Things I’ve Learned From Three Refits That Will Help You

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Our beautiful boat Isbjorn is hauled out at Antigua Slipway getting her steering system re-built. The whole project, which is probably going to cost north of $10,000 (update: it’s complete, and the final bill is $14,000), inspired me to write about my refit experiences.

Isbjorn is the third old boat I’ve had the "pleasure" of refitting and I’ve learned the hard way what it takes to buy and refit an old boat for long-distance ocean sailing.

(For the details on all three refits see my previous chapters in this Online Book.)

To be clear, I love the concept—refits have elements of history, creativity and recycling, all things I value in life—but there are unexpected realities that I will explain in this post to help those considering refitting an old boat.

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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