The 2020 Covid yacht refit for Beneteau 411

Today marks the one year anniversary for the Norwegian 2020 Covid lockdown. Our yacht was on the hard for a massive refit to get her ready to cross the Atlantic. And then everything went to shit.

We got our Beneteau 411 on the hard on March 6th 2020 to get her ship shape and all systems running by April 1st. Ready to sail the 12,000 nautical miles from Norway to the Caribbean, and back to Norway again over the next 14 months. Or sailing buddy Bjarne the Yacht Mechanic and his friend had travelled from Denmark to help.

We had already taken the mast down for a thorough rig check, and were in full swing taking out old through hulls, rudder off for service and bearing replacement and so on, when news started coming in.

Country after country were shutting down their borders, and long story short – Bjarne and his friend managed to jump on the very last ferry back to Denmark before the Danish borders were sealed.

Simultaneously, nearly all deliveries to our refit stopped, shops that we depended on got closed, the sail factory that was half finished with our sails got shut down…it was a fucking mess.

It took 4 months before we got our boat on the water again, and when we did, we still had projects unfinished, and still waiting for deliveries.

We eventually came to a point where just couldn’t sit on our asses and feeling sorry for ourselves. We HAD to go sailing. That was the start of our epic Norwegian Covid Coastal Cruise Part 1 and Part 2.

What follows below is a shitload or pics, tips and tricks on all the stuff we did during our refit 🙂

The full 2020 refit list

Rigging

  • Mast down + rig check
  • Forestay replaced
  • All new running rigging
  • New sails: Tri-radial laminate genoa & main, dacron cross cut Code 1
  • New tricolor LED lanterns
  • Mechanical wind indicator

Technical & mechanical stuff

  • Heat exchanger for the Yanmar diesel replaced
  • New starter battery
  • New propeller shaft, coupling, Volvo shaft seal, and cutless bearing
  • Full service on rudder & quadrant refurbished
  • New POM bearing for the rudder
  • Through-hulls replaced to Trudesign composite + many hoses
  • Salt water foot pump for the galley (to be installed shortly)
  • All new propane gas system for cooking
  • New propane stove (by previous owner in 2019)
  • Propane bottle compartment rebuild to accommodate 2x 10 kg bottles (to be done shortly – blog post coming up)

Anchoring

  • Extended the anchor roller to serve as bow sprit
  • New Rocna 25 kg anchor
  • Added 50 meters chain, to a total of 80 meters
  • Replaced windlass control box and cabling

Comfort

  • High latitude cockpit enclosure (& lazyjack bag) blog post here
  • Serviced the 3 Kw Mikuni diesel heater
  • Installed 2.6 Kw electric ovens
  • Insulated roof and sides with 30-40mm Armaflex blog post here
  • Installed insulated heat ducts throughout the entire boat
  • New natural latex mattress topper & DIY custom fitting

Electronics

  • New VHF antenna cable
  • All new ship’s electronics (will be installed this year)

New through hulls

The through-hulls are very easy to remove. Simply tap some wooden plugs into each hole. As you can see, we had to fit the plugs shaving off some wood using a knife.
Use a hand saw to saw off the plug flush with the hull.
First use a hole saw to drill out the old through-hull, then give the metal a tap from the side with a chisel and hammer. They should come off very easily.
As you can see, they are no longer brass coloured, but reddish. This is a clear indicator they are completely ruined by galvanic corrosion.
This is the 1 1/4″ ball vent for the galley – it just came right off when I was using just my hands trying to loosen the hose from it. We would be in so much shit if that came off crossing the Biscay…
Big grin, and a big anchor!
Our Lofrans windlass got an additional 50 meters of chain to haul.
What in the actual fuck? The previous owner though this was a adequate solution for control box replacement. HARDLY waterproof!
I replaced the box, and cord, and the cord was pulled to the inside and hooked directly to the relay that control the windlass, so the entire electrical chain is now waterproof.
The anchor roller was extended to accommodate for both the big-ass Rocna, and to function as a bow spit when flying the Code 1 light wind sail.
We took the rudder off, cause there bearing was quite worn. And as you can see, the quadrant needed some TLC as well
The quadrant was completely stripped for paint.
The old bearing was removed by using a manual padsaw. An electric will generate too much heat and melt the POM instead. With two slits done, you can tap out the POM, then use a screw clamp to force the bearing to bend inwards so you can pull it out.
Looking MUCH better with brand new POM bearing, 7 layers of paint on the quadrant, everything nice and clean, and well oiled. Helming feels TIGHT, yet so feather light you can use your pinky!

With the rudder off, we used the opportunity to inspect the propeller shaft etc, and it turned our the cutless bearing was completely demolished. Further inspections revealed pitting in the propeller shaft, and so the entire assembly was replaced. A costly operation, but better safe than sorry.

A bonus is that she is now running MUCH more quiet under sail – you can hardly hear the propeller turning 🙂

We noticed some swelling and corrosion bubbling around the heat exchanger seals, so we took it off for inspection, only to discover it was practically demolished by corrosion. It was a yet another costly replacement, but everything runs smoothly now.

Ahhh…the excitement of new sails! After being stuck in the factory for months, we finally got them!

However – we got another guy’s genoa so we had to send it back, they had delivered the mainsail with the wrong slides, and the Code 1 luff was too long….AAARGH!!!

To make matters even worse, I have had to follow up on several occasions, but given absolutely no response from neither their seller, nor their CEO. We still haven’t had the chance to use the Code 1, even after over a year because they still have it.

In short, we are absolutely underwhelmed with Gran Seil’s level of service, and we will not even consider them for our next set of sails. Which is really sad, because the sails are absolutely magnificent, and we love them so much 🙂

All our turnbuckles were stuck to a certain degree, but when two strong men can’t even move it, then a few firm taps with a sledge does the trick. All the turnbuckles came loose, are now completely cleaned, serviced and oiled.
Some bird decided to line our mast with moss and twigs. Poor bird thought it was a good place to build a nest, but everything just fell down to the mast foot!
Making a new forestay
Using needle and thread, sow your new halyards to the old ones, then tape it nice and smooth with electrical tape. When you have pulled the first halyard in place, remove the tape and reuse the thread for your next halyard.

If you’re not reusing your tape, make it a habit to pocket it, or it WILL blow away, and overboard into the sea – and we don’t need more plastic in the sea than we already have 😉
Some times there’s a very tight fit for your running rigging. What worked brilliantly for us was to pull out the inner core of the rope, snip off an inch or so, then pull the “foreskin” back, and sow a thin tread through it:
This is then taped up with electrical tape to create as smooth a surface as possible to reduce any chance of snagging in tight spots. See picture below:
While we did a lot of the rig check and maintenance ourselves, it was under the keen supervision of one of the best riggers in Norway, Hans Gerlach at Ship-Shape in Stavanger. We learned so much from this guy it’s crazy!

The rig was finally fine tuned by Hans Gerlach himself, and everything is just so nice and tight.
Insulating the boat is very well documented in the blog series How to get rid of condensation on a boat Part 1 and Part 2, so check it out!
Super happy with our custom high latitude cockpit enclosure – everything detailed in blog post here.
And finally, she got a real good buffing. The hull was very matte and dull. We purchased a second hand AD polisher that was practically new, and products from the Danish Renskib.

We used coarse then fine rubbing compound, a deep cleaner, and finished her off with their sealer.
She hasn’t been this gleaming in years!

I guess that sums it up!

We have documented everything very well, taking tons of photos along the way. Some of the projects are already published as blog posts, but please do let us know in the comments below if there are anything on the list you’d love to see as a new post 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience! It was interesting to read. Could you tell us more about the interior decoration please?

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