3 weeks in 2013 were spent sailing throughout the BVI’s with friends and my wife, who had never sailed before then, which we all enjoyed so very much;
I decided to take a shy look for our own Yacht. What kind of sailing-boat should it be? What position should this yacht take in our lives? What does life have in store for us ?
And of course I´m a little bit crazy with a sense of too large Projects! I started to dream about my life in ten years….. I´m self-employed and would like to give my buisness to the next generation. The children are leaving the house, we will soon be free to do what ever we want.
So think big! Until the age of 35 I’de always been been aboard ships and the ocean has always been my great passion. If I buy a vessel, I would like to live aboard for longer periods of time. And if I live aboard for longer periods, why not in the warm and nice areas of the world ? and why not sail to these areas? And if I buy a sailing-vessel, maybe it should have a little office for working aboard, and enough space for the grandkids, a captain´s aftcabin, a powerful engine, a huge salon and a cosy sofa! And it must be affortable. As an Engineer I can do a lot myself, and it would be nice -after finishing the restauration of our 100 year old house, and also my triathlon-hobby reached its goal of an ironman- to have a new projec t!!! Again – THINK BIG
So let´s buy a ship, put it in the garden and refit it for the next few years! My wife, the best one ever, rolled her eyes and started to ask herself, how crazy she must have been to mary this crazy guy…
My thoughts – such a ship can’t possibly exist. So I can carry on dreaming big, without risking the fact that my dream may ever come true.
After 4 weeks (!) I found her near Cologne at a yacht builder. There, she had sat quietly for over 5 years, and was remarkably, having been originally built in 1984, neither been finished nor had she ever sailed !! I don’t know much about her history prior ’84, I guess she could tell a story or two – maybe he even whitnessed a tradgerdy.
She was exactly what I had been looking for. Solid steel, build by a famous german werft in Hamburg, not ready, so we could build the inside like we wanted to, and work on her for the next few years, I thought.
The only Problem was, that she measured 16,50 m long and weighed 30 tons. It will be an impossible misson to remove this ship to our home! So everything had to be done at the Boatyard.
We had the opportunity to buy the vessel at a very small price, including a 100 hp Yanmar-engine which had only run for 26 hours, a new rig which wasn’t complete plus a puzzle of an unfinished wooden interior.
Saying this, we had absolutely no idea how much work was awaiting us, and even less of an idea what the whole thing would cost. … if we had known what was in store at this stage, we probably wouldn’t have bought this ship.
But I (Wolfgang) am known to be a little bit crazy with an non-realistic-optimistic attitude and always jump in the water at the deep end not knowing what is in store for me!!
Never the less we started the project! Beginning anything new, ideas had to be made visual – I began to draw my dream sailing vessel.
First of all: the deck house and the cabin roof. Both being made of heavy steel, they were basically ugly, awful and not useable – so get rid of them both!
Instead we built a wooden structure making the ship look a little bit more like a real sailing yacht. We had to keep in mind that the new structure had to be based on the foundations of the old structure, and for static reasons we were not completely free in the design.
But this work was unfortunately beyond my capability and I had it done by the yacht-builder, based on my plans. Also the 1000 pieced puzzle of the wooden interior; the yacht constructor had originally started the refit under the previous owner and was the only one who understood how these pieces fit together.
We had none of the following:- entire water installation, heating-system, electricity and electronic equipment, the installation in the galley and bathrooms, upholstery works and the whole painting works. I could write a complete story about each of these individual projects, but I don’t want to torture you! ( Maybe I will in the future).
Outside we had to take in mind how we would fix the rigg on the ship and how we could re build the outside cockpit; this was thrown overboard with the old steel-construction as well! Also we had to fit on the winches, travelers, genua tracks and the whole rope setup.
As soon as I realized how much we had to do, I thought we only had two options:
1- I could do everything myself, we wouldn’t be sailing for at least ten years, and all of my friends who I basically would have had to force to help me, would never speak a single word to me again.
2- decide on a mix of professional work and the things we can do ourselves.
The only problem was, the craftsmen wanted a lot of money!!!
So we saved every euro we could find, sold things we didn’t need any more (like my triathlon-bike :(((. ) and lastly got a bank loan.
Unbelievably we got the money together and could start!
We chose option 2.
So we let the craftsmen start on the deck construction, internal wood works, the electricity, the water installation and the rigging. We are very lucky to have found a team of very skilled mechanics with the right attitude for this project. We went for the best electrical system which is a new designed BUS-System, with a lot less cables to hide and is so intelligent, that we can switch anything from anywhere, even from the I-pad
Finally after a refit period of two years were able to transport the vessel to the river Rhine and lower her in the water!
A miracle; she swam and let no water in!
The next day we started the engine for her first leg without any problem, taking the vessel to a boatyard in Duisburg where we could work on the rigging, the outside-painting and finish a lot of our unfinished projects.
In May 2016 we christened our Blue Pearl and started our trip down the Rhine to the coast, all masts laying down and well bound.
Finally we reached the Dutch coast in Hellevoetsluis where we raised the masts for the first time.
Blue Pearl meets the Ocean!!!
But we still couldn’t sail until the rope-setup had been done. This we finished in Nieuwpoort and for the first time in her life
Blue Pearl sailed on the ocean.
Since then, something permanently conks out, breaks down or just won’t start -but these are all small things which I can usually repair myself. It seems to be normal that something doesn’t work and in the meanwhile, I wonder just how the rest keeps running?
Saying that, the whole system works extremely well and we haven’t had any major problems until now, even sailing in 7 Bft wind. And we tested over 1.000 nm!!!
There is still a lot more work to be done and we need a few extra things to be well prepared for the BIG ocean. I truly believe the project will never be finished- but that’s exactly what I love about it!!