Cost of our total sailboat refit: Part 4 (of 4)

In 2013, SY Esper was in pretty bad shape when we arrived in Malaysia. After three years without moving in the brackish water of Kerala, a knockdown off the Maldives and a lively crossing of the Indian Ocean, her equipment needed replacing and she leaked like a sieve.

We had three options:

  1. Sell her, relocate to the Med and buy another boat.
  2. Refit her in Thailand.
  3. Give up cruising, cut our losses and put her up for sale (that was never a real option).

With option 3 immediately removed, option 1 did not make sense either (whichever way we added up the sums). Esper, in her state, would not achieve anything like the price we needed for another boat of equal performance. Inevitably we would have to spend a lot to get a second-hand boat to the spec we require for world cruising, and would it ever be as good as our Oyster 435?

Option 2 would be expensive, and we would still have to mortgage our flat, but we would be able to keep the boat we love. We reckoned that with cost of living, labour and haul out rates being much cheaper than Europe, we would be able to get Esper in the best condition possible.

Had we stuck to our original budget and plan, the final cost would have been a good 30-40% lower. But since we had full access to workers capable of refitting every corner of Esper in the boatyard, we decided it would be sensible to do as much as possible while we were there. So we spent all the money we could muster and chose the best fittings we could afford.


  • All figures are in GBP
  • The refit took place from 2014-2015 so prices may have increased.
  • All PSS costs are listed on the PSS website
  • At the time labour charges varied between £6 – £12 per day

Sharing a beer in the yard at the end of the day


  • Hardstanding 3,720
  • Tent hire 1,500
  • Storage 1,000
  • Crane hire 240
  • Haul out 200
  • SUBTOTAL: 6,660

PAINTING (Including topsides, masts, booms, spinnaker pole, spreaders and various deck fittings.)

  • Labour: 6,400 (we negotiated a labour fee for the whole job of £6000, but paid an additional £400 when the paint boss ran out of money towards the end of the project)
  • Materials: 4,725 (including Awlgrip topcoat and primer, high build, jotamastic, microballoons, as well as items like masks, respirators, gloves, paint suits, sandpaper etc)
  • SUBTOTAL: 11,125


  • Labour and materials: 1,700

HULL (Including osmosis treatment and antifouling)

  • Labour: 2,000
  • Materials: 3,000
  • SUBTOTAL: 5,000


This was the biggest part of the job, with carpenters working on the remodelling below deck as well as being a big part of the on deck team. We had between one and three carpenters working on the project most days. These figures include the total refit of interior including new teak floor, cockpit, toe rail and rubbing strake as well as further exterior carpentry and fitting.

Pong taught his boys their skills as soon as they could hold a chisel…and we dedicated this special private video to them. Click the image to hear the PONG! TON! TUI! song:

  • Labour: 11,500
  • Materials: 5,000
  • SUBTOTAL:16,500


  • Labour: 1,000 (negotiated fee for whole job)
  • Materials: 9,000 (including all B&G products, cables, lights, switches, sockets etc.)
  • SUBTOTAL: 10,000

We literally re-built our sailboat from the inside out. Ripped off the old teak deck and replaced it with a beautiful snow white finish, re-modelled the interior, fitted all new electronic systems (including radar, navigation and all cabling) and LOADS more. We documented the whole process, week by week, and if you follow the boat you can watch the metamorphosis here: TOTAL REFIT FULL WEEKLY PLAYLIST


  • Labour and materials: 4,000


  • Project management 1,300
  • Varnishing 4,000
  • Some plumbing 50
  • General cleaning 150
  • Engine and shaft 500
  • Upholstery 500
  • SUBTOTAL: 6,500


  • Boatyard: 6,660
  • Painting: 11,125
  • Deck fittings removed and replaced: 1,700
  • Hull: 5,000
  • Carpentry: 16,500
  • Electrics and electronics: 10,000
  • Stainless work: 4,000
  • Miscellaneous materials and labour: 6,500

GRAND TOTAL: £61,485

There are day to day living expenses to consider over such a long period of time. We lived on land for the majority of the project, storing the bulk of our possessions in a container. In Satun, a one bedroom bungalow in 2014 was around £80 per month. Two scooters were around £30 per month. Food, usually cooked on the side of the road, is good and inexpensive, around £1.20 per meal.

You can really save on living costs in Thailand.

In the final video of our total sailboat refit revisited mini-series, we reveal the total cost of a sailboat refit. We also discuss what went wrong, what worked and what we would do differently.

SY Esper is now in better condition than when we bought her in 2005. We believe we could not have done the work to the same standard and price anywhere else. We also think the time and money we spent was worth it… But we realise it might not be everyone’s choice. What do you think?

As always, thanks for supporting us and allowing us to share our adventure with you.

Peace, fair winds and stay safe

Liz, Jamie and Millie xxx


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4 Comments on “Cost of our total sailboat refit: Part 4 (of 4)”

  1. Yes, getting most things done in Thailand is going to be much less than other countries so getting the work done there was a great choice. You now have a home which will last a long time, money is not so important as enjoying the moment. Continue to live the dream. Cheers MacandMam

    1. So glad you agree! Our home is still allowing us to go to the places and meet new challenges. Liz x

  2. Hi FTB,

    I think that you did absolutely the right thing! We bought an oldish Oyster 55 (1995 – Holman & Pye – like Esper) last year and are currently doing a deal of refurb in Plymouth (UK). Esper looks amazing and you would never have managed to find a boat to equal her for the sort of cash (+ the £60k spent) that she would have sold for in her pre-refit condition. 435’s are beautiful boats and are indeed the reason that we bought an Oyster. I remember seeing one in Dartmouth back in 2004 and thinking that she was SO pretty, yet able to go pretty much anywhere and do anything. We are looking to leave the UK with 3 small children next May – hope to see you somewhere on our travels. Wishing you good health and fair winds! Rod

    1. That’s great! The 55 is a better size than the 435 for the five of you, good choice.😁
      Here’s to some fantastic adventures ahead of you. Liz x

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