top of page
Sailing round the world takes multiple years. Boats need maintenance and therefore it is useful to know which boatyards have good reputations and which are to be avoided. Cruiser forums are a good source of information. But I decided to record our experiences as an additional source for those interested. Remember, this is a sample size of 1!
This yard, owned by Richard Matthews, fits out Oyster yachts (and Gunfleet). We went there to have serious leaks around the wrap-around window fixed and the initial upgrades to make Skyfall 'RTW compatible'. The yard is renowned as not cheap but we felt it would be worth it to have results we could rely on. How naive we were!
1. They know how to make a boat look good. Eight years of gelcoat damage magically disappeared and the teak looked magnificent when the boat was handed back
2. They have the original plans and documentation for Gunfleet yachts ( who went bankrupt). They know all suppliers and where to get stuff done.
3. The major water leak from the wrap-around window was fixed and has remained fixed.
4. I believe their rigging expert, Michael Laker, is very competent
5. They did accept mistakes and rectified the issues (which we found last year) without too much argument
1. In 16 months (we did not sail in 2020 because of Covid) Skyfall had 3 project managers. I understand the first two were asked to leave. Our third Project manager was very competent and finally got things done. But, as a lot of the work was on labour and materials basis, I know we paid more than we should have.
2. The bimini design was flawed. Originally it was held up by lines which got in the way of the mainsheet. When this was pointed out, the design was modified and that issue solved. But the clearance of the boom was also too marginal. In 2022, to solve this, we have taken out a triangle from the foot of the mainsail to lift the clew 8 cms and add new reefing points 8 cms above the originals
3. As part of a thorough rigging check the mast came off and the rod rigging below deck was taken out for die testing. However, when it was put back, the seal was so bad that water poured in. It was so bad we had to abandon a 'shakedown sail' after just one day, ruining the crew's planned holiday. Second time around the work was done properly
4. Foxs recommended that, in order to make the boat watertight, we should replace the Lewmar windows ( after 8 years). I cannot say if this was totally necessary but, after the work, the boat was initially dry. Unfortunately not after an Atlantic circuit! The Xufre yard (see below) had a look and believe the rubber seals are good, the sealing between the outer metal and hull was good, but the inner metal part was put in with insufficient sealant/glue. So this year they have been taken out, cleaned up and re-seated. So far, so good.
5. As part of the initial poor project management, the wrong length spinnaker pole was ordered. The solution was to cut out a central portion and use a Seldon kit (with inner sleeve) to join the two halves. The strength of this was questionable and, on the first Atlantic crossing, in Mindelo, we were forced to remake this join. After a few months light work the inner sleeve could be pulled away from one half and there was hardly any epoxy holding the parts together. We put it back and reinforced the joint with multiple sheets of fibreglass mat and west epoxy on the outside. It may not now look pretty, but it seems really strong. Foxs were surprised and stated they used a standard Seldon kit as prescribed and referred the issue to Seldon. There was never a response but they did reimburse our materials cost.
6. Generally everything was very expensive. One example. To put an anchor on the boat, adding colour coding every 10 metres to a 100m chain generated a labour bill for over 1500 pounds!
1. Not for the well-heeled sailor
2. Do not assume that expensive means trouble-free. They have good people; But if someone less experienced is not properly supervised.......
Varadoiro do Xufre
Isla do Arousa,
We found this place through recommendations on cruiser forums. Nito, the owner, is a keen sailor and is trying hard to expand his business. Satisfied customers are his chosen method to get the news out and grow.
1. The lift in/ out and storage charges are unbelievably cheap ( see prices on the website)
2. The yard is set up for live-aboards whilst the boat is out of the water with toilet/shower/laundry facilities, use of a beaten up car (free!) and two equally beaten up bicycles
3. There is no issue doing all the maintenance yourself in the yard if you desire
4. The invoicing is extremely detailed, open and clear. And Nito is very pragmatic if you have an issue with anything ( provided you are logical and have valid points).
5. They are becoming hydrovane experts having installed 4 in the last year
6. The welders (aluminium, stainless steel), electrician, engine maintenance are pretty good.
7. Labour time was generally as I would expect (couple of exceptions) with good value rates
8. Ramon, the sailmaker used by the yard, is great and really good value; Highly recommended
1. The yard is growing fast; Nito, the owner, tries to manage projects himself. But there is too much, things get forgotten. Until he hires a Project manager, to be sure of getting stuff done in time you need to be on site asking every day!
2. Sourcing of some items were significantly more expensive than I could find. In these cases it was agreed I would order the parts and take responsibility for them.
3. The yard can do electrics and electronic installations. But they do not have anyone who really understands electronics or software. And, if it does not work, then time spent trying to get it to work is labour you are paying for. This is exacerbated by the electronics supplier they use who really has limited technical understanding. They need to find a supplier who they know can technically support the electronics products they install.
The issues I had with my router and booster antennae were only resolved after two days research on the web and I got into direct contact with the Lithuanian router manufacturer.
4. Finish is not up to 'high end' standard. There is a carpenter and he may be great at replacing rotten planks but I would not trust him as a cabinet maker working on any interior joinery. Similarly, when the solar arch was installed, the previous support for the wind generator was removed. This meant filling the screw holes. Foxs would have ensured tthe correct colour match so you could not see the holes. Xufre used white gelcoat, but not the same white as Skyfall.
5. The yard has contracts with the Spanish Navy and coastguard for various vessels. This sometimes includes large scale sand blasting. Consequently there is a lot of sand around which does get onto your boat.
1. Good points far outweigh bad points
2. The place is perfect for people who want to store the boat in Spain/Portugal and do a lot of the work themselves
3. If you want the work done, ensure you are chasing and following up enough and bear in mind the strengths/weaknesses noted above
Paul De Lange
A one man band, but a real electronics expert who specialises in Marine electronics. Most chandlers in Belgium who sell marine electronics subcontract the installation to him.
When upgrading he often strips the replaced equipment for spares and is potentially a good source for spares. Website is in dutch but he speaks good english.
He is extremely busy. Do not waste his time!
bottom of page