Refit Overview

This refit will be an ambitious undertaking, at least 12-24 months of full-time work and a lot of materials. When finished, we expect this boat to be better than new. As we get started, we wanted to establish some basic goals and principles.

Refit Goals

  • Ensure safety and comfort of crew in extended cruising.

  • Ensure seaworthiness of vessel for offshore voyaging.

  • Attain maximum self-sufficiency by:
    • hardening the boat to reduce future repair and maintenance needs, and
    • selecting systems for reliability, redundancy, and ease of maintenance.

  • Improve appearance (new finishes, canvaswork, etc.).

  • Prepare vessel for long-term cruising within established budget.

  • Prepare vessel and crew to “leave a clean wake.”


  • Adopt risk management techniques for identifying and mitigating critical risks.

  • Comply with published ABYC standards and follow established best practices.

  • Perform work ourselves wherever possible in order to promote self-sufficiency.

  • Attend to every detail in all phases of the refit.

Windhorse II will be our third cruising boat restoration. We have also built two strip-planked kayaks and two stitch-and-glue dinghies, one of which will serve as our cruising tender. There is always a lot more to learn, and that is a good part of what we love about boat life. Nevertheless, we have a certain level of experience under our belts that we hope will serve us well as we undertake this refit.

We have found four main modes of long-term failure in a cruising boat. Every aspect of the refit will focus on hardening the boat to reduce the likelihood of failure in these areas.

The Four Big Cruising Boat Pitfalls to Avoid

  1. Abrasion. Even with the most attentive crews, boats are subject to rough conditions and a lot of wear and tear. We will beef-up fiberglass skins throughout the boat. Xynole cloth sheathing and high-strength G10 fiberglass wear pads will provide additional protection in critical areas. All systems, especially sails, rigging, and ground tackle, will be built with abrasion protection in mind.
  2. Corrosion. Ocean sailing is hard on metals, but choosing appropriate marine grade metals will reduce corrosion in the long term. All metal components will be anodized or 6061 aluminum, silicone bronze, and 316 stainless. Where possible, we will replace metals with non-corrosive materials: synthetic rigging, composite lifeline stanchions, G10 or GPO-3 backing plates, etc.
  3. UV Degradation. Windhorse was built with the best marine epoxy. Compared to other resins, epoxy generally exhibits better strength, adhesion, and moisture resistance. It’s nemesis, however, is UV light. We have seen unprotected epoxy damaged or destroyed in short time under south Florida sun. We will ensure that all epoxy, inside and out, is covered with UV protection. Interior brightwork will be coated with UV protective varnish and/or urethane. All exterior surfaces will be coated with at least three coats of two-part linear polyurethane paint–the gold standard of marine topside coatings.
  4. Water Penetration. Epoxy encapsulation of wood is a fantastic technology, but once we go down that route, partial measures are not acceptable. Sealing of wood core material must be 100% complete. Partially uncoated exterior wood, pinhole leaks, hardware penetration of fiberglass skins–these will eventually cause water penetration into wood cores, leading to delamination and rot. In their writings, the Gougeon Brothers describe techniques for preventing water penetration. These include epoxy bonding of hardware and creating an epoxy anulus around fasteners. We will employ these and other techniques religiously throughout our work.

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