Sailing Journey: Extending the Boat

This sailing journey chapter sees Naiad (boat) marooned in Townsville for longer than expected, for the gruelling completion of its 6-foot extension.

Need to apologise for the poor quality photos from 1997. The 35mm negatives lived on the boat in humidity for many years and then in storage on land in the sweltering heat.

Marooned in Townsville

Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

After an amazing 6-month break cruising far north Queensland’s most pristine islands and the Great Barrier Reef from Brisbane to Townsville, then spending a few weeks playing on stunning Lizard Island, it’s now time to look for work.

As always, the 6-month working stint quickly extends into years. This time back in 1997, it’s a total of 3 years stopping in Townsville. Marooned is the word I use and you’ll see why as you read on…

If you’re thinking of building a boat and want to read about the long 9.5 years to build Naiad from its bunch of plans, then check out these chapters for your bedtime indulgence – Part 1, Part 2, launching, and completing Naiad in Sydney.

More boat work

Why so long in Townsville?

Well, during the 3-year stopover, we decide to extend Naiad in the hope that extending essentially improves Naiad’s performance, whilst also providing extra cockpit space.

Remember during the early stages of building Naiad I said that it looked as though Bruce Roberts butchered the plans of a 34′ boat – cutting the stern to make a 28′ boat? After hundreds of miles sailing and motoring, we believed this to be true.

Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Naiad before the extension

Naiad’s sheer stern cavitates when sailing and motoring. This isn’t great for a boat as it creates drag and slows the boat down considerably. Because of this, seawater also enters through the stern’s scuppers when she cavitates or is on a heel. So, the cockpit is always wet, which is another problem to fix.

Extending Naiad

Who is mad enough to extend a boat from 28-feet to 34-feet?

You’d think that after taking almost a decade to build Naiad from its plans until the launch and fit-out that enough is enough of boat building for life.

Picture living on a boat that’s marooned on land in a very grotty slipway’s yard in far north Queensland. Incredibly sultry humid conditions invoke the growth of mould spores everywhere…

extending the boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

The yard’s scanty gate can barely stand up, let alone provide security for anyone inside. Overspray and dust from the slipway shroud Naiad daily, embedding itself in every crevice and orifice. Druggies and alcoholics roam up and down the fence late in the evening, breaking out in occasional fights below Naiad. You get the pain of what 6 months living in this yard is all about.

During the summer, the heat and unbearable humidity are relentless but we conjure up ways to stay cool…

Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Tired of scaling a ladder a couple of metres high to get into the boat. Over the lugging of grocery shopping up and down this ladder. Annoyed with going up and down the ladder to get to the loo in the middle of the night. Difficult trying to get ready in grimy conditions to look presentable for work in an office. Barely any further in this new project after 3 months of extending Naiad and realising this can’t go on any longer, I put my foot down.

Slipway, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
A photo of Naiad well on the way in the extension, but this shows you the ‘lovely’ grimy yard

Finally, the skipper quits his job after 3 months to work full time on Naiad’s extension.

How do you extend a boat?

Before starting we contacted Bruce Roberts about our intentions.

Advised to cut the boat at mid-ships (right down the middle) and extend this way, we decide against this advice. A mammoth task, which would take years and is much too expensive. Extending the waterline means faster and hopefully smoother performance so can understand why Roberts advised doing this – we may be silly but we’re not masochists.

Instead, a new reverse-transom that keeps the weight down is built and welded to Naiad’s hull.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

The stern is cut out leaving an existing frame for more strength at the stern. Remember, this is trial and error. Extending Naiad’s stern is our design and hoping like hell that this works.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Lots of filling and fairing along the new join to appear seamless, then more sanding of the hull for a total re-spray and this part is finished.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Extending the stern also means extending the plumbing, steering, backstays, deck, cockpit floor, cockpit lockers, and whatever else needs extending. Then, a lot of work to make everything look seamless and not like an add-on or a botched up hobo’s boat.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Slowly but relentlessly working through all of these issues day and night – with me helping as the tradie after work each day and on weekends – and the boat is ready for a re-spray.

The goal to get out of this grubby slipway is the driving force and is all-consuming, but also to go sailing again is a priority.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Photo credit: Colin Palmer

During this time, we take the opportunity to also re-spray the inside of Naiad. Do you have any idea what this involves? This job is definitely masochistic! Nothing like having a couple of projects on the go when you’re also living in the boat.

Internal re-spray

Only believing this job would take a week – clearly delusional again – we start yet another daunting project of preparing Naiad for an internal re-spray of the cabin.

If you’ve ever had any experience with spraying two-pack Polyurethane paint, then you know that its fine mist gets absolutely everywhere. This job requires endless masking tape and plastic sheets.

Removing bedding and cushions then masking everything not to be painted, and giving the internal cabin areas some sanding to key the surface – all of this takes a week.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Our tiny Suzuki Carry Van, nicknamed the biscuit tin is the new bed each night – at least Naiad’s mattress fits. Why not move into a hotel? Because the boatyard isn’t secure and Naiad can’t be locked. Everything is open to thieves.

The first coat of paint looks great for the first few minutes until small air bubbles form, bubbling almost like a fizzy drink. The finish is terrible. We contact the paint’s manufacturer and of course, advised it’s our fault because of how the paint was sprayed.

Several more tins of expensive paint later. More sanding, cleaning, and re-masking. More time lost before spraying another coat only to see exactly the same result.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Demanding a Rep inspects the second spray job, he recalls the paint batch from shelves as it’s faulty. A different batch is delivered free of charge. Third time lucky?

Again, we sand, clean, and make sure everything is sealed for the final spray. The result this time is a great glossy finish.

After 3 weeks of living in our van, we finally clean Naiad and move back on for an almost normal existence. As normal as life can be on the hard (land).


Looking rather shabby but finally, Naiad travels back onto the slipway for a re-spray and the Antifoul paint.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Choosing a sunny day for the final Polyurethane topcoat to the hull, the port-side goes on and looks great. Meanwhile, a dark ominous cloud hovers overhead, but the sun still shines through patches.

Once the paint is mixed and you start spraying, you can’t stop, so the starboard-side is also sprayed. Within 10 minutes of finishing the spraying the heavens open, but it’s only a light shower that lasts several minutes.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Photo credit: Colin Palmer

In its wake, the shower leaves faint rain indentations in the paint’s finish – what a blow!

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Deciding enough is enough after 6 months of living on land and live with this effect, so go ahead with launching Naiad.

extending a boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Super happy with our 3-month effort and unique design resulting in this seamless extension.


What a fabulous feeling to be afloat again. Free from the slipway’s clutching tentacles. Months later, we careen Naiad at the piles in Townsville. Time to re-adjust the waterline and paint another coat of antifoul. It’s free careening the boat but need to be mindful of the tides.

careening, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Townsville’s Castle Hill in the background watches over Ross Creek.

careening, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania

Was extending worth the pain?

Definitely. Should have extended Naiad at the very beginning during the building stage after craning the hull upright. Hindsight’s a beautiful thing…

Naiad now includes a lovely roomy cockpit and her performance is much better – albeit not a racing thoroughbred – although, still fast enough for comfortable cruising.

Time to go sailing again but first, need to finish my work contract…

boat, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Oceania
Photo credit: Colin Palmer

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

More boat-building chapters

Check out more of my chapters in this boat-building series!

19 responses to “Sailing Journey: Extending the Boat”

  1. gillmorris Avatar

    WOW Nilla! What a job, but what a result. It must be such a fantastic feeling to just get in the boat and sail away to wherever you want 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yeah, tell me about it, was a huge job!
      It’s definitely a great feeling sailing anywhere you wan to but sadly, I’m not a boat owner anymore – never say never… 😉

      1. gillmorris Avatar

        Never say never indeed! x

  2. Dave Ply Avatar

    Well, if you ever get tired of working an office you could always get a job in a shipyard.

    Ok, maybe not.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, I’ve learnt so many skills that continually come in handy. You’re right, I could get a job in a shipyard and would be ‘comfortable’ doing the tasks although it’s bl**dy hard work Dave!

      Have been renovating these past couple of months working 12+hrs/day, 7 days/week. My tenants of 14 years left the house in a pitiful state but putting things right again. 😉

      BTW your messages always end up in my Trash folder – it’s very annoying and have contacted WP but proivded with lame excuses.

      Hope you’re staying safe!

      1. Dave Ply Avatar

        I tend to catch up on Likes and Comments in batches, maybe they think I’m a spammer. I haven’t heard anyone else make that observation.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Interesting, this comment went to my Trash folder also, so it’s weird.
        Wish I could work out what’s going on as it may just be a setting in my WP Dashboard.

  3. Christie Avatar

    Wow, such a journey with your boat!!🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Christie, yes a long hard but fulfilling journey!
      I learnt a lot whilst building, living on, and extending the boat. Stay tuned as there are more chapters to come yet… 😉
      Hope you and your family are keeping well and safe.

      1. Christie Avatar

        I’ll keep an eye on your next chapter, for sure🙂 We are well, thank you, hope you stay safe as well!!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thanks Christie! Yes, all cool here so far… 😉

  4. the eternal traveller Avatar

    Phew, another mammoth task but it worked out so well in the end.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Carol and yes, it was mammoth – definitely masochists!

  5. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar

    I was looking forward to this one

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Mohamad! Hope you’re OK.
      Need to read your novel now that things have died down a little but also write up the food nomination. 😉

      1. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar

        Thank you very much
        It’s okay
        Take your time

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you! You’re very understanding. 🙂

      3. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar

        You are most welcome Nilla

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