Sailboat gear hacks

We had a wonderful boat with a forepeak head, which had the niftiest little hack to improve the space. Someone thought it through, quite carefully, and it was a charming solution to make the otherwise mostly unused space far more attractive and downright useful spaces on the boat.

Ever since I have kept my eye out for these kinds of hacks. I want to have a few of them to hand when we get our next boat. Projects.

The trick done on our boat was a cover over the w.c. which was a full-width bench when down, but swung up easily to give access as necessary. Using two carefully measured pieces of mahogany plywood joined by a stout piano hinge, and another piano hinge attaching it to a cleat on the forward bulkhead gave it the necessary strength and range of motion.

The two piano hinges are essential, but so are the trim pieces. A pair of thin pieces add edge stiffness at the lower front and back of the top surface. The front has the hinge at the top, positioned so when down it is flush with the front edge of the top piece, and transfers the load directly to the cabin sole. The top has its back hinge attached to a cleat firmly attached to the forward bulkhead, and positioned such that when lowered the bottom surface is flush with the bottom of the cleat, thus transferring some of the load, via the hinge, to the cleat itself – less than ideal, but with robust scantlings (the mahogany ply was at least 1/2″ thick, and lots of generously sized screws affixing the hinge) there was no noticeable slop in the furniture.

Although simple in use, it is surprisingly difficult to describe. Each piece was scribed to fit its space exactly. It folded up flat against the forward bulkhead, held in place by a turn toggle. There was no fixture to hold it down, and a couple of hard beats to weather were punctuated by the snare-like second beat of the bench a fraction of a second after the bow hit the trough, but with no visible signs of wear or tear after nearly a decade under our command.

The problem, of course, is that a bathroom bench is so mundane one does not take photographs of it. Now I no longer own the boat I wish I had, if only to illustrate this blog entry.