Category Archives: Upgrades

Back in the Boatyard

We are back on the hard in Norsand Boatyard.  What, you are probably asking, “why?”  Well, we had a lot of little things we needed to do – each individually would not warrant a haul out, but together they did.

Boatyard Projects on the List

  • Reburnish the Coppercoat (due to our barnacle incident)
  • Fix small gelcoat damage (another boat ran into our starboard bow)
  • Water Tanks: Scrape, clean, and repaint interior 
  • Repair Teak on both Sugar Scoops 
  • Wax the hulls and stern

Haul out

Hauling your home out of its natural environment and onto a trailer is always nerve racking.  However, Kevin and Shayne at Norsand Boatyard are experts and they truly take every precaution to ensure our home is safe. 


We applied fresh Coppercoat in late December 2023 and had a massive issue 6 weeks later after being in a barnacle infested river.  Coppercoat UK and the local NZ Coppercoat distributor agreed to reburnish the bottom of our boat. This particular task requires us to be out of the water so the boatyard can sand the entire bottom with 320 grit sand paper.  

I will say that we rock!  Why do you ask?  Well, we spent days in the freezing cold water scraping and cleaning our bottom and it looks so much better than other boats with barnacles on their Coppercoat.  I took a photo of a monohull that had similar barnacle problems to us (lower right photo).  As you can see they were not as successful at removing the “feet” of the barnacles (little white spots) as we were.  And another boat with Coppercoat who stayed in the barnacle infested water for over 6 months had a reef with baby eels falling off of it when she hauled out (lower left photo).

Sugar Shack bottom at haul out (top) and another boat after haul out (bottom), both with Coppercoat.  Yep, we did good.  

Coppercoat Repair

Once we were out of the water, we noticed an area that has 4 spots that are down to the barrier coat – that is not good.  So we have to address this issue.

Conor fills the spots with filler and Coppercoat.  It needs a sanding, then it is ready to be burnished with the rest of the bottom.

Burnsing the Coppercoat

Right before we splash, the yard comes back to burnish the Coppercoat with 320 grit sandpaper.  Not sure what I expected, but honestly, I was surprised that the bottom turned back to copper color after the boys (Ian and Shamus) burnished it.  It was soooo smooth.

It even had a shiny penny look when the sun hit it.

Hit by another Boat

Another boat hits us while we were docked at Town Basin Marina.  It was rather an unfortunate occurrence but the damage was minimal.  This other boat was trying to squeeze in front of us and claimed he had bow thrusters.  He had bow thrusters, but they did not work.  The tide was pretty strong and carried his boat side ways causing the stern of his boat, with his dinghy and dinghy outboard to scratch the inside starboard bow.

Aaron from Norsand Boat yard came out to give us an estimate and the other boat owner, begrudgingly paid us the $1500NZ that it cost to repair our boat.

While we were at it we had the boatyard finish a job they forgot to complete last time.  They missed cleaning up the repair around the port cleat (the cleat goes where the 3 holes are) the repair was the cracks around the cleat.

Water Tanks

Our two water tanks hold about 400L of water each and are built into the boat.  When the boat was built, the manufacturer used some sort of weird potable paint that has not held up well.  For several years it has been peeling away and clogging up our filters.  Matt has drained the tanks, scraped the excess paint off, and vacuumed up the mess several times.  But, it was beyond time for us to completely clean out the tanks and repaint them with special non-toxic potable paint.

The white or light specs are actually pieces of chipped paint.  Now don’t completely freak out because we do have several filters for each water tank (which holds 400L).  So the water goes through each filter before coming to the taps.

This is such a huge project that I decided to write a separate blog about it so I can include more of the details (in case any of our other fellow cruisers need to do this too).  See upcoming blog post “Disgusting Water Tank.”

Repairing the Teak on our Sugar Scoops

The teak on both the port and starboard sugar scoops has had a long, challenging life span in direct sun light, constantly covered in salt water and enduring heavy usage.  We try to be diligent with its care but it is completely exposed to salt water, sun and constant use.  We’ve replaced the teak about 8-9 years ago, but it time to do a temporary repair until we can replace them again (it is a long and expensive process so we want to squeeze as much life out of these sugar scoops as we can).

As you can see, the black caulking has come up and is completely missing in some places. It is time to repair it all.

I watched several YouTube videos and pulled Matt in to help.  This is turning out to be a much larger job than we anticipated. So, the details of the teak repair will be coming out in an upcoming blog called “Caulking the Sugar Scoops Teak” stay tuned.

Waxing the Boat

Ian, aka “Stretch” comes in to wax our boat and make her as shiny as possible (considering her gelcoat is thin and old).  He always does such a great job.

While we were working on the sugar scoops we had to get on and off the boat with a very tall (15 steps) ladder which was such a pain in the arse!  Luckily it was only for 2 of the 6 weeks we were here.

As you can see we made the most of this haul out in the boat yard.  We were anxious to get back in the water as we prepare to head to a new country, Vanuatu.

Our blog posts run several weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occurred late April 2024. We enjoy some rough housing during the stock car races in Whangarei.

A New Set of Wheels

Boy that could mean so many things…a new boat — na.  A new dinghy — na.  A new car — na.  We literally mean a new set of wheels.  But why do we need wheels on a boat?  Well, we don’t “need” wheels but we got them for our dinghy.

Many cruisers use wheels to help them pull their dinghy onshore during a beach landing.  Our previous dinghy was soooo heavy. We could have used dinghy wheels for her but she was too heavy for the wheels.  Yes, the wheels have a weight restriction.

But, our new Highfield 360CL weighs in at 75 kilos, the outboard weighs 55 kilos and we carry about 15 kilos in fuel for a total of 145 kilos.  Just the right amount of weight for a set of new wheels.

Which Wheels to Buy?

There are lots of different types of wheels on the market and we really had to do our due diligence.  We made sure they would accommodate our dinghy’s make, model, and weight while still being able to work in hard and soft sand.  Beachmaster consistently came up as the top brand. 

Matt emailed them to make sure they would work and hold up with our set up and we received an affirmative reply.  We ordered the removable mount set with retractable wheels.  We wanted to be able to take them off if we were not planning on using them for a while.

Matt placed the order on Thursday.  On Friday we received a call from Beachmaster asking if we were a foreign flagged vessel and I said “yes.”  She then asked if the wheels were being installed onto our dinghy which would be leaving the country with us, I said “yes.”  And then she said, I will then send you a new invoice as the original invoice charged you for GST (tax) and you qualify for a GST (tax) free order.  

What?  Yes, that is absolutely true.  Normally, both Matt and I automatically request GST free so I assumed he did on this order.  But he forgot.  So, the company proactively realized this and reached out to us to credit us the GST!  Seriously an amazing company.

Drilling Holes Into Our New Dinghy

The package arrived on Monday (1 business day after placing the order).  Talk about service.   We measure multiple times, tape off the area, and measure again.  We then put them up with VHB double stick tape so we could raise and lower the wheels without hitting the rub rail.  Then we drilled the holes into the transom.

The top photo shows he wheels down and the bottom photo shows the wheels up.

It took two of us to drill the holes so no photos.  Once the bolt holes were drilled, Matt taped them off and filled them with 5200 so they would not leak.  Then we installed each side.

Here are the final photos.  The before (upper left), installed and up (top right), installed and down (bottom left).

Now all we need is a beach to try them out!

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occurred around mid-January 2024.  In our last post we spend a lot of time redoing our dinghy chaps which came unglued.

Shattered Moonlight Hatch Frames

We have lots and lots of windows on Sugar Shack.  Some are called “windows” and some are called “hatches.”  Windows typically do not open whereas a hatch opens.  Moonlight manufactures most of the hatches and many varieties of boats use them including us.

We have two escape hatches on our boat which we could use in the event of an emergency.  There is one on starboard in the master head (bathroom) and one on port in the forward cabin.  They provide excellent ventillation for the boat and are almost always open when we are not underway.  We love them!  

We also have 4 large hatches: (2) for the engine compartments and (2) for the bow lockers. These 6 Moonlight hatch frames come in multiple parts.  The top part of the frame is aluminum and holds the actual frame that opens and closes.  The bottom part of the frame is plastic and it is really just to cover the screws and make everything look pretty.

We have a total of 6 Moonlight hatch frames that are damaged, broken, cracked, and yellowed.  It has bothered Matt and I for years.  But, the replacement plastic frames are flimsy.  We have waited to find a better solution for replacing them and thought we had the perfect plan while we were at Norsand Boat yard.

We had hoped the yard could make a mold and build new ones out of fiberglass.  Unfortunately that did not work out.  It was going to take a really long time and cost close to a $1000NZD for just the two escape hatch frames.  So, we ended up buying all 6 Moonlight plastic frames from AB Marine for $1500USD (including shipping from Germany to NZ).

Moonlight Hatch Frames

The wear and tear on these plastic frames is very common.  We have met several other cruisers who have had similar problems with their frames.  I mean really, they are flimsy plastic and 23 years old after all.   Here is a photo of our old frame and the new frame (prior to cutting out the back).  This is the escape hatch in the master head.

The damage is extensive and none of the frames are salvageable.  Here are the escape hatches (inside).

The two frames on the bow hatches are almost completely gone – you can hardly see the plastic.  In fact on the top photo, Matt put wood in to avoid having the sails torn by the broken plastic and exposed screw heads.  But you can still see bits of the yellow plastic frame between the wood and the metal frame.

The sorry state of our bow peak Moonlight hatch frames.

The sorry state of our bow peak Moonlight hatch frames.

The two engine compartment hatch frames are not any better — either completely missing or shattered.

After posting these photos I realize how appalling their state truly is now!  How did we live with them like this for so long?

New Moonlight Hatch Frames

We ordered 6 Moonlight frames from AB Marine.  They safely packaged our very fragile frames and sent them to NZ for us.  We received them within 9 business days from Germany.  It was a rather large box.

We decided to see if we could strengthen the plastic frames prior to installing them.  Our hope was that we could fiberglass the back edges and insert foam in the empty spaces to create a more stable glueing platform.  However, after we removed the old frames we realized that only the starboard escape hatch has room for fiberglass. The port frame has no room – not even 1mm.  The two bow peaks can be fiberglassed but the two engine compartment hatches don’t have room either.

Top photo shows how tight the space is where the frame has to slip into (between the existing gray fiberglass and the gray metal).  The bottom photo shows the huge gaps that need a foam filler in addition to fiberglass around the frame.


First the removal process begins.  Of course it is a messy job as the plastic crumbles easily.

Once the plastic is all removed we have to start taking off the 5200 super glue (or as Matt calls it the Devil’s glue) and the sealant.  It is a slow process…

Hatch surrounds are cleaned up.  Left photos with glue and right photos clean (hopefully you can tell without my description).

The (4) larger hatches are more difficult because we have to pick out the old plastic and old adhesive between the metal frame and the fiberglass.  We use picks, pudy knives, and exacto knives to get it all out.  

Fiberglassing the Frames

It is time to fiberglass (or glass as it is known in the industry) the 3 frames that have room to glass.  We bring 1 escape hatch frame and 2 bow peak frames into Norsand so Peter Palmer can glass them for us.  He is so sweet and did this over the holidays so we did not have to wait the 2 weeks for the yard to reopen after the Christmas holidays.  We only glassed the backside as we did not want it to show on the front side.

While Peter was glassing the three pieces, Matt filled in the starboard escape hatch frame so that it would provide better support.  The port escape hatch had already been filled in but the starboard one had huge gaps which left the frame unsupported.

Before we install, Matt had to cut the plastic frames to fit each area.  He started with the starboard engine hatch.  He measured, taped the frame, measured again, and then measured a third time just to be sure.  Then with an exacto knife he slowly cut the plastic frames.

The frames that have fiberglass had to be cut using an angle grinder at Norsand.  Once the fiberglass was done it made it nearly impossible to cut so we borrowed a protected room at the Norsand Boatyard and used an angle grinder to cut through the fiberglass.  It made a bit of a mess, but we got it done.

Ready to Install

Now that the frames and the surrounds are ready, we can start the install.  Here are a few photos of the larger hatches after the glue was removed and before the frames go in.  You can see the nasty screws that stick out.  It makes it really easy to hurt your head or shoulder and it opens it up for the possibility of damaging our sails and other items stored in these comparments.

Matt decided he did not want to use 5200 (the Devil’s glue) for the adhesion.  We spoke to several people at Norsand and decided to use Dow Dowsil 795 Structural Glazing Sealant with a few spots of 5200 to adhere the frames to the surrounds.  This will make it substantially easier to remove them in the future.  He loads the frames and surrounds with glue and then we carefully raise the frames into place before taping and locking them in.

We leave large clamps and tape on for 24 hours.  Then we remove the clamps and leave the tape on for another 48 hours.  Just to ensure it has plenty of time to dry and set.

The finished and installed frame looking gorgeous!

Now, just 5 more to go….

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This particular blog post occured over the 2023-2024 holiday break.  In our last blog we update a few more canvas pieces including new window covers and sun shades.