In this article we will cover all major upgrades and fixes we completed in winter 2023/2024 on our Malo 39 “Tranquility”.

When we bought “Tranquility” a year ago, we did some essential upgrades before we set sail around Europe. Our Malo 39 was in a decent condition and she didn’t require any serious maintenance, she was basically ready to go. Also, we didn’t want to do much, as it would delay our departure significantly. 

As a result, before leaving Poland, we did two major upgrades only – we converted our electrical system into lithium and installed a stern arch with solar panels.




It was a good decision to standby with the rest. It’s always a good idea to test the boat and see what needs to be upgraded, replaced or refitted. After a season of full time sailing and living on a boat, it’s easier to see what works well and what doesn’t.

boat maintenance plan

During 4700 NM sailing around Europe we’ve created an extended work list, including all the boat projects we need or want to do. 

Despite the good condition of the boat, the list turned out long. We divided it and prioritized it into 3 categories

  1. System upgrades – included all items, we wanted to upgrade to more modern or efficient ones. Boat is 22 years old and some things were outdated although still serviceable and in working condition;
  2. Things that are broken and need to be fixed – there were things which were not working since the beginning and those which broke on the way. Whenever they were not crucial, we postponed fixing them until winter. Of course those important ones were fixed during the sailing season;
  3. Periodic proactive maintenance of the systems – on our Malo 39, most of the systems were original, which means there were, or they still are, 22 years old. They require servicing or replacing some parts.

Once we had these categories, we scheduled the projects according to the priority. We have also decided to postpone some upgrades for the upcoming years.

This is how our boat upgrade and maintenance plan has been created for the next few seasons. Thanks to that we could plan our work, schedule time frame and finances. That also gives us time to do the research in advance. Obviously this list is always open and it grows with new projects. The plan however gives us general insight and control over the process.

Sticky notes help!

Before the works start, we write all the jobs that need to be done on sticky notes and attach them on the wall. This technique has a name I guess 🙂 There are three sections – TO DO, IN PROGRESS and DONE. Notes have 3 colors according to priority. This way, we constantly see the progress and we are sure that we won’t forget to do important stuff!



What exactly did we do last winter?

We will start with system upgrades, as we’ve done a few.

UPGRADES on our Malo 39

Hull antifoul

As we often highlight, the Malo 39 we bought was in a really good condition, which cannot be said about its antifoul. On the hull, multiple layers of old paint had accumulated to such an extent that it was peeling off when touched. We have even considered sanding and repainting the hull straight away in Poland, but it would take us plenty of time. So we postponed it till winter in Greece and decided to prepare for the Coppercoat application. 

Applying Coppercoat was the biggest project this winter. It has started with time consuming, 2 weeks scrubbing and sanding all the layers down to the gelcoat. We also needed to do some minor repairs, to prepare the surface for the Coppercoat. The most challenging was actually finding a good weather window to conduct the application process, as the Coppercoat requires very strict conditions for correct application. Here, you can read a separate post about the Coppercoat application and why we’ve decided for it instead of regular antifoul. Obviously, we cannot say anything about the results yet, but we’ll monitor it and let you know. 




Cockpit enclosure on Malo 39

Although our cockpit enclosure saved our lives sailing the Baltic Sea in winter, it was time to replace it. 22-years old fabric and zippers started to fall apart one by one throughout the season. It came to the point, when fixing it was no longer an option. Moreover, the old bimini and cockpit enclosure was designed for Scandinavian sailing and lacked ventilation, so much needed in the Med. We’ve decided to order a new one according to our design, with a number of modifications to adjust it to a warmer climate. We added additional opening windows and we made all the walls removable, not only foldable.

Chart plotter

“Tranquility” was equipped with an old, but still working Raymarine R90CL chartplotter with a radar. Chartplotter however was not compatible with new charts anymore and we could use it as a radar display only. It was helpful, especially sailing from Sweden to Poland, when we didn’t have AIS. We wrote about it here. Regarding navigation, we’ve decided on a heavy duty tablet (backed up with other tablets, iPad and our smartphones). Solution worked well, but not perfectly. Tablet was slow and readability on bright sunny days was limited. Moreover, we’ve always wanted to have two different sets of charts for redundancy, rather than relying on one product. All these aspects brought us to the point when we decided to buy a new chartplotter.

Radar anenna

Parallel to that, we’ve had quite a long decision making process about what to do with our radar antenna, which was old, but still working fine. Changing the chartplotter however complicated things, as the new one wouldn’t display data from the old radar antenna. We would have to keep the old chartplotter as a radar display only and a new one for navigation. This solution was far from perfect, cluttering space in the cockpit and unnecessary doubling the amount of devices.

Moving radar antenna to the mast

Second problem was that the radar antenna had to be moved from the solar arch to the mast anyway. Throughout the season, it was giving a significant amount of shadow on our solar panels, reducing their efficiency. However it is not as easy as it sounds. Our data cable was too short to lead it up the mast and it was impossible to buy one compatible with such an old radar antenna. Additionally this type of data cables cannot be cut or extended.

Trying to save the old radar antenna would generate significant costs anyway, make the whole system complicated and the cockpit cluttered with more devices than needed. That’s why we’ve decided to go for a new radar antenna as well.

We’ve chosen QUANTUM 2 Q24D Doppler Radar Antenna.

TIP! Remember, that whenever you upgrade systems, it is possible to sell old devices, even if they are 20 years old. It helps if you’re located in the area where people fix or upgrade their boats such as shipyards or popular marinas for boat winterizing. Find the local WhatsApp group, post on Facebook marketplace. We found out that the most efficient way of selling boat equipment is just placing it in front of the boat with a FOR SALE label. Preferably in local language.

Propeller and line cutter replacement on Malo 39

Our boat is not the fastest in the world, so every half a knot counts. This is why we have decided to change our fixed propeller into a foldable one. We bought Gori propeller and apart from the fact that it looks beautiful, we have started to notice improvement of performance since the very first day of sailing in the new season. According to the manufacturer it can give us as much as 0.5 to 1.5 knots extra under the sail. What is also important, it provides similar power characteristics both forward and in reverse, which is not always the case with feathering propellers. Yet, it is quite important when maneuvering, especially in close quarters.

Gori also offers an overdrive feature to its propellers. It improves fuel efficiency by changing the propeller’s pitch when motoring at cruising speed. We, however, did not decide for it, as we plan to sail more than motor. So this additional cost was not justified for us. 

Enormous amounts of fishing nets in our sailing grounds and few, rather unpleasant experiences tangling them around our prop lead us to install the line cutter as well. 



Thru hull replacement

This winter, we have replaced the engine cooling water intake. After thorough research we have decided to stick with old fashioned bronze thru hull accompanied with modern Merlon composite seacock. This topic will come back in coming seasons as we will be replacing all thru hulls before leaving Europe. We have not yet decided if we will stick to bronze or go full composite material. 

Foldable steering wheel on Malo 39

It may look as a very unnecessary upgrade, but it has already made our life easier. Changing the steering wheel into a foldable one saved us a lot of space and improved communication in a cockpit while at anchor or in the marina. Malo 39 cockpit is not wide, which we definitely appreciate, especially in heavy weather. On the other hand however, passing around the steering wheel, especially with heavy stuff like diving tanks, shopping etc., was quite demanding. That’s why we have decided that this extra space is worth the money. 

It already pays off as we started our diving season and we don’t have to juggle with heavy dive tanks above the wheel.

Things that are broken and need to be fixed

Teak plugs

Replacing teak plugs is one of the most common teak deck maintenance works. We were lucky enough that only a few required replacement. You can read about the whole process here.

GRP repairs

I believe every single laminate boat has some GRP to fix after the sailing season. Our Malo 39 is not different! Apart from very minor dents and scratches, we did one bigger GRP repair on our keel. Damage was already present when we bought the boat. Before applying Coppercoat it was a good opportunity to do the permanent fix. Second GRP repair was to fix the hole on our bow. On our very last leg of the season, Sicily to Greece, our anchor went loose and before we realized it managed to make a hole in the gelcoat. 

Luckily the GRP is a very easy material to work with compared to steel or aluminum boats. You can read about it in our post “What boat to buy”.



Fresh water pump

Last year we struggled a lot with low and variable output pressure of the fresh water pump. Because of it our water filtration system was not working well. In winter we replaced it with the more powerful Shurflo Aqua King II. So far we are very happy with this upgrade!

Heater

Our Eberspracher heater is one of the boat’s systems which definitely requires attention after 22 years. Although it was working, it had difficulties keeping preset temperature and was following some random cycles. Changing a controller helped, however finding a new one compatible with the old device was another story. Eventually we bought it back in Poland in a truck equipment store!

Periodic proactive maintenance of the systems on Malo 39

Engine service and engine mounts replacement

Our Malo 39 is equipped with the Yanmar 4JH3E engine, that has a very good reputation. These engines serve long and well as far as you take care of them and provide periodic service to its parts. Since we bought the boat, we couldn’t fully confirm its maintenance history. On top of that the engine started developing some vibrations which were more noticeable with the new propeller. It brought us to scheduling a major engine service covering:

  • engine mounts replacement;
  • cleaning heat exchanger;
  • rebuilding seawater pump;
  • adjusting valve clearance;
  • replacing thermostat.

Outboard service

Our 2-stroke 9.9 HP Mercury engine was bought second hand and has not gone through the major overhaul so far. That’s why we’ve decided to do it this winter. However after recommissioning it in spring, it turned out that the fuel pump was leaking. It required rebuilding which Tomek did with a service kit available online.

Wood work

Talking about maintenance of our Malo 39, we will often relate to her age. 22 years is not an old boat, but definitely in this age there are many things to be done. Re-varnishing some pieces of the wood was not a priority, but we managed to refresh some of them. We focused on those heavily damaged with UV – our companionway and cockpit table. I have found a good matching color varnish and we are super happy with the results! Restoring the wood will be a continuous process on our boat. We have already planned further re-varnishing for next winter.



NEW EQUIPMENT

Dive compressor

Soon, we will write a separate article about our dive compressor and its installation and we’ll cover all details there. Before we even owned the boat, we were discussing what kind of compressor we wanted to have, should it be electric, petrol, where to store it etc.

After long consideration, we’ve chosen the Italian Coltri Icon with Honda petrol engine and stainless steel frame. As the space under the deck or in the lockers was not allowing us to install it anywhere there, the only solution was to build a watertight box and mount it to the deck. We’ve made a plywood box, which we’ve sealed with epoxy so it’s waterproof. It took us a lot of time, not only building the box itself, but mainly preparing a good deck mount, drilling through the deck, and leveling the box’s base. Although we would prefer to have a better storage space for a dive compressor, we are happy with the final result. So far it is protecting compressor well even during last sandstorm which we have encountered in Greece.



Winter boat upgrades on our Malo 39 – summary

As at home, there are always things to do and fix. No matter how much you work on it, the list is always growing. Thanks to distributing the works for years, we can work on them step by step and avoid getting crazy straight away 🙂 We also have time to do proper research, order parts we want or reevaluate our ideas. We did a lot this winter, but we still have lots of plans to do in the next few years. Although the new season has just started, we are already planning next winter. There are big jobs in front of us – changing the standing rig, sails, backing up the autopilot, installing a watermaker etc. Slowly but surely – we are getting there!

As always, we did all the work mentioned in this post ourselves, except for the engine service. We also had two helpers to apply the Coppercoat, so we were able to apply all the layers in one day, which is required by the manufacturer.

How can we help?

If you need any help with planning your boat maintenance or keeping her in shape feel free to contact us. We can work together to plan your upgrades or decide on the new equipment.


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