Lockers and lids revisited.

I’m sory to go on about this, but lockers are important on a boat. All that stuff that you need to have to hand in case of merency: lifejackets, fenders, ropes, anchors, sandwhiches, beer 1 has to go somewhere, preferably in a place that doesn’t get wet and won’t fall over the side. So lockers with lids are IMPORTANT.

The designer had (after some pushing) let me have a pair of lockers with lids, one on on each side at the forward end of the cockpit. I’d agreed to provide the design for the lids without really considering too much about it. I thought a lid would be a flap in the deck, hinged on the outboard side, with a vertical inboard edge that matched the side of the cockpit.

At some point it occurred to me that the deck has a transverse curved camber, so the locker lids need to match this curve. Each lid would need an end piece to follow the curve shape and hold the lid to the camber. If I made these ends, and then held them in position (glued to outboard side of the plywood cockpit side), I could then glue them to the underside of the deck when it was fitted to the hull. Once the glue was dry, I could cut out the locker lids and they would hold the curve of the deck.

Well, that’s the plan. So I set to work making these false sides and the ends of the locker lids, whcih I duly glued to the outboard sides of the cockpit side panels. I had to create a straight ede for the hinge line and recognise that, at some point, gutters would need to be glued in place to stop the locker filling with water.

\the straight edge for the hunge line being glued in position. You can also see the side panels for the lid being epoxied in place too.

I sat back, in the aft corner of the cockpit, satisfied with my idea and the way it was progressing, and anticipating a gentle sail in some quiet waterway.3 I was looking at the place of the lockers and imagining getting ready to go alongside, with the locker lid open….

I woke with a start – with the locker lid open there was a large chunk out of the deck and that longitudinal bulkhead that forms the side of the cockpit. This might seriously damage the structure at a point of high load (sail, centreboard and wave bending stuff). Not only that, but I had the suspicion that the deck plan hereabouts was an inward curve.

The deck was placed in postion, the position of the locker lid was marked out on it and the cockpit side.


Never mind structural integrity, the shape of the deck rather b*****s things up.

I looks as if I’ll hae to revert to just having an oblong hatch within the deck that conforms with the locker rectangualr plan. At least it will still need to have ends that are shaped to match the camber, so they can stay in place and the time spent on them may not be wasted.

I wonder what desing impossiblity will present next week?


  1. None of which is included in the “sail away” pricebut without which it is almost impossible to make the boat work or stop. 2
  2. I’d omitted an anchor from the list
  3. She’s getting quite boat shaped now and it’s easy to slip into these daydreams

Imagination and Bloody mindedness

Welcome back and thank you all for the comments. Please keep them coming in as I need the inspiration.  I’ve discovered that building a boat is a combination of craft skill (for want of a better description), imagination and bloody mindedness. The last of these is most important.  When I was assisting the designer with the specification of this “little” boat, I said that I wanted lockers in the sides of the cockpit. In my experience, there’s never enough locker space in a boat – for the fenders, the ropes, the anchors and all the other stuff that’s needed to take a boat from the “sailaway”1 condition to one that you can actually use.

The designer kindly left three locker spaces in the plan – I said, full of confidence and DoomBar2, ‘Don’t worry about the locker lids, I’ll take care of them’. I’m still thinking about it – the inventiveness (see above) is somewhat lacking – my initial idea involved cutting away a significant chunk of deck and of the longitudinal bulkhead ,as well as some tricky “preassembly” of the sides of the locker lids before the deck was glued on top.  The bloody mindedness came into play when I continued to fiddle about to make my idea work, even though I realised it was totally impractica. After several days work, the main lockers were “put on hold” and I’ve contented myself with a couple of self draining “letter boxes” on each side of the cockpit.3

Don’t hold your breath for the solution.

So, it’s mid August, the Owners Agent wants to know how much progress has been made. After all, as she points out, the project is already 3 months late. She reminds me that my voyage round Britain in Vagabond took 3 years, not the one promised and she doesn’t want this bloody boat to take up so much of my time.

At least she’s upright4.

Upright – with the deck “mocked up”

I managed to do that all by myself, although she did get stuck on her side for a few minutes – I’d forgotten how low the ceiling was in the workshop. Now she’s had the cockpit floors fitted. The aft floor covers a buoyancy tank and the forward floor covers the water ballast tank. This is one tank on each side of the centreboard case; these are connected by a pipe at the forward end to keep the water levels the same.

The ballast tanks and bilge well

They are filled and emptied through the bilge well, just aft of the centreboard case. Just before I glued down the forward floor, I was imagining filling the ballast tanks. I’d pull out the plugs between the well and the tanks and then open the plug(s)5 in the bottom of the well. In theory, water would flood into the well and thence into each tank until the water level in the tanks was the same as outside the boat…..It just so happens that, for this water ballast system to work properly, both tanks must be full to the brim. If they are not, water will slosh down hill when the boat heels – Herald of Free Enterprise here we come 6. I phoned the Designer – ‘Oh yes’, he said. ‘ The waterline is a couple of inches below the cockpit floor – I meant to have told you to glue some foam to the underside of that floor’…….

The Foam under the floor

So, a little imagination averted a potential disaster. The builders scrap lying around the cowsheds provided the necessary insulation foam and the floor was glued in place.7 The anticipated capsize test will tell me if there’s the same amount of foam in each tank 8….

That brings us to the end of July – when the Owners agent and I made a long anticipated visit to Fife to reunite with the shaman, herbalist and author of the family.9

To my surprise we were allowed into Scotland (and out again) without let or hindrance. I had my new passport at the ready.10


  1. This is the advertised condition of a sail boat to give a prospective customer the idea that the boat is good value and that he/she can afford it. Unlike many advertising phrases, it means exactly what it says.
  2. A rather tasty “artisanal” brew, once limited to Cornwall but now spreading
  3. So at least I can store handy supplies of liquid (see note 1), sandwiches and other essential supplies, and still leave room for the hand bearing compass and the binoculars.
  4. The boat that is.
  5. This reminded me that these plugs are in my imagination only, as I had forgotten to fit them
  6. A cross Channel car ferry that sank several years ago because water sloshed from one side to another.
  7. I almost expect to have to take this floor up again next winter, after the capsize test8
  8. Part of the acceptance trials, the full extent of which are yet to be determined – I expect the Owners Agent will have much to say on the subject.
  10. It’s an awful Blue colour – the first outward sign that Brexit is finally here……