The never-ending boat projects

We bought Chip-Chip in the fall of 2015. At first we thought that we would want to redo the electrical systems and maybe get some new sails, but of course there’s always some hidden issues when you buy a boat. The first winter ended up with a number of projects.

  • A complete overhall of the electricity. Chip-Chip came with double circuits for electricity, with lead acid batteries placed randomly around the boat and with subsequent “clever” electrical additions clearly carried out by previous owners themselves. We paid out way our of this one the first winter, and now we have a nice clean setup (with the current owners subsequently making “clever” diy additions).
  • Building in a new depth sounder. This was my birthday present from my parents the first year we had Chip-Chip.
  • Renovation of the rudder. Esben did this while I was in the hospital with my arm.
  • New drinking water hoses and pumps. Included cutting out for a new foot pump and replacing the leaking hand pump.

Plans to live onboard

In the fall of 2016 we sailed Chip-Chip to Bremerhaven, so we could easier get the things done onboard that winter. We had begun discussing if we would be able to live onboard Chip-Chip for an extended period. That of course didn’t mean less work.

  • The mattresses were thin and smelly. After some quick calculations we bought a sewing machine and some sunbrella fabric and made new ones ourselves. Let’s just say that we now understand why new upholstery is so expensive.
  • We wanted new standing and running rigging, and quickly realized that we also needed a new furler. This was one thing we couldn’t make ourselves, and it took a while to get the mast back on the boat.
  • The teak in the cockpit was literally falling off. Luckily we could get my dad to guide us through the process of redoing the teak seats.
  • The inside of Chip-Chip was very worn after 47 years of extensive sailing. We decided to paint the v-berth and the toilet. But ended up also painting the main cabin. It was a lot of work, sanding, varnishing and painting. But now we are so happy we did it.
  • The old Blakes toilet was not very nice anymore. We took it apart, painted it, replaced the gaskets and the hoses. But in the end we finally had to accept that we needed to replace it, so now we have a new one.
  • The inside of storage areas, for example below the berths and inside the locker, have been painted and isolated to make them nicer. Also, we installed shelves in locker – a big improvement for storage.
  • We have sewn extra storage pockets for the kids.
  • And finally, we have done many little projects, like adding a VHF repeater in the cockpit, installing a new tricolor lantern, mounting the EPIRB and the fire extinguishers, adding lee cloth etc.

But through all this we managed to keep Chip-Chip sailing, and made a very nice trip to Bornholm this past summer.

The latest details…

For the winter of 2017/2018 we had a long list of projects. So far we have gotten through the following.

  • We ordered new sails. The main is now done, and the genua is back with the sailmaker for corrections.
  • In the fall I talked to the local stainless steel blacksmith to get him to redo our guard rails so we can mount solar panels on them. We are still only talking, but hopefully this will be done soon.
  • The biggest project this winter has been sanding down Chip-Chip’s bottom. It’s done now, but so far temperatures have been too low for epoxy work, so we cannot move further with this project at the moment. But do check out Esbens video below!
  • New refrigerator. We have discussed this one endlessly, and I think I have had a look at every single cooling box on the marked without finding one that we were happy with. Finally, I asked Esben if we should remove two of the beautiful drawers in the dinette. If we did, a 30L refrigerator drawer would fit perfectly. Now, the fridge is installed, and so far we are very, very happy with the setup.

More to come

We are planning to leave on the 1st of July, and with the exception of the stainless steel work that we need help to do, we are actually not too stressed about the boat projects that still need to be done.

  • Finish the bottom. For this we need higher temperatures as we will be using epoxy. For bottom paint we have chosen coppercoat, which will hopefully spare us for worrying about bottom paint the coming years, but coppercoat is a bit sensitive regarding temperature and humidity while painting. So we will have to be patient about this one.
  • Re-install the cockpit drains and the fresh water intake for the engine.
  • Install lithium batteries.
  • Install solar panels.
  • Install AIS transceiver – so other boats can see our position.
  • Install solar vents.
  • Make mosquito nets for all hatches. The doctor who did our vaccinations strongly recommended this as we are planning to visit the Gambia in the middle of mosquito season.
  • Sew a new “door” for the cupboard and lee cloths for the shelves.
  • Sew more storage bags.
  • Replace the exhaust elbow and hose. For this one we’re just happy that we managed to get replacement parts for our ancient engine.

And this is just boat projects. Of course there are a trillion other things to take care of before leaving a country for good. Especially as we are planning to bring the kids on the trip. But maybe more about that another time. Have to get back to varnishing the tiller for the 8th time…

2 thoughts on “The never-ending boat projects

  1. Oh yes, I so much know what you talk about 🙂
    Fortunately I am through with most of what you can change, or re-new on these good old boats. When you are tired of working, remember the really positive aspects : Even though almost 50 years old, the fiber structure is still strong. Some later designs becoming weak after 15 years. And, when you have done everything by yourself, than you know each and every nut and bolt on your boat. Who else can say that?:-)
    My current winter projects are the following:
    – A self made level monitor for portable water and diesel: It all started with a level switch that I had found in the remnant sales for 5€. Now I am programming the logic of a micro controller (Arduino) to display the feedback on a small LCD. This is fun stuff and I learned a lot. Luckily in my team there are two instrumentation engineers, or else I would have given up.
    – And we finally have bought a used feathering propeller. Brand new they are too expensive. If all goes well, I will sail Libert’e to Maasholm in the fist week of May. She will be located there all summer and I am looking forward to visit some danish sail grounds.
    I wish your further good luck for your projects!


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