Launch and commissioning

In the normal course of events the boat would have left the factory complete ready for launch and commissioning. In our case Düsseldorf Boot intervened so our experience was a little different as a result.

On her return from Düsseldorf the boat was delivered to Saxon Wharf in Southampton where she was initially placed on the hard so that the hull could be polished and waxed prior to launch. At the same time the Selden mast complete with rigging and other fittings was delivered ready for the Discovery team to check it over and add a couple of the more delicate fittings such as the VHF aerial etc.

The mast waiting to be stepped

Once in the water the mainsheet arch and Rig were put on

Lifting the mainsheet arch into position

And then the begining of testing/comisioning.

Once secure the engine was tested and the boat moved to Hythe where the engine was PDI’d by Yanmars’ UK agent. Shortly after this the compasses were swung by Robertson the resulting deviation cards show a maximum of 1 degree of correction required E.W. which is a great result.

TecSew were the suppliers of the “canvas” on our boat, and they visited to install the sprayhood, bimini and external window mesh. As usual with TecSew the fit and finish is fantastic. All the loose gear was then installed such as the emergency boarding ladder, horseshoe lifebuoy anchor and chain, ensign and staff etc

Canvas fitted, sails to go on next….

On a seemingly rare windless day the sails were bent on by sailmaker Peter Sanders and the Discovery commissioning team, and the following day a few hours were spent on the first sail to check the sails, running rigging and furling gear.

Mainsail halyard tail being added to hoist the main before it is finally secured to the halyard track

At the same time a team were also completing work below installing items that had been left off during the Düsseldorf boat show. Various door catches, accessories in the heads and fire extinguishers and engine room port were installed, and every sea-cock, valve and switch was given a permanent hard label.

Plumbing heating and electrical systems were enabled and tested so for example the bilges were filled by hose to check the depth of water when the bilge pumps would activate. Electrical components were left on for a couple of days to check for those that might be faulty. The Eberspacher Hydronic heating system was fired up for the first time, and the 5 outlets checked, this unit also heats the calorifier so hot water can be produced by this means as well as via the engine and 240v immersion heater, all three methods were tested.

This is the point at which the navigation equipment is commissioned by the Raymarine agent so that an extended warranty can be given. This includes entering the MMSI number, GPS sensor location and other boat data into the AIS and VHF, aligning the radar and wind instrument and calibrating the speed log and autopilot.

The boat was then taken out for a couple more test sails and among other things to allow the autopilot compass to self align, following which the standing rigging was retuned. It will need doing again once the boat does some decent passages as the rigging wire will stretch initially.

The first trial of the sails in 5-7 knot winds

During this process I was not present very much, just a couple of visits as I passed by and the first sail test. I think most owners would not visit during this period and wait for the “official” hand over, it’s true there is no need for the owner to be present and I was conscious of getting in the way. So I should thank the Discovery folk for indulging my curiosity.

I did see faults on the boat being corrected during the process, some minor damage from Dusseldorf, sticking locker door latches, an AIS wiring fault and others, but actually the process made me more confident than before (having had a couple of new boats before) because….

Discovery also employ a dedicated person, who’s job it is to assume the perspective of the owner and continuously review the yacht. The role is independent of the production and commissioning teams and reports to the MD/CEO directly. The boat is reviewed during the build and commissioning process’s, with “snag lists” produced as necessary. As an experienced commercial skipper and yacht surveyor he has a very knowledgeable and detailed approach and whilst this might create some mixed feelings in the factory, it’s great for owners to know how seriously this builder takes quality and their clients expectations.

During one visit I saw the “New Build Co-ordinator”, who I had met with right at the beginning of the buying process to spec the boat, she was doing a final check to ensure everything was supplied exactly as ordered.

So the next stage will be the official handover….