Friday, June 19, 2009

Insights from a Tiki 30 Delivery Trip

When building or outfitting a boat, it's always helpful to spend time actually cruising on similar vessels to get a better understanding of what works, what doesn't, and why. Taking David Halladay's Tiki 30 Abaco over to Nassau, Bahamas from West Palm Beach, Florida, was just such an opportunity. The non-stop 24-hour first leg of the trip, plus a couple more nights of living aboard both at anchor and at the dock gave me some new ideas about outfitting my own Tiki 26 and steered me away from certain ideas I had been planning all along.

For example, the bar-mounted sliding hatches shown on the Tiki 30 plans seemed like a logical modification to incorporate into my Tiki 26 build. They are slick in operation and offer several different opening configurations. In the real world, however, they become a royal pain and are subject to being torn off by the wind (this has already happened once on Abaco). They can also become head-cracking deadfalls in any kind of a seaway if they slip off the prop sticks that hold them in the half open position. In the fully open position, flipped back on the retaining cords as shown in the photo below, a gust of wind from outboard can also send them slamming down. It's clear to me and to David Crawford, who went with me on the trip and who has logged over 1,000 miles on Abaco that hatches that slide forward would be a better option. So, having learned this from experience, I'm back to planning hatches similar to the ones shown in the Tiki 26 drawings.

One feature on David's boat that I've always known I wanted on mine is the aft net beam and aft tramps on either side of a boarding ladder. I can't imagine being without this as it proved so useful while cruising. It's essential, however, that the tramps are made of good, solid material that can be comfortably stood on, just as those on Abaco are. These tramps become a perfect "back porch" for emptying buckets, washing dishes or whatever, as well as an extra margin of safety for anyone falling out of the cockpit.

Interior space is at a premium in all the smaller Wharrams, especially the Tiki 26 and Tiki 30. One thing that helps is having a place for everything and keeping everything in its place. I've never been a big fan of Wharram's "flexi-space" concept, as an empty hull without built-in shelves and other organization results in a pile of junk. Who wants to live on top of their clothes for days or weeks at a time, or have to move everything out of the way to get at something stored under a bunk? In my opinion, shelves are essential, and though I've already built in a few, after this trip I have begun making and installing even more.

The shelves on each side of the main bunk in Abaco's starboard hull can be seen here. They do not intrude into usable space, due to the shape of the hulls, but are infinitely useful for keeping stuff you need close at hand.

Other essentials that can be seen in this photo are the opening portlight on the inboard side of the cabin, and the opening deck hatch over the forward part of the bunk. In the tropics, getting some air flow into the boat makes all the difference in the world in liveability. Abaco is also equipped with 12-volt fans over each bunk and in the Nav. station and galley.

This view of the Nav. station shows the mounted DC circuit panel that controls all the onboard electrics, as well as other equipment such as an AC inverter, solar panel charge controller, VHF radio, and barometer. After we were offshore, however, I was dismayed to learn that there was no bulkhead-mounted clock onboard, but thankfully, I had my watch. Also lacking was a ship's logbook, but that's another story and has more to do with the racing versus cruising mentality.

Note also the opening portlight in the aft cabin bulkhead. Element II will be fitted with a similar opening port here as well, made possible by the 4-inch increase in cabin height that I built-in back in the early stages of construction.

Back at home this week with a couple of days available to work on the boat, I've been shopping for parts such as portlights and hatches, and working on the additions such as the extra shelves with high fiddles shown below. The portlight frames to the left in the photo are the inner trim rings for the fixed ports on the outboard sides of the cabins. This is the final coat of epoxy before they will be sanded again and varnished prior to installing the Lexan ports. I'm also working on pre-fitting the cabin roofs and planning the companionway openings. My major goal for the next few weeks is to finish the fairing, priming and painting of the decks and cabins, get the hatches and ports installed, and move the hulls out in the open where I can spread them to assembly width.

For photos and more about the trip to Nassau on Abaco, read my post on Scott's Boat Pages here.