Trawler Transformation Part 5: Below Decks

Trawler Transformation, Part 5 is all about the “below deck” areas, otherwise known as the private areas – two cabins and a head (bedrooms and bathroom to you landlubbers.)

I have been neglectful about completing the blog posts for these final transformations of our Mariner Orient 38. We chose to use and enjoy the boat during our beautiful New England summer. Enjoying it also gave us the opportunity to test all of these renovations before our next big “going south” adventure.

Master Cabin
The “master stateroom” (sounds like a mega yacht, doesn’t it?) did not need as much work as the other areas of the boat. It needed brightening and decorating to suit our style.

Photos of the master cabin during our first tour of the Mariner Orient. Everything is in good condition, but very basic, without enough storage or style.

Photos of the master cabin during our first tour of the Mariner Orient. Everything is in good condition, but very basic, without enough storage or style.

The mattress was in excellent shape (this boat had not seen much use in its first 11 years), but it needed a new topper. Al cut memory foam to fit the contours of the bed.

An electric kitchen knife easily cuts through he foam.

An electric kitchen knife easily cuts through the foam.

Making a bed on a boat is never an easy task. No walking around to pull corners over the end, straighten the sides, etc. Al does a better job because his reach is longer than mine (that’s what I keep telling him.)

Adding on the mattress pad and making the bed. He does a fine job even if he is rather tall to fit there.

Adding on the mattress pad and making the bed. He does a fine job even if he is rather tall to fit there. It is a very comfortable bed!

You can see from the old photos that the head of the bed is actually under the front deck on the bow, which can be somewhat claustrophobic. Al decided to fix that with a new hatch. Now we can look at the stars at night over our heads, close it so the sun doesn’t wake us in the morning, and get fresh air. Love it!!

This is the new hatch on the bow, just behind the anchor windlass and teak grid.

outside view of the new hatch on the bow, just behind the anchor windlass and teak grid.

The new hatch from the inside.

The new hatch from the inside. What a difference this made.

The new “master stateroom” for the Captain and the Admiral:

Our new master cabin.

A new solid blue coverlet with pillow shams sewn from shell fabric I had once bought for a previous boat and never used (amazing what you can find in your basement!) A yellow throw adds a bit more color.

We noticed that the Grand Banks trawlers were white above the bed instead of all wood and decided to use that idea for brightening the cabin. The cabin is so much more cheerful now. Our intention is to hang artwork up there, but we have not found anything yet. It has to be just right.

The shelves along each side of the bed were nice and long, but what do you put there that won’t look messy?? I found these canvas baskets that can be pushed into place and pulled out much more easily than woven baskets. Four for each side, his and hers. We will be able to store a lot of smaller clothing and accessories in these.

 The canvas baskets on the shelves can be used for all sorts of items. The new porthole curtains were sewn from extra fabric leftover from the salon cushions.

The canvas baskets on the shelves can be used for all sorts of items. The new porthole curtains were sewn from extra fabric leftover from the salon cushions.

Hanging storage behind the door.

Hanging storage behind the door.

 

I also bought a hanging door thing in the hope that small items might fit in the assorted pockets. (Is there a name for these now? They once held only shoes, but these new ones have pockets with a variety of sizes.) Have to wait and see how useful this turns out to be.

 

 

 

 

Guest Cabin
The guest cabin received the biggest makeover. The second cabin on a boat, sail or power, often becomes another storage area. A family naturally has to use it as a real bedroom, but a couple can take advantage of the space for more storage because you can never have too much storage. Ideally, the second cabin can serve both purposes – extra storage and occasional use for guests. The Mariner Orient 38’s guest cabin usually has bunk beds. That might be perfect for some folks, especially families with children, but it wasn’t going to work for us.

During our first look at “Unfunded Requirement” (I still cringe when I hear that name.) The cabin seemed like a dark hole with that upper bunk.

Our first look at “Unfunded Requirement” (I still cringe when I hear that name.) The cabin seemed like a dark hole with that upper bunk blocking the light.

The first step for Al was another R&R, “rip and restore”, project. The top bunk came out.

Upper bunk has been partially cut out – see the aluminum beams that strengthened the bunk. What you see remaining of the beams was left there to support future shelving.

Upper bunk has been partially cut out – see the aluminum beams that strengthened the bunk? What’s left will support future shelving.

Next step was to raise that lower bunk up, gaining both more storage space underneath and a wider, more comfortable bed.

Framing to build up the bunk and provide more storage. The Sam Adams box was cut part and reassembled to match the size of potential batteries.

Framing to build up the bunk and provide more storage. The Sam Adams box was cut apart and reassembled to match the size of future golf cart batteries , as described in Trawler Transformation Part 1 – The Systems

A wall of white bead board helped to brighten the woody interior of the cabin. We saw that on a Grand Banks and thought it really made a difference. Why not incorporate it into our guest cabin?

Another Grand Banks idea - brighten the cabin with white head board.

Another Grand Banks idea – brighten the cabin with white head board. You can see the “shelf surround” taking shape.

I used leftover yardage from the salon curtains to make new porthole curtains. We removed the bottom horizontal bar and allowed the curtains to hang free. That actually makes it much easier to close them when needed and did not affect the way they hang.

4 Guest cabin

Our finished guest cabin!

The remains of the old upper bunk became a stylish shelf that runs over the head of the bunk and along the side. An extra bar allows charts, books and dvds to be stored there. The shelf holds first aid supplies, and any other items we need to stow.

This angle is from the bottom of the bunk. You can see the pantry that bumps into the cabin (previously described in Trawler Transformation Part 3 – The Galley Makeover.)   Our custom mirror, a combined effort created over the long cold, snowy, winter, the now hangs on this side of the pantry.

This angle is from the bottom of the bunk. You can see the pantry that bumps into the cabin (previously described in Trawler Transformation Part 3 – The Galley Makeover.)  
Our custom mirror, a combined effort created over the long cold, snowy, winter,  now hangs on the backside of the pantry.

The coverlet is a sentimental piece to us. I found it for our Catalina 34, used it again on the Morgan 43, and now it covers this bunk on the Mariner Orient. Speaking of the bunk, it has a new mattress thanks to IKEA and Al’s talent for cutting foam to fit unusual shapes.

The pillow shams were fun to make. Many cruisers use pillow shams to store extra linens and towels (remember, it’s all about the storage!) I dug through all of the samples I had acquired when searching for boat fabrics. I will admit that it took me an entire afternoon to design and then piece together each of these pillows. Then I was surprised by how much I could fit into each of these shams. Downside – I had no idea how heavy a pillow would be after stuffing it with towels and sheets. My advice – make the pillow shams smaller. 😉

Our cabin is ready for guests – come visit us!

The Head
On a boat, the bathroom is called the head. You may well wonder why this room is called “the head.” I certainly did. I have used the nautical term for many years but really did not know the origin. I’ll share my new knowledge with you: Historically, the toilet was located on the sailing vessel’s bow, the “head” of the boat, for two reasons. First, most ships could not sail directly into the wind, which meant that the wind would come more from the rear of the ship, placing the head downwind. A plus for obvious reasons. Secondly, if the head was above the water line with vents cut near the floor level, the normal wave action coming over the bow would flush out the “facility.” Another plus. Fortunately, for all of us modern sailors, our heads are more comfortable, more attractive, and better smelling, if maintained well. Even so, the bathroom on a boat (I’m not talking about expensive yachts here) is never as large as the one you have in your home, even a small home. And the water is never as hot as often as you want, nor is the water as plentiful. But, you can have a reasonably nice shower to clean off the day’s sunscreen and grime.That’s  a priority for me – no shower, no go.

The head when we purchased the boat —

Head before

The best thing about this head was the separate shower stall and its height. Look! Al can actually stand in it.

Here again, it was all about the storage. What is it with boat designers??? Do they not see the potential for usable space?? Notice in the pictures above that there was lots of space behind the sink. Lots of empty space. Al designed a toiletries cabinet that would fit there, customizing for the peculiar angles and dimensions.

The new toiletries cabinet in the planning and design stage (sitting on our kitchen countertop).

The new toiletries cabinet in the planning and design stage (sitting on our kitchen countertop).

There was a nice little storage cupboard to the left of the sink with two shelves (hallelujah!), but below that, under the counter, there was more empty space. Al and his sawzall to the rescue!

1st – mark out the cut. Don’t forget to measure twice, cut once. 2nd – Cut through the fiberglass with the sawzall 3rd – Take picture of the dust you made so that Michele knows you had a lot to clean up before she saw your finished efforts. 4th – Admire the new-found storage space.

1st – Mark out the cut. Don’t forget to measure twice, cut once.
2nd – Cut through the fiberglass with the sawzall.
3rd – Take picture of the dust you made so that Michele knows you had a lot to clean up before she saw your finished efforts.
4th – Admire the new-found storage space. It’s going to hold the extra toilet paper, paper towels….

Push button flush??? That's an upgrade from the old pump toilets.

Push button flush??? That’s an upgrade from the old pump toilets.

This toilet is fancier than our sailboats. Instead of pumping a handle to flush, you push the little red button. I guess it is an improvement, but I worry about the chance that something will go wrong and break. The more complicated it is, the harder it is to repair. Al added a holding tank gauge so we can monitor … the holding tank. I think you can imagine what that holds and why it needs to be monitored. Pump out time!

Finished Head! Had to change out the flamingo shower curtain to a blue stripe. Added Command bath shelves in the back of the shower. Silly me, I forgot to take a final photo with the nice hatch on the new storage hole. :-( This will have to do.

Finished Head! Had to change out the flamingo shower curtain to a blue stripe. Added Command bath shelves in the back of the shower. You can also see the finished wood doors on the toiletries cabinet behind the sink.
Silly me, I forgot to take a final photo with the nice hatch door  on the new storage hole. 🙁 This will have to do.

Television – not “below deck”, but worth sharing.
Another “improvement” was just added in the salon, if you consider adding a television to be an improvement to cruising. You can’t always get reception, but if you can, it is nice to catch some news and weather. We don’t watch tv very often on the boat, but this one was the right size and free, thanks to a family member who no longer needed it. I didn’t want a tv to take up valuable real estate in the salon, so Al created a storage cabinet in the ceiling. Add an inexpensive dvd player and we can watch some favorite movies on those rainy evenings or days.

Using woods from his workshop (His motto - Never throw out any scrap piece of nice wood!) he makes a wooden "box."

Using woods from his workshop (His motto – Never throw out any scrap piece of nice wood!) Al makes a wooden “box.”

The finished television in its out-of-the-way location. Perfect! Do I need a popcorn maker now?

The finished television in its out-of-the-way location. Perfect! Do I need a popcorn maker now?

The major renovations have been completed. Al has managed to transform another boat in record time – 12 months instead of 12 years. It was worth staying home this year so that we could both work part-time and get this boat ready. I think she is going to be a very comfortable place to spend 8 months.

Only two and a half weeks left to finish the preparations for another cruising adventure —aye yai yai!

Trawler Transformation, Part 4 – The Salon

Continuing with the theme of “a boat should feel like your home,” on the water, the salon was also transformed and “watsonized.” Our 2003 Mariner Orient 38 was in very good condition. Although the woodwork and flooring were in fine shape, the salon needed a “style” makeover. Big time.  Sure, the curtains and the upholstery were serviceable. But do you really want “serviceable” when your husband is pouring his heart and soul into transforming the boat? No! This trawler deserved a new look; a new look designed by us. And besides, I really disliked the beige palm tree motif of the curtains and the nondescript tweed-y salon cushions.

Our first view of the Mariner Orient when we steppe don board almost one year ago.

Our first view of the Mariner Orient when we stepped on board almost one year ago.

In order to reach the final goal, things were pretty grim looking during the working process.

In order to reach the final goal, things were pretty grim looking during the working process.

The old fabrics -  You can almost see the palm tree motif (this is the only picture I have left of those curtains.) And the tweedy nondescript cushions.

The old fabrics –
You can almost see the palm tree motif of the curtains (this is the only picture I have left of those curtains and of the tweedy nondescript cushions.

I decided to sew the curtains myself and sent away for at least 10 fabric samples, all fabrics that would withstand a marine environment. I chose Covington Outdoor Caribbean Seaside with the shell motif for two reasons – I love shells and the design didn’t “scream” shells. I liked that.

Too many choices! Which one will look best?

Too many choices! IT’s obvious that blue is my favorite color, isn’t it? Which one will look best? Going with the shells, of course.

I emailed Annette, the “Seamless Sailor” on Magnolia, with my sewing questions. She is an awesome seamstress and manages to create and sew all manner of things on their boat (a Morgan center cockpit, a sistership to our sweet sailboat.) I learned through experience that the fabric I chose was difficult to work with because of its heavy weight. I also discovered, accidentally, that you cannot press the seams with an iron – it melts! 🙁 The upside of that problem was that the seams could be finished by sealing with a “clicker” flame so they would not fray. The fabric is woven from a blend of polypropylene and polyester making it anti-microbial, water repellant, and meltable.  I removed all of the curtain tape and pins from the old curtains and reused them with the new fabric. It took me all winter, but I made the 13 curtain panels for the salon. Trawlers have a lot of large windows!

My curtains. Although the design is distinctly "shell", it is discreet when finished.

The salon curtains. Although the fabric design is distinctly “shell”, it seems to stay in the background.

syd003-bl06-sydney-delft-by-pindler

Pindler and Pindler Sydney Delft

We hired Nautical Needles to make new salon cushions and spent an afternoon in their shop looking through fabrics. Again, looking for something that can withstand a marine environment. We chose Pindler and Pindler “Sydney Delft”, which is “ultra high UV to resist fading, stain and mildew resistant, water resistant, breathable, bleach cleanable and machine washable, high abrasion resistance.” Sounds indestructible, doesn’t it?

 

I made pillows to add comfort and a splash of fun color. I tend towards quieter and more serene colors and patterns, so I tried to move out of my comfort zone for the pillows.

The pillows are bright and bold.

The pillows are bright and bold, in my favorite colors – blue, green and yellow.

That green marble was in four locations throughout the salon – the galley counter, the little bar counter just above that counter, on top of the refrigeration, and the top of the drawers in the corner. As far as I was concerned, if it is removed from one  location, it has to be removed from all locations. I was only present for the last removal of the counter in the corner. I think Al was glad I finally got to see just how tedious a task this was, for him.

Removing the green marble surface.

Removing the green marble surface.

Choosing new rugs was more of a challenge. Although I loved the designs in so many rugs, I was afraid the salon would be too “busy” or the design would compete with the pillows and curtains. So I played it safe and bought indoor/outdoor blue braided rugs, “blue wave” by Colonial Mills.

Remember how Al ripped out the settee on the starboard side just 4 days after we bought the boat while still traveling home from the Chesapeake to make room for the future IKEA poang chairs (Messing About in Boats)?? He added new teak flooring under the chairs and then created a curious little table to fit between them. We call it the trapezoid table. He made a prototype table first to test if it would work. The lid flips up to reveal two levels. A small upper shelf can tip up to reach more of the storage below. This replaces that liquor cabinet that was repurposed into pantry storage.

Left -  Right -

Left – With the small upper shelf in place.
Right -With the little shelf tipped up to access more bottles.

I am not sure how to describe this next part of the salon transformation. Just like the helm seat on the flybridge, we were not happy with the inside helm seat either, across from the galley on the starboard side. Whenever we needed to steer and navigate from there, we faced the same problem – a single seat with no other comfortable place for the other person to sit. Yes, you could sit right there in the salon, but you cannot help navigate or watch the scenery well from there. I usually ended up wandering about, sitting and standing, and generally being restless.

BEFORE - The original  interior helm seat

BEFORE – The original interior helm seat

This was a real challenge, even for Al, but oh my goodness, he created an amazing solution. During those cold winter months, he dismantled the existing helm seat (seems to be the first step in most of his projects) and experimented with a variety of possible solutions. I cannot even begin to show how much engineering this took, only the final outcome.

LEFT - As a single seater RIGHT - It slides out and an extra insert is added, held in place firmly with a latch.

TOP – As a single seater
BOTTOM – It slides out and an extra insert is added, held in place firmly with a latch.

With the cushions in place.  LEFT - single RIGHT - double It works - we can both sit very comfortably here.

With the cushions in place. 
It works – we can both sit very comfortably here.

The boat feels like home now. It feels like ours. The finished salon, all dressed in new clothes —

The port side, looking forward

The port side, looking forward

The starboard side, looking aft.

The starboard side, looking aft.

That leaves the two cabins and the head…….. Let no space be untouched!

Transforming the Trawler, Part 3 – The Galley Makeover

This is my favorite part of the transformation. All of the mechanical and technical modifications are absolutely a priority – safety first! But…… if you are going to spend extended time living on a boat, as in months or years, it needs to feel and function like a home.

There was nothing horrible or old about this galley, especially if you have no intention of cooking much or traveling far. I immediately knew that this galley did not have enough storage space for me, for the type of cruising we do. This is my little kingdom on the boat and I had a lot to say about its transformation. I needed more storage space, but there is a finite of amount of space on a boat, so where do you find more? You repurpose!

The galley on the day we first saw the Mariner Orient.

The galley on the day we first saw the Mariner Orient.

The traditional chart table (for holding all of the paper charts) was in the galley on the port side opposite the inside helm station on starboard side.

When closed, the chart table makes a large surface. When opened, it just held a lot of....  stuff. But no charts??

When closed, the chart table makes a large surface. When opened, it just held a lot of…. stuff. But no charts??

With the use of chartplotters and iPads for navigation, having a dedicated chart table isn’t as necessary. We still use our paper charts and always have them nearby, but other places can be found to store them when not in use. I looked at all of the space inside of the chart table and declared that it would be better suited to dish and utensil storage.

A bit unorthodox, but accessible and spacious. That lid was quite heavy to hold so a gas cylinder arm was added to ease lifting and to hold it in place while open. Works like a charm. :-)

A bit unorthodox, but accessible and spacious. That lid was quite heavy to hold so a gas cylinder arm was added to ease lifting and to hold it in place while open. Works like a charm. 🙂

We were on a hunt for more storage, evaluating every nook and cranny for possibilities. The pull-out cabinet under the interior helm seat was directly across from the galley, and wasting valuable potential galley storage space. Why not pull out the inefficient round-holed racks for the glasses and bottles and use it for pantry items? We can find another place for the wine and beer – that would never hold it all anyway! 😉

 Left pic - the "liquor cabinet" as originally intended. Right pic - Now pantry storage. I am not sure exactly what will end up in here. Just trying out different things, maybe staples, maybe snacks.

Left picture – the “liquor cabinet” as originally intended.
Right picture – Now pantry storage. I am not sure exactly what will end up in here. Just trying out different things, maybe staples, maybe snacks.

Every boat has storage under the salon seating; the challenge is to get at it, easily, when you need it. Lifting up the cushion and then the plywood is not something you want to do repeatedly each day.

The L-shaped salon seating has space under the cushions, but most of it is used for mechanical "stuff."

The L-shaped salon seating has space under the cushions, but most of it is used for mechanical “stuff.”

This is very usable, but not easily accessed space under the salon seating.

This is very usable, but not easily accessed space under the salon seating.

 

Al added a drawer in the side of this part of the salon seating (where his feet are) so that the space could be more conveniently accessed, by me.

 

 

 

 

 

The finished drawer —–

Closed and open drawer. It isn't well organized at the moment.  It is going to take me all summer to figure out what should go where. But what a nice problem!

Closed and open drawer. It isn’t well organized at the moment. It is going to take me all summer to figure out what should go where. But what a nice problem!

There was no place for a trashcan in this galley or salon. If you leave one sitting out, not only is it unsightly, but it will also tip and spill. Hmmmm…… what to do? Al loves his “sawzall” for a reason – it is the solution to so many problems. 😉  He determined that there was quite a lot of space under the sink for storage, and well, a trashcan! Rather than open the door and reach under every time, he sawed out part of the shelf and cut a neat opening in the side of the galley, creating a tilt-out trashcan.

For the more observant folks out there, these photos were taken at different times, therefore the different rug and cushions (we get to those changes later.)

Closed and Open — For the more observant folks out there, these photos were taken at different times, therefore the different rug and cushions (we get to those changes later.)

 And now for the pièce de résistance! Al saw another Mariner Orient, 40-footer, with a pantry in the galley. What a project this became, but so worth it! Below the chart table, which is now dish storage, there was a blank empty wall. The other side of that wall was in the guest cabin and held a mirror above a small vanity table with a drawer. Why not build a pantry accessible from the galley and bump into the guest cabin, where the mirror hung? Why not indeed?

This is the mirror in the guest cabin. That wall backs on the galley.

This is the mirror in the guest cabin. That wall backs on the galley. (Photo is from our first look at the boat. The transformation of this cabin will come later!)

Al measures and marks his cut lines with masking tape (sawmill again!)

Al measures and marks his cut lines with masking tape (time for the sawzall again!)

The opening -  The left picture is looking from the galley and the right picture is looking out from the guest cabin.

The opening –
The left picture is looking from the galley and the right picture is looking out from the guest cabin.

Building the box that will become the pantry.

Building the box that will become the pantry. Looking from both sides again.

My new pantry! Yes! With the door closed and the door open.

My new pantry! Yes! With the door closed and the door open. Al used the closet door from the guest cabin so that it would more closely match the rest of the salon. He will make a new door later for the closet.

There were other modifications to the galley that required an even greater degree of technical and mechanical skills than storage, beginning with the refrigeration dilemma. The boat has a Norcold upright refrigerator and freezer unit in good working condition. We discussed replacing the upright Norcold with drawers so that the freezer space could be enlarged and be more efficient than an upright. The existing freezer (that narrow door on the left) would not hold enough food for long-term cruising (it’s only a pinch bigger than .75 cubic feet.)

freezer

Freezer

Refrigerator

 

On the Morgan, Al had spoiled me with custom built, highly-insulated, refrigeration and freezer units of 5 cubic feet and 2 cubic feet, respectively. I knew I could manage with 2 cubic feet of freezer space, but ¾ cubic feet???? Nah. After much debate and research, we decided it was more practical, both physically and financially, to keep the existing Norcold unit and add additional freezer space elsewhere. But where??? A new search for hidden unused space began.

In his investigations throughout the boat, Al uncovered a large amount of completely unused but not easily accessible space under the galley counter. He reached it through the salon seating. Here would be the location for a new freezer unit.

Al found unused space below the galley counter.

Without the counter top, the unused space below is visible,  sufficiently large and very empty.

The question — Build a freezer unit himself again or purchase a ready-made one? Al found a drop-in 1.5 cubic foot Engel that would fit perfectly in this “dead space.” He really had enough projects to do without building a custom freezer. This type of major work meant that the green marble (?) counter had to be sacrificed to be removed. I didn’t like it anyway; there was a seam and white stains that wouldn’t come out.

We decided to use a solid surface counter, just as we had on the sailboat. After reviewing and deliberating over the various shades and styles of solid surfaces, we agreed on Corian “Witch Hazel.” The big hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot won’t sell sheets of Corian or any solid surface material to regular folks, so we returned to an online source, SolidSurface.com, the same one we used for the Morgan.

Collage of building the counter and fitting in the freezer unit with insulated lid. The freezer lid required very careful planning and fitting.

Collage of building the counter and fitting in the freezer unit with its insulated lid. The freezer lid required very careful planning and fitting.

ABOVE - The new Corian galley counter with a new faucet, filtered water faucet, and soap dispenser. The existing sink was re-used but mounted underneath. BELOW - The new Engel freezer

ABOVE – The new Corian galley counter with a new faucet, filtered water faucet, and soap dispenser. The existing sink was re-used but mounted underneath.
BELOW – The new Engel freezer

I continued to look for ways to maximize the space in the galley in any way possible. Spices and coffee making supplies take up space. A magnetic tin spice rack seemed like a neat solution and an attractive one. I used chalkboard stick-on circles, cut in half so that you can see the spices, with a chalk permanent marker pen. I know that spices should be kept in the dark and away from heat, but I think it will be ok. There was only space for 12 spices, so some are still in the pantry. There was enough space between the chart table and the window for a wicker basket that could hold coffee supplies.

Cooking utensil storage and coffee making supplies along side of the chart table/dish storage.

Cooking utensil storage, coffee making supplies, and a spice rack. All within easy reach.

The New and Improved Galley!  

A view of the finished galley

hhh

 Next blog – the salon.

Transforming the Trawler, Part 2 – The Exterior

Part 2 of the transformation is about the exterior of the boat. These transformations have to do with comfort and convenience and safety. It’s all about making the boat more liveable. Let’s take a look from the bow to the stern.

On the bow, anchors aweigh!: You may recall how shocked we were to discover that there was only 15 feet of chain plus 100 feet of line. Whoaa! Or not whoa, because that won’t hold the boat in questionable conditions. The Morgan carried 175 feet of 3/8 inch chain for an anchor rode (rode is the name for the line, chain or combination of line and chain that connects the anchor to the boat.) Recreational boats should have a good amount of chain and then line (rope) for their rode. Larger boats that cruise often carry all chain, especially if they have a windlass. We prefer to have all chain so adding an all chain rode was put on our list.

Measuring the anchor lines – REALLY???? Only 15 feet of chain??

 

 Off we went to Defenders Marine Sale in late March, Al’s favorite way to spend his birthday.

A happy birthday boy in the checkout at Defenders Marine.

The 150 feet of chain weighed 247 pounds. With two helpers and one very strong Defenders dude, the anchor chain was loaded into the back of our little Subaru Impreza. Naturally, there were no Defender dudes around when we arrived back home. 

2Loading and unloading chain

Defenders dudes load the chain into our car, but only Al is around to get it out of the car at home.

When anchoring, to avoid guessing and yelling about how many feet of chain you have let out, it’s a real good idea to mark the chain in specific lengths. You can buy special markers, make your own markers (we tried that for a few years) or paint your chain different colors at specific lengths. Some people tie a different number of small lines or wire tires at intervals, but we found they can tangle in the chain or hold dirt. Others use a specific color scheme and paint the links. I read about an interesting color sequence – every 25 feet change colors, red, yellow, blue, white, orange, and remember it with “Rub Your Body With Oil.” Really? Anyway, about ten years ago we settled on a system that has worked for us without any problems. We paint the chain at intervals of red, white, and blue, in that order, changing color every 25 feet. We use good, bright paint which is easily visible without confusion and it lasts for years. The bonus is that we never forget the order of red, white, and blue. Easy-peasy, as the first graders say.

Stretching the chain out in the driveway to measure and mark it in 25 foot intervals.

Stretching the chain out in the driveway to measure and mark it in 25 foot intervals.

Let's hear it for the Good Old Red, White and Blue. A sequence that cannot be forgotten.

Let’s hear it for the Good Old Red, White and Blue. A sequence that cannot be forgotten.

Loading the chain back into the car again and then onto the boat.

Loading the chain back into the car again and then onto the boat. Al is standing under our bow – that swim platform is on the boat stored in front of ours all winter.

 To prepare for the new 150 feet of chain, Al rebuilt the anchor locker which is behind the little doors just beyond our heads where we sleep ( in the bow, but not in our bed!) He added a tube so that the chain follows down in and under the v-berth, forming a pathway to send chain from the old anchor locker down into the space under the bed. The old locker was not large enough to hold both 150 feet of chain and additional line. It will now also accommodate a second anchor set-up.

The anchor locker BEFORE

The anchor locker BEFORE

At the top are the open doors to the main anchor locker with chain visible.Below those doors is a small shelf that is actually part of the head of our bed (that’s where he added the USB port and a 12 volt plug). Below the raw wood, which is well beneath our mattress, you can see the tube for the chain, and then all the chain spilled out into the space. We have tested it out and it works!

The Anchor locker AFTER – At the top are the open doors to the main anchor locker with chain visible. Below those doors is a small shelf that is actually part of the head of our bed (that’s where he added the USB port and a 12 volt plug). Below the raw wood, which is well beneath our mattress, you can see the tube for the chain, and then all the chain spilled out into the space. We have tested it out and it works!

Terrific! Now we can sleep at night while at anchor, at least most of the time. But a new problem arose (remember that Law of Boat Projects?) The windlass on the Mariner was not impressive, only a 900-watt Simpson. Al worried that it would not be strong enough to haul all of the chain and Rocna. With patience and determination he searched eBay and Craig’s List, and acquired a Lofrans like our Morgan’s, but a little bigger. And a good deal.

The Lofrans windlass. Comfortingly familiar and able to haul

The Lofrans windlass. Comfortingly familiar and able to haul 320 pounds up and over the bow.

Up, Up on the Flybridge: A flybridge is a new experience for a sailor, and we will readily admit that it is an awesome place! Great views, nice air, and a lot of space. But this flybridge needed some work.

The bimini was in poor shape, thinning and ripped, and had no side curtains. We had an incredible hardtop and enclosure on our Morgan, which allowed us to use the cockpit as living space as well as comfortably navigate underway in lousy weather. We needed a good bimini on this boat! Our first discussion was “what color?” We didn’t really agree at first. Left on my own, I might have gone with yellow canvas. 😉  Think of it this way — you need to give someone directions to your boat in a harbor filled with many boats that pretty much all look alike except for the distinguishing mark of a mast, or no mast. What do you say? “The white boat with the blue canvas?” Sure, that distinguishes it. I thought yellow was a great solution to a common problem, but the captain did not agree. Fortunately, blue is my favorite color, and blue it would be. But what blue? I did not want a navy that looked like black and Al did not want a blue that would be too bright. We decided on classic navy. Ahhh, problem solved? Not yet! There are many shades of blue and quite a few variations of navy…………

50 (no, just 5) Shades of Blue.  We settled on the little piece on the left. The original is the every dark navy underneath the swatches.

50 (no, just 5) Shades of Blue.
We settled on the little piece on the left. The original is the very, very dark navy underneath the swatches.

We chose Nautical Needles in Westbrook, CT to make the bimini with side curtains for protection. They had done the work on the Morgan and we were happy with it.

Tempting the bimini with large sheets of plastic to make a the pattern. Very precise work, or at least it should be!

Templating the bimini with large sheets of plastic to make the pattern. Very precise work, or at least it should be!

The finished bimini! Excellent workmanship - we are quite pleased with it.

The finished bimini! Excellent workmanship – we are quite pleased with it. 🙂

On the 7-day trip from Annapolis to Connecticut last summer, we struggled with the seating on the flybridge. The helm seat was for a single person with two cushioned benches on each side that sat lower. While underway, the person not steering had to sit on a side bench.

Al testing the steering during the survey, sitting on the single helm seat on the bridge.

Al testing the steering during the survey, sitting on the single helm seat on the bridge. One of the side benches is visible just past him.

We usually navigate together and both look out, but the side bench seating wasn’t really comfortable for that and did not give me (or anyone else) good visibility for navigating. I tried a folding chair looking forward, but I still couldn’t see over the helm and be of any use. All winter long, Al pondered this dilemma. What to do? Replace the single helm seat with two helm seats? Would they fit side by side? Look for a bench seat? Once again, he continually searched eBay and Craig’s List for possible options. Finally, a two-person helm seat appeared that looked suitable for our needs, used, but in good condition. Another deal!! Al made a base from starboard to cover the old indention for the single pedestal and then secured the double pedestal to the floor.

The "new" double pedestal, two-person helm seat.

The “new” double pedestal, two-person helm seat.

As you can see, we fit quite comfortably together on this seat.

As you can see, we fit quite comfortably together on this seat.

The cushions on the side benches - bottom one is before and the top one is after Al repaired it.

The cushions on the side benches – bottom one is before and the top one is after Al repaired the zipper.. Good as new!

A major addition to the flybridge was the solar panels, a project “completed” last summer shortly after we brought the boat home. We love solar panels and the free energy they provide. To see that project, please refer to Messing About in Boats for the details, including the wiring diagram.

Solar installed on the flybridge - plenty of room!

Solar installed on the flybridge – plenty of room!

If you look carefully at the pictures of the solar panels above, you will notice that there are no handrails to grasp when you climb up the ladder to the flybridge. We thought this was a serious and potentially dangerous issue. Sooooooo…….. Al found a welder to make handrails to his specifications. It is hard to believe there is something he cannot do, but Al has not learned to weld yet.

There is a new short handrail to the left as you climb up the ladder, and anther longer one attached tot he mast on your right. Both are so easy to grab, and so necessary. An added bonus - finally have a spot to hang the grill.

There is a new short handrail to the left as you climb up the ladder, and another longer one attached to the mast on your right. Both are so easy to grab, and so necessary. Al added a gas cylinder arm to make it easier to lift the hatch up over your head. A bonus with the rails – we finally have a spot to hang the grill (under the blue cover by the mast.) I was surprised how challenging it was to find a location for it.

Let’s head down that ladder and see what’s below.

Looking down looks much worse than it really is.

Looking down looks much worse than it really is.

When we were searching for a boat, one of Al’s main concerns was the steepness of the ladder to the flybridge. He worries about my lymphedema, a condition, thanks to cancer surgery, that has left my right leg less flexible and permanently swollen. As luck would have it, any boat that had a nice gradual set of steps to the flybridge, or at least a shorter ladder, also had other features that were less desirable. As you know, you can’t always get what you want, at least not everything. Yes, this is a ladder, but so far I can manage it ok. Naturally, Al can’t let well enough alone, so he built a “prototype” of a modified ladder in wood:

Left - The prototype ladder set in against the stainless ladder. Right - The prototype ladder stepped out for using.

Left – The prototype ladder set in against the stainless ladder and out of the way.
Right – The prototype ladder stepped out for using.  
We will have to wait and see if this prototype leads to anything permanent.

We specifically searched for a style of trawler called sedan or Europa. This design gives us one level of main living space, inside and out, when you combine the salon and the aft area. As you can see above, we step right out from the salon door onto the covered deck. There is a locker in each corner that provides storage and more seating.

Al reinforced the lockers' lids for strength.

Al reinforced the lockers’ lids for additional strength.

We had custom C Cushions  (closed cell foam) made for each one.

We had custom C Cushions (closed cell foam) made for each aft locker. A little cushioning is a nice comfort.

A winch was added to the davits for hauling the dinghy up and down. The engine is pretty heavy so this eases the load. Al made the winch block out of leftover starboard .

A winch block made of starboard

A winch block made of starboard

Take a look at the picture below and see if you can guess what its purpose might be. Hint – It has something to do with this part of the boat.

I call these "the funny round things." Al made a plastic prototype and had two made by the welder.

I call these “the funny round things.” Al made a plastic prototype and then had two stainless ones made by the welder.

Al attached one on each side of the swim platform to keep the dinghy from sliding under when waves or wakes bounce it up and down. The rings also provide a nice handle to grab as you bring the dinghy up to the boat. They may seem a little odd or unusual, but I definitely see the purpose now.

Funny round things in use on the transom.

Funny round things in use on the swim platform. They really are useful!

That brings us to the end of the exterior transformations, to date. The only other change was to use green bottom paint instead of the old red.

Part 3 of the Trawler Transformation will be the interiors changes. ….. Come back and visit.  🙂 They are my favorite part!