Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

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.

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