#3 Summer reading. Around the world on a 6.50-meter boat. Preparation/2

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This is the preparatory work for making what people will later call the “cocon arrière” (back cocoon). It is a new volume, an idea of mine to address various needs: a survival cell, a space that can accommodate an internal wheelhouse but also protect the automatic pilots and the core of the shipboard electrical system, as well as the most important electronic and navigational equipment. The volume created in the aft part also serves to increase stowage capacity, to accommodate inol- three a centreboard (canard) and a respect rudder. The “cocon” also has the function of modifying the boat’s buoyancy forces in the event of capsizing, increasing the chances of righting from the original configuration, even if the bulb is lost. The aft airframe thus represents a volume independent of the rest of the boat and completely watertight. In case of the need for abandonment, this additional space facilitates movements and the possibility of exiting to the outside from three different points, one of which is towards the cockpit, while the other two are positioned in the transom, thus also having the function of access to the rudders in case repairs need to be made. The “cocon” is built separately and once ready is connected to the boat, again with a vacuum treatment of glass-Kevlar fabrics, carbon and epoxy resin.
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In the second half of August, “reclamation” of the entire deck and cockpit is completed, which are layered from scratch and vacuum treated. We carry out repair of uncovered breaking points in the structural part and doubling of the frames, as well as the addition of new beams and longitudinal beams to the hull and reinforcement of existing ones.
In early September 2009, the layering of the bottom of the bow area is completed and the access below deck is narrowed, an opening to the “cocon arrière” is created, as well as two watertight bulkheads and a “crash box” are built in the bow. I also open a hole in the deck in the forward part to be used as a sail cove. From France come the two transparent polycarbonate domes, to be used to helm from the inside, to the shipyard. They are attached at the top of the aft volume together with two stainless steel grates that I wanted to protect the domes themselves, especially from any accidental hits from the boom. Meanwhile, we move on to the rudders, the volume of which is changed and the stratification strengthened, all always in a vacuum. Work then begins on grouting the exterior of the hull while also constructing two useful paramars to streamline the boat’s shape, which is weighed down by the presence of the “cocon.”
At the same time, other work is being done on the interior, such as creating the fastening areas for the new wheelhouse, cockpit drains, and reinforcements of the keel box and daggerboard frames.

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After all the modification work, hardening of hull, deck, interior, and construction of new volumes, the final plastering of the exterior is done.

At the end of September, the boat is slinged again and capsized for finishing the livework. New equipment and miscellaneous equipment slowly arrive at the site, and I arrange for the most correct position on board. One of the most important things is the choice and positioning of the two main autopilots, one electric and one hydraulic. The boat is put back upright in early October and glazed yellow to preserve “trace” of its original color. In mid-October, the boat is placed in an oven and baked, to complete the heat treatment the epoxy resin needs to optimize its mechanical properties.

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Enameled yellow and baked to optimize the mechanical properties of the epoxy, the boat is ready to leave the first boatyard.

On October 20, 2008, I do a general test of keel connection, since the hull attachment area has been com- pletely changed. Everything goes according to plan and there are no surprises.
On November 4, my Findomestic Bank leaves the construction site. I thus transferred him to Porto Garibaldi on the Adriatic coast to continue the work. I retrieve the new mast and boom offered by a sponsor, Tiber Mast of Fiumicino. Unlike the original conformation, I decided to mount an aluminum mast, resting on the deck rather than through. This choice is related to the fact that I prefer, in the event of dismasting, that the mast be ripped away from the deck rather than that the deck be damaged, due to the mast stump that would remain attached below deck. In addition, the hole that would allow the mast to reach the bottom of the boat may over time widen and increase water ingress. Therefore, it is better not to risk it.
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Preparation continues until early 2009.
On March 4, the boat is finally at sea! I’m excited, I can finally see it floating!
The last few months spent in Emilia Romagna allow me to make friends with a great boat builder, as well as an expert sailor, Alberto Monaco, whose great experience in working with composite materials I try to learn from.
The plan now is to sail solo to Sicily and to continue the preparation work there, with the comfort of spring temperatures and the help of Alberto. That said, it is the first real test of the boat and even though I am sailing with unsuitable sails and with a still untuned rig, there are no surprises, the boat performs well.
On March 27, 2009, I finally reached Balestrate, the nice town where I elected my new residence. To continue work on the boat, I am the guest of my dear friend Salvatore Bommarito, a professor at the University of Palermo. I can’t ask for better, Salvatore treats me like a son and has been mentoring me for several years now…. Over time his estate has turned, mea culpa, into a small “nautical center”-that’s what I call it when I joke with him-since it houses the boats from my pre-successive trips and a whole trove of equipment needed for sailing. I spend the entire month of April sailing the boat and testing equipment of all kinds: batteries, photovoltaic panels, cameras, autopilots.

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After the last jobs in Emilia romagna I move the boat solo to Sicily, to Balestrate. preparation continues on the dockyard while at the country estate of my friend, Professor Salvatore Bommarito, a warehouse has been turned into a “construction site” for making special pieces.

 

At the end of the month Alberto joins me in Sicily to complete the preparation. We put the boat ashore and turn one of Salvatore’s warehouses into a small construction site. At the end of May, I add a “V” bowsprit, a series of anti-collision boxes placed on the bottom, transom reinforcements, a keel box raise, a watertight battery box, and numerous hull structural reinforcements. We also build throughout the bow area a double “hull,” a kind of “extended crash box,” which also functions as a buoyancy reserve. In July the boat is once again at sea with the boom shortened by several decimeters and new sheet points. There are more and more stickers from the technical sponsors, and the boat becomes more beautiful every day! In early August I decide to mol- lame my moorings in search of my mermaid … but I have no luck and return “empty-handed” to Balestrate after completing the tour of Sicily. I complete the electrical system and work on the photovoltaic panel circuits, build a support for a respectable wind generator and an aft hitch for the hydro-generator. Some technical sponsors forfeit, thus skipping the contributions I was counting on for transporting the boat to France, for sails, for the rest of the solar panels. Other technical sponsors arrive at the ul- timo moment, a few days before loading the boat onto a truck for Les Sables d’Olonne. I am thus sent a fantastic survival wetsuit, a life jacket, an ocean inflatable, freeze-dried and dehydrated meals, muesli, and a wide variety of nutritional supplements. The boat leaves for France on September 18, 2009.

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After countless additional hardening work, modifications, function tests and sailing trials, the boat left for France on September 18, 2009.

 

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