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Finally out of the yard...

by Mission Océan on 27 Nov
Arriving into Palma de Mallorca, with the stunning cathedral Mission Océan
We did it. After four long, hot, difficult months in the shipyard, last week we finally put Contigo back in the water, pushed off the dock and left France to begin our cruising adventure. Beer in hand, I am gazing out of our spotless, freshly-polished cockpit windows onto the long, low, ocre-coloured buildings of La Lonja fishing port in Palma de Mallorca, the smell of fried squid in the air from the bar at the end of the quay, still marvelling at how we managed to pull off so much work in such a short amount of time.



Contigo is a 1994 Fountaine Pajot Venezia 42, that we have lovingly transformed from an occasional family coastal cruiser to an ocean-going world-tourer in just 16 weeks. We changed, upgraded and improved almost everything on board, from electronics to rigging, batteries to biminis, portholes to props, we left no floorplate or deckhead unturned. We stripped her back to gelcoat, treated her osmosis and repainted the hull and the topsides (with Boero products, which we would recommed to anyone painting their own boat for the first time), drained and rebuilt a keel that was full of water, installed solar panels and a wind turbine, and relocated the battery banks.



We rehung the trampolines, installed a watermaker, repaired the old, corroded aluminium water tanks, changed all the deck hatches, and built a hard-top over the cockpit. We replaced the rig, cut a damaged section from the mast, installed new feathering props, overhauled the saildrives, made exterior cushions, installed a black and grey water tank in the head, and much, much more besides. Contigo is now equipped with AIS, a forward-looking sonar, a new GPS, a battery of safety equipment worthy of a large commercial yacht, and even a custom-made man-overboard push button system to wake up sleeping crew should the unthinkable happen during a night passage.



One of the biggest interior changes we made was to transform one cabin into a workshop and laboratory ; a real boon for working during the yard period, and a great space for all our research equipment going forward. Henrique and his father built a workbench, complete with vice, and shelves galore for storing spares, tools and products. This meant sacrificing one of our four double cabins, and so we reinstated the convertible sofas in the cockpit. The old cushions and small legs for the center had been lost long before we bought her, and so we made new ones out of some donated sunlounger pads and bits of plastic drainpipe. On our first night in Palma, after a 53-hour sail with the wind on the nose the whole way, capped off with a huge thunderstorm on arrival, we set up this massive double bunk and fell asleep gazing up at the cathedral that dominated our anchorage.



We were lucky enough to be able to count on the support of friends, family and even total strangers, with an army of volunteers of all different nationalities who came to lend us mainly unskilled but very willing hands, to sand and paint, clean and polish (see our previous article, The Kindness of Seafarers). We have also been overwhelmed with the assistance that we have had from companies, who gifted us equipment, time and expertise to help us prepare for our expedition. We were by no means alone, and if we had been we would certainly still be on the hard, probably only just reaching the end of the paintwork, and almost definitely over budget.



Exterior elements were not in our favour, with blistering temperatures that meant that we had to adopt a Spanish working schedule, with a break from midday until 4pm, when the heat began to drop from the sun. Furthermore, July and August are holiday months in France, and many of the local artisans simply switch off their phones and disappear with a vague promise of returning “bientôt”, leaving strings of unfinished jobs in their wake.

A prime example of this was our rigger, a small wiry chap with sun-scorched skin and a fag perpetually dangling from his lips. He came, inspected, and helped strip the rig in June, offering bags of advice and catalogues. We saw him again in September, and finally pinned him down to finish and restep the mast at the end of the month, before he disappeared again for a series of regattas. After much persuasion and a couple of threatening text messages, he eventually returned the day before our departure from France (we had already left the shipyard), to adjust the rig afloat. As is often the way in France, however, at the end of the day the job is well done, and performed marvelously on the crossing from France to the Balearics.



And of course, we are still working here. The superstructures still need painting, and sailmakers are busy cutting our new main and genoa. The more we sail, the more jobs we add to the list: a footrest for the helm seat, to stop our toes going dead on a long watch, reinforcements for the stern rail, a new liferaft support... We rather fear that a day will not go by during our world tour without pulling a cable here or touching up a bit of paint there, but we will always take the time to sit back and appreciate what we have achieved. And maybe try some of that squid.

Mission Ocean is proud to be supported by: Boero, Doyle Sails Palma, Rotary District 1730, Navigair, Octomarine, Battery World Service, Victron Energy, Monaco Marine, Aquatabs, Spade Anchors, Plastimo, Furuno France, Pejout Marine Services, Lyvio, Storm Bird, Aethic, Astrolabe Expeditions, Asociacion Ondine, and Sail-Worldcruising.com



Mission Ocean is Laura Beard and Henrique Agostinho. Their three year plus mission is to share their love and respect for the ocean with others, through education and scientific research. Neither is a stranger to the water, so they have combined all their skills and passions in this bold, courageous and inspiring project. Sail-Worldcruising.com is delighted to be with them for the journey of their lifetime.

You can also find out more on their Facebook page.

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