Thursday, November 01, 2007

Interior Fixtures

As I've been working on the keel and bulkhead fillets of the second hull, as well as cutting out and fitting the bunk and floor panels, I've been giving more thought to the interior layout of each hull and how the spaces will be used. In his design book Wharram describes the "flexi-space" concept and suggests that in the smaller designs especially that this idea should be used as there is not a lot of room for the built-in "furniture" seen in most yacht interiors. Flexi-space basically means empty hull interiors, where cooking and sleeping gear is stowed below bunks or in bags and then unpacked to be used when needed, just as in camping. On the Tiki 26 this would work well for larger crews of up to four people, using the boat for weekend or vacation trips. All of the berth flats would be available, making it possible to sleep two to a hull when anchored, and cooking could be done on deck under a tent or on the bunk floors just inside one of the companionways. There's nothing wrong with this camping type arrangement, but having done thousands of miles of sea kayaking and plenty of backpacking and other camping, I don't want to have to unpack and set-up "camp" when on board my boat if there is a way around it. Part of the appeal of cruising on a sailboat instead of out of a kayak is that everything can be set-up pretty much permanently and wherever you drop anchor your "camp" looks and feels the same.

Since I'm planning on doing most of my sailing singlehanded, especially on longer trips, I have a clear idea of how I will use each space inside the two cabins and have specific requirements I want to allow for. I still want the option of two dedicated bunks below decks, in the larger forward ends of each cabin, as well as one of the aft bunks to use in the rare case of a third crew member aboard for a short trip. But for the times when I am alone, I plan to use the starboard hull for sleeping and the port hull for cooking. Since I like to be able to brew coffee and cook meals while underway, either on long coastal trips or offshore passages, it is essential to have some sort of built in galley, however minimal. This means a fixed place to secure a stove that can be used underway, and a galley sink to make it easier to fill kettles and pots and to wash up dishes and utensils when it's not feasible to do so on deck with a bucket. To maximize the size of this sink without taking up any more interior space than necessary, I knew I would have to build it in, out of ply and epoxy, rather than buy a stainless sink off the shelf. I spent several hours inside the port hull with pieces of plywood, a tape measure, and components such as the Whale Flipper galley pump I want to use and an old stove I salvaged off my monohull, Intensity. Mocking up the galley like this insured that everything would work and still leave room to move around. I determined that the sink would fit in nicely along the outboard sheer, just under the portlights, and the shelf for the stove would go along the inboard side, below the sheer and just forward of the companionway. The aft bunk in this hull will be used only for storage. Smaller shelves will be fitted under and around the sink and stove fixtures. All this leaves space to sit comfortably either facing aft or forward, and access to the forward bunk is still easy.

After figuring out the placement of these built-in fixtures, I began cutting parts out of 6mm ply. Because of the design, this will be plenty strong without adding any significant weight to the boat. To get a nice fit on interior components like this, it is necessary to measure and cut each piece in the hull, then fit the next piece and glue it on, before moving to the next, etc. This could take days using epoxy, as each stage would have to be wired, screwed, nailed or clamped until the epoxy cured before moving to the next stage. There is a much faster way to do this that I learned from David Halladay of Boatsmith, while working with him in Florida. He and his crew build lots of yacht interiors, many for newly-manufactured vessels. These are completely finished before they are installed in the hulls. Assembly in the design phase as well as in construction is often done with quick drying cyanoacrylate glue -or Superglue. Not the ordinary Superglue found in your local department store, but a superior gap-filling type of Superglue sold in hobby shops, along with a spray-on accelerator that cures it instantly (see photo below). This glue is much more expensive than epoxy, but for certain applications like building these galley parts, it is indispensable. This galley sink and counter in the photos below was completed in about two hours, up to the shaping and coating with epoxy stage. Once it was all assembled and checked for fit, it was removed from the boat for the epoxy work, which included making strong fillets to reinforce all the temporary joints held together with the Superglue.

Below is the first stage, gluing the side panels onto the bottom of the sink counter, which is upside down on the bench. These side panels are cut to fit alongside the outside of the hull, which will form one side of the sink. Using the Superglue along the edge of the panels, it took mere seconds to put them together at right angles to the counter panel. This glue is plenty strong too. As with epoxy, if you smacked these panels with a hammer, wood fibers would tear out before the joint failed. The difference is that the strength is obtained in about 2-3 minutes. The splotches on the wood are simply areas wet with accelerator. This drys in minutes, leaving the wood unstained.

Here's a close-up of the Superglue and accelerator. This glue is Instacure +. The bottles are labeled with the name of the hobby store that carries them, but it is sold by many outlets and more information can be found on the manufacturer's website, at:

After gluing the side panels on, I put the counter back in position along the outboard edge of the hull and then measured and cut a bottom panel, which was then glued in place as shown below. To complete the sink I measured and cut a front panel, then removed the whole thing again.

Outside the hull, I fitted a small fiddle rail along the curved surfaces to prevent things placed on the counter from falling in a seaway, and to keep splashed water from the sink contained. The fiddle rail was made of two layers of one-inch by 3/16" teak. Again using the Superglue, I pressed them in place by hand, as these curves would be difficult to clamp. This only took a few minutes, pressing and gluing one piece at a time, then sanding the glued on piece with a belt sander before fitting the next on. (This glue is also sandable, just like epoxy.) The result was a fiddle rail of laminated teak, about 3/8" thick. A nice epoxy fillet was made along the inside of the rail, and wide fillets were made in the inside joints of the sink panels. Below is the result after the first coat of epoxy and the initial fillets. More sanding and smoothing of fillets will be required, as well as 2 more coats of clear epoxy. The sink measures 14" long by 9 1/2" wide and more than 10" deep. This whole counter and sink assembly is extremely light weight, hardly weighing much more than a bucket of similar size.

Here is how it fits inside the galley section of the port hull. A drain will be fitted in the bottom, with a hose connecting it to a thru-hull. No worries about hull integrity on a catamaran like this, as any failure of a fitting below the waterline would be contained by the semented design of the hulls with their watertight bulkheads below the waterline. The sink is also high enough that the drain could be fitted above the waterline, which is an option I might take. Another catamaran advantage is the lack of heeling, so there are also no worries about an off-centerline sink like this back siphoning when the boat is heeled over, as in a monohull.

The middle passageway in the hull is still unobstructed. Opposite the sink and just aft of the middle bulkhead (#3) is the shelf for the stove - which will be a two-burner Origo non-pressurized alcohol unit. I'm using this type of stove because it is self-contained, can be easily moved up on deck for cooking in fair weather at anchor, and it has a well-designed potholder system available. Alcohol stoves are a little slower than propane, but I've used these Origo models extensively and they are extremely reliable and safe.

Using the Superglue made it possible to design and fabricate all these galley parts in one day. Finishing the epoxy work will be another matter, of course, and will be done over time as I fit additional small shelves and other parts in the port hull in preparation for installing the decks and cabin sides.
Below is a photo of the starboard hull with the bunk patterns I made for the port hull fitted in place. The patterns fit perfectly, so I know I have two identical hulls. In the starboard hull I have all the keel and bulkhead fillets done. These are only lacking fiberglass reinforcement before I can begin installing the floor and bunk panels. That will happen in the coming weeks, but for now I'm off to south Florida again for two weeks, leaving tomorrow. I had not planned on going back to work there this year, but David asked for my help on another smaller teak job, so it's back to Palm Beach, where I'm sure I'll learn some more neat tricks working with Boatsmith.