First of all, the name… We did not choose “Zoe” as the name of our boat as we bought it second hand. However, we had to decide if we were going to change it… and we did not! In fact, it seemed to be perfect for our project – in ancient Greek “Zoe” means “the essence of life” – we hope to honor such an important name!”
A bit of history… When, two years ago, we started planning to sail across the ocean we had to face a first, major problem: we didn’t have a boat! And, we did not have many clues either on how it should look like. The only certainty was that our boat couldn’t be a new one, given the limited amount of money we had available. We needed to decide what size boat would best fit our need as well as what features we were not willing to give up. Over the course of the years we rented several boats for weekend or summer vacations, but that didn’t certainly make us experts in the field. We then visited several nautical exhibitions, in Genoa, Paris and Düsseldorf where we did confirm our first impression that we could never afford a new, even if not a luxurious boat. Nonetheless, we had the invaluable opportunity to talk with people, ask a lot of questions and get better ideas on what we wanted and probably needed.
Next, we conducted a hectic search on the web, where we learned a lot on the used sailboat market! In spring of 2015, we contacted and visited several owners or brokers spread all over Italy and in the south of France. Finally, on a cold and rainy day in February, we had our magic encounter with ZOE, a Franchini 41s that was moored in Salivoli. Although twenty years old, she had maintained the elegance and beauty of her original forms, both outside and inside. At a first glance, she appeared in good condition. We very much liked the robust and heavy structure and the central cockpit, characteristics that we considered important for an ocean crossing. After some negotiation with the owner and the positive review of a technical inspection from a renowned expert we finalized the purchase.
In a sunny and windy weekend at the end of March, perfect for sailing, we took her to a shipyard in Fiumicino. Our experience with boat maintenance was only beginning! The first “essential” interventions were performed: replacement of all portholes, key engine parts (supports, main shaft…), a few seacocks and numerous other operations we did not contemplate or even thought about before.
While the first set of interventions was targeted at establishing safe and regular performance, we then had to work on the next level – make it ready for an ocean crossing! This included adding a fixed bimini; a rollbar to hold solar panels, wind generator, and various antennas; replacing both service and engine batteries, running new – oversized – electrical cables; replacing all navigation instruments; replacing the anchor windlass and chain (100m); adding a furler forfthe staysail and get a new yankee, a code zero as well as a large staysail for downwind navigation; adding backplates to all stanchions; adding a lifeline; and much more!