I'm familiar enough with buying
used sailboats and all that entails. This is the first time I've bought a new boat. And now that I've been in South Africa
for a week, watching over the build process, I can't imagine buying
a new boat and not being on-site for a good portion of the build. It's so incredibly useful to be able to go over systems and decisions while the boat is under construction. It's also very useful to be able to see how the boat is put together, so you know what things look like behind the furniture.
I've been popping over while the workers are at lunch. St. Francis really encourages me to feel at home coming by the yard, whether it's in the morning, after the end of shift, over lunch, or on weekends. I try not to abuse it, but man . . . it's so hard not to go over there to measure something or share an idea.
Today, we looked at davit options. There are a ton of solutions to launching a heavy dinghy
off solid chocks, and all have pluses and minues. The previous hull
has an in-boom extension and a spare halyard
. The system works, and has the advantage of completely disappearing and using existing winches and stoppers, but I've been looking for something a little more user-friendly for a singlehander, and something that is a bit quicker, so I don't hesitate to lift
They've also done a lowering davit system, which is nice. But I'm leaning toward a solution inspired from my powerboating days. It's a davit crane with an extendable boom. Mounted at the top of the starboard swim steps, the davit would lift
the dinghy and either drop it off the stern or over the starboard side. Quick, with one-button operation, and a manual swing of the boom. All the measurements look good. Wish I'd seen this on more cats so I could get a sense of what's right or wrong with the idea. It feels like a sport fish
solution on a sailboat, which is a funny
combination. But I think it'll look sleek and sexy while being ultra functional.
The other crazy cool thing has been laying out furniture. Cabinets are going in, and we discuss where to put a hanging locker, whether to use drawers here or shelves, stuff like that. You can really think about what you're putting on the boat, and lay out the storage
to suit your needs. One cabinet that I wanted to use for some tools and spares is getting a narrow workbench with recessed threads so I can bolt on a vise. It's the sort of modification I did to my own sailboat aftermarket, but now it's being done by workers with far more talent and right off the bat. I feel spoiled.
Probably the most important thing has been looking at material samples. I chose some colors and materials via websites, but things look so different in person. So I was able to tweak the countertop material, get a different shade of blue for the leather, and different Sunbrella for some cushions
. Meeting with the upholsterer tomorrow to discuss cushions
and things like that. I have to say, the build process is slightly addicting. It was a lot of fun to buy a used boat
20 years ago and find all the goodies in the holds left behind by the previous owner, and rig the boat to my liking over the subsequent years, but this is altogether something else. If you can afford it, and have the time, I highly recommend it. And if you happen to get a St. Francis, you are in for a treat when you visit this part of South Africa
. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. The hardest part of building a boat here will be sailing away.