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I just really feel for those folks who have project boats.  Few of those owners feel they actually have a project boat.  Instead, the owners – mostly the wives – prefer to refer to their project boat as a refit.

Now, I’m not sure there is a formal definition of a project boat…or exactly what a refit actually is…much less, the difference between the two.  So, I’ll give you my definitions.

A project boat, to me, is a boat (maybe a good one, maybe not) that is in severe disrepair.  Major systems must be rebuilt.  Joinery must be refinished.  Decks need to be repaired.  Windows need to be rebedded.  Hulls need to be addressed.  Essentially, most of the boat and its systems need either major repair or replacement.

A refit, is when essential systems and hardware are inspected, repaired, or replaced.

Removing a head completely and redesigning a berth is a project activity.  Replacing the running rigging because its worn out is a refit activity.  In general, the difference between a project boat and a boat refit is one of scope.  If a boat is not sailable, or a danger to do so…then it’s a project boat.  If a boat is quite sailable and seaworthy, but yet needs some major maintenance to remain in that condition, then that work is a refit

The time and money involved in putting a project boat together is enormous if one is doing it themselves.  The blogosphere is filled with boat owners who have spent years and years and years doing what they call a refit…as they attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow’s tit.  I feel for these people.  Many are young, don’t have very much money, and are working on very old boats that though seaworthy, are completely worn out.  They simply don’t have the resources to get their project boat up to snuff. 

Our previous sailboat was a 1986 Hunter 31.  We completely rebuilt this project boat.  It is a capable, immaculate, and very clean coastal cruiser as it sits this very day…for sale.  But, as we used to say to ourselves during the rebuild:  “No matter what we do to this boat, no matter how nice we make it…it will still be a 30 year old Hunter 31.”

Our Tayana 52 is in the refit category.  We sailed it 1300 miles or so offshore to get it back to Texas.  I can personally vouch for its seaworthiness.  Aside from cleaning/repairing/replacing system cooling hoses and having our refrigeration repaired/upgraded, there are no systems in dire straights on our new boat.  In truth, we could sail the bugger off right now if we wanted. 

I’ve estimated that if we could devote full time to our boat, our complete refit would be done inside of 60 days.  Probably less if we didn’t have to depend on a contractor or two.  But, with the two of us not working full time on this it seems the time just crawls by.  And, with the time comes the associated money.


I mentioned that I got a Sailrite LSZ-1 commercial sewing machine for Christmas.  Santa brought me the machine so that I could do a bit of canvas work on our boat.  Just recently, I opted to farm a bit of sewing out to the guy who does our canvas here in Kemah.  In the past this fellow has done quite good by us.  Not so much this time.

All of the cushions on our boat are in a blue shade of Ultrasuede material.    Very nice material.  The original zippers were aluminum.  Over the years, the aluminum had corroded such that some of the Ultrasuede seat covers could not be removed.  I could have replaced all of the zippers myself…perhaps not quickly or easily but, rest assured, I could have replaced the zippers.  Instead, I elected to have our marine canvas guy do it.  It ended up costing twice as much as his estimate.  We know the guy…he’s a friend of sorts…and in the interest of many interests, we decided to pay him.  But, never, ever again.  From now on, I will do all of the canvas projects on the boat.  The cushion covers are perfect. 

The cost?  $1170

L191-52-Tayana-Salon-Dining-55L191-52-Tayana-Salon-Portside-Settee-54 L191-52-Tayana-Guest-Stateroom-Double-Berth-82

After the zippers were replaced I took all of the covers to the dry cleaners. 

The cost?  $198

And, people think that BOAT does not mean Break Out Another Thousand.  I know, I know.  But, it’s true.

We don’t have but a couple of major things to repair on our boat and the nickel and dime things are ongoing.  But, it seems like things – all things – move so slowly and cost so much.


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