Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two keystone projects in the head

The soaking tub in Oceanus.

I am finally giving some attention to the boat's head. Since we started working on the boat 18 months ago we have used the space that will become the head for storage. My excuse for not working on it last year was that it was dark; no natural light at all. That changed this summer when I installed a new opening hatch. Now I'm left without excuse.

So, after much head scratching (no pun intended), I figured out how to proceed on the two keystone projects that will determine the interior design of the head: the shower/soaking tub and the hanging cabinet.

First, let me acknowledge all you sailboat purists that say a soaking tub has no place on an ocean-going sailboat. You may be right, but hear me out. A space for a dedicated shower stall was always in the plans since revising Oceanus's interior. The tub/shower takes up no more useable space than the dedicated shower would. Since the the space where the shower will be is in a part of the boat that doesn't have enough headroom for me to stand up straight, a place to sit is a good thing. The tub will also be a great place to hang wet foulweather gear. My wife says she can use it to wash clothes on days too cold to do it in the cockpit. It could also be handy when the boat's really rocking and rolling and you need a secure place to quickly stash the stuff that's just crashed to the cabin sole until things quiet down a little.

Finally, and maybe most important, my wife really likes to soak in the tub. While tied up at the dock with unlimited water and electricity, why not? Even if this only happens a couple times a year, may I say again, why not? The shower part of the equation has lost none of its utility and you have an appealing option you can exercise when conditions permit.

In my marina, heck, in every marina, there are boats whose owners paid thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for and they use them only once or twice a year. These are fabulous boats that the owners really love, but they sit idle most of the time. I have a theory about this. I think many owners bought their boats as much for the dream of sailing as the actual experience of sailing. The guy sitting at home a hundred miles inland from his boat experiences some vicarious enjoyment just knowing that he owns an ocean-going sailboat that he could sail to distant ports. (Most likely a fair bit of guilt too for tying up so much of his resources for almost no actual use; but that's another story.) I'm sure that we will experience some vicarious enjoyment of the tub just knowing that we could take a long, hot soak.

After a little searching on the internet, I found what I needed: an RV step tub. They are designed for the space just in front of or just behind a wheel well with a seat over the wheel. This arrangement works well for the space I have because the seat will go over the curve in the hull. With shipping, it came to just under $200. I was happy with the general appearance and sturdiness of the tub. The sides oil-canned a little, but I had a plan for fixing that.

Since this is terra incognita for me, I called on my friend Doryman to help. He built a similar tub in his large sailing dory and he has a great brain for fitting things.

We modified the tub slightly by cutting off half of the front ledge and ground some of the surfaces to which we later epoxied fiberglass cloth. Once we cut down the rudimentary cabinet to make room for the tub, we lined the space with pink foam insulation, set the tub in place and used waterproof construction adhesive and a couple of temporary screws to hold it in place. I also sprayed in some expanding foam to fill any voids.

Insulation around the tub.
... and more insulation.

The next day I removed the screws and added more foam board and expanding foam so the entire tub has at least two inches of foam. I built up the sides of the tub in the front. I glued more pink foam board to the bare fiberglass hull.
Two braces hold in place a wooden frame at the edge of the enclosure while the epoxy kicks. Three layers of fiberglass cloth cover the foam against the side of the hull.
It took several sessions with Doryman and I fiberglassing the enclosure, but I'm really happy with the result. The backrest is especially comfortable and has a nice angle. The whole thing is insulated better than most iceboxes. Part of this is to avoid any dead spaces with no access, but mostly it's to keep things comfortable. I hate cold surfaces when I'm wet and naked.

There is still a lot of sanding and fairing yet to do before Virginia paints. I think we will use the same white paint we use on the outside of the boat (Brightsides). That should be plenty durable.

The other project is a cabinet that will surround the hanging knee to which the chainplate for the port shroud is bolted. I wanted plenty of space to get at the chainplate for inspection and maintenance. It also ties the hanging knee more securely into the hull.
A brace presses foam insulation in one compartment of the cabinet, which is fiberglassed to the sides of the hull and the overhead. The large compartment, which will hold towels, will also be insulated with foam. The foam will be covered with fiberglass cloth. I don't want condensation to make our towels damp.
Virginia plans to put towels in the big space forward of the chainplate. The two smaller compartments will most likely hold big toiletry items.

With the shower and the cabinet in place, I can design the medicine cabinet, which will have a mirror in the door. I can also build the countertop and install the sink and faucet for manual foot pump.
Virginia sewing the new bimini.
Other project updates: Virginia is sewing the finishing touches on the bimini. We did a trial fitting over the weekend and it looks great. One of the things we checked was the position of the window to make sure we can see the masthead. Expect a full post on that soon.
Pillow art made by Joi Hess.
Our great friend Joi Hess, presented us with more pillows. These are empty with zippers in them so we can store bedding, winter coats and other soft items. As with her other three throw pillows, these are truly works of art.