Refitting a Wauquiez Hood 38

2007.11_Sojourner checking out the start of the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner race

My Mom and Dad bought their first sailboat when they were about the same age as I was when I bought Arcturus. She was a Bristol 24, and they sailed her on the northern Chesapeake out of the Sassafras.

Sojourner, a Wauquiez Hood 38 built in 1986, the subject of this chapter, is my parent’s seventh boat of the same name, but the first that truly went bluewater.

A Tragic Start

My Mom died from brain cancer in 2012. Mia, Dad and I first heard the news that she was sick back in 2009, the day we returned from delivering a Mason 44 to the Bahamas. While we’d been offshore, and unbeknownst to us, Mom had been to the eye doctor complaining of blurry vision. He immediately sent her to the hospital where they diagnosed her with a brain tumor, later declared a glioblastoma, the worst kind. She lived another 2-and-a-half years, far longer than anyone had expected, but the diagnosis was basically a death sentence.

Though Mom and Dad had cruised together before—in their early thirties when they spent a year in the Bahamas—the latest Sojourner was meant to be their retirement home. Mom was 62 when she died. If it’s not obvious by reading the above, if you are thinking of going cruising, go.

Andy Schell is the co-founder of 59º North Sailing, which takes paying crew on offshore sailing passages around the Atlantic, Arctic, Caribbean and beyond. They are currently refitting the Farr 65 FALKEN as their new flagship, while they operate their Swan 59 ICEBEAR and Swan 48 ISBJORN in the meantime. Andy founded and hosts the ON THE WIND sailing podcast and recently launched the online seamanship platform The QUARTERDECK. Andy has sailed over 100,000 miles offshore, including 5 Atlantic crossings and an expedition to 80º North in Svalbard in 2018. Check them out at 59-north.com.

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Marc Dacey

“…it’s fitted out precisely as he wants her.”

That’s the final verdict, isn’t it? If you have the dollars, skills and desire, there’s no level of fit, finish or modification that can really be judged over-the-top, is there?

Well, excluding golden heads, I suppose.

Robert Andrew

Great articles on the refit process. I want to ask about your experience with the Garmin autopilot and how you came to choose that brand/model. Based on a Practical Sailor article I installed a Nexus autopilot 15 years ago, and right after that Nexus smartly exited the US market (and disappeared from the PS list of recommended products) but ultimately returned as a Garmin offering about 6 years ago I think it was. I’ve been happy with the autopilot, but Garmin has a new version out and after 15 years I’m wondering if an upgrade might actually be worth it. I can’t find any real information on how much the technology has improved, (or on the Garmin product itself, other than from Garmin); my installation has excellent performance on the wind and deteriorates as the wind moves aft, which is fairly typical of autopilots of that era I think. Any input on this issue from someone like yourself with some actual experience would be much appreciated and valuable.

Andy

Hi Robert, the Garmin was recommended to us by my friend Patrick Tewes at Marine Electric Systems in Annapolis. This was a case of finding a trusted professional source and letting him make the decision. I had tried to convince my dad to install a Cape Horn windvane like we did on Arcturus, but he felt the push-button ease of the autopilot would suit his style of cruising better (one or two long passages with crew, followed by winter/summer seasons of day-sailing in more protected waters).

That said, the Garmin on Sojourner has worked flawlessly now after about 8,000 miles offshore and more inshore. It’s a very simple setup, with a heading-based autopilot only, as he has no wind instruments installed and nothing is networked. We had issues initially with it blowing a fuse when it got overpowered (mostly off the wind in big seas), but by upping the amperage on said fuse per the instruction manual (it was in-line, right at the drive unit, so easily accessible), it hasn’t happened since (and yes, I understand sail balance is a key to avoiding this, but this wasn’t the case here). I haven’t done much research myself on autopilots as such, so can’t really comment beyond that.

On Isbjorn, our Swan, we have a Raymarine unit, probably 10-12 years old, that came with the boat and works great. When that quits, we’ll install another Cape Horn, but for now, I’m saving my money!

Andy

Philippe

Great articles. I have heard about Andy via his podcast, so all these 2 refit stories are not really new to me.
I was wondering if during the refit process you also asked yourself about replacing / changing the thru hulls. Because of corrosion in salt water, I have been reading that they should also be replaced “on a regular basis”, say every 15-20 years. For instance most insurance company in Europe are requesting that.

Alastair

I am a UK sailor. In the European Union (that sets the technical and trading standards) there is no request by insurance companies to change through hulls unless the insurance company has demanded a survey and there are concerns. My through hulls are over 42 years old and are solid and I have never been requested to change them or ordered to inspect them (although they have been). In Europe we have the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) which is legislation about 20 years old now. The RCD states that seacocks must have corrosion resistance at least for 5 years, or something like that, don’t quote me. This has resulted in boats being built with lower quality seacocks and maybe through hulls. Most folks will change these for better quality at some point. It is a well known issue but I believe that most builders have now changed to better quality seacocks and through hulls anyway. Personally, if I bought another second hand boat and did not know what type of through hull or seacock was fitted, or there was doubt, I would change them.

This article from YBW explains what happened in the UK when a surveyor discovered the low quality sea cocks being fitted to EU boats http://www.yachtingmonthly.com/archive/essential-seacock-checks-4692 and also this article http://www.yachtingmonthly.com/news/nightmare-of-seacock-safety-4758

Hope this helps to make the situation in Europe clear. Yes, seacocks on newer boats can be built from less suitable materials than older classes i.e. brass compared to bronze.

John Harries

Hi Alastair,

I was just about to go into the same explanation and then found you had covered it, and probably better than I would have too, thank you.

Andy

Hi Philippe, glad you like the podcast! We didn’t replace any thru-hulls but thoroughly inspected them all. Arcturus, the older boat, still had a lot of the bronze thru-hulls with big rubber sea-cocks, and they were all in good shape. There were definitely some issues with newer boats and the thru-hulls they installed, which is referenced below.

Andy

Robin Bower

I know this post is a couple of years old but the information is still very useful. I purchased a 1983 Nauticat 36 in 2016. I believe she spent the first 25 years in salt water, but was lightly used judging from the excellent condition of the boat and the low number of hours on her 90hp Ford Lehman diesel engine . (1500 hrs) I will be preparing the boat to go offshore in 2019-2020 and need to come up with a must have, must do list. First question. Is it necessary to replace the standing rigging (I only know of one shroud that was replaced) or can a good rigger determine if the rigging and of course chainplates are sound.
Same question for the through hulls. There are other areas that will need attention however, as John Harries stated in a recent article, “keep the water out and the mast up” should one of a boat owners main concerns.
Any suggestions regarding outfitting our Nauticat 36 would be greatly appreciated. I have read some negative comments regarding the suitability of taking a Nauticat 36, with its large pilothouse windows and doors offshore, possibly across the pond. Again, any comments will be greatly appreciated.
Robin and Louise Bower

Marc Dacey

I have a steel pilothouse cutter circa 40 feet and people call it a Nauticat often enough that I feel able to comment. I’ve also approaching the end of a protracted refit that involved a flywheel-to-prop-zinc repowering.

In a salt water environment, or (worse) a brackish one, I would no question do a rerigging and that might well include tangs and all fasteners on the mast, top to bottom. Salt water adjacent rigging is good according to many mariners (and insurers of mariners) for 10 to 12 years. This is one area where you may want to reset to zero. Thru-hull replacement depends on original make and therefore composition, frequency of service, the bonding regimen and availability of spare or service parts, because if you have a strongly built thru-hull in good shape, it’s likely worth keeping. My guru on this and many other refit questions has been Rod Collins (https://secure2.pbase.com/mainecruising/boat_projects).

As for the size and strength of the “standard” portlights and companionway doors, these are things you can change, either by installing storm shutters (which can be clear Lexan) or beefing up the existing frames and windows. The Nauticat 36 is a good boat to passagemake on, but as you suspect, it can be made better by some beefing up.

John Harries

Hi Robin and Louise,

After over 30 years, I would definitely replace all the standing rigging as well as the chain plates. As far as I know there is no really reliable way to access the condition of these items.

If the through hulls are bronze, then a good inspection will suffice.

I have thoughts on large windows here: https://www.morganscloud.com/2014/12/27/qa-safety-of-large-pilothouse-windows/

Mark

Would you also replace the mast attachment points for the shrouds and stays?

John Harries

Hi Mark,

Given that the boat was built in the 80s, I would certainly give it serious consideration.

As to converting her to a cutter, given the quite large fore triangle that would, I think, be an option, although it’s not a trivial job:

More in three chapters starting here: https://www.morganscloud.com/2015/09/17/12-reasons-the-cutter-is-a-great-offshore-voyaging-rig/

Mark Swanson

How difficult would it be to convert the Wauquiez 38 to a cutter rig? How well did the boat work out as an offshore boat?

John Harries

Hi Mark,

It’s unlikely that Andy will respond, see our comment guide lines: https://www.morganscloud.com/2013/11/10/aac-comment-guide-lines/ #3

That said, I understand from Andy that his father’s boat has worked out well, with several ocean passages to and from the Caribbean to her credit.