Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cabin Design Iterations

For personal reasons, I am temporarily on hold with my boat build. I expect to be able to resume in approximately a week. However, that has not prevented me from spending time going over the next phase of the build.

For some weeks now, I was sort of drifting, waffling around trying to figure out what to do next. I had been trying to do the more mundane aspects of the build (sanding and epoxy filleting the seams) but one can only do this sort of work for a short period of time before something new needs to be done to change the pace.

The carlings I recently installed were one such diversion. The anchor well I started on was another. However, I was quickly realizing that the time had come to start seriously thinking of how I was going to fit out the interior of the boat since so much of the build depends upon that.

Several years ago, I started having misgivings about the interior of the cabin on my design. I felt that it was going to be cramped and I wasn't really sure it would meet my needs. Since I was working on the hull at the time, the need to figure it out wasn't pressing and I reasoned that I could pretty much do what I wanted with the interior when the time came. But what to do?

Initially, I had redesigned the profile of the boat to get more cabin height. I have a blog post from a few years back covering that. And I made some partial attempts at coming up with an interior that was more open. I believe I have a blog article on that as well.

What I came to realize more recently is that what I wanted was for my boat to be an extended day cruiser rather than a camper. This came about after several opportunities to ride on other's boats as well as an honest reassessment of what I would actually be doing with the boat once it was finished.

An extended day cruiser implies being able to move around on the boat as the day goes by. The closed cabin design on my boat meant either spending time in the cabin (lots of heat here in Texas) or time in the aft cockpit, which is approximately 5 feet in length. The cabin aft bulkhead prevented any direct communication with the cabin, unless the door was left open.

I came across some open designs on the Internet that looked to be a better choice for day cruising. These designs were open from the aft end of the boat to the forward end. I determined that my design might be suitable for this if I could eliminate the aft cabin bulkhead.

An email to Glen L determined that this would indeed be possible with the appropriate structural changes. I'll cover that in detail in the future. But suffice to say, with the possibility of an open cabin, I started looking at the cabin design in an entirely different light.

During my downtime this week, I have been experimenting with different floor plans on my computer. Trying different layouts to see what works and what does not. At first I thought I might like to go with a sedan style helm. With this approach, the helm is moved into the cabin near the front of the boat, like an automobile. This leaves everything aft open for playing around with.

However, there was one disadvantage with that approach. It basically eliminated the use of the berthing compartment on my boat. and it took up valuable real estate in the cabin. The cabin already needs to have a head (bathroom) and the addition of the helm just took up too much of the remaining space.

If the helm wasn't in the cabin, then it would have to remain outside. This seemed to imply that the cabin aft bulkhead would have to remain in place. Then I had an epiphany, why not leave the bulkhead off and have the helm be like a small island just outside the cabin.

This freed up the interior, and left the entire deck open from front to back. It allows the driver to communicate with the people in the cabin as well as those in the aft cockpit. And the helm is out of the way as long as it is off to one side.

So using this, I started trying different layouts on the interior. So far I have an interior that incorporates a boxed head (convertible to full height when opened), an extended bench seat, a small counter with sink and built in ice chest, and several movable seats. I am still experimenting with this as some aspects of it are still not quite right.

The images below are works in progress and do not necessarily represent the final design. For example, I believe the long settee design will  probably change. Also the transition from the berthing area to the settee is not right. And the shape of the counter will probably change. I am also not quite sure what to do about the berthing area space as it is pretty small.

The dual bench drawing mainly suffers from something in the aesthetics area, although I cannot put my finger on it yet.

As a point of reference, the green lines present the boat's shape. The chevron lines in the berthing area are the front cabin windows. The original cabin bulkhead location are indicated on the drawings as a reference. Remember that it would be completely open. The numbered lines are frame locations and are approximately 36 inches apart.

The point of all of this is to get a plan that I can use as a guide to move forward. I intend on mocking up the interior using poster board and cardboard once I get the drawing to an acceptable point. The mock ups will help to determine what will work and what wont. Once that is figured out, then I will start determining locations of the various systems and smaller fittings. Only then will I begin moving forward with actual construction.

Of course, there are plenty of other things that need to be done and these will be fit in from time to time. But I now feel like I have a means forward and the sense of waffling and drifting is much reduced.

One final set of comments. Readers will no doubt notice that there is no provision for a galley. This is not an oversight. I feel that the galley is unnecessary for my intended use. If a table is needed, it can perhaps be worked into the open area in the cabin, but that will be determined during the mock up stage. I feel that the best part of this design is that it makes the boat feel more open and allows people to move around during the day. The openness will contribute to keeping the cabin area cooler as well.

So that's it for now. I'll continue working on the design and post additional updates when appropriate. Take care.

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