cockpit

Lots of Planning Not Much Making

Despite putting in 5 hours each day not much in the way of tangible work has been done this weekend. I had the intention of getting stuck into making the cabin top but 2 things got in the way. First it was intolerably hot this weekend, over 30 degrees out but in the shed it felt more than 40c. The other reason I couldn’t start the cabin top is the floor space under the boat currently has the cockpit furniture panels that are still in the full panels and there are still some of the panels that need to be joined. So I started yesterday by releasing all of the furniture panels I could (that were already complete) and cleaning up. I spent most of the rest of the time either planning how and where things will go, such as tanks (Black water, Grey Water, Fresh water) and other changes to layout such as the raising of the dash, helm position, steering mechanics, etc or cleaning up. I swept the floor under the boat after I released the furniture and then glued the rest of the panels to finish the remaining panels. I also found the panels that would have been kerfed to form the foredeck planking, I did have them, I just mistook them for flat deck panels that sit behind the strip planking because I didn’t read the plans properly. I guess calling them flat decks on the plans didn’t help un confuse me either. Not to worry, it will actually work out well because I think I still have enough duracore to finish the roof and dagger cases and I can use the duflex as furniture panels in the cockpit to fill in gaps I have because I have the walk through transom kit that I am not going to build.

Today I vacuumed the inside of the boat and did some more planning, including some dry fitting of some panels. It is amazing how much dust accumulates inside the boat. The rest of the time was spent in yet more planning. Planning is important because many tasks must be done in specific order or at least thought given to what might need to be done later. For example I am not using the walk through transom kit I have but I will be able to utilise most of the material, adapt it and add to it to add back the spaces that the walk throughs need but I don’t want and get the results I do want, but that all has to be planned. I dry fitted the start of the furniture and realised through the planning process that I have to be careful to make space for the twin sliding doors on each side to slide into when open. If I just went ahead and glued the furniture in without planning I might come to the doors later and find there was nowhere for them to slide and be forced to change plans. We are going to narrow the doorway down a little (by around 300mm to 900mm) to give more bench space in the galley and also so that we can use sliding doors that don’t slide in front of the open windows. We figure the doors will be open most of each day but it is a bit silly to have sliding (down) windows if the opening is just blocked by the open doors, we don’t like folding doors or hinged doors because they always seem to be in the way when open, so 2 450mm sliding doors and insect screens is the best solution all around.

On the other side of the cockpit, the helm seating is something I need to fabricate from scratch using materials I have but not cut in kit form and also give a lot of thought to, as it is critical that I am comfortable with the helm position and I am designing it. We have no experience with a boat this big so we need to be confident we can see all of the boat from the helm when needed, especially when docking. One of the biggest advantages of building your own boat is that you get to personalise your boat and make it fit your needs. I have been on about 10 different Schionning boats over the years at the musters and boat shows and no 2 have been the same, at the different boat shows I also go on the production boats and they are always the same, so their owners don’t have the satisfaction of knowing that no-one else has that layout. If you plan to live on your boat for a long time like we do, it is worth getting things exactly how you want them. Or at least as close as you can, because every change has a trade off somewhere else.

With the helm position, we have decided to have just the helm on the Starboard side, we almost switched to the port side (because the likelihood of being in close proximity to other boats is likely to be under power in channels and you need to cross port to port so we thought it better to helm that side) but stuck with starboard in the end because of how we want to layout the galley now and it must be on the port side to get full advantage of what it does to the hull below (it means a much larger bathroom). Starboard helming under sail has its safety advantage too in that a boat approaching on your starboard side under sail has right of way so better to helm that side and see it better, a boat on your port side should be giving way to you so whilst important to see him its not as important as you seeing the boat to starboard. So now that we have established that we will helm on the starboard side I need to be sure that we can see the 4 corners of the boat from that position. The hardest is the port bow. In order to see it I need to stand on a raised helm seat, through the scallop I will cut in the cockpit roof (or sliding hatch) so in the picture below you can see the ladder scaffold in place to replicate the height the helm seat will need to be. I will build a box that shape, size and position with the front of it between the bulkhead lowered back to normal seat height for your legs to go when seated forward and you can see through the window forward when limited vision is enough, then when a little more vision is needed you can stand on that normal seat height panel in front of the helm seat and see over the cabin top forward but not fully over the cabin and then finally when full 4 corner vision is required you stand on the top level. There will be a hinged stainless seat back with round cushion over it that can be moved forward to sit backwards or back to sit forward and the seat itself can have a cushion on it. It fulfils all of our requirements but is out of place a little aesthetically. If I build it properly it should look ok and be extremely functional and inside it I can utilise the space for an icebox (esky) or other items.

Another thing I played around a little more is the raised dash and another side benefit will be the wrap around windows will extend down to where they would have been with the normal dash height and show in the berths also giving a lot of light to the small bed boxes which should make them feel less claustrophobic. I played around with a cardboard cut out of the hatch opening and it should work really well, I will be able to stand up fully in bed and look around and get up onto deck through it if needed.

I am also building up the height of the duckboard to normal seat top height so that is is the same height either side of the rear bulkhead. Below the raised section I plan a long single hatch to store long items such as fishing rods, gaff, net, boat hooks, oars etc) and I also figure it would be very easy to put a plug in the bottom so that I can fill it with water so Jo can have a bath, I could even fit a spa kit which is basically just a water pump and piping with a breather for bubbles and we could have a jacuzzi. It sounds silly but it doesn’t take up any space or weight, I am making the hatch anyway and is very cheap to add. The aeration could also double as an oversize live bait tank should I ever decide to fish in that way and having a jacuzzi on board will impress the hell out of people, and again Jo would love it. I spent a bit of time working out how the steering might work and if I can use a rudder tie rod and how that would work and fit also.

So all that thinking and planning and measuring and putting things temporarily in place to see how they might fit or interact or interfere with other plans took a lot of time, on otherwise hot days that would have resulted in slow work so it was time well spent. Planning for a day or 2 can save hundred of hours later if you change your mind after you have built something in or not made provision for something you really wanted, or it can lead to an idea that you otherwise might have missed that really enhances the boat or adds value. Hopefully I will have some actual construction to show soon, but unfortunately it wont be for a while, I need to be in Melbourne for a week including next weekend at my parents for a late Christmas New Year get together as we opted for the on harbour NY instead of the usual quiet night at mum’s.

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Paul