During one of the lockdowns we did some thinking about how to use the forecabin beyond the anchoring plans in terms of layout. We checked a lot of those measurements when we were able to visit, however, we didn’t really check the forecabin as it was full of stuff.
Now that we have cleared space we were able to see how the plans above and below the deck can work together.
Length is our key challenge, above and below decks.
On deck we want to store our 2.9m rib upside down on deck in front of the mast. Actually we can store it so that the two tubes slightly surround the mast, but to get it on and off the deck it is going to be a million times easier if the gap between the dinghy and the inner forestay is at least 2.9m.
Starting from the bow we need to cut the existing locker hatch so that the forward part becomes part of the fixed base for the bow roller extension.
Aft of the bow roller will be the electric windlass. We will need to cut the aft section of the locker lid so that becomes part of the base for the windlass. The windlass needs to be far enough aft that we can have a small opening to the locker below (just to store ropes). The opening to this locker space is critical as we need to be able to get our arm and head in to be able reach 5 nuts (3 from the deck, 2 from the bow) that need to go on the bolts holding the bow roller in place. On the other hand if the windlass is too far aft it will interfere with the inner forestay and the dinghy being on deck.
In the end we have decided on a compromise 🙂 The windlass will be directly on to of the existing chain pipe. We will cut the locker lid to position the windlass here and we will add a glassed in network of wood beams under it that the windlass will be bolted to. The aft section of the existing lid will end up sandwiched between the windlass and the network of beams. The middle section of the lid will be refitted with hinges and a latch. If we find we can’t get good enough access to all the bow roller nuts then we can unbolt the windlass and remove the aft section of the old lid to give us more space.
All of that leaves little space to attach the inner forestay. However, as we do not want a low tack point or a low foot for the staysail or storm jib (because they have to be above the dinghy when it is on deck) we have a little more freedom. So we are going to use a bridle, one leg connected to the deck each side of the tail of the windlass. The tensioning of the inner forestay will happen between the top of the bridle and the bottom of the shroud (which is where the tack of the sail will be attached). Conveniently this means the bridal legs are attached (using the same system as all our chainplates) right next to the bulkhead that is the aft end of the existing anchor locker. We will strengthen this to handle the extra loads with the network of glassed beams for the windlass.
So, we are confident that we can fit everything on deck. There will still be room to move when needing to raise/lower/reef the staysail and for anchoring.
Below decks we have reached a new set of compromises. First, the acceptance that the existing forecabin was never really suitable for two adults. The longest measurable bed length is 6 feet, that assumes you have your head right in the aft outer corner and your feet taking the opposite corner at the forward end.
So rather than try for a substandard double bed that puts limitations on what we can achieve for anchoring we are going to put in a much better single berth that will allow us to improve the chain storage and fit some crash bulkheads.
To achieve this we will move the ply foot board from the V-Berth. Approximately, 100mm forward of this (which is just forward of the where the chain drops down from the windlass) we will put in a watertight crash bulkhead (with little inspection hatch). This means the berth will be 100mm longer, so more full adult size.
With just one full length berth on the port side we can bring the chain down inside a low friction tube that curves to the starboard side (so the berth can be a more comfortable width) and brings the chain much further aft to a carefully shaped “bin” that is the correct proportions for the chain to self stack behind the current anchor locker.
This frees up what was the chain locker and the route to it for an additional watertight crash bulkhead. This is the area most likely to be damaged by hitting a floating object and will give us some protection. It also moves the weight of the chain about 1000mm further aft than it actually was (about 500mm aft of where it should have been).
We will change the current floor level of the forecabin which provides a tiny space with headroom with a too small awkward step so you can get on the bed (which is then too tall compared to the floor to use as a seat). Instead there will be a new floor at the right height to sit on the single port bunk. You will climb up onto this from the heads compartment (which becomes your entrance/dressing area) as you enter the cabin. The reason for this change is that under that new floor, running full width, right down to the hull and forward to the new chain locker will be a built in GRP water tank (to make up for the loss of the water tank in the bilge which is now for our batteries).
The starboard size of the forecabin will now be a dedicated storage area (which means it should be a lot easier to free up the port side bed from a storage area to be available for single guests).
We will therefore ensure that the dinette in the saloon is easily turned into a comfy double bed with thick curtains separating it from the galley/companionway/chart table. That means we still have capacity for 2 double and 2 single beds which is plenty. When sailing we can have 2 excellent sea berths in the saloon plus the aft cabin. If we find the aft cabin is too close to the stern for comfort, and we need a 3rd sea berth often enough, then we can create “pop-up” quarterberth in the corridor leading to the aft cabin. All of which means we are happy with the choice to reduce the number of beds from the theoretical (but completely impractical) original 8 too 6 by switching the forecabin to a single and not having a pilot berth above the starboard “sofa” in the saloon.
What we like about this plan is that we have significantly reduced the amount of work to get the foredeck and forecabin ready for our launch compared to what we feared. We also gain a far better chain storage, a large water tank so that we are heading back to enough capacity for ocean crossings, and watertight crash bulkheads that are better than we expected (with less work too). Plus on deck we have a workable solution that gets us much better anchoring, a proper cutter rig and space for the dinghy on deck.