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The Big Do-Over Begins… How to Throw Money into the Sea with Style in Boat Remodeling

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Noumea New Caledonia anchorage

November Rain in Noumea, New Caledonia

After weeks and weeks of spinning round and round, we’ve finally reached a decision to remodel/renovate Gaz’s  56′ Sportfishing Catamaran, November Rain.  We have enjoyed spending half time aboard for the past two years, cruising and game fishing the waters of New Zealand, Vanuatu, Tonga and Fiji.  The boat has  proven substantial in both it’s seaworthiness and it fish attracting ability, along with the comforts and stability of a Malcolm Tennant catamaran design.  The huge fuel storage tanks drip-feed the economical Yanmar 4-cycle twin diesels, allowing for a range of 3000 miles at our usual trolling speed of 9 knots.

A little back history…Gaz originally bought the 2002 NZ built boat in 2007, (after a substantial internet stalking period of 3 years),  flying to Hawaii to finalize the purchase.   Gaz motored her back to NZ over a three-week period with the help of a few of his Kiwi mates.

Back when she was known as Kai iIpo Manuahi, before a hardtop was added, and pods enclosed

The first order of business was to re-christen Kai Ipo Manuahi to November Rain, as a reminder of the horrific storm they managed to survive in the trans-pacific crossing, but mainly to make it simpler for potential rescuers to understand over the VHF.   Since 2007,  Gaz and his mates have enjoyed considerable weekend time on the water, fishing primarily for Marlin out of Whangaroa Harbour, in Northern New Zealand.  Currently, the boat is based half the year out of NZ and the other 6 months in Vanuatu.

No boat is perfect, and when you are living on a boat 180 days a year, those imperfections become daily reminders of opportunities for improvement. Idiosyncrasies of systems and funky workarounds become normal and routine, an accepted  part of the personality of the boat.  For example, the refrigeration system is temperamental, and the circuit breaker will  often trip out when the weather/water is warm, requiring re-setting, sometimes up to 20 times a day.  It is a tedious task that we often delegate to guests after a quick orientation.  Since they are now invested in keeping their beer cold, it’s a job they take quite seriously.

The oven thermostat is shot, and the range will only cook at 200 degrees C. (450 degrees F) for about 10 minutes before the flame self-extinguishes.  If you want to bake something, this requires manually re-lighting the pilot light every 15 minutes or so, give or take one or two burned fingers.

The ladder to the fly bridge is very steep, requiring hand over hand climbing.  It is difficult to navigate, especially when serving coffees or lunches to the flybridge in rough weather. I have found myself at times,  swinging out in mid-air, hanging on with one arm, like a monkey after a  sneaky side-on wave hits.

The offending ladder

Originally, our ambitions were innocent and easily achievable;  add bulbous bows in order to improve performance in rough seas and allow us to carry more weight forward,  fix the annoying fridge problem and replace the  worn-out  galley stove.  Our wish list has since gotten as long as Santa’s beard and our living room is now scattered with sketches and countless revisions of impending improvements.

The Before Photos:

Original blue prints for November Rain

New floor plan shows the new locations of the salon and galley

November Rain plans

The proposed fly bridge includes an extension.

A list of coming improvements:

1.Extending the flybridge by 2.2 meters, to provide more seating and additional sleeping area up top. The additional benefit is that this will provide a much-needed shaded area over the back deck.  This will required moving the cockpit aft, in order to allow Gaz to  continue to view the fishing action from his station.

2. Add a semi-circular fishing platform between the two back pods, freeing up the back deck for fish-gut free entertaining.  Move the tuna tubes, and game chair to the new platform.

3. Add/increase seating on back deck under the new roof, including an outside dining table on a raised platform.

4. Increase the height of the door to the salon to accommodate the new raised deck

5. Add a fish freezer on the deck, disguised as a bench at the outside dining table.

6. Replace the steep ladder up to the flybridge with proper circular staircase (in anticipation of our approaching aging and increasing decrepitness).

7. Add a washing machine in an outdoor locker

8. Upgrade/repower from Yanmar 4 cylinders to 6 cylinders, allowing our cruising speed to ramp up from 15 knots to 20 knots, while still maintaining decent fuel economy.  This engine upgrade will require new gear boxes, props, shafts and motor mounts.  We’ll also have to increase the size of the engine hatches.

9. Add underwater exhausts to reduce engine noise

10. Recover/recondition Garry’s existing helm chair (which he loves and will not part with). The chair has lost its springs and it constantly sheds decomposing foam all over the deck.

11. Remove the never-used downstairs helm station and use the resulting space to expand the  inside living area.   We will tear out the galley and salon completely, and swap their existing locations.   Adding two large sofas which will double as single beds (coupled with the additional two berths on the flybridge,  will increase sleeping accommodation for 5 people to 9 people. )  A low cocktail table will  be convertible into a standard height dining table.  The TV will be hidden into a  recessed ceiling panel and flip down for viewing over 2,000 movies and TV shows stored on hard drive.

12. The galley will be designed for better efficiency, with modern space-saving cabinetry, including the addition of a double-drawer under-counter refrigeration system, in-sink disposal and a new Force-10 marine-grade  gas range.  A pantry will be recessed into an existing closet from the neighboring cabin.

12. Replace various water damaged wood veneers throughout interiors

13. Replace flooring with new laminate

14. Replace carpets in staterooms

15. Add upholstered panels on some walls, lightening the decor from dark wood and navy blue carpet to a more neutral palette.

16. Replace forward hatches with water tight versions, preferably with built-in fly screens, (although Garry’s  hand-sewn wedding-lace screens really worked well in a pinch, it would be nice to have something a little more professional).

17. Replace headliners, adding additional LED lighting were needed

18. Add an additional window in  new salon

19. Burn sagging “horse blanket” window coverings and re-cover windows with heat reducing tint.

20. Replace/re-seal leaky windows in atrium and bathroom.

21. Add an outdoor fresh water shower on the back deck.

We are fortunate in that one of the original Malcolm Tennant design team members, Tony Stanton, was still in the  design business and has been instrumental in steering  us in the right direction with regards to  bulbous bows and re-powering specifications, with the help of naval architect Christian Stimsom.  The boat is now in Brian Harkin’s  boat shed and the deconstruction process has begun.  Brian is great in that he allows us to do whatever work we can do ourselves, saving us a few dollars.  Garry has already started on dismantling the engines, while I took my revenge on the kitchen range.

Meeting with the naval architect, interior designer, marine sparky, refrigeration installer and the boat builders.

Fresh from the haul out, the work begins.

November Rain staircase renovation

The offending steep ladder to the flybridge is to be replaced with a circular staircase. Washing machine to fit in cabinet beneath.

November Rain existing helm demolition

The partition between the downstairs helm and the existing galley is to be removed, opening up the space for the new lounge.

The blue deck has been scrapped off

We hope the job to take about 3 months to complete, and expect to be back on the water and off to Vanuatu by mid June.. Yeah… Nah..  Stayed tuned..

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