A Tale Of Three Refits

IMG_2226When I think back on over a decade of publishing this site and discussing our articles with you, our readers, it is clear to me that the subject of refits, including how to do them well and, even more importantly, whether to do them at all, is one of the most important things we write about in our continuing effort to help more people get out there offshore voyaging.

That’s a pretty sweeping statement, but I stick by it. A refit done well can make it possible to get out there cruising for a fraction of what a new, or even newer boat, would cost.

But a refit that goes wrong can destroy enough of the owner’s hard-earned savings to adversely affect their financial situation for life. I kid you not, unless you are crazy-rich, a bad refit can be a life-altering event, and not in a good way, particularly these days when investment returns are low, and employment returns more tenuous, so that financial recovery is way harder than it was when I made my refit mistake.

So I’m really excited to announce that in a few days we will publish the first of five new chapters devoted wholly and solely to refits, in our How To Buy an Offshore Boat Online Book.

In the first three chapters, new-to-AAC writer Andy Schell will share the stories of his and Mia’s three refits—these two are even crazier than Phyllis and me, in that I was 58 by the time I completed my third refit, he’s done three before 33!

Crazy or not, Andy has done a superb job of telling the story of each refit in detail:

  • The state of the boat at the start.
  • The new gear they chose.
  • The things they fixed and changed.
  • The things they didn’t.
  • And, most important of all, what it all cost and how long it all took.

This is solid-gold information that well help anyone get out there and stay out there, refit or not.

In the fourth chapter Andy will summarize what he has leaned from his three refits, and then I will wind it up with a chapter on what I have learned from Andy’s chapters.

And through it all, we will be answering your questions and asking you to share your refit experiences in the comments.

Clip on, this is going to be an incredibly valuable, although sometimes rough, voyage through the refit sea.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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5 comments … add one
  • Alastair Apr 25, 2016, 7:39 am

    I will be looking forward to these books very much as an owner of a Rival 41C from 1974 which is being partially refitted. The series of books is also very timely because I believe that we are potentially entering an age where older, sound hulls in GRP will become available at low cost simply because of the shear volume of new boats that have been sold since 2000 and the lacklustre sales volume of older GRP hulls. However, there is a risk, low cost allows greater access and as such a real risk of losing those hard earned savings if the dream turns into a nightmare. I am now at the time of my life where it would be difficult to recover from a substantial loss of money with nothing to show for it i.e. an incomplete refit. I have tried to keep my refit simple, keep the old stuff going but ditch it when it becomes bothersome or too expensive to fix and spend the money on maintaining integrity i.e. refurbished windows instead of a new integrated plotter, new rigging instead of a new generation anchor (my 60lb CQR still digs in and holds). I think this new age of refit is approaching because I wonder if the modern mass produced designs (which are great for the market they are aimed at) may start to suffer from structural wear and tear that makes so called Osmosis look like a minor scrape in the gel coat. Even if this assumption is wrong, which it is likely to be, the volumes of low cost, new boats and the longevity of GRP means that the number of hulls available for refit will continue to grow. I hope I can offer comment on my experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly as the articles are published. Regards, Alastair

    • John Apr 25, 2016, 7:46 am

      Hi Alastair,

      Thanks for a great comment highlighting a lot of important issues. We will look forward to your comments on the coming chapters.

  • Petter ;-) Apr 26, 2016, 5:06 pm

    Will be more than nice to see Andy as a regular contributor at AAC. I am already an avid fan of his great and recommendable podcast series at 59 North. Find his style inviting and always learn something from the podcasts.
    Eyes sharpened for the articles that will follow, meanwhile


    • Marc Dacey Apr 27, 2016, 1:26 pm

      Same here…I’ve met them twice now in person and both of them are calm and mature, but clearly have a sense of humour regarding their unlikely lives. I launch this season having achieved the “it’s a working boat again” stage of our own refit, but there is always more to learn and there are always mistakes to avoid (he said, having purchased a hole saw yesterday!)

    • Andy Apr 27, 2016, 5:26 pm

      Thanks Petter! I’m stoked to be on the list here! I’ve been a huge fan of AAC, and get a lot of my ideas from the posts I’ve read here over the years!

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