Travel.P #61 – How to build a boat. A beautiful one.

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

 Oscar Wilde
Heat Exchanger – engine topic nr.1

Falling asleep after long, hot days in and around the boat, on and around the boat yard. Sometimes with strong wind, blowing through the boats, ringing the ropes against the masts, giving you the feeling of standing in a huge army, back in a Persian war. A legion full of spears and shields, making noise to run into the battle. Boats have their very own spirit, some make you just impressed, so big, so huge, so modern, so old, so many different types, some could even adjust their keel. Some boats make you sad, rotting away, and you know these will never be on the water again, ever. They all have very different stories, designers but the purpose is often the same. To carry you safe on the water, some more some less safe, some more comfortable some more sportive. But still they are very different to cars, or trucks. It’s a bit like a plane, they bring you through an element that you wouldn’t be able to cross otherwise. They are beautiful, a shape soft and gentle like a woman. That’s probably the reason they are named after a feminine name.


Often I went to bed while the crew was still having a party a few meters away, or at another boat. Once they slaughtered a ‘road kill’ wild pig, not sure it was actually road kill, since there were some shotguns leftovers in the meat. I heard of the story the next day, lifting the pig with a rope and one weight on the other side of the boat into the air and slaughtering it, as far as I know it was the Swedish guys who tried themselves at butchering it. As weird as it all sounds, the meat in the end was incredibly good. To the day still the best BBQ meat of a pig I ever had. I would even say it was better than restaurant steaks. It was incredibly juicy and rich, you could just say that this pig wasn’t grown to be killed and eaten, it wasn’t ‘produced’. I’d like to add here that since I am travelling keep my meat intake very low. It completely depends on the binning result, I never but it. This is for one reason that it is expensive, more than vegetables at least and to be honest, ‘produced meat’ taste so shit. I can just highly recommend you to stop it. Keep it as a rare treat, and when you get it make sure you get some good quality meat. You can easily replace it with lentils, chopped mushrooms, Quorn, walnuts or just switch your diet and focus more on vegetables. Try it a month and you will see you don’t need that much meat. It makes you fatigue, slow and lazy. Kind of foggy in your head.


The crew in general was a bit too much for me into drinking, and at the end of the day I was ready for bed, ready to crash into my hammock and pass out. Usually a shower and than into the bed. But sometimes it was nice. The Swedish couple invited us a few times to their catamaran to hang out, have dinner and some beers, Lionel usually came around once we had food going and drinks, he liked to join us with a bottle of rum, I think caipirinha was quite a drink there. And Anto of course, but he lived more at our boat than at his, at least at the lets say afternoon to evening. It was a nice little corner, many people of the yard came around to sit with us and drink, chat and have fun together. We had old car benches a bit of wood, and a coolbox to sit on, and than all kind of things you just could grab, that were lying around. Our place was a shit tip, but to be honest, no one was working as hard and efficient as us. We were a great Team.

Sometimes we also had some problems, boats also attract weird people, lazy hippies and idiots. So sometimes we nearly had fights at our place, people had too many drinks and everything was going over and under, our property got destroyed and people didn’t respect our privacy. But all together the people were great and especially helpful. It was great. After setting up the boat more and more, going over and over again to the hardware stores for more things to get the boat closer and closer to it’s final destiny, to be on the water again. We fixed a hole in the mast, had to respect the rules of different metal types, corroding each other, chemicals reacting badly together, fuses burning away, things snapping, loosing patients, loosing temper, nearly blowing the tank up, fixing water barells, taking the bath out, building a new bath at the front, building a new sleeping room, installing nice warm lights, music, a moving oven, a new sink, taking parts of the engine apart, finding out about it, the alternator, repairing the destroyed rudder system to the last second, painting 4 layers of protection on the hull, and finally painting stupid stuff on the layers, that will only be visible to divers, painting one side in green and one in orange, installing solar system, getting the masts up with a massive crane, breaking a spreader, fixing a spreader, installing the anchor winch, fuses, switches and finally replacing the fridge and hanging in the ropes of a massive crane for the night. Falling asleep during the last night while working.

little sightseeing

Wow it was even for me who joined the crew later a massive difference from what the boat was to what it is/was then, finally hanging there. Half a meter over the ground like a ghost ship in the air. It felt amazing. We got rid of all our mess before, it took all day, and like 20 times driving the van to the tip on the yard to finally get rid of it all.


The next morning we woke up, tired and exited. Fear and excitement fighting each other. The yard members came, all our friends from the yard and we all followed the crane and the boat to the point where it will be set into the water. The moment of truth. The boat looked amazing hanging over the water and especially when it slowly sank into it, like a hot knife into butter. Slowly. Protected at all sides but fenders and finally swimming by itself. I think 2 crew members were outside while the rest was checking underneath if there were any leaks, any taps left open but it was fine. So yeah here we were. And now all that was left as to start the engine. Of of course it didn’t work. Oh my f” god… After a bit of looking for the cause, a loose wire we started it by hand at the engine, holding 12v at the solenoid and the engine, the old heart, trying to start. With the help of some starting gas and a few tries we finally got it working. Shouting hugging everyone, jumping like kids we managed to get it running. A whole lot of pressure and anxiety fell of our shoulders at that moment. We always had some problems with the engine before, sometimes it just wouldn’t start, but now it started!!

In my head everything was good, we shifted into gear and since our steering was still not fixed we steered an invented self made rudder with a big ply. Cool, we had not a lot of speed and it was doing its job. The ply was attached to the top, a little metal square. The boat was slowly and hard to manage, but like I said the conditions were good so we were confident. Everything was running smooth, we only had 100 meters to go and attach us to the wall from the water at the yard. Other people were attached there and we found a nice free spot to go to. But when suddenly the ply came loose the rudder spun, we reattached the ply but had no idea at what position the rudder was now, and when we realized it it was nearly too late. We were on course towards a flash boat, attached to the yardwall. Running like crazy and shouting each other, they and us put fenders to the potential crash side when we just got the control back and squeezed gently the fenders in between the boats, threw the lines to the shore and got pulled bit by bit into the free space in front of the boat we nearly crashed.

Holy moly, after we made sure the fenders are well installed and well spread we tied the ropes and all had a little calm down, with a bottle of champagne. We shared drinks all together with all our friends from the yard and had a great time. Man we earned it. The next days we were still repairing and working and working for two more weeks. A few days we got hit by a Mistral.

Mistral Occurrence

The Mistral is a strong, cold, northwesterly wind that blows from southern France into the Gulf of Lion in the northern Mediterranean, in our case at Marseille. It can produce winds from 66 to 185 km/h, strongest between spring and winter transitions. The wind takes time when there is an anticyclone, or a high pressure area in the west of France, in the Bay of Biscay and a low pressure around the Gulf of genoa at west Italy. The flow of air between high and low pressure areas draws in a current of cold air from the north, that accelerates through the lower elevations between foothills of the Alps and the Cevennes, at south- central France, usually causing a period of cloudless skies and luminous sunshine. Often people refer to the Rhone channeling valley making a Venturi effect, a bottle neck, of funneling the air through the narrow space, but it is more complex, with the wind occurring also high above the valley, up to 3 km above the earth, and also being at maximum speed at not at the narrowest part of the Rhone Valley, instead it is way farther south, at a widened point of the valley. It has a major influence all along the Med and causes sudden storms in the Mediterranean between Corsica and the Balearic Islands, like Mallorca, sometimes as far as the African coast. And that same Mistral managed to push us against the concrete wall and scratched our lovely new paint, but nothing more. We must have tightened the ropes too much.

Once before the boat was in the water my parents came to pick Max up and visit us for a few days. We went to some lovely restaurants in Marseille, and did some sightseeing. It was a good break of the boat life and good to get away with the fam. One time Lionel took the Swedish couple and me to a restaurant. Lio an me drove in his Lotus, a body shell of bonded aluminum that heated up in the traffic streets of Marseille like a roasted chicken. But once we had space it was a fun car to be in! We also went a few time into Port Saint Luis, the little town. It is actually really lovely there and it quite remote from other towns. From there we went on Sundays usually to the “Mafia market” a bit out of the towns, in the Domaine de la fossette. You could tell that there were a lot of things going on under the hand, and quite dark. A lot of stolen things, but also a lot of honest sellers, with great food and lovely fruit. I always enjoyed it loads there.

Marseille itself is very huge and spreads far, I liked the vibes there. It felt like it was not really a part of France, less rules, also loads of pollution through the industries. But more about that next time, about our first tour, swimming in the sea more work and finally setting off, wishing farewell to everyone that helped us so much in the last months, especially the yard worker, he was such a good guy and Anto, Lionel, the Swedish couple, our English neighbor and Arbi, our Marocaine friend.

For today maybe do something that you like. Get a little project going, maybe carve something or learn a bit of Guitar.

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