Trials and Tribulations of Zora: First Few Months

From the moment that we purchased Zora,I guess you could say our life has not been ‘simple’ . Date nights turned into boat nights (day and night to be precise), but it will all be worth it when we are both living our life under sail, blue seas and sandy beaches in sight.

After our purchase of Zora the hard work began and the realisation of the months and years of work ahead of us. The first few weeks composed of a lot of weekly and monthly goals to forge out a plan of action, and coupled with the typical Irish weather in January (rain, cold and more rain) it was to say the least a tedious first few weeks. Wrapped up in a million layers (mainly Niamh) we began the task of sorting Zora both inside and out. The main goal was to find our feet and to get a routine going.

First on our agenda was the rigging. All of the rigging needed to be replaced and the overpowering statue that was the mast had to be dropped. This was our first big job onboard Zora. Little jobs (yet important) took place in the run up to our first big boat moment. Measurements, welding and portholes were among the vast list. It was slow progress, weekends mostly due to work commitments and our living situation. Frustrating at times but as they say ‘slow progress is better than no progress’.  

The ‘dropping of the mast’ was our first big milestone in Zoras journey. Her rigging needed completely replaced so we set a date ( end of February/start of march) With the help of friends and the owners of the yard and of course an impressive crane. It was no easy task, coupled with rain and wind it was an eventful day. All 55ft of mast was lifted with the help of a few brave souls climbing the mast to secure the crane in place. It was a sight to be seen. (You can check it out on our YouTube channel Once the mast was securely laid upon our make shift work-bench, we began the inspection of what needed to be done. We would have a good few weeks to do repairs and checks before erecting the mast once again.

The rigging actually came from a boat that was wrecked a few years ago and the boom had never been tested on Zora yet, so before the mast was taken down we checked if we had to modify the boom in case we had to do any adjustments on the ground. Thankfully the boom just about cleared the rigging. And so the list of repairs began to build…..

We needed to fix and secure new mast head lights, decks lights and a steaming light before it was placed back up. Outer stays had to be replaced, and inner stays also had to be taken of and repaired.  The running backstays had to be made and a mast headlight as well as the spreader lights had to be fitted. The mast was fully rewired due to damage and we ran tinned copper cabling in it’s place. In short A LOT of work had to be done on the rigging, and it was to be our first big checklist. A deep clean then took place, which let me tell you it was no easy job.

 Another big job while we waiting for the rigging was to fix and secure the hatches ensuring the boat was water-tight to a degree from the deck. With the help of friends with welding experience, Rhys was able to secure the forward cabin hatch and place the portholes in place also. Zora was starting to take shape.

As the weeks rolled into months the following was slowly being checked of our list;

  • New Rigging
  • Fore hatch sealed
  • Chain plates re-bedded
  • Steering system rebuilt with new bearings 
  • Prop sent to Darglow for rebuild
  • Paint bought
  • Full engine rewire
  • etc…

It honestly felt like slow progress, but all these little things checked off our lists actually compiled huge accomplishments for Zora. This brought us up to June where we moved onto Zoras second big milestone…..Painting her blue.

The colour was picked, the equipment bought, the team was ready. It was time to transform Zora to her infamous blue colour. Luckily we had a great few days of sunshine and we got to work early morning for full days of work. I remember the first sweep of the brush like it was yesterday.  The sun bounced of the shimmer blue that was slowly eclipsing the grey that Zora had worn for too long. With the help of a team of great friend and family we flew through the day. Yes, this was to be first coat, and many more to come before we do eventually set sail. The following day the mast was placed back up and Zora was look Zora was looking as good as ‘blue’.

Onto Zoras second coat of paint, another team gathered, and sunshine was on our side and sanding was top of the agenda. This was all in preparation for marking the waterline. A task which somehow took a good solid day to measure (you can quiz Rhys on this one).

While Niamh and a solid team of friends took on the task of painting, Rhys was eager to inspect the engine. In case you were not aware our engine took some time to explore the wonders of the sea. Yes, it was under water for some time yet managed to be salvaged and brought back to life. After some brief and frustrating moments we were successful in bringing our engine back to life. Here’s hoping it doesn’t want to venture back under the sea any time soon. This was a particular moment when a sense of relief washed over us (not literally) as fitting a new engine would impact our project budget greatly and the hours of work that was put in, on the hope it would work, would be for nothing. After a new starter motor, alternator and cooling system rebuild, Rhys made a wiring loom for the engine and the engine fired up without a problem. The overpowering noise that brought Zora to life during our engine inspection was music to our ears…..possibly not the neighbours though.

And so that re-caps the ‘Trials and Tribulations of Zoras First Few Months:’ Yes on paper it might seem like it was an easy few months, but it was not, Allot of new skills were adapted, learning curves met along the way, endless long day and nights, soaked and cold days working on tedious jobs. However we got through it along with the great help of friends and family and people that started following our journey on social media. It made it all worthwhile.

Those months of hard work led up to Zoras launch, the biggest milestone to date. Zora, 20 years on the hard launched into the sea…….