Winter 2020/2021 refit – part 1

Winter 2020/2021 refit – part 1

Time has come to talk about our refit work we have done on Pangolin during winter 2020/2021 and summer season 2021 while cruising Greece. This blog post will dig somewhat deeper into technical details than our other posts. So for those of you, who just want to know what we modified and why we did it, there is an overview at the begin of the article. For all the boating nerds out there: Nice to see you sticking around… 🙂


What’s the problem?Now why on earth was this important?
Repack the rudder post stuffing boxOur rudder post has a traditional stuffing box which leaked a couple of liters of water during sailing – this needed to be fixed although we have a high throughput bilge pump.
Reglaze the hatches with new acrylicThis is more about comfort than safety really, but we wanted a better view through the hatches as the old ones were full of UV cracks.
Re-caulk all chain platesWe saw some corrosion stains around our chain plates below deck and this gave us the opportunity to check the condition thoroughly as well.
Refit the main sail from “Dutchman” to a “Lazybag” systemFor cruisers, setting and storing the main sail should be as an easy task as possible. The existing Dutchman system was just not right for us, so we went with something new…
Clean genoa and add UV protectionAlso a task to make our cruising life easier: Instead of packing the rolled up genoa in a UV cover after each sail, we wanted to just roll up the sail and forget about it.
Replace rod kickThe existing rod kick was broken which required extra care to damage the bimini with the boom. This needed to be fixed asap.
Service the backstay tensionerThe backstay could not be tensioned any more due to a freezed up and corroded tensioner mechanism. This is required depending on wind and sail choice, so needed to be repaired before the first sail.

Now lets dig into the details of the tasks. We have added some pictures and also links to suppliers where possible.

Let’s dry up the bilge

First an foremost, it was time to approach the most pressing task. On top of the list there is the leaking rudder stuffing box. Just too much water was coming in – more than a few drops which are quire normal. Instead we saw 1-2l/h during our passage from Sardinia to Sicily.

Obviously we wanted to avoid having to haul out the boat and do the whole repair at our mooring in the water of Licata marina. Theory how to do that was pretty clear to us, however it made us quite nervous to remove the rudder bearing in the water and stare in a hole in the hull. This is why we asked Matthew Peterson to join us as an expert for this task. Contrary to other workers in the marina, he did not insist in an expensive hauling out the boat and agreed to do the task in the water. Matthew is quite experienced with engine and heavy boat maintenance and one of the “jack of all trades” in Marina di Cala del Sole. We were quite happy with his work, however as he was very busy all the time, it was a nightmare to keep up to a schedule.

In order to be sure how the rudder is constructed, we contacted Dick Zaal – the designer of the Contest 41 of that time and got the original plans from him. The rudder has a quite large skeg so will not fall to the marina bottom when the bearing is pulled. For all Contest owners out there: Dick Zaal is a helpful fellow and plans can be ordered for a few quid. As the laminated rudder post shaft is only slightly above the waterline (or below depending on load on the stern), we had to make sure the stern of the boat comes out of the water as high as possible for the time of the repair. Alright, put a lot of weight on the bow then – including a swimming pool Dinghy filled with water.

We need more weight!

After the rudder quadrant was removed, it became obvious that the rudder bearing needs to be replaced. Turns out it is a cheap bearing readily available – something you do not see that often in boating. The rudder shaft needed to be sanded down with very fine grid paper to turn it spotless clean again and to avoid rust stains. New packing cord was added and everything was assembled again. The bearing was quite stubborn and needed considerable force and heating gun to slide on the shaft again.

The old bearing
Empty stuffing box
New bearing

All in all a DIY task if you know what you are doing and have the right tools – especially a shaft puller is needed.

More light!

Constant UV light created very fine cracks in the existing hatches (one big at the foredeck and one in the owners cabin as well as two small ones in the saloon). This is not a safety issue but we wanted to be able to look at the clear sky again and as the installed solar vents were broken as well we decided to reglaze the hatches completely (no solar vents this time as they break to soon anyway). Turns out the first thing to find out is which type of hatches are installed. In our case it was Lewmar Rollstop hatches with a specific edge radius. This was a couple of hours of searching the internet to find a dealer who was the acrylic on stock. Of course we could have used the existing acrylic as blueprint and cut the hatches from a sheet of acrylic, however this was inconvenient mainly because of lead time and perfect fit. Luckily we found Hadlow Marine in UK (big recommendation!), which had matching acrylic and ships it along with installation instructions and all tools you will need (without the acrylic spatula to remove old mastic it would have been a difficult task). Although it was Brexit time and shipping was prone for delays, we received the package in Italy quite fast and installation was an easy task thanks to the good instructions. Removing the old mastic is a messy task though! The new acrylic is fixed in place with a special heavy duty two sided sticky tape and the seal made with Arbosil silicone sealant. Task done in two afternoons for all 4 hatches. We are quite happy with the result!

Removal of old mastic with the acrylic spatula
Mastic is quite difficult to remove – a great help was the Italian “sticker remover”
Highly recommend to accurately use masking tape
Freshly sealed acrylic


Strength of the chain plates is obviously absolutely critical for the safety of the rig and we wanted to eye witness the condition. Below deck the chain plates are clearly visible and condition can be assessed. We saw ongoing corrosion in the middle chain plate which has already created stains on the couch fabric. In order to check the condition, we decided to re-seal all deck plates – because of the messy caulking material a daunting task!

Instead of Sikaflex, we used “Fratelli Zucchini MS Deck Caulking H” with matching primer – the same caulking we also use for the teak. Apparently this stuff is better than Sikaflex and creates a more stable seal – it is however VERY messy. If you get this stuff onto your feet – beware!

First, all old caulking must be removed. This is a perfect job for our Dreml tool. For larger areas, a spatula will do as well. The condition below the teak became visible and was considerable moist.

We could clearly see moisture in the teak
Dreml tool in action
Finished job

After resealing, the overflow can be removed with Acetone. In our experience, it is easier to be accurate with masking tape and remove it immediately after applying the caulk. This will create a cleaner seam and avoids cracks in the caulking material.


When we bought the boat, the genoa had a “sock” to protect it from UV light. This had to be hoisted after each sail and the material was already quite brittle and beyond its life. Also, it seemed to much work doing this after each day sail. To just roll up the genoa and be done, we had a UV protection added directly to the sail. A nice chance to wash the sail and treat it with anti-mould.

The main sail used a so called “Duchman” system to recover the sail. This system uses monofil lines (similar to a fishing line) which are going through the sail vertically. When recovering, the sail should fold nicely onto the boom and stay there as it is fixed in flace by the lines. This system might work for some people but is was not for us. We decided to change it to a lazybag. This also has the advantage that it is UV protected without adding a sock. The color of choice was grey (we will change all Pangolin’s colors from blue to grey in the next refits). Also, it was a chance to add the boats name on the sunbrella fabric. The first iteration was not successful – the lazybag turned out to be too small, so it had to be redone, which increased the schedule pressure on us.

New lazybag

All rigging and sail work has been done by Sisail di Laura Licitra from Ragusa. The workers (especially Paolo) were quite nice chaps, however as always there was a problem with sticking to a schedule and quality. This is why we can not recommend them after all.

Unfortunately it tuned out that the existing Selden rod kick did not hold any compression any more. This created an issue with the boom touching the bimini if you are not careful with the topping lift.So: Get a new one 🙂

Similar the backstay tensioner was completely stuck in a single position and had to be thoroughly cleaned and reassembled. Instead of trying to sell us a new one, Andrea from Nautilhouse, the small chandler in the Marina di Cala del Sole agreed to the task of cleaning and refurbishing it. We can recommend him for any work – he has always been fair in pricing and worked to the schedule, contrary to may other workers there.

Inner workings of the backstay tensioner
Cleaned, done and ready for assembly


Part 2 of the refit blog post will focus on electric work, safety devices and repairs. We will also give an outlook on the winter 2021/2022 refit tasks.