A complete sail boat refit.

This was a massive undertaking that saw up to fifteen people working on her at any one time. We documented the entire process, including weekly youtube video updates.


The project was undertaken at PSS Boatyard, Chebilang, in the southern Thai province of Satun. The list of jobs was exhaustive and the ones listed to the right merely scratch the surface.



  • Removal of teak deck

    After months of deliberation we removed the teak deck. Watch the refit videos to find out why.

  • Redesign of interior

    Stripping away the yellowed ash interior to make way for a lighter, more contemporary look

  • Hull osmosis treatment

    Extensive osmosis had to be dealt with

  • Complete respray

    From masts to deck to topsides

  • Updating entire electronic system

    Rewired with a new navigation system

Documented in Oyster News and Sailing Today

This complete refit will be covered by Sailing Today and Oyster News magazines.

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Sailing Today, recently bought out by Chelsea Publishing, has repositioned itself towards the cruiser market. Unlike some of its stuffier rivals, ST is modern, fun, informative and relevant. We have been writing for ST for four years documenting our adventures as we travel east. The article will look at specifics like why we decided to remove our teak deck, and what it’s like working with local labourers. We will be profiling each and every update aboard Esper, from navigation systems to remodelling the interior.

Oyster News is the glossy quarterly, published by one of the most successful custom luxury yacht manufacturers. They too have documented our adventures and, despite its world-wide distribution, it’s free. You may download the latest edition here.


New for 2017

The six articles for the above-mentioned sailing magazines are reproduced here and include new, unseen photographs.

Sailboat Refit Pt 1: Introduction

PSS

Remaining on a pontoon in India for two years, despite basic servicing and upkeep, had led to some general deterioration of our boat. But for SY Esper to stand a chance of completing a passage to South Africa, she needed to be in the best possible shape. So we spent a full season planning, servicing and preparing.

Continue reading here


Real-time Esper Refit Blog Posts


Videos, pictures, commentary, links… we uploaded all of this and more every single week throughout the refit.


SAILBOAT REFIT Pt 5: CONCLUSION & COSTS

June 16, 2018

In the conclusion to our series of articles about SY Esper's complete refit in Thailand for Sailing Today, we set out the costs for the whole project. Was it worth it? When we limped into Malaysia, SY Esper was in pretty bad shape. Equipment needed replacing and she leaked like a sieve. We had three options...

SAILBOAT REFIT Pt 4: ELECTRICS & ELECTRONICS

June 9, 2018

The refit of SY Esper in Satun, Thailand, was extensive but perhaps the most complex aspect was the rewiring, which included the installation of a new navigation system, new lighting and additional circuits.

SAILBOAT REFIT Pt 3: HULL & MACHINE SHOP

June 3, 2018

One of the reasons for our visit to PSS boatyard in Satun, Thailand, was to determine what course of action we needed to take to tackle osmosis in our Oyster 435. We had dealt with the biggest blisters in the Maldives, but knew there was more work to do...

SAILBOAT REFIT Pt 2: DECK

May 27, 2018

While waiting two months for a place in the boatyard, we began to question whether we were making the right decision to replace the wooden deck. No-one we met regretted getting rid of their teak, and the marinas were full of gleaming teak-less yachts. We watched owners make short work of scrubbing their decks without worrying about damaging the grain.

SAILBOAT REFIT Pt 1: INTERIOR

May 18, 2018

This is the second in our series of articles about SY Esper's complete refit in Thailand for Sailing Today magazine. The interior of SY Esper, our Oyster 435, took a beating when the saloon hatch broke open during a storm in the Indian Ocean, but the veneer had been steadily deteriorating for some time before that.

SAILBOAT REFIT: INTRODUCTION

March 2, 2017

The first in a series of articles on Esper's complete refit in Thailand, originally written for Sailing Today magazine. We are reproducing the original articles on FTB complete with new photographs... Remaining on a pontoon in India for two years, despite basic servicing and upkeep, had led to some general deterioration of our boat. But for SY Esper to stand a chance of completing a passage to South Africa, she needed to be in the best possible shape. So we spent a full season planning, servicing and preparing.

Esper Refit 53-55 – Esper Launches!

March 1, 2015

Finally, after one year and one month in the yard, Esper launches!

Esper Refit 50-52 – one year in the yard! Portabote improvements; interior carpentry

February 8, 2015

Would you believe it? More to the point, would we have believed it? One year in the boatyard calls for a party. Plus there's some much-requested boat updates in the video clip, which also covers a rather strange phenomenon in the yard.

Esper Refit 47-49 – festivities; rudder design; more carpentry

January 11, 2015

2015 and we're close to hitting a year in the yard. For those of you asking why we don't just leave and finish the jobs at anchor, Liz has her answer in this week's video clip.

Esper Refit 46 – Christmas Special

December 22, 2014

As Christmas approaches we are inundated with rain, rain and more rain. It’s just like being back in the UK! We still had fun, attending a Burmese wedding and rehousing some little animals.

Esper Refit 45 – tent down, masts up, davits on

December 14, 2014

Yes, you read that title right. Esper has finally been revealed to the outside world and we witness the first ray of sunshine on that beautiful shiny hull, and we even got the masts up, though not without a headache or two.

Esper Refit 43-44 – Totem’s fund raiser; bow roller installed

December 9, 2014

We said goodbye to s/y Totem this week but not before Behan pulls off an amazing fund-raiser for the workers kids. We also visit the workers' homes next to the boatyard.

Esper Refit 41-42 – welding rodents; bow roller; Millie in hospital

November 25, 2014

This week's video clip is a cracking one. The younger crew from s/y Totem spend a week project managing Esper's refit, discuss life in the boatyard and adopt, albeit temporarily, three lost kittens.

Esper Refit 40 – pushpit extension; buat ordination; loi kathrong

November 14, 2014

It’s been a busy week both in the boatyard and in Satun town. We’ve finally extended our pushpit, and we were invited to the Loi Kathrong full-moon lantern festival and the ordination of a young monk.

Esper Refit 39 – Totem crew take over; life in the boatyard

November 6, 2014

This week's video clip is a cracking one. The younger crew from s/y Totem spend a week project managing Esper's refit, discuss life in the boatyard and adopt, albeit temporarily, three lost kittens.

Esper Refit 38 – swim platform brackets; installing the rudder

October 26, 2014

The swimming platform is pushed through the transom and into custom-made brackets, counterpoising it. We clean up the Aquadrive and coupling system and take a look at the veneer that's been varnished with polyurethane.

Esper Refit 37 – how to bed a genoa track with butyl tape; rudder doesn’t fit

October 23, 2014

In this week's refit video we show you how we bedded down our genoa track with butyl tape. No Sikaflex, no 3M, no polyurethane adhesive, just tape. Also I get to hang out with the locals, now that I'm fully entrenched in my new abode.

Esper Refit 36 – basic boat wiring schematic; Maxprop grease nipple; torlon cutlass bearing

October 12, 2014

It's a short one this week since it was Eid and our workers took most of the week off. All except Nut, that is. He's made real progress with the mains/charging circuit.

Esper Refit 35 – PSS Dripless Seal; LED Dimmer

October 5, 2014

Dang the varnisher's back, as are the electricians. The sparkies have finally installed the LED dimmer switch and it looks good. Dang is preparing the boat for its last coat of varnishing whilst I remove the old stuffing box in preparation for the new PSS Dripless Seal.

Esper Refit 34 – bedding deck fittings with butyl tape

October 2, 2014

Lots of fiddly jobs this week. That's what the project is coming down to now, a collection of odd jobs, all interconnected in some way, and typically all held up by the late arrival of a vital material. This week we also play with butyl tape.

Esper Refit 33 – boat catches fire; redrilling deck fittings;

September 21, 2014

This week has probably been the most eventful to date, and I’m not just talking about Esper’s progress. On Wednesday half of Chebilang turned out to watch a fishing boat burn right down to its hull, whilst a ferry bottoms out when being jacked up on a cradle. Other breakages include feet and motorbikes.

Esper Refit 32 – welding and polishing swim platform

September 14, 2014

First week without Liz. After dropping her off at Hat Yai airport Moo and I visit the machine shop to try and get the swimming platform bent. Instead we get told off for filming on their premises. I wonder why?

Esper Refit 31 – shaft crevice corrosion

September 7, 2014

Bad news this week as we inspect our shaft, which has some corrosion. We turn to Vyv Cox of Coxengineering to find out how and why this has happened. Meanwhile we attempt to offer the swimming platform up to the transom, only to find it is a little too big.

Esper Refit 30 – boat led lights

August 31, 2014

Two big projects this week: the removal of a blockage in the mast conduit and the interior lights. The lights are on-going but the removal of the blockage took three days and was only achieved by Moo's brainwave.

Esper Refit 6 Month Round-up

August 25, 2014

We've been in the yard for six months now, and this week's round-up, which covers all the work so far, coincides with Jamie's return. The ceiling is going up and the mast is being dressed.

Esper Refit 25 – teak toe rail; rubbing strake

August 10, 2014

As usual the busiest man on the Esper refit project is Pong, the head carpenter. He's been assisted by his sons in finishing off the new teak toe rail and the teak rubbing strake down the side of the boat. Sombat, meanwhile, cracks on with the electrics.

Esper Refit 24 – saloon table with incorporated coffee table

August 2, 2014

This week we take a close look at that saloon table that has a coffee table incorporated into it. Amazing to think that in the same week the same man is also doing the rubbing strake.

Esper Refit 23 – carpenters finish trim; teak-lid deck boxes

July 23, 2014

With the non-skid down the entire deck is now covered in 70s-pattered vinyl for protection. The remaining areas of Awlcraft have been buffed and polished, which means the painters have almost finished. Meanwhile, down below, three carpenters and two varnishers are cracking on with the cupboards, trim, floorboards and finally, the saloon table, which has a rather cool design feature. The swimming platform has to be sent to Hat Yai in order for it to be bent.

Esper Refit 22 – Waldringfield boatyard special; the painter returns

July 20, 2014

Sorry we're late. We said we were going to do something a little different this week... see the video clip for an update from both the UK and Thailand. Meanwhile, back in Turkey, guess who's back?

Esper Refit 21 – Awlcraft ‘Snow White’ painted on the deck

July 9, 2014

The osmosis treatment continues with West System 410 Microlight applied to the hull. Pong, head carpenter, begins the task of shaping the toe rail whilst trying to maintain the bend in the wood!

Esper Refit 20 – West System 410 Microlight for osmosis

June 24, 2014

The osmosis treatment continues with West System 410 Microlight applied to the hull. Pong, head carpenter, begins the task of shaping the toe rail whilst trying to maintain the bend in the wood!

Esper Refit 19 – painting topside with Awlgrip’s Awlcraft

June 18, 2014

Week 19 was all about painting the topsides with the final coat of Awlcraft. The question is, what colour did we go for?

Esper Refit 18 – osmosis treatment with biaxial fibreglass

June 8, 2014

The stainless work is starting to take shape now, with a new companionway ladder being fitted. The floorboards are all up and the lads start preparing the hull for her layer of fibreglass.

Esper Refit 17 – stainless companionway ladder

June 1, 2014

The stainless work is starting to take shape now, with a new companionway ladder being fitted. The floorboards are all up and the lads start preparing the hull for her layer of fibreglass.

Esper Refit 16 – teak cockpit with grey caulking

May 24, 2014

In the week that Thailand falls under martial law we have a special news bulletin on how the locals are coping with the threat. Meanwhile, in the boatyard, the top coat is now being applied and the masts look like new. Goy's paint team are working on various lids and covers too, leaving just the topsides and deck to paint. That won't be until the toe-rail 'cuts' have been smoothed and the cockpit box finished though. Meanwhile the cockpit seats are complete and the varnishers are doing a fantastic job on the floor.

Esper Refit 15 – varnishing teak floorboards with polyurethane

May 18, 2014

We're still waiting for the top coat to arrive and the painters are almost done faring the deck and boxes. The cockpit box is taking shape too, whilst the varnishers are applying polyurethane in their make-shift, dust-free workshop made of clingfilm.

Esper Refit 14 – Awlgrip 545; faring complete; Wilson Art laminate

May 15, 2014

It was one of those weeks where progress seems to be accelerating. The decks have been fared and when we left Esper on Saturday lunchtime, she was being masked off for some priming. Meanwhile the carpenters have completed the heads doors, which means we now have one purple door and one green one. They look fantastic!

Esper Refit 13 – epoxy mixed with microballoon; Thea launch

May 10, 2014

The paint has yet to be delivered but that's not stopping the painters from getting the deck ready. The saloon now has a teak floor and the carpenters continue to veneer the interior. The big news this week, however, was the launch of Thea after two years in the boatyard.

Esper Refit 12 – engine respray; bending teak toe rail; faring the deck

April 27, 2014

We're into week 12 and things are starting to take shape. For the first time I walked into the saloon and got a glimpse of what it's all going to look like. The deck fittings and the engine look like new, whilst the teak floor in the saloon looks fantastic. We ended the week with a little farewell party.

Esper Refit 10-11 – polishing deck fittings; answering questions in Ko Lanta

April 20, 2014

Whilst the local people celebrated Songkran we took a short break in Ko Lanta where we answered some of your questions.

Esper Refit 9 – painting with Awlgrip primer; reforming the cabin

April 5, 2014

It was all about the painters this week as they raced against the ensuing storms to spray the first couple of layers of Awlgrip 545 primer. The painters weren't the only ones getting messy, Mey managed to paint most of her face as she tackled the various deck lockers.

Esper Refit 8 – holes in deck; galley is tomato orange

March 30, 2014

This week we get to play with a new toy whilst the painters cover the topsides with a high build paint. Frustratingly we discover a rather unpleasant hole in the deck but at least the galley's now covered in tomato and aluminium.

Esper Refit 7 – the E Team; first coat of primer

March 23, 2014

Esper has changed colour and the first non-white Formica is up in the galley too. Check out our favourite video clip of the project so far, but do it soon before it gets taken down. I've just received notification of a copyright infringement! Meet The A Team, now called The E Team...

Esper Refit 6 – removing a dorade vent; white vine veneer

March 16, 2014

Liz was doing the payroll the other week and as she went through the carpenters' names, Pong, Ton and Tui, she giggled to herself. Isn't that a cartoon dog that does kung fu? Here's our video dedication to our hard-working family of wood-workers...

Esper Refit 4 – tent up; filling in a portlight

March 2, 2014

Teak decks are being ripped off, toilets have been removed, the top-sides have been spraypainted black and someone is creating so much fibreglass particles and sawdust that even after three showers we're still itching like hell. The question, therefore, should be: exactly how close are we to a nervous breakdown after a month on the hard here in Thailand? The video clip should put it all in perspective...

Esper Refit 3 – removing deck fittings; interior mood boards

February 23, 2014

Six days of work in a three minute video clip... and whilst Liz gets a smack in the head we bring the entire yard to a standstill as we move four boats out the way so we can take prime spot in the corner of the yard. A snippet of time-lapse video trickery in this week's video summary too. Low-point of this week was having to let one of the staff go, but this was off-set by being relocated to our new home.

Esper Refit 2 – removing the mizzen and main masts

February 16, 2014

Week Two of Esper's refit moved as quickly as the first week. The crane was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, which it did, and Un's team duly removed both main and mizzen mast in two hours. We recorded the whole shebang, though you'll be pleased to know we reduced to down to a short clip, complete with some explanatory commentary. If you've not seen this operation before, take a look and marvel at the ease in which both masts were removed.

Esper Refit 1 – an introduction to our boat refit

February 9, 2014

We've been off the radar for the last few weeks, if you'll excuse the nautical pun there. It's been a busy time with us leaving Malaysia, entering Thailand, hauling out, finding a house, emptying Esper of our worldly goods and preparing our beautiful but tired boat for a strip down. Esper's refit is a monumental project. At the very least we'll be stripping her of her gelcoat, her teak deck, her masts and rigging and her electronics...


The Refit Video Series

One year in a boatyard. An Oyster 435 refurbished from inside to out, top to bottom. Use the icon in the top-left of the playlist to display a pull-out menu of every video episode.