After months of anticipation Liberation was delivered to Isola in Slovenia in the middle of March 2013 and commissioning by Bavaria takes place as well as the addition of the factory fitted options and the dealer options we have requested including the canvas, auto-pilot, additional winches etc. Ed had already decided he wanted to be present to supervise the commissioning and drove from the Alps to Isola with our camper for the duration of the project and to take official handover and sail her to Croatia when she was ready.
Commissioning consists of fitting all the bits and pieces which come separately packed the most complex of which is the standing rigging. The mast was stepped and all the standing rigging and sails fitted by Daniel from Keto – who are Clipper Marine (Bavaria) commissioning partners – we have also retained them for some of our own technical work at the same time. Ed learns how to go up a mast (although this time he just stands and watches!!) – and we are recommended to buy the Crewsaver Bosun Chair rather than just using ropes. Before the mast was stepped, Ed took advantage of it laying on the ground to feed the cables we would need for our electronics and communications equipment as this was much easier than trying to feed them all later, 20m up in the air.
Isola is in the middle of a very cold winter – with snow on the ground and freezing temperatures – a provisioning trip over the border to Trieste in Italy was a pretty scary experience in the camper, when high winds caught it standing in a traffic light queue and pushed it along on the ice like it had skates on. This extreme weather is not good for the application of our Coppercoat! Ed has spent a long time researching this product and reading reports on it’s performance to make a cost justification based on the expected 10 year life – his research has included how it should be applied. There are very strict rules for this is done in terms of applying each coat in one go using rollers and not brushes, applying four coats all in the same day and not allowing it to harden in between, preparation of the hull beforehand with an epoxy base and the temperature of application not being below 8 degrees centigrade. Ed was very concerned that the local company in Isola were not following these rules – although it was difficult with the ambient temperatures as they were, there was no effort to warm the environment or to apply the coats as necessary. We have logged the issue with Clipper Marine as we are afraid that the Coppercoat will not work and this will be a costly failure … we will see!
Keto have installed the generator at our request in an unusual place above the engine – the space is JUST big enough to accommodate the Pugaro 4000 but this is the largest genset that will fit in the gap. We would have preferred more power – but this is a compromise in order to make best use of the space. A custom-made stainless steel frame was constructed around and above the engine and the generator sits nicely above on it’s own shelf. The advantage of this is that it can share the ventilation and insulation already available for the engine – as well as not taking up valuable space in the lazarette or other more traditional locations for generators. The exhaust outlet is under-water – and this combined with the location of the machine means that it is extremely quiet. There is almost no sound outside in the cockpit or outside at all – the only sound is inside in the cabin, but much less than would normally be the case.
The Parker Village Marine STW600 water maker was also installed and this is a complex installation due to the difficulties of achieving enough distance and height difference between the pumps and the machinery in a sailboat. The pumps are located under the aft cabin bunk, with the hoses running through the exhaust compartment back to the lazarette, where the machine itself is fitted on a custom-made shelf, glassed in by Keto. A switching system was put in place to direct the output to either of the two water tanks and the machine is controlled using a remote touch panel at the chart table.
Keto installed two Webasto air conditioning units – 12,000 BTU in the forward main cabin and 16,000 BTU in the saloon. Again our specifications were very specific to avoid taking the “easy route” in terms of location of the units as we needed to maintain as much storage locker space as possible for extended cruising – the forward cabin unit is located under the bed (along with the battery banks and chargers) and the saloon unit is located in a locker which is difficult to access for day-to-day use under the seating unit. Each unit has a remote control panel and uses an Aspen Mini-Orange pump to ensure condense water is pumped out and does not overflow into the bilges.
Keto also installed the electrical system – an 1100Ah bank of Rolls AGM batteries for the house bank, charged by 3 x Sterling 60 amp chargers. The starter battery is isolated in a housing under the floor with it’s own basic charger. There is also a 1.6kw pure sinewave invertor to supply constant 220v when the generator is not running and there is no shore power – although we plan to run as much as possibly directly on 12v, the invertor will keep all our domestic appliances available at all times as we need them. As soon as the mains power (generator or shore power) is disconnected, the invertor will automatically cut in using a relay with no interruption of the power supply – the microwave doesn’t even lose it’s time setting! The invertor is sufficient for us to run our small electric kettle (if we wish – although normally we use the gas), run our Tassimo coffee machine, our Acti-Fry for chips and our breadmaker on an overnight programme so even when we’re at anchor we can just carry on as normal. The electrical system also has battery monitors and temperature probes to monitor charging and displays to monitor consumption of both 220v and 12v circuits. The calculation of our battery bank was done on the basis of us living “as normal” at anchor for 48 hours.
Ed started the commissioning of our own work as and when he was able to get access to the boat. He installed the washing machine – which is a standard full sized Siemens domestic 4kg appliance we bought in the local electrical shop in France for a few hundred euros. I’m sure that the life of the machine will be shorter than you could normally expect – given all the movement, tipping on one side and shaking around it has when sailing as well as the salty marine atmosphere, but it is far better than any of the very small, expensive dedicated marine solutions. We researched extensively to find a machine with the smallest possible footprint for a standard sized drum – and this is the one. The issue was that the machine was still too big to get through the hatch opening into the lazarette – once in there, space was not an issue – but how to get it in? Ed ended up dismantling the entire machine – taking off the sides and the casing to break it down to the smallest possible unit, then re-assembling it once inside the lazarette. The floor needed re-enforcement in order to support the weight but it fits perfectly into the corner. The machine was plumbed into the cold fresh water supply and the waste was plumbed via a sump box to the black water tank – the thinking here was that it would give a fresh water cleaning facility to the tank to keep the black water system cleaner. Of course, this required some sort of anti-siphon protection – hence the use of the sump box. [EDIT …. after a few months experience it became clear this was a bad idea …. see later blogs!!!!!].
Ed installed the Furuno TZT system into the cockpit table with the Scanstrut pod – just the basic installation as he needed navigation to get to Croatia. The power and NMEA cabling was left loose in the cockpit table as we will need to do a lot more work on this later when the rest of the electronics are installed. Liberation did come with a Garmin MFD – which Keto would have installed as part of their commissioning – but since we are not planning to use this, it was left in it’s box to be sold separately later on at some point.
The other major job Ed had to do before crossing to Croatia was the reconstruction of pulpit to keep the LOA under 12m for import procedure – boats under 12m can be dealt with by the local city authorities and the administrative procedure is fairly straightforward. However, boats OVER 12m LOA have to be dealt with centrally by the government’s marine department … with much higher costs. Liberation is 11.99m hull measurement – so the trick was to remove all the appendages which increased the LOA as the authorities may well come to physically measure the yacht on arrival. The pulpit was removed and the guardrails rebuilt perfectly in line with the hull – the bow roller was removed and the anchor was not fitted – with all the bits being stowed safely out of the way for refitting later once the importation process is complete. At the stern, the railings were directly in line so no work needed there.
At the same time, back in France, I was having continual discussions with Clipper Marine regarding export documentation, invoices and the handover of the yacht to allow us to take advantage of the Croatian VAT scheme – we are registered on the UK SSR as a VAT unpaid boat (under the “sailaway scheme”) so we have to sail to Croatian waters under dealer ownership and handover in Umag as we cannot take physical delivery of the boat in EU waters. This is proving very harrowing as import/export is clearly a specialism and one which Clipper Marine do not have …. perhaps as it is MY speciality, I’m being too fussy (whiter than white is how Ed always describes me when it comes to fiscal things … ) but their insistence on providing us with an EUR1 (which is only for delivery of goods within the EU) is driving me nuts! Ed has been helping by enlisting a local fiscal guy in Slovenia to give us documents as well – and we have such a collection of paperwork now, we just hope we can hide the EUR1 and give them the rest. The next challenge will be to try and make sure there is a Clipper Marine person on board when we leave Solvenia ….
As usual with anything boat related, the project went on far longer than planned – the 26th March was Ed’s 50th birthday and I had originally planned for a small surprise family party back in the Alps by inviting our closest friends and family to one of our chalets for the week … fortunately, I had decided this was a bad idea from the business point of view as that week turned out to be a peak school holiday week and I didn’t want to give away a good money making week in the chalet for a freebie! It’s a real good job I didn’t go ahead with this as when the day came around Ed was still in Slovenia so we’d have been having his birthday party without him. Instead he celebrated with the technicians from Keto in a local Chinese restaurant in Isola – not quite what we had in mind, but these things can’t be helped.
Finally on 27th March, Liberation was launched for the first time – and all was well. No leaks, engine started and was sea-trialed and cleared by Volvo. After a short sea-trial to check the generator and other machinery out and to hoist the sails for the first time, Liberation headed for the customs pontoon where Daniel checked us out of Slovenia, before leaving Ed to refuel and cross the border to Croatia alone. The check-out went smoothly and there seemed to be no problem with the export documentation in the end. The marina in Umag had been warned of Ed’s single-handed arrival and came to help with mooring – the first time with a new boat, and single handed did not make the easiest of jobs! All seemed well on the journey – with the exception of the auto-pilot not working.
The import process begins along with the long job of the detailed set-up of all our gadgets!