Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adding Storage Access 

--Blogpost written by Bob

On a 38-foot sailboat, we need all the storage volume we can find.  While all our cushions are out being reupholstered, Maggie made sketches and measurements of all the existing storage areas.  From her sketches and measurements, we will be making a stowage plan (and this will be the subject of a future blogpost).  We identified two general areas (that are normally hidden by the settee cushions) where things could be stored if we simply improved the access and/or added shelves or dividers.

Area Outboard of Settees

We found an area outboard of the settees where we could add a wine rack on each side.  (A settee is like a sofa and there are two opposing settees in our main salon.)  After considering a couple different options, we decided to store the wine bottles upside down and placed in appropriately-sized (1-3/4-inch diameter) holes to accommodate the bottle necks. 

With the cushions removed, a lightweight panel separates the wine storage area
from the main salon.  Last year, I installed two doorways in these panels before
I had any idea that we would be storing wine in this compartment.

Wine bottles vary in diameter, length, and profile.  So, we based our measurements on Maggie's favorite white wine (Spier Chardonnay from South Africa) and my favorite red wine (Erath Pinot Noir from Oregon)--these two wine bottles were surprisingly similar in length, and profile but one was slightly bigger in diameter.

I measured the spacing between the (largest diameter) bottles with a little space between them--the bottle spacing turned out to be 3-3/4 inches.  This criteria determined how many bottles we could accommodate in each area--it turned out to be 9 on each side.

I constructed the perforated shelf from mahogany 1x4's obtained from Exotic Lumber in Annapolis.  Mahogany is a nice wood for marine use and it is much less expensive than teak. Once the holes were cut and the edges rounded, I fastened the end partition using wood screws.  (The end partition keeps the bottle on the forward end of the perforated shelf contained.)

I stapled fiberglass tape to the upper outboard edge of the perforated shelf and the vertical
end partition--this is used to fasten the perforated shelf to the existing fiberglass structure
on the outboard side.  Pre-applying the fiberglass tape was much easier than trying 

to apply it in place.  I used wooden wedges to hold the  perforated shelf in 
place during the application and curing of the epoxy.

Wine rack installed on starboard side, looking aft in cavity behind settee.

Wine rack on starboard side, looking froward in cavity behind settee.  
Note the end partition in the middle of this image.

The wine bottle rack is completely enclosed outboard, inboard, and on both ends (with an added partial partition on the forward end).  To prevent the wine bottles from bouncing out of their holes in rough seas, I added a shock cord over the bottles from end to end.  However, we didn't want to create an issue with the wine bottles rattling against the hull or against each other.  (Can you imagine being anchored in a anchorage with a lot of rolling motion and having a couple dozen wine bottles rattling together and against the hull?)   As a simple solution (and a tip we picked up at the recent ICW seminar we attended), we decided to cover each wine bottle with an athletic sock when we put them into the wine rack.

With the access door open, one wine bottle is stored upside down in new wine rack.  Note
the sock over the bottle to keep it from rattling and the shock cord over the bottles
to keep them from bouncing out the perforated shelf in rough seas.

How many sailboats have a port and starboard wine cellar?

Area Below Settees

The process of adding access to this storage area started with hand sketching the access opening right on the settee base and marking where the supports are located below the settee base.  We decided to take both settee bases home where this work could be done on the access ways--it is much easier than onboard or on the marina's dock.

I cut out the access hole from the settee base using a jigsaw with a lot of care so that I could reuse the cutout as the lid.  Then I constructed a split frame to be mounted underneath the settee support panel to keep the lid in place--it was split so that the existing braces would remain uninterrupted.  I then cut a 1-1/2 inch diameter hole in the center of each lid to provide a way to lift the lid out for access.

Another area under the settee was previously accessible by a round opening port but there was no divider to retain items to be stored there.  So, I made a template for the new dividers using cardboard.  From the template, I made a permanent divider from 3/4-inch plywood--I coated the divider with epoxy before installation.

The newly accessed storage areas under the starboard settee.  The new starboard
wine cellar is behind the doors on the right side of this image.

All of the additional access below the settees provided lots of additional storage on each side at essentially no cost since I used materials that were leftover from other projects.


The total cost of this project was under $50.  The mahogany 1x4's used to support the wine bottles was the largest single expense ($35).  We are now able to store 18 bottles of wine in areas not previously available plus lots of additional storage under both settees.   

Eighteen bottles of wine sounds like a real big stash until you consider that it has to last about four or five months while in the Bahamas.  A large percentage of the newly accessed storage volume (under the settees) will be used for canned cat food--we will need 15 cans per month--which is 60 to 75 cans for the 4 or 5 months for our two cats.

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