We left Switzerland on July 5 with all of the equipment and clothing we would need for the summer of 2015. 22 Ikea moving boxes of it.
Some of the “stuff” we’ve been buying for the boat for the past 4 years.
Loading the van
Launch day dawned relatively sunny and we arrived at the Discovery yard to find Freja ready to be lifted onto the trailer that was to take her to Saxon Wharf in Southampton. One person was waxing and buffing the parts of the hull that had been in contact with the supports and another was applying anti-fouling paint to the bottom of the keel.
Applying the finishing touches to the wax
The first thing we had to do was to place all of our boxes into a storage container at the yard. Since Discovery were going to have to check all the installations and do a couple of shake-down sails during the next 3-4 weeks, we couldn’t put all of our stuff in the boat yet.
Taking our boxes to the storage container
The sensation that we were actually owners of a sailboat had finally and really sunk in, as we admired her in the sunlight.
Beginning to lift the boat to transfer it to the trailer.
Freja being lowered into the cradle on the trailer
Freja was gently and meticulously placed into the cradle on the trailer and attached. We then followed the “convoi exceptionnel” (oversize load) from Marchwood, through Southampton, and then on to Saxon Wharf. At Saxon Wharf we saw the hull of an Oyster 115 being built — it made Freja look like a Soling in comparison.
Freja leaving home
Driving through Southampton
Arriving at Saxon Wharf in Southampton
Freja being transported by the 200 tonne travel lift.
Freja approaching her true element.
And she floats!
After being lowered into the water at Saxon Wharf, she was then tied up to the pontoon to be rigged. Two days later, Freja was driven to her temporary berth at Ocean Village Marina in Southampton.
Freja at her temporary berth, waiting to be rigged.
Spring 2015 arrived, and Freja was on the last straight away to being a finished boat. We visited the Discovery yard for four days in late March to finalise details such as the colours for the blinds, cushions., spray hood and other deck canvas. We also changed our minds concerning two items we had ordered as “pre-installs.” We had the opportunity to have a day sail on the western Solent on Discovery 55 Kiloran. And finally, we met the couple who ordered Discovery 55 nr. 49 (we have number 48) — and they live 10 km away from us !
Choosing cushion and canvas colours with John and Sarah from Discovery Owner Care Management.
We had originally ordered four items as pre-installs (wiring, etc installed, but not the item itself). These were : SSB radio, camera up the mast, water-maker, and air conditioning.
Deck installations are almost completed
The reasoning behind this was that we’d be spending the seasons 2016 through 2018 in northern Europe, and would not really need the above. We are still not sure if we will ever install an SSB (we have Iridium). The camera on the mast would come in handy if we sail to the Bahamas (easier to see the shoals from higher up).
Our oversized 55 kg Spade Anchor in place on the specially-built stemhead (for Spade)
We decided to go for the complete installation of the water-maker because we noticed that our friend and coach Leon was making water during our springtime sail to Norway on Regina Laska the previous year. It turns out that some marinas turn off the water and the electricity supply during the off-season in Scandinavia. In return, it is free of charge to use the marina during this period. Water would not always be available during the early spring and the autumn. Finally, it’s always cheaper and easier to install things during the build than afterwards.
Discovery suggested the Dessalator 24 v model, which they said got great reviews from recent Discovery owners. It sounded like a good idea to have the option of running the water maker from 24 v DC power if the generator stops working. We have a total of 5 ways to make electricity: solar, wind (Superwind), water (Watt&Sea), engine, and the Onan generator, so if the generator is dead, we could still make water. The other advantages of this french-manufactured water maker are that it’s very small and it’s easy to use and maintain.
John and Sarah going through the final build checklists with Kathy
We also opted to do the full installation of the air conditioner because it’s something that’s really expensive to install after the boat is finished. While we won’t be needing it very much for cooling down the boat in Scandinavia, the heat option on the air con will enable us to dry out the boat. It’s a dehumidifier — something that will come in handy during the sometimes cold and raw Scandinavian spring. Hey, it can snow on the last day of April in Sweden.
We know it’s really a luxury item, but it will definitely be appreciated when we finally find ourselves in the tropics. We chartered an un-airconditioned boat in the B.V.I.s and it was so hot and humid we could not sleep. At all. We can chose which areas of the boat to cool with our system, so we can run the unit in our cabin only. The idea is to run it perhaps an hour before bedtime and then turn it off for the night.
Our navigation table instruments have now been installed.
The Seajet Speed foul-release (non-biocide, silicon-based) paint has been applied.
Sailing on the Western Solent on Discovery 55 “Kiloran”
We were given the opportunity to sail the western Solent on Kiloran, a Scottish Discovery 55, that you can see on this video. It was not only an great day of sailing, it was interesting to see the differences between various Discovery 55s.
John Eustace taking us out of Lymington Harbour
Isle of Wight on the port side
Approaching The Needles on the western side of the Isle of Wight
Running with the current in the western Solent
Our lunch anchorage in Studland Bay
Old Harry Rocks in Studland Bay
Kiloran has, for example, maple and bird’s eye maple instead of the cherrywood on Freja. Cameron, Kiloran’s owner, decided that that they would not need a hot tub in the Caribbean, so you see that the cockpit does not have a hot tub area in the video. They opted for Lewmar winches and we liked the Andersen. Kiloran has bunk beds in the third cabin (as usual), whereas we asked for the creation of a workshop instead.
The navigation table on Kiloran is totally flat, whereas on Freja, there’s a section designed especially for us that houses some of our Furuno instruments. You see Furled electric furlers on Kiloran, on Freja, we opted for the Rechmann furlers. Kiloran’s owners chose Raymarine, and we chose Furuno. Our friends from Geneva chose B&G for Knotty Girl.
Each Discovery is different, so it’s fascinating to be able to look at several of them – and sometimes steal some good ideas!
By September of 2014, Freja was well under way and each part of the boat (cabins, saloon, galley) was now recognisable. We had visited the yard twice during the summer to keep up with the build and discuss the decisions we had to make by the end of September.
One of the issues we discussed throughout the spring and summer was how we could make the boat lighter. Not that we were going to race. We were just trying to compensate the extra weight in the shoal keel.
John Eustace shows us the progress on the deck build.
The chest of drawers for the foot of the bed after varnishing.
The base of the saloon table after varnishing. We love the exquisite quality of the cabinetry.
One of the on-going discussions was about the rigging, obviously a heavy component on the boat. Carbon or aluminium mast? Halyards made of Dyneema or carbon? Dyneema for lifelines? We were in discussions the entire Spring and early summer with Peter Kohlhoff, who works with Future Fibres, a supplier of carbon fibre products for racing sailboats. Peter was en enormous help in educating us on the properties and merits of these materials.
To make a long story short, we did not go with a carbon mast and halyards. This was partly because of the high costs (mast), partly because we would have been the guinea pigs as the first Discovery to go with carbon fibre halyards. We had a sense that Discovery didn’t feel 100% comfortable with it.
The saloon slowly taking form
We did go with a carbon fibre boom, which was much less expensive than we imagined, as it’s a relatively simple piece of engineering. I don’t remember how much weight weight we saved, but suffice it to say that I can carry the boom alone on my shoulder (I’m a 163 cm (5’3”) petite woman). It takes 3 strong people to pick up and carry the aluminium version.
The nav station and sofa area taking form.
We racked up an enormous weight savings by choosing Dyneema instead of steel wire for all of our lifelines. It’s a huge savings because we wanted four lifelines strung instead of the normal two. Why? Because of our dogs. We didn’t want to use netting, which in neither easy to install, nor remove, nor very elegant. And it turns that awful shade of rusty yellow after a few weeks of exposure to salt water.
John Eustace, Discovery’s owner care manger, came up with the surprisingly simple idea of stringing four lines made of Dyneema. The space between the lines would be so narrow that our dogs (medium and large-sized) couldn’t slip through.
Discovery ordered our stanchions to be made with four thimbled holes. Each thimble had to be as smooth as laquer to prevent chafing on the Dyneema lines. Each line would be much stronger than its steel wire size equivalent, but would be prone to chafing damage if the edges of the stanchion holes were sharp. We ordered Dyneema for the two spinnaker halyards and the topping lift as well.
Finally, we ordered a carbon fibre wheel, which saved us about 10 kgs. The important thing about the lighter (less than 1 kg) wheel is that it’s much easier on the autopilot.
All in all, we saved around 130 kg on deck. It may not seem like much, but it’s equivalent to two people, after all.
The beginnings of a galley
The deck has now been epoxied to the hull.
Stemhead being installed
We ordered LED lighting in and on the boat. We thought this was a given these days because of the energy savings, but there are still people who prefer halogen. We did not order underwater lighting, nor up-mast lighting, which are both relatively cosmetic. We did order LED strips to be installed along the edge of the cabin top to give us lighting on the side decks if we need it. It also serves as a way to find our boat if we’re in a crowded anchorage. We ordered a 24V aft deck floodlight mounted on the antenna pole, LEDs mounted into the bottom edge of the boom (to provide light for the cockpit) and a floodlight on the mast to illuminate the foredeck.
The stern rail has now been fitted in. Notice the life raft holder.
The drawers and cabinets in the galley have now been installed
The forward cabin, almost finished
Inside the boat, we followed the advice of our friend Leon (see this video series in which he discusses creating space with lighting) and had Discovery install LED mini-strips underneath stairs, closets, lower cupboards, and along the edges of the ceiling. It makes the boat feel cosier and even feels bigger at night, as the light reaches normally dark corners.
An important piece of equipment you need when installing an LED lighting system is the voltage regulator. LEDs do not like voltage spikes and when subjected to them constantly, they will die an early death. So, if you want your LEDs to have the 20-year lifetime promised on the box, install a voltage regulator.
The owners’ cabin (aft) taking form
Our voltage regulator comes from the Swedish company Båtsystem. Here is their argument for installing a voltage regulator: “LED lights are sensitive to voltage spikes and should not be exposed to voltage over 12.5V. While charging the batteries, however; the voltage is considerably higher and spikes are also experienced when using heavy loads such as when using a windlass. Therefore, it is important to protect your LED lights. This is either done by making sure that the LED lights have built in stabilisers (typically 8-30V) or, even better, to install a DC-DC stabiliser, which continuously ensures a voltage of no more that 12.5V. This is especially important on 24V boats and when installing LED tapes, which do not have built in stabilisers.”
The voltage regulator for the LED lighting has been installed over the nav station
The heads adjacent to the owners’ cabin
Another important decision was our life raft “situation”. Since Discovery custom makes the life raft holders on the stainless steel stern rail just aft of the cockpit, we needed to decide on what brand we wanted and how many. Since we had two dogs at the time, we thought it best to order two 4-man life rafts than one 8-man. Our thinking was that if we really needed to bail, other crew members, would not want to share a life raft with 2 large dogs! In addition, if we were alone, with no other crew members on the boat, righting an 8-man life raft would probably be close to impossible.
The boarding ladders on each side of the boat, the davits and the winches are now fitted.
We chose the Viking RescYou Pro life rafts after reading and seeing (video) a test on Yachting Monthly. We liked that the life raft used “emergency yellow”, that florescent greenish yellow colour that is used on the hoods of all brands of foul-weather gear. We also appreciated that the Pro model is blue on the inside, which is said to prevent seasickness. It has vinyl transparent windows on each end, which help you keep the horizon visible (seasickness prevention).
The two “doors”, one on each side, have double zippers that come up from the bottom, so you can increase your freeboard in case of heavy seas, without having to close up the raft. You can have a relatively high freeboard and preserve the ventilation in the boat. The is also important to prevent seasickness. Finally, the shape of the two entries cuts into the roof, so that if you need to be rescued by helicopter, you won’t need to jump into the water to receive the rescuer.
The steering pedestal has now been fitted. Here you see the twin autopilot controls side by side (white covers). The small black joystick in-between is the remote for the Furuno Chartplotter which will be mounted on the cabin top, next to the companionway.
Concerning life rafts, you should look at the video from Yachting Monthly that tested what life is like in a life raft. After watching this, you will definitely keep in mind that you should always be stepping up into a life raft, not down!