Simplifying access to “Sharpen the saw”

One of the advantages of doing a very full refit, which involves stripping out most systems and lots of stuff is that it becomes very time and cost effective to make changes that make jobs easier. When doing one small job after another, it often doesn’t seem worthwhile making changes that make life a little easier now and a lot easier in the future but only by delaying the current project.

One example is that we have already found access into our lazarrette (the locker at the back of the boat accessed through a hatch) very tight.

The only way in is to go arms and head first, it is very uncomfortable and there are corners we just can’t reach. This was a problem when we were trying to fill the holes after removing the mooring cleats (because they were leaking and the poor backing plates had caused stress cracks in the deck).

We have lots more jobs that need doing in the lazarrette including: chainplates for running backstays, backing plates for replacement cleats, to fit windvane self steering, fit solar panel arch.

We wondered about making the hatch bigger but that is a big job and when at sea we don’t really want a larger hatch (structurally weaker and potential for more flooding).

Now we have had another idea which is worth it because there are so many jobs that it can make easier.

This is the aft cabin soon after we had bought Vida (only change is new cushions).

This is after removing the cupboards (they made access to discover and fix leaks very difficult and they reduced the usable area of the bed significantly) and the headlining. We had just painted the fibreglass to make it look a bit better until we were ready to fit a new headlining.

While we were working on the backing plate for the new chainplate we noticed that the tabbing for the aft bulkhead wasn’t perfect all the way round (this is the strip of fibreglass that attaches the wood to the hull). So we added that to the jobs list.

At the same time we realised we could cut an access hatch in this bulkhead that will give us much better access to the lazarrette. We will make it so that it can be screwed closed with a watertight seal so that we still have a watertight compartment for safety when we are not doing jobs.

If we were going just one job we would probably try to, uncomfortably, manage with the existing very limited access. But with all the jobs we need to do, we will easily save the time. We can do this alongside repairing the tabbing and will end up with a stronger bulkhead and access when we need it.

It is all to easy to miss opportunities to “sharpen the saw”: An idiom saying that sometimes you have to stop and do some prep or refit work (wasting time now) so that you can proceed faster later (saving more time later than you lost now).” We hope that the way we are approaching this refit gives us the most benefit from this type of prep or enabling work.

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