Refits, What You Need to Know


When I think back on over 18 years 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.

A refit of an older boat done well can make it possible to get out there cruising for a fraction of what a new, or even fairly new, 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 to help you do a good refit we have just reorganized all of our articles on the subject. And while doing that we realized that there are different ways to get the job done, so we have split the articles up by author:

Andy Schell—Three Refits

In four articles, Andy Schell, iconic professional sailor of 59 North and the On The Wind Podcast, shares 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!

  • 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 will help anyone get out there and stay out there, refit or not.

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

Colin—An Offshore Sailboat for US$100,000

Few people in the world have sailed, worked on and fixed more different types of boats than AAC European Correspondent and professional sailor, Colin Speedie.

In four articles Colin uses that expertise to share how to select an older boat and then refit it into a simple and safe offshore cruising boat, all for US$100,000 or maybe even a bit less.

John—Planning a Refit

We are dreaming of palm trees and surfing the listings at YachtWorld for a boat to take us there, but wait, have we thought about how we will actually make this happen? Or is that level of planning even possible?

Yes, it is. In this ongoing series I take a step-by-step approach to planning a refit using the experience I have gained doing three refits, as well as what I have learned from Andy and Colin, coupled with consulting with industry experts in each field.

This is a deep dive into the stuff that will really make the difference between a successful cruising boat and a floating nightmare that will bleed us dry, both emotionally and financially.

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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 25 years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 20 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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