The past couple of weeks I’ve been busy on a project that started out fairly simply, then rapidly expanded, as most boat projects do.
When I launched Watari at the start of the summer I had never actually seen her in the water before. I had no idea if she would live up to my expectations, and so no idea if all the work I was putting into her was really worth it or not. Fortunately she’s more than surpassed all my expectations, and now I can see for certain that she’ll be the voyaging boat of my dreams someday…
There’s still a ton of work left to do though! When she launched it was with a temporary saloon consisting of benches only. Some previous owner had built these out of low quality plywood that was water damaged and rotting. They were also too narrow and too low to be of any use as berths, and didn’t have any storage underneath (the primary thing lacking on most small voyaging sailboats). Also the starboard berth had been cut short as the head was located at its foot at one time. I ripped out all the rotting wood underneath, but as this pic shows it was a temporary solution, with no storage lifejackets and tool boxes were just stuffed under the benches.
The multi-day sailing trips we made to Shimoda and Enoshima showed me that it was really time to overhaul these saloon berths. I designed a system of bulkheads that would connect to the existing stringers, adding strength to the hull, and creating large storage areas underneath. Then, inspired by James Baldwins article on The Search for the Unsinkable Boat, I realized that I could make these watertight with locking, gasketed hatches. This would result in both dry storage areas and, in theory, floatation compartments that would help keep Watari afloat in the event of collision long enough to repair damage and get her pumped out.
My initial experiments with this idea looked promising, and I soon realized that I could use the same technique to make a watertight anchor locker, focsle storage compartments, and aft water tanks integral to the hull.
Initially I thought I’d just do the saloon this year and the rest later. But then I forgot to close the seacocks to the head one weekend and came to the boat a few days later to find that one of the hoses had split, fountaining a leak that had the floorboards awash. The bilge pump float switch had also burnt out, so another few days and she would have sunk. I decided now is the time to complete the focsle renovation as well. I’m about halfway through this work now. I’ll post more pics when at a stopping point, but right now the interior looks like this.