to see Brigadoon. Much love always to you both. I love your blog and reading about your adventures! xo Mae