Refit & Repairs: 2005-2008 Summary

Photo: s/y Gyatso after completing a refit in St. Augustine, FL in 2006. Credit: Lisa Borre.
s/y Gyatso after completing a refit in St. Augustine, FL in 2006. Credit: Lisa Borre.

After purchasing our 1985 Tayana 37 in 2005, we undertook a major refit to prepare the boat for extended cruising. Right after the Annapolis Sailboat Show that year, we loaded up a one-way rental car and drove to Yarmouth, Maine. We were hoping to sail the boat back to our homeport of Annapolis so that we could finish moving aboard, and if all went well, to pack-up our household belongings and put it on the rental market. Then we planned to continue south via the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to St. Augustine, Florida, the port we selected for refitting the boat based on the recommendations of several friends in the marine industry in Annapolis.

We briefly contemplated having the boat trucked from Maine to Florida but decided that it was important for us to commission and launch the boat for the first time in a yard that was familiar with it. Although it meant late-season departures from Maine and Annapolis, we were really glad that our general schedule went pretty much according to plan.  

The added benefit is that we were able to treat the trip from Maine to Florida as an extended “shakedown” cruise and work on refitting and repairing as we went. We put-off all projects that required warmer weather or a haul-out until we reached St. Augustine. If we had trucked the boat to Florida, there are many problems we may not have discovered before reaching places where upgrades and repairs are more difficult. Although there were some risks in sailing a 20-year old boat which had been sitting in the yard for 18 months, we were able to get to know the boat better in its existing condition. This helped us to better prioritize refit and repair projects and/or to further customize the boat for our intended use.

During the first year, we transformed the boat from one that was being used for modest, summertime coastal cruising by a couple in their late 70’s and at the end of their sailing career. They put it on the market when they retired from sailing. We found it in the boatyard at Yankee Marina over a year later looking very neglected, although there was some evidence that the boat had been lovingly maintained at one time.

We abide by the motto, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately for us, we had a few surprises when we first bought the boat. We weren’t surprised to find things that were broken because we expected this to be the case. It was just that it took us awhile to discover what those things were. Our first surprise was a completely rusted-out water heater for the freshwater system. While still tied to the dock in Maine where we bought the boat, Lisa kept filling the water tank, and David kept finding it completely empty in the space of a few hours. While inspecting the area under the sink, we noticed water stains leading from the water heater to the bilge. We replaced the hot water heater before leaving the dock in Maine.

Other things needed fixing because they were either outdated or did not meet our standards for offshore sailing performance, safety or live aboard comfort. When facing certain repairs, we ask ourselves, “Can we live with it the way it is?” If the answer was “yes” then something else gets put higher on the list for refit and repairs. Our TTD (things to do) list is always in flux. For example, when we first bought the boat, we thought we could live with the standing rigging for at least a little while. After David suffered from major rig anxiety during our first multi-day passage, a four-day sail from the Bahamas to Beaufort, NC, this item went to the top of the list.

As the fourth owners of Gyatso, we tried to make use of as many things as we could from previous owners. One example was to keep the existing ICOM 600 single sideband radio even though it did not have capabilities for upgrading with a modem for email and data transfers. Because it has a good reputation for voice transmissions, we opted to invest in a satellite phone and data system for those times when we need email and data transfer capabilities offshore. Plus it gave us some redundancy for emergency communications if needed. In retrospect, we might have made a different decision had we know how poorly the Globalstar satellite phone product that we purchased would actually perform. This is the kind of trade-off we are constantly trying to balance with our good old boat.

During the first year, we undertook the following projects as part of a major refit for our 1985 Tayana 37 (in no particular order):

  • replaced the raw water pump and alternator on the engine
  • installed smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and propane gas detector in the main cabin
  • replaced the water intake strainers, hoses and fuel filter system for the engine
  • cleaned the diesel fuel tank and built an emergency “day tank”
  • replaced both anchors with equivalent Delta and CQR versions and purchased new chain and anchor rode for the primary anchor
  • serviced and re-conditioned the manual windlass
  • replaced all running rigging, blocks, lifelines and docklines
  • replaced all standing rigging and rebuilt chainplates, cranze ring, etc.
  • installed new chart plotter, VHF radio, wind indicator, Navtex receiver and satellite phone/data system
  • replaced original headsails with new ones designed by UK Halsey in Annapolis
  • replaced old EPIRB with ACR 406mHz version
  • replaced the engine/shore-power refrigeration system with a modern, 12-volt system (air and keel cooled)
  • installed Seagull drinking water filtration system
  • replaced rusted-out water heater
  • rebuilt the countertops in the galley
  • replaced cushions and coverings in the main cabin and forward cabin
  • rebuilt steering quadrant yoke and bolts after storm damage in 02/06
  • replaced broken Raymarine ST 6000 autopilot after storm damage in 02/06
  • installed Monitor windvane self-steering system
  • installed solar panels
  • replaced all exterior canvas (bimini, dodger, sail cover, hatch covers and wheel cover)
  • made custom-designed sun awnings to shade main cabin and forward cabin in tropical environments
  • re-finished all exterior brightwork (bi-annually and then annually)
  • re-bedded deck hardware (annually)
  • repaired barrier coat and painted bottom (annually and then every two years)
  • installed life raft and other offshore safety gear as per rally requirements

Things we kept:

  • old ICOM 600 single side-band radio
  • Raytheon radar
  • Furuno GPS (as a back-up)
  • Zeppelin rib dinghy and Honda 5 hp 4-stroke outboard
  • dinghy davits
  • manual windlass
  • boarding ladders
  • galley stove and sink
  • electrical panel (after careful inspection and re-working)

Things we removed:

  • grill and wooden rack on dinghy davits
  • television and microwave oven (in 2008 because they were out-dated and under used — we may reinstall new models when we return to the US)
  • all existing equipment that was replaced (see above)