Cabin Sole Lockers

Posted on Thursday 26 April 2012

One of my major projects from this past winter was adding some additional stowage to the main cabin of s/v Pretty Gee. Stowage is very scarce on most trailerable trimarans and the Telstar 28 is no exception. My aim was to make the boat more comfortable, safer and more seaworthy while also giving the boat some much needed stowage.

The main hull of the Telstar 28 is quite narrow, and has no real bilge to speak of. The bilge inspection hatch opens into a space that is only about an inch-and-a-half deep at the maximum. The hull flares out to create room for the settees and this means the settees are actually quite high. As a result, when you were seated on the settee, you had only a two-inch wide ledge on which to rest your feet on the starboard side. This is not the case on the port side, since the fresh water tank is built into that side against the centerboard trunk.

My idea was to raise the cabin sole along the centerboard trunk, on the starboard side, to match the elevated section on the port side. This would give me a set of lockers six feet long and about 15″ wide on average and about a foot high—or seven cubic feet of stowage. The location is ideal for heavy supplies and gear like tools, since it is down low and central to the boat. Loading the lockers with heavy tools and such would also help trim the boat better—which is a bit port-heavy as designed.

This would also make the cabin a bit safer, since the flat deck of the new lockers would be less slippery than the partially sloped original cabin sole. Since this new locker is located primarily where the cabin’s salon table is, losing the foot or so of headroom wasn’t a huge issue, since most of the time people would be seated and move along the settee in that area.

Another safety advantage this would give s/v Pretty Gee is if the main hull is breached but the cabin liner remains intact, the aft-most of the cabin sole lockers would effectively act as a standpipe for the breached bilge, and limit the amount of water that could enter the main hull. While water could still enter the companionway locker and the area under the head and around the holding tank, the main cabin would stay dry for the most part. That would greatly improve the boat’s performance and seaworthiness after such an incident and make it far more likely to be useable after a collision—especially combined with the bow crash compartment I added two years ago.

The first part of making the lockers was to epoxy the vertical dividers that would make up the three locker compartments into place. You can see the white PVC dividers and cleats. If you look closely, you can see the curvature of the cabin sole along the outboard side.

Vertical dividers and cleats for the new Cabin Sole Lockers

Vertical dividers and cleats for the new Cabin Sole Lockers

I took extra care to make sure the aft-most dividers were completely sealed to make the aft-most compartment water-tight as required for the safety/seaworthiness aspects of this project. I also epoxied cleats to the centerboard trunk to support the in-board edge of the cabin sole locker’s top deck. The cleats and the dividers were made of 5/8″ thick PVC board I had leftover from another project. The epoxy sticks quite well to the sanded PVC board and it is lighter than plywood would have been. Another advantage is that it is completely rot resistant. In hindsight, I probably should have used it for the top deck of the lockers as well, but didn’t have enough so went with 1/2″ marine plywood instead.

The cleats were set to be the same height as the two-inch wide ledge that was at the base of the settee. I didn’t use cleats on the outboard side, because the two-inch wide ledge made an excellent support for the top deck. Getting the height of the cleats was a bit tricky since the cabin sole is slightly sloped.

The epoxy I used for most of this project is thickened with a kevlar compound and is a 1:1 epoxy putty sold by Progressive Epoxy Products in New Hampshire. It has a decent working time, is very tough and has a good viscosity for filleting and such. I like to keep some of it aboard because it is one of the epoxy putties that can be used for structural repairs and will stick and set underwater in an emergency.

The top deck was made of two pieces of 1/2″ marine plywood. Each piece was three feet long, and one of the hatch openings was basically centered on the joint of the two pieces. I made sure the joint was well supported by a cleat on the in-board side. I pre-fiberglassed the top deck’s underside, so that when I put a bead of thickened epoxy along the cleats, dividers and outboard ledge, I could just press the top deck down and know the surface was protected from abrasion and water intrusion. This is a lesson I learned from the bridgedeck several years ago, which wasn’t pre-fiberglassed and fiberglassing it after assembling it was far more complicated.

I cut the top deck to be about a half-inch shy of the outboard side of the hull and filled the resulting gap with high-density closed cell foam insulation that was epoxied into place. This allowed me to make up a fiberglass fillet that extended up the hull without creating a hard spot where the hull laminate might flex and fatigue.

I also pre-cut the openings for the three hatches in the two deck pieces before epoxying them into place. This was far easier and simpler than trying to cut them after the fact. The two larger hatches were originally from s/v Pretty Gee’s amas. These hatches leaked a bit too much and I replaced them with a different design last season. The last hatch was special ordered for this project. The two aft-most compartments are larger than the forward-most one.

The photo is from when I dry-fitted the locker deck into place, prior to the third hatch arriving. You can also see the inspection hatch to the bilge in the aft-most compartment.

The top deck of the cabin sole lockers dry-fitted into place.

The top deck of the cabin sole lockers dry-fitted into place.

I then placed the hatches down and drilled holes for all the fasteners for all three hatches. The holes for these fasteners were all drilled oversized and then filled with thickened epoxy putty. I fiberglassed over the filled holes and glassed the edges of the top deck to the dividers, the centerboard trunk and the starboard side of the main hull. This should allow me to re-drill the holes for the fasteners and not have any exposed plywood.

I painted the entire top deck with Interdeck non-skid deck paint. While this really wasn’t a necessity, I did need to protect the epoxy from UV and by using the Interdeck, I’ve created a good non-slip surface around the hatches. The hatches themselves are non-skid textured. After two coats of Interdeck, I re-drilled the fastener holes and bedded the three hatches using butyl tape. I chose butyl tape because it is a very good sealant for this purpose and will make the locker hatches watertight. The hatches will be through-bolted with fender washers on the underside.

The new cabin sole lockers with the top deck painted and the hatches in place.

The new cabin sole lockers with the top deck painted and the hatches in place.

This gives me three water-tight, fairly well sealed lockers that provide about seven cubic feet of stowage total. The new cabin sole locker top deck acts provides very good, non-skid, flat surface to move along as well as a place to rest your feet when seated. There is still six feet of standing headroom aft—between the galley and navigation console forward of the companionway, as well as forward of the centerboard trunk. The new locker’s forward end also acts as a shower dam, in case I want to add the ability to take a shower to the head on s/v Pretty Gee.

One reason having the lockers be fairly well sealed and water-tight is important is so that I can store tools and parts in the first two lockers and keep desiccant and corrosion inhibitors in the two lockers to help keep the parts and tools in good shape. The aft-most locker will likely be used for food and galley supply stowage, with things that can withstand getting wet stowed in that particular compartment—since it does have the bilge access panel. Galley goods that need to remain dry will be stowed in the bridgedeck locker, aft of the companionway ladder, which is my next project.

1 Comment for 'Cabin Sole Lockers'

    May 15, 2012 | 10:49 pm

    The cabin sole lockers work exactly as designed, including the bilge standpipe portion, which was tested when we launched s/v Pretty Gee this season. The test was the best kind…the unintended and completely validating kind. 😀 We had accidentally left the raw water seacock for the galley sink open…and the hose off of it…and it flooded the bilge. The cabin itself stayed dry even though the companionway locker, the head compartment and the aft-most cabin sole locker flooded.

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