From a Bare
Forward Cabin Support Structure
Forward of the forwardmost bulkhead, I planned the traditional vee berth,
which is easy to install, versatile in use, and expected in just about any
sailboat. The forward bulkhead was approximately six feet aft of the
chain locker, and during its installation I had determined the eventual
height of the vee berth platform, which corresponds with the height of the
horizontal cut on the bulkhead.
With that as a guide, I set up my
inexpensive laser level (which was proving to be an invaluable
tool--especially for $19.95 on Ebay) and used it to mark a series of
reference points at an equal, and level, height with the bulkhead.
With a number of reference points marked on
each side, I cut a piece of foam to the proper length, and beveled the
bottom at 45° for ease of fiberglassing, and then, using a bevel gauge
against the hull, determined the proper bevel at which to cut the top edge
so that it would be level, providing good support for the plywood vee
berth. I cut the foam appropriately, and glued the strips in place
with hot glue. Before continuing, I used some thickened epoxy to
fill in the slight gaps at the forward and after ends of the foam strips,
where they met the transverse bulkheads at either end.
To secure the strips, I fiberglassed over them with a single layer of
6" wide, 24 oz. biaxial tape and epoxy resin. This provided
ample strength and support for the vee berth platform, which I expected to
be supported from beneath by these small ledges, and tabbed to the hull
Later, when the resin was cured, I sanded
the new fiberglass to remove any rough edges and prepare the area for
More on the vee berth platform will be
Floors (Cabin Sole
When I installed the forwardmost bulkhead, I also determined the
general height of the cabin sole; the inside (towards the centerline) edge
of the bulkhead ends at the point where I expected the sole to go.
Using a level, I marked some rough locations forward and aft of that point
to demark the height of the cabin sole.
To support the sole, I planned a series of
floors (transverse structural members in the bilge). Looking over
the area in question, I settled on a spacing of 18" between
floors. The floors in this instance are nonstructural and designed
only to support the cabin sole above--and, since the sole will be
1/2" plywood substrate and a finish surface of hardwood plywood or
hardwood lumber (not yet determined), the floors are only strictly
necessary to prevent flexing, not for strength. Therefore, I decided
to build the floors with a foam core encapsulated in fiberglass, and then
tabbed to the hull.
didn't want (nor did I need) the floors to extend all the way to the
bottom of the bilge, so first I settled on an overall depth (6" for
three of the four floors, and 3" for the smallest, forwardmost one)
and cut some strips of foam to the proper size. Then, after marking
out the floor spacing on the hull (18" apart, beginning at the
amidships bulkhead and extending forward), I held the foam rectangle in
place, leveled it from side to side, and used a scribe to transfer the
shape of the hull onto the rectangle. I set the scribe at 6",
since I wanted the floor to die out to nothing at the edges and be full
height in the center. With the scribed form, I used a jigsaw to cut
out each piece, and fine-tuned the fit as necessary with some rough
sandpaper. Using the foam sure made the job easy, as it was so easy
to cut and shape.
As I built each section and moved on to the next, I ensured that the top
edges of each piece remained level both in the transverse and longitudinal
directions, as well as level with each succeeding form. Once each
one was built, I marked its outline on the hull for future reference, and
removed them from the boat. I left the top edges of each form slightly
more than 1/2" lower than the marks on the hull, to allow for the
thickness of the fiberglass and then the cabin sole substrate.
The next step was to encapsulate each form in
fiberglass. I wrapped each piece in a double layer of 10 oz.
fiberglass cloth, covering both sides and the bottom, and then covered the
top edge (which will support the cabin sole and therefore required more
thickness and strength) with a 6" wide piece of 24 oz. biaxial
fabric, wrapped over the top edge and down the sides. I left the
narrow edges uncovered, as these will be against the hull once the forms
are tabbed in place. To cover both sides at once, I covered my bench
in clean plastic, and placed each form face down once I had covered the
first side, and then finished fiberglassing the second side. When
the fiberglass cured, I could pull them off the plastic without any
There was a substantial amount of excess resin on the floors that I had to
deal with once I pulled them away from the plastic. Basically, far
more resin had pooled beneath the pieces than I had expected, and the
slight wrinkles and contours in the plastic had allowed some interesting
ripple-y shapes to form in the cured resin. I sanded these areas as
smooth as I could, but in order to get the more or less smooth finish I
wanted, I had to apply some filler to the low spots, or else I would have
had to sand for hours--cured, unadulterated epoxy is very hard stuff!. This slowed me down, as I had to leave the
pieces overnight for the filler to cure.
sanding the fill smooth, I continued by gluing the floors in place inside
the boat. I temporarily secured them with hot glue, ensuring that
they were level from side to side, evenly spaced fore and aft, level with
each other, and plumb
up and down. With the hot glue holding them in place, I
mixed some epoxy filleting material and formed fillets around the edges,
between the floors and the hull, making a smooth curve that I would be
able to glass over easily.
When that was done, and while the epoxy was
still curing, I fiberglassed the floors in place with a single layer of 24
oz. biaxial tape, glassing both sides of each section. I left this
to cure overnight.
the tabbing was cured, I spent an hour or so sanding the new fiberglass
smooth to remove bumps and raw edges. At the same time, I also
sanded the fiberglass over the vee berth supports forward, since I hadn't
done that previously. After cleaning up the dust and washing the
fiberglass with acetone, I added a double layer of 10 oz. cloth to the top
portion of the transition between hull and floor, to finish off that area
and fully encapsulate the foam core. I hadn't used the heavy biaxial
material for this because it tends to be too difficult to lay down over a
complex shape such as these areas.