Thursday, February 11, 2016

Okay, so what kind of changes. . . .

So what are we talking about in this rebuild?  The stuff we'll be doing comes into two large categories:  First, after nearly two years of using the space, we have a pretty good idea of what has worked and what hasn't.  We've been pleased that most of our internal systems have served us pretty well, but there are a few irritations that we would have done differently.
The doubled kingposts used in construction were a simple and sturdy expedient drawn from Vardo construction. . .ho

The kingposts at the bow and stern worked, but in the galley area, they created some traffic choke points.

We'll be going for a bit more room between the sink and, well, wood....

So we'll be sistering the overhead beam and making a single support post, freeing up some three feet of room opposite the food prep area.  While we're at it, the sliding doors will be going away, to be replaced by drawers and shelves.  The Fridge will be moving under that counter as well.

The sink setup has worked's location hasn't.

When we built the galley, we placed the sink and pump dead center of the food prep counter.  That was how it was in our land based home, and seemed logical.  Unfortunately, that's not how we've come to use the space.  We'll be moving the sink setup all the way to the left of the counter onto it's own little drain shelf, freeing up more counter room and easing the workflow.

Many great meals at this table.
Our dining area, with flip up table and cafe chairs, has served us well, but to be perfectly honest, it isn't very comfortable.  As it's become more and more our office space as well, we've come to want a bit more room and a bit more comfort. So we'll be building a settee on the starboard side where the Fridge currently lives and moving our breakfront and bookcase to this location.

See, I told you this would be a major rebuild. Just getting started.

I will never, EVER, have anything but a composting toilet on a boat
Our head and bathtub combination, located amidships on the starboard side, has been a mixed bag.  The composting toilet is wildly successful, more so than either of us ever dreamed.  The tub setup, not so much.  It's dark, kind of a hassle to deal with, and to be honest we've rarely used it.  It was just easier to use the showers up top in the marina, and that was hardly our design intent.  So we'll be losing the tub and installing a solar shower, moving the head to the stern to accommodate it and hopefully creating a bath setup that we will actually use on a regular basis.

The cat is, of course, perfect as is.
The above picture of Magellan was taken in our bed loft, which we love.  It's a wonderful, comfy space, with lots of room and a great feel.  Forward of it, though, we'd intended the space over the galley and dining area to be a lounge and media loft.  We just haven't used it.  So we've decided to move our bed loft forward and....wait for it....turn the current bed loft into an open patio, some place we can hang out outdoors in the sun, dine, cook, and in general appreciate the nature around us.

Which takes us outside, and to the second category of changes:  correcting design and construction flaws.

Floating Empire among her snow lily pads.
Looking at the exterior of our shantyboat, you may note a few things.  First, there's no walkway of any kind between the bow and stern on the outside of the boat, which makes docking difficult and work on the exterior walls an utter pain in the butt.  Second, she's low, folks.  She sits about four inches lower than we'd calculated, and variances in water temperature cause the air in the cells to expand or contract, lessening or increasing bouyancy. Third,if you look at early pix of the boat, you'll see the natural wood of the original walls. I really loved the look.

Our original look
But the supposedly waterproof plywood on the exterior covered with four coats of supposedly weatherproof spar varnish held up less than 6 months.  We recoated, we patched, and finally, we painted it.  It still continued to deteriorate, moreover. . . . bad.
See the water damage at the base of the interior paneling?  The way I built the footing for the walls allowed water that was sheeting down the outside walls during rains to seep under the wall and into the interior paneling.

I tell you all these things at once because they're all of a piece.  After a lot of midnight design sessions, tossing and turning and about 72 pounds of scrap paper, here's what we're doing:

...and carry the four is seven and....HOW many cubic feet is this?
We'll be running a set of stringers under the present hull framing to create two new lines of floatation on the outboard of the port and starboard sides.  That will provide us with walkways on either side of the boat (making the rest of this much easier) and adding 3200 lbs of floatation, which we'll need.

The roof membrane has taken everything nature has thrown at it and shows no signs of  it.
We'll be adding new insulation to the outside of the present roof, then putting on a new membrane that we'll bring all the way down to the waterline, making it impossible for any water to seep into the walls.  Then we'll put on a new, more attractive and more durable wall treatment on the outside, replacing some of the more gonzo of the windows in the process.

We'll also be adding an additional solar panel and a small woodstove to take the boat completely off grid and off fossil fuels, as was our original intent.
The result should be a sounder, more usable space, based on what we've learned over the last two years, and should yield a "final", simpler, easy to build and live with version of the shantyboat that, hopefully, anyone can build.

We said it was a major rebuild.

So you see why we're gonna be asking for some help with this one.  I'm in the process of putting together an Indigogo slideshow on it, so stay tuned.  We're hoping to begin with the internal stuff at the end of February.

As always, stay tuned internets.



  1. I can't believe that I've been watching and chatting with you for two years. It hasn't felt like it was that long. It seems like only a couple of months ago I was asking about the composting toilet. I'm glad to hear that you are still loving it. More ammunition to help convince Mrs Jarm that this is a good way to go.

    I wish you luck on your endeavors. I can't wait to see what the future brings you.

    1. Tempus does indeed fugit, Jarm. We have learned so very much in this endeavor. With the upcoming mods, we hope to have a simplified and far more functional vessel that we can help other folks build. Thanks for coming on the ride with us.


  2. One thing to think about. I have a plywood boat of my own, and I need to go over her from stem to stern. One thing I did find in my searches was a natural wood resin epoxy called "CPES." Its sold semi commercially, but I have yet to find any postings of anyone having issues with the stuff aside from the traditional epoxy fumes.

    I hope it helps. In some small way.

    1. I've not played with that, but will look into it RC. Thanks. M