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Selene Factory Visit

The time arrives for our next quarterly factory visit to Selene in China.  This is always an exciting time when we will get to see and feel the boat in the flesh!  This particular visit was quite difficult for me – we were right in the middle of the due diligence process for selling our business.  The completion date was planned for the end of October but there was still so much to do. The buyer did not seem to be able to confirm anything and he was driving me bonkers! For anyone who has gone through this experience, all I can say is it’s the most stressful experience of my life 🙂

The due diligence work had screwed up all our sailing plans for the summer of 2018.  We had intended to have some time saying goodbye to our sail yacht SY Liberation.  Although we can’t wait to get on-board our Selene 6043, we will both miss sailing in a lot of ways.  All we managed to do was sail from Greece to Malta in a 3 day passage.  Since arriving in Malta (where we live), she has just sat in the marina while we worked!

By September it was time to winterize and close her up again.  So just before our trip to China, we made the short crossing from Malta to Sicily where she would spend the winter.  We had no time to get her home to the yard in Greece and not enough time to close her up safely either. The trip to our Selene in China came in the middle, so we left her in the marina and would sort everything out on our return.

The journey

The plus side was we were both in Sicily together – so we could fly back from Catania to the UK where we picked up the Virgin Airways flight to Hong Kong.  It’s always 12 hours of hell for me on the plane, no matter how we do it. This time in Premium Economy did make a difference though as I could sit straight in the chair instead of having to share my chair with half of Ed’s shoulders 🙂 We had no reason to stay in Hong Kong and instead went to transit directly to China on the ferry.  The arrangement in Hong Kong makes this very easy although it’s always a very long journey, however you do it.

During the last visit we stayed in Zhuhai City centre at the Charming Holiday Hotel.  It was a luxurious place but a long trip every day to the factory.  This trip we decided to try out the Ocean Spring Resort hotel.  The taxi driver couldn’t find it – a long way out in the sticks apparently!  Eventually we arrived to find that nobody really spoke English.  It turned out to be an interesting stay there as the only westerners in the hotel.  Again, the place was luxurious and set in amazing grounds.  A self contained resort with it’s own mall and gardens where the whole city came to get married.  It was still around a 45 minute drive to the Selene factory every day so not much gained really – except experience 🙂


We’ve been kept updated in between trips and the last update was just a few weeks ago. We had already seen how the boat looked now with the pieces joined together. There were no surprises therefore when we went into the factory – always the first thing we do on arrival. The deck was lifted off soon after we arrived, so work could continue on the interior of the hull. The floor section had also been removed at some point in between.

The Selene lamination team have made several new fibre glass sections – and it seems everywhere we look there are bits of 6043 in production! The radar tree which will go at the very top of the boat is lying in one corner. It will be a while before that section will be fitted! The transom (back) and the swim platform section is lying in another corner. That section is about to be installed.

Tanks – Water and Fuel

The tanks are the next major part to be fitted. There will be four water tanks in total – two for fresh water, one for grey waste water and one for black waste water. They all need to be laid out in the hull and will then be covered by the floor.

In the engine room, the fuel tanks need to be fitted and they have custom made frames around them to hold them in place.

We were able to watch as the fuel tanks were lifted into the hull using the crane. The tanks were then fitted in place so the retaining sections could be measured around them. With the tanks removed again, the retainers were built to hold this huge quantity of diesel in place when we’re underway! Each tank has 1100 USG capacity – which is about 4200 litres. This means we will be carrying around 8500 litres of fuel onboard – and this is what makes the Selene 60 so special, as that’s enough fuel to cross the oceans.

Selene 6043
Preparing for the fuel tank installation

Interior Selene Carpentry

The other major project which is underway is the interior carpentry for the lower deck. This is quite impressive to watch! The amazing Chinese craftsman are honing this from tree trunks from scratch. There is a supply of raw teak allocated to 6043 and this will be used to construct all the furniture by hand.

The floor section, which had previously been test fitted in the hull, had been removed. It is now being used to build and custom fit the furniture. Each item is constructed, then fitted in its place on the floor. It will then be lifted into the boat in a semi-complete state. This modular type of construction process allows the Selene factory teams to work in parallel with each other.

Electrical and Plumbing Systems

Back in the planning office, we have a lot of discussions on the agenda. During our first visit, the specification was decided at a high level based on the standard construction and major equipment. At that time we focussed on the layout of the boat – called the General Arrangement. For this visit, we needed to get into the detail of the systems. We discussed the electrical installation (although that will change a few times before we’re done I’m sure!). This includes the power supplies to the boat from the shore power, the generators, solar and inverters. There’s also the battery bank and the chargers to specify as well as all the monitoring systems.

We then discussed the plumbing system – with all the pumps, hoses and tanks that involves. We have to design these systems to be able to cope with the different worldwide regulations. In some countries, you can simply pump black water into the sea – but in other countries there are strict rules and pump out is necessary at pump stations. Of course this is perfectly logical as nobody wants s*** floating around them when they are swimming! Destiny also has to cope with tropical temperatures as well as arctic temperatures. She has to cope with the normal 240V/50hz power supply as well as 120V/60hz power supply which is found in the USA, Canada and South America.

Selene Shipyard Experience

This all makes for the pretty complicated boat – and Selene Jet Tern step up to the challenge. They already have a lot of experience with the requirements in different areas of the world. They sell their boats primarily to the USA and Europe, but also to Australia and the Far East. There is a Selene somewhere in every corner of the globe. Destiny means all these skills have to be pulled together. As owners, we also have high demands in terms of the specifications – and we try to plan for every problem.

Lu-yang is the Selene Technical Manager and he works together with Ed to draw out the complex specifications for all the equipment on the boat. Lu-yang doesn’t speak English – and Ed doesn’t speak Chinese – but somehow the language of engineering is common to both! Together with our project manager, Candy, the plans begin to take shape.

Sourcing of Equipment

We have taken a very different approach to the build of Selene 6043 than other owners have done in the past. The normal process is to say what you want, Candy then gets a quote from her suppliers for the equipment and works out the labour costs. This is then given to the owner as an all-in price for the option required.

We have done this with some things – but with most of the major items Ed has taken a very active role and has taken over the procurement himself. We are very used to global procurement – a hangover from our previous lives. Ed prefers to talk to all the equipment manufacturers directly and select the very specific items which will be suit our needs. He’s also a pretty tough negotiator and for some reason I will never understand, always manages to get fantastic deals.

Complexity in design – simplicity in use

This decision has made the build process a lot more complex for us as owners and means that we are intricately involved in the design and build process. The complexity of the design is also a challenge for the Selene technical team! If there are later problems with the boat, we recognise that this means that we are taking responsibility for these systems which could absolve the factory! However, we concluded that we were prepared to take this risk as we are confident the end result will then be much better (and certainly much cheaper!).

We recently read a quote from a well-respected worldwide cruiser who owns a Nordhavn 52 “MV Dirona“. He says

“our approach is to accept complexity in design and installation in order to gain simplicity in use”

James Hamilton, MV Dirona

and that summarises how we view things. We want our boat to be our home and to run in a smart way to provide us with all the comforts we are used to.

When you plan to cruise around the world, the factory is a long way away. You don’t have access to a trusted marina or engineers to help you. In the middle of an ocean, you can’t just call up the workshop and get somebody out to fix your plumbing. To a certain extent, we have done the same thing on our sailboat – we need to be self-sufficient. We both have to understand how everything works and Ed has to be capable of repairing everything on board himself. I’m already planning how we are going to manage the spare parts and tools we need 🙂

Until next time …

And so we end this visit. It has been a very busy one – and my attention has not been 100% on the meetings. I have also needed to keep track on my email and all the things going on with the sale of the business. I’ve had one eye on the whiteboard and one eye on the PC …. so am going to need to do some catching up later on.

We rush back to the ferry terminal in Zhuhai to catch the last crossing back to Hong Kong. We then have hours to wait for the overnight flight back to London but there are worse airports to wait in than Hong Kong! Absolutely no idea where we are going when we land in London at 5am …. the business buyer is supposed to have arranged certain things but we have no news. Are we staying in the UK for briefings with our staff? Are we going to France to show him around our chalets? Or are we heading back to Sicily to close down Liberation? Or are we going home to Malta to keep plugging away? Absolutely no idea. We’ll find out hopefully when we land in London and will have to make whatever travel arrangements we need to from there!

Ed and Chris

Our Selene Journey Begins

Our Selene journey began in May 2018 when we suddenly realised we had finally saved enough money to bring our dream to life.  I have spent most of those 10 years trying not to think about the boat. I couldn’t take another disappointment like 2008 so just kept the thought at the back of my mind of maybe “one day”. 

For those who haven’t read “Our Story“, we have been down this route before. We had to cancel our order when the global financial crisis nearly wiped us out.  On this occasion Ed has been more impatient – he has spent the last few years trying to persuade me that we could buy a used Selene 60 and give it a complete refit.  There has been one on the market for a long time now and he has kept watching it and working on me to accept the idea. Although it looked terrible in the pictures, he was convinced we could change it all and still spend less than a new one.  His fear was that if we delayed until we could afford the new one again, we would just never get there.

Re-awakening the obsession

As soon as the penny dropped that the day had finally come, the idea became an obsession again.  We were in different countries at the time but for three solid weeks we talked about nothing else. We didn’t sleep and spent night after night calculating and researching and going over the old plans to work out what we wanted.  I still wasn’t sold on the “cheapie” and spent weeks looking for Selene trawlers for sale all over the world. We contacted agents and dealers and analysed the specifications of every Selene 60, 62 and 66 on the market.  Actually there aren’t that many!  We came to a total list of 12 boats. Almost none of them had the specification we wanted, so would all involve changes and money spent after purchase.

Analysing the Selene Yacht options

Everything went in a spreadsheet – as always with me. We costed out all the options once our extras had been included and converted the prices all back to euros so we could compare them together.  We ended up with a shortlist of 6 – spread all over the world from France to Cyprus to Hong Kong to Australia to Thailand.  There were almost no Selene 60 models on the second-hand market. Lots of the ones we found advertised turned out to be sold, including the one Ed had been watching for years.

The only suitable Selene 60 was in Cyprus. However, this had a galley up configuration with the kitchen in the pilot house, rather than down in the saloon. This was a layout we had always said we didn’t want.  The favourite option was a 62 in France – but the owner had it in charter and didn’t want to sell for another year. He is building a bigger Selene and wants to wait until it’s ready before selling the current boat.

There was also a 66 in France – older but bigger and around the same price. There were also a few 66 models in various other places.  The perfect 60 was advertised in Australia – but we never got any response from the owner, so can only assume that it’s sold!  We decided to spend a small fortune on plane tickets and I then spent a further week planning a very complicated itinerary.

Time for viewings

We decided first to go to Cyprus – and then on to France – covering the closest destinations first.  I booked our flights – which was even more complicated. I was in the UK at the time and Ed was in France so matching everything up was a bit tricky.  Off we went to Cyprus in May and were pleasantly surprised by the galley up layout. There was much more room in the pilot house than we thought there would be. It now seemed a much more sensible option.  That decision probably counted out any other Selene 60’s which could have been on the market!  While we were there, the dealer also showed us a number of other models he had in the marina. We got a much needed refresher of the pros and the cons and lots of new ideas.

A lot of time was spent thinking carefully about the larger models. We felt comfortable with the size and handling the boat with just the two of us. However, the layouts of the larger Selene models were not really what we liked. They are mostly designed with crew cabins or more cabins which we didn’t need. We were also hesitant about twin engines – which was a negative with the boat in Cyprus. Although it makes handling the boat easier, there are lots of downsides. Two engines means using more fuel as well as double the maintenance. It also means a lot less space in the engine room. On the fuel question this is a “double whammy”! You use more fuel but the fuel tanks are smaller – so the range is cut considerably.

Just for completeness, let’s check the new price – we said

Just before we flew to Cyprus, I was surfing on Facebook one night and came across the Selene dealer – Brian Calvert – we had previously worked with in Selene Seattle.  Brian had left Seattle in 2009 with his own Selene 48 “Furthur“. His plan was circumnavigating – having recently divorced he wanted to realise his own dream.  He managed to make it across the Pacific to the Far East and got as far as the Philippines. His journey stopped there! He fell in love with the country and a lovely local lady, and decided to stay.

Brian is now working as the Selene dealer in the Far East and I asked him for any knowledge he had of a Selene 66 which was for sale in Langkawe (Thailand).  He didn’t know this particular boat but suggested instead that he would speak to Selene’s owner, Howard Chen, to get us a quotation for a new boat as he felt we might be surprised by the result.  We were nervous of the response we would get. Having cancelled an order before, we were not convinced we would be welcome again!  On the contrary – Howard was delighted we still wanted a Selene! After a bit of negotiation he and Brian gave us a deal which was just slightly more than buying and refitting one of the second hand options.

Decision made!

Too good to turn down, although slightly more than we ideally wanted to pay, we decided to go for it.  We cancelled the remainder of our travel plans and set about consolidating our funds to send the deposit. The rest is history, as they say!

A new build will enable us to configure the boat exactly as we want it to be from the outset. We found a 2009 boat (long since sold) which has layout closest to what we want.

This dream has been so long in the making, and now it is real.  We set about pulling all the old designs and technical plans from the archive and started working on the layouts. We booked a trip to China to the factory in July to start the planning process with our project manager, Candy.  It turned out that this was also the time when the first stage of manufacture would be complete with the release of the hull from the mould so we will be able to see our boat being “born”!

Apart from dreading the long haul flight, neither of us can wait to get there …. China here we come 🙂