Sunday, June 9, 2013

Runt Steps

As near as I can tell, the helm of my boat was intended for a 7'4" helmsman. That's how I see it.

Our delivery trip included bashing up the Chesapeake in gale conditions (35 knots but not too many waves as the fetch was minimal); a harsh way to get to know your boat. It didn't take long to realize that my feet were 6 inches from the floor and that every time I turned the wheel left my body would rotate right. The following week I built a simple a runt box. It was a temporary affair that worked well enough that I didn't revisit the subject for four years. Other PDQ sailors have similar runt boxes. It has become the standard cure.

I often cruise the cast-off piles at local marinas. A few years ago a Prout owner threw out a heavy 3/4-inch floor section of mahogany/holly laminate; solid wood in alternating strips. Nothing wrong for the most part, but there was  split and some damaged edges. I took it home for the scrap heap. I've cut a few projects from it.

I cruise blogs, often seeing projects that spawn other ideas. An interior nav station project made me think of this. About 2 hours labor to trim to size, finish, through-bolt in some mahogany cleats for it to rest upon, and caulk into place with polyurethane.

I think it turned out very well, indistinguishable from a factory effort, perhaps better.
  • Better footing that the box since it cannot shift
  • Nothing can fall behind it
  • An inch higher and a little wider
  • More storage space
The non-slip finish is an experiment, based upon a post by Windborne. The last coat of varnish is laid on thick and sprinkled with course-grained salt from a grinder. When dry, the salt is washed away leaving a non-aggressive non-skid finish and is easy and easily redone when worn. Not for steps or other critical high-impact areas, but it look better than sand-varnish, is simpler, and is more simply redone. So far I like it.

Epilogue: The old runt box has not been retired. It is a member of the crew and serves too many other purposes, among other things, supporting the pilot berth. It will retain a well-earned rank of honor.

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