Finally, the time has come! We hauled Wolf out of the water at the end of last summer for a huge refit. During the time she was on land, we renewed the whole electric installation, the underwater hull, and put on a fresh new painting of antifouling. Now, over half a year later, she finally goes back into the water. With a few last things to do and fix onboard, she is ready for the season again.
Hauling Her Out
Last year in October we hauled Wolf out of the water and stored her on land. I never craned a boat out so that was a completely new experience. For me a bit scary but interesting at the same time. The marina did most of the job and everything went well.
Over the next months, we visited her multiple times at christmas and new-years to get work on the boat done. This often was everything else than comfortable thanks to the typical winter weather with strong, cold wind and a lot of rain.
More Work Than Expected
We started the whole refit project by first following all the cables to get an idea of where they lead. Wolf is a 48-year-old boat and had three pre-owners from which everyone did this or that little change in the electrics. Over the years those changes stacked up and now the electrics don’t have much in common with the original circuit diagram.
This made it really hard and an act of endurance to understand the system which the cables follow. But after a lot of swearing, we managed to get a rough understanding of how everything works.
With this knowledge, we could finally start to remove one old cable after another and put new ones in the boat. Easier said than done! One thing we learned was that you could never have enough patience when refitting a sailboat. If you think it is just pulling the old cable out and putting a new cable in you are definitely wrong. Ad a few more hours for troubleshooting and swearing words and you are done.
The starting perspective of just changing some cables here and there changed very quickly into getting rid of the whole installation and replacing it.
From start to finish it took us roughly 5 months to complete the refit. And it was time for it. It’s impressive to see what over 48 years of salty air do to electronic parts in terms of corrosion.
First, we started by removing the old cables and replacing them with new ones while following the old cable management scheme but soon realized that this wasn’t the solution we were looking for. So we decided to tear out every old cable and begin from scratch.
The central part of the whole electric onboard Wolf is the nav station, so it was logical to start from there and work our way on.
Replacing The Nav Station
The pre-owner of Wolf customized a lot of things but didn’t spend much time doing this in a clean way. This showed especially in the nav station, where cables hung loose everywhere. At home, we constructed a new nav station and put that one on the boat.
We cut the front out of a metal plate. The cutouts for all the devices were lasered, this way you get absolutely clean cuts. We then painted the metal plate black in three layers and mounted it on a box, for which we used the old nav station as a reference.
Then it was on to connect everything together, mounting power distributors and fuzes.
After this was completed, we just needed to put the nav station in the spot, where the old one was and it was finished.
Besides the VHF, a single switchboard, and the control for the heater the previous nav station didn’t have many controls. So we also installed a few new systems. Two more switchboards, a Navtex, a proper shore power control, a voltmeter for both service batteries and the starter battery, a proper mount for the radio, and I also put an iPad mount in the nav station. The iPad can act as a full-second plotter when connected over Wifi to the chartplotter in the cockpit and basically works as a board computer.
Finally Back In The Water
After half a year of work, Wolf finally got lifted back into the water and we still had to finish some work. Cleaning up all the cables and organizing them, removing many old cables, and fixing a few things on the mast that were still left.
After another two days and a night of work, Wolf is finally shipshape again and ready to be sailed offshore for new adventures, which there will definitely be no lack of in the coming season.
This refit was more than necessary. We bought Wolf one and a half years ago, sailed her from the Baltic Sea to the Netherlands, and had some problems with the messy, old electric system on the way. Like blown fuses without any reason. Cleaning up this mess was much work and brought us to the edge of giving up but now, that she is back in the water, it was definitely worth it.
We did not have much knowledge about yacht electronics before and mainly learned from this amazing article by Savvysalt (not sponsored, this article just helped a lot). You can find it here.