Sunday, 10 June 2012

About Sophia

Sophia is a Davidson 35, designed in 1981 by Laurie Davidon, a New Zealand yacht designer, most famous for being one of the designers for New Zealand's America's Cup boats, which successfully challenged and defended the Cup in 1995 and 2000.

The Davidson 35 is a New Zealand built production boat, designed as a fast cruising yacht with no concession to rating rules. It is thought that it was the first production yacht built with a walk through transom. Dave Blundell (builder of the Davidson 28) built the first 10 in solid GRP, and then Export Yachts Ltd brought the moulds and built the next 30 or so in GRP Balsa Core.

LOA: 10.66 m (or 35 feet)
LWL: 9.14 m
BOA: 3.31 m
Draft: 1.8 m
Displacement: 4727 kg
Ballast: 1955 kg
Sail Area Upwind: 54 m2

Sophia is one of the later ones, built in 1986. She was commissioned by an Auckland architect who named her Sophia, the explanation being something about beautiful Italian curves. The SY means sailing yacht. Also commonly used is SV for sailing vessel. We actually bought Sophia directly off that first owner, but she had been owned by someone else for a few years, before he bought her back again.

We bought Sophia in late October 2010. We had been looking for a cruising boat for over half a year (and fallen in love with a fantastic Swan S&S 36, which unfortunately turned out to be a total dud, so we had to let her go). After that experience we (well, mainly Astrid) tried to keep much lower expectations and feelings for boats. It actually even took some convincing by Phil to get Astrid into the Davidson 35’s. She has totally come around to liking them now though, especially Sophia.

The furthest Sophia had ever sailed was to the Bay of Islands and her set-up was very basic (the architect would probably say minimalistic), so it took a bit of work getting her ready for the trip to Christchurch. Some of the bigger jobs were cleaning diesel bug out of the tank, fitting an auto-pilot, changing engine mounts and adding a spray dodger. Phil sailed Sophia from Auckland down the east coast of the North Island to Picton with a couple of mates, as Astrid couldn’t get off work. The combination of the boy trip and Sophia being very light with not much gear, meant that she achieved her so far unbeaten record speed of 16 knots surfing downwind.

Sophia stayed in the Marlborough Sounds until February 2011. Phil’s parents live in Waikawa, so almost each weekend we did the four hours drive up to Picton. We did more work to her, but also just enjoyed cruising the Sounds.

It was when she came to Christchurch that the real work started! She spent 4-5 months on the hard over the winter and we worked non-stop! Overall she was in good condition, but as already mentioned quite basic. Below is a massive list of all the work we have done in roughly a year’s time. We did all the work ourselves, with the exception of very few things such as stainless steel jobs and difficult wood work.

But first a bunch of photos. When I read boat blogs I usually miss photos of boats, especially the interior. Not sure if people either forget it, or don't want to show their 'personal home' (which is what cruising boats really are).  Here is Sophia, of course very tidy for the occasion.

Sophia during one of the races in the winter series before she got all the work done to her, looking very bare...
Above deck:
Replace halyards
New rigging
Bigger wire lifelines
Install roller furler
Fix bent stanchion
Service winches
Wires for open transom
Make new washboard and teak surrounds for it
Make new teak hand hold rails
Make teak handholds for cockpit lockers
New anchors and chain
Rearrange nav lights
Fix gas locker
Bigger gas bottles
New Sophia graphic
New red stripe
Install hand bilge pump
Fix mast leak
Anchor locker modify floor level
Make bimini
Make spray hood
Make arch for radar, solar and wind

Below deck:
Add engine insulation
Change engine mounts
Change engine rubber couplings
Replace alternator
Replace thermostat
Replace fuel pump
Add hatch to saloon
Add solar went to head
New vinyl floor instead of carpet
Rail in front of stove
Make insert for double v-berth
Organise port quarter storage
Make book shelf & lockers in saloon
Make shelf in v-berth
Make shelf in quarter berth
Make extra shelves in galley
Teak skirting on bottom around saloon for old water damage
Make new instruments box
Change mast drainage system
Change to LED lights
Close off locker opening to cockpit
Painting all interior and lockers
Replace all hoses, add water filter
New water tanks
Install holding tank
New toilet seal and change pump location
New bathroom faucet

Install anchor windlass
Install water maker
Install wind instruments
Install depth/speed transducers
Install electric fridge
Install radar
Install VHF
Install AIS
Install solar panels
Install wind turbine
Install float switch for bilge
Set up sat phone

Out of the water jobs
Soda blast anti-foul to vinylester coating and build up new layers
New anodes
Take off rudder
All new through-hulls and sea cocks
Cut & polish
Sand and varnish tiller

Sewing jobs:
Main sail
No 1 head sail
No 2 head sail
No 3 head sail
Code Zero
Try sail
Storm jib
Squab covers
Spray dodger
Sail cover (lazy cradle)
Stove bum strap
Cockpit squabs
Rain catcher/deck shades
Wind scoop
Fitted sheets for mattresses
Covers for horseshoe buoys
Winch covers
Mosquito netting


  1. You've clearly been very busy for the last 18 months! But the hard work has paid off and thanks to those fantastic photos, your home is looking very shipshape and ready for her big maiden voyage!

  2. Thanks Sutter :-) It's a crazy list when you see it all there, and it's only all the major stuff, plus I'm sure we forgot some things too!