A Modern Chart Table

Awkward spaces, much like bright red colors, they play tricks on our minds. Shrink those spaces down, and its like amplification. What once didn’t seem to bother you, starts to scream.

As you can guess, Cinderella had a few of these spaces, and my mind was about to explode. The biggest was the chart table. Cinderella had a chart table that was 26 x 26, you could draft at the table. It was awkward to stand in front of, it made stowage impossible, and worst of all, it made my head explode. Something had to give.

Chart Table

Notice the chart table is up against the bare hull, making for no storage and no usable space. There is a quarter-berth tucked behind it, but anyone short of a gymnast had no buisness attempting to get in and out of it. When winter in the PNW rolled around, the bare fiberglass started to sweat, dampening everything and making things exponentially worse. Out she went.

I felt like Tim the tool man, sawzall in one hand and hammer in the other. The plan was to remove the table and hopefully use the pieces to build a new one, one issue, how do I mount it? Its against the hull, and I’m not drilling into the hull…. I guess it’s time to learn this whole fiberglass thing.

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Here is an image of the chart table in use. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but all of that space aft of the table is clutter. Clutter that is prime to drive the mind wild in a small space. Another thing to note, the table is at an angle, nice when standing next to checking charts no doubt, but awful stowage, and worse when the boat is heeled on her starboard side. Let the demo begin.

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It was not long until I was at bare hull.

Only problem was that support was far too high for the desk I was going to install. I pried it off of the hull and lowered it about 10 inches. I used the West System 105 epoxy and hardener. For the connection to the wall I used their 405 fillet compound. The idea is to make nice rounded joints where the board meets the hull so the fiberglass sheet doesn’t make a sharp 90 degree bend. Holding the board in place prior to fiber glassing presented its own set of challenges. I ended up using Gorilla Glue construction adhesive with great success. once the glue hardened, I started to lay the fiberglass.

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The hardest part was waiting  for the fiberglass to dry! It was winter in the PNW, not that it gets too cold, but the condensation on the bare hull was impressive. Thankfully, the west system epoxy will cure even if wet.

Once the main support board was in place, I went ahead and cut the desk to its new size. I settled on an “L” shape with a slight angle.

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The top was easy to cut, the challenge would be deconstructing the rest of the old chart table and constructing the new one. Also, what about the space just aft? My desk needed a seat.

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A jigsaw and a scribe were used to cut the plywood in a curve. and it worked remarkably well! The question was, what height should the desk be from the bench?

After a bit of research, 14″ seemed to be the sweet spot for seat to desk height, so I went for 16 assuming I was going to but cushions on the seat.

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Due to the strange shapes involved, I just made the bench piece by piece. This was not one of those “measure twice, cut once” scenarios. I knew I was going to need stowage under the seat, so I cut out openings. for access panels.

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After all of the panels were cut and fitted, I pulled the seat back apart and epoxy sealed every panel. Remember I said that winter here are moist? well wood + moisture = mold and I want to avoid mold at all costs. I used acetone to thin the epoxy mixture so that it would easily paint on and went over the boards with a few coats. After I reassembled the bench, it looked something like this.

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I decided while I was at it that I would buy one of those nice new Blue Sea Systems breaker panels in the boat. The previous panel was in a hard to reach place, wired in order to keep wire runs to a minimal, and usability to the spartan. Cinderella was to be my home, and I needed to be sure my home had functionality of all her systems.

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I mounted the panel in a box with hinges so that I could open the panel in case I needed to replace a breaker or add new wiring along the way. The best part was, I already had the box from a gift my sister and her boyfriend had given me during our Vancouver Sailing trip! Thanks Eric and Danielly!

 

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