Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Special Edition: Verifying The Cabin Profile

After nearly five years of work , numerous drawings, many attempts at getting far enough back in my garage, and lots of retries, I finally got the chance to see what my boat will look like in profile.

Of course it's not anywhere near finished, but I now know that the cabin profile is going to work, both on the inside, and equally as important, on the outside. I can have my increased aft cockpit space and still have a usable cabin.

Without further ado here are a few shots.

What may not be immediately apparent here is that the cabin ends at the approximate midpoint of the boat. You can just make out the seam in the poster board where this occurs. The piece aft of the seam is a wing to keep water spray from the cockpit.

Needless to say, I am pretty happy with the way this turned out. So now construction of the interior can begin. Until next time, take care.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

We Will We Will Mock You

Sorry, couldn't help myself!

This two weeks was all about one thing. Verifying that the shorter length cabin profile is going to work. What that means is will I be able to fit in the berths, the head, the sole space I want, adequate seating, and what will some of this look like when in place. This is going to be a somewhat lengthy blog so bear with me.

In previous photos, I had mocked up a larger forward sole piece in hopes of having a single level sole from front to back. However, one of the first concerns was seat height and adequate headroom for those sitting in the cabin.

Through some experimentation, I determined that a 17 to 18 inch seat height was best. Given that I plan on having 4 inch foam on top of the wood, this meant that the height of the berths had to be around 13 to 14 inches. With the single larger sole piece, the seat height of the "V" berth would have been 12 inches. This meant that in order to get correct seat height for the aft portion of the berth (where people would sit), there would have had to been a step in the bunk height, not an acceptable solution.

With some further measuring and experimentation, I determined that a 1 inch drop in the sole height would allow for the correct seat heights and allow the fore and aft berth parts to blend in evenly with no step. And the actual loss of sole space was minor since all of the outboard edges of the sole were going to be covered by cabinetry of some sort. The only disadvantage will be a 1 inch drop when entering the cabin from the aft cockpit. With a gradual wedge at this location and under carpet, I believe this will not be that noticeable.

When I realized that the outboard edges of the sole were going to be covered, I also realized that I did not need to make it full width. So I modified my temporary under sole supports to allow for the lower height and cut down the temporary plywood sole to the newer narrower dimensions. This change greatly simplifies the installation of this piece since I won't have to create cleats around all the edges of the sole (at least in the cabin).

The next thing was to verify that the 17 to 18 inch seat height was going to work with the cabin profile and height. This was quite easy  with a cinder block and a couple of pieces of wood standing in for the seat. As you can see in these photos, there is adequate head room, a seated person can look out the windows of the cabin.

I was having some difficulty in visualizing the space at this point so I started by placing some lumber vertically and horizontally at certain locations representing what I considered the correct height and horizontal location of some of the interior fittings.

In the last photos you can see a wider piece of wood that is curved as it spans two of the vertical pieces of lumber. I was trying to figure out what to do for the back of the seats at this point.  If you look closely at the forward end of this piece in the last photo, you can see that it creates some crazy corners in the forward berth. I didn't care for that too much.

 Using a photo editing software package called GIMP, I drew in some connecting lines to better try to visualize everything. The crazy corners previously mentioned are more noticeable here.

I created the forward berth from poster board. That was fairly straightforward enough. Then I placed two pieces of wood at what I thought might be the extent of the aft berths, trying to maintain an even distance from the side of the boat and adequate room to sleep. The angled look of this was not all that pleasing, but even worse, it seriously cut in to the sole space.

So how to keep the same sole space and at the same time, provide bunks wide enough to sleep on. Traditionally, this is handled by making a piece that fits in between the two berths that cushions are then placed on forming a larger "V" berth. However, we have a few  particular requirements with our boat. Due to a back injury, my wife needs to have the ability to swing her feet off the bed in order to get up. This would have been difficult with the middle space covered over with cushions. Also, a center piece to cover the gap has to be stowed somewhere and space on this design for something large like this is a bit wanting.

What I decided to do is one of two variations with the second being the likely choice. I'll know more when I get to actually building the berths. The two choices are sections that slide out making the berths wider, or having fold up sides with legs on the backsides that fold down to provide the support. The bottom line here is that either of these two approaches will be designed to leave approximately 12 inches of pathway in the center.

The next requirement was for a head (bathroom for you land lubbers!). I had planned since several years ago to use a composting toilet rather than a chemical toilet or porta potty. Everything I have read says that if these are made correctly, they are not obnoxious from an olfactory point of view.

Since this head would need to be used by both of us, there was a need for a degree of privacy. At the same time, I didn't want something that was going to take up a lot of space and make the small cabin feel smaller and more cramped. I envisioned a box containing the toilet that somehow would open up and provide the privacy necessary. I drew up all sorts of complicated designs with folding sides, folding fronts, built in curtains and anything else I could think of. 

Leave it to my wife to state the obvious solution. Instead of trying to make the box provide all the privacy, put a curtain across the back of the cabin and use the cabin for the privacy. As the readers will no doubt remember, my cabin will be open at the back end, so a curtain is a simple and elegant solution. Furthermore it eliminates the need for a full height head box and it neatly solves the problem of where to put your feet when seated without making the box very deep (and thereby cutting into sole space). 

The basic design is a box approximately 24 inches high from the sole with a fold up top and two doors on the front. One simply opens the top to expose the seating area, and opens the two front doors to provide the additional leg room needed. With the curtain drawn across the back of the cabin, this will work just fine.

So back to the interior. Where to place the head? My concept drawing shows it on the starboard (right) side directly in front of the helm station. But before we hit upon the idea of the cabin curtain, I was thinking of a full height box and I was thinking that if it were in front of the helm, that it would hinder communication into the cabin.

So I did a real quick mock up using a porta potty with it on the port side.

However, I didn't like this too much as I realized that it and the helm station would block much of the entrance to the cabin. After my wife's suggestion for the curtain, I decided to return it to the starboard side.

The composting toilet that I have in mind has a urine diverter requiring a separate container for fluids. This requires additional space. The composting toilet also requires someplace to keep peat moss or saw dust. Finally, and again to accommodate my wife's bad back, we wanted to include hand rails in the head to make it easier to sit and stand up. So I elected to use a full between frames section of 36 inches for the head. This is quite a bit wider than the original design but it proved to be sufficient for my needs.

I determined this by mocking up the design in full size on the floor using tape and taking measurements as needed to insure all space was used efficiently. Here is that mock up.

And here is the cabin after mocking up the box for the head. The mock up doesn't show it but it will extend to the sole. Also, it will probably be a bit taller than shown here.

Another need for the cabin was for the bunks to be long enough to accommodate my 6 foot height. As originally envisioned in my concept drawing, they were right at 6 feet in length. For my wife this is fine, but it would have cramped me a bit. So on the side where the head is located, the bunk is still 6 feet in length. The other side is extended an additional 4 inches. You can see that in the photo above.

That left one remaining space in the cabin to use. I have decided to use this for a cabinet that will house a variety of items and perform multiple functions. It will utilize the remaining space left between frames 3 and 4 on the port side (approximately 32 inches wide) and possibly extend to the sole. It will probably be approximately as high as the cabin sides, but this will be determined later. I would prefer it to be lower if possible so I will be striving for that. The mock up I have here shows it at the height of the cabin. It is also mocked up deeper than it will probably be as I would prefer to not block the cabin opening too much.

At this point the basic mock up of the cabin is complete and the next task is to make sure that the cabin profile looks good when seen from various angles and from a distance. I cannot get far enough back in my garage to do this, so my plan is to move it outdoors temporarily and perform this function.

In order to get a better feel for the profile, I felt that the fore deck and front windscreen needed to be mocked up as well. So I mocked these up. They are pretty rough but hopefully adequate enough to get the verification I desire.

So that's where I am at as of today. Over the next couple of days, I am going to prepare the boat to be moved and then perform the visual check outdoors. I'll report on that and other things in the next post. In the meantime, take care.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bow Compartment And Back And Forth Interior Mock Up Work

Over the last several weeks, I have been focusing on two parts of the build. I want to get the bow compartment / anchor well to a point of completion where I can let it ride for awhile, and I have been slowly getting more familiar with the interior design of the boat.

I'll cover both of those here, starting with the bow compartment. This section of the boat is rather difficult to work in and I found myself having to step away from it from time to time to give my legs a rest.

The work remaining was mostly finish work and assembly with periodic switching back and forth between the two as needs of assembly dictated. Many of the parts needed pre-painting either because they would not be accessible after assembly, or they would be difficult to work on afterwards.

Wanting to allow a good bonding surface, I elected to leave the paint short of glue areas in many cases, with the plan of touching up the paint after assembly. I showed a bit of this in the previous posting when I painted the area below the storage compartment floor. After painting, that floor piece was epoxied in and then seams filled. Paint was touched up afterwards.

Other parts were pre-painted as well. The anchor well floor underside, the bulkhead forward face and the inner surface of the hull planking. I also completed staining of the hatch and hatch opening wood.

One of the tasks I wanted to do was add some insulating foam behind the storage compartment walls. This was mostly for sound insulation, but it would also help control dampness by insulating the compartment from the cold water outside the hull. 

I spent quite a bit of time trying to find foam, worrying about things like flotation factor, flammability, resistance to chemicals, and the ability to not absorb water. I finally settled on cross linked polyethylene foam. I acquired a 1 inch thick sheet of this and it was cut into appropriate size pieces and glued into place using a high temperature contact adhesive. This contact adhesive was chosen  because I hoped it would hold up over a long period of time. It was designed for gluing up headliners in automobiles, so I reasoned that if it could hold up under that harsh environment, then it should do well in the use I had intended for it.

Next, the inner compartment walls were epoxied into position. Like nearly everything I've worked on in this project, they needed further tweaking to get them to fit right.  But eventually the parts were installed.

Then this compartment was pre-painted, leaving bare the areas near where the anchor well floor would be glued.

The bulkhead was next. This too required further tweaking to get it to fit. It's always amazing to me that parts can be made to fit, but when they are finally assembled, further work is needed to get them to fit right. It was pretty cool to finally see his bulkhead permanently installed. I first envisioned this particular piece over 4 years ago, so it was a long time coming.

Finally, the anchor well floor was installed. One last item was to install the compartment LED light strip as I knew this would be more difficult after the floor was installed.

In the last set of photos, you can see the interior areas that still needed touch up paint. With the anchor well floor in place, access to this compartment was now restricted to the hatch opening, I can tell you that the combination of a small opening at a low height and the awkwardness of working in the bow compartment made it very difficult to get in there and touch up the paint. But eventually it was done. Then I could finally install the vents.

So that completes this section of the compartment for now. I will be returning to the anchor well to fiberglass it and paint that area, but I want to return to the other other part of the build that I have been focusing on, namely  working out the interior design.

The interior design has to take in numerous concerns such as ventilation, seat location, head room, location of interior fittings, the gas tanks, the floor design and height, and many other considerations, too numerous to list here.

With this many concerns, I felt that a slow approach to design was best, using temporary materials and trying various ideas as I went. I also found that I could see ideas more clearly as I got pieces into place. So far nothing permanent has been installed, but by trial and error, I have determined that the single level floor that I had originally wanted wasn't going to work.

This primarily had to do with inadequate remaining height for seating in the cabin which would have led to a difference in height over the length of the berths. Imagine a bed with a step in the middle and you get the idea.

But the first task was trying to get some idea of how to support the floor. Before I gave up on the single level floor idea, I sketched the following photo. From discussions with other builders, I determined that these supports should be made in such a way that they allow cross ventilation under the floor.

The next photo shows the original floor idea and cross bars as markers while trying to  determine the seat heights. From this experiment , I first determined that there was inadequate room for seats heights with the floor at this level in the cabin.

I also started considering the fuel tank location as this affects how the bilge area is to be ventilated. Originally I was thinking of under floor fuel tanks, but there simply isn't enough room, so saddle tanks in the side compartments is where I am going instead.The following is an early sketch showing this.

Here are some more sketches as I experimented with ideas. Keep in mind that these are rough ideas and only intended to help me plan the interior. I still plan on mocking everything up in poster board. Also, all of these were before I gave up on the idea of a single level floor.

After some additional experimentation with seat heights, I determined that an 17 inch seat height would be desirable. Checking this in the cabin with the original floor, showed that head room would be tight, but doable. But in order to get an 17 inch height, I would have had to raise the "V" berth height. This was not going to work as it would have covered the hatch on the forward bulkhead,

So I took a series of measurements from the floor and spots below the floor as well as the side markers I had established (which showed the height of the "V" berth). From these measurements, I determined that if I stepped the cabin floor down 1 inch, I could accommodate the seating height I needed.

I sketched up this new plan and arrived at the following photo. Again it's rough. Also the "V" berth is shown extending further aft than I intend. It also shows the saddle fuel tanks and the aft cabin floor,. In order to make it easier to visualize these thins, I placed an "X" on the surfaces of the various floor and side panels. You can make out the lower floor in the cabin area

As the reader has no doubt guessed by now, this is an iterative process, giving and taking, experimenting, trying different ideas, discarding others, and all the time, slowly building up an idea of how the interior is going to be built. I hope by the time I post the next article, I will have some actual mock ups completed. But it will be quite some time before the real, permanent parts are made and installed, as this experimentation phase still has many hours to pan out.

So until next time, take care.