Sunday, July 12, 2015

For the best

It is no secret that I am a skeptic of all things woo, but that doesn't mean I am impervious to the strange goings-on in the cosmos. For months Deb and I talked about rebuilding the port-side pilot berth into something more usable. As is common with such musings, the mind's eye comes up with a vague sort of vision of what the area will look like after it's done. In that vision are the types of materials one imagines would be right for the job.

For many of us living on the edge of society, how much money will be needed to make the vision a reality is an integral part of any such discussions. (It is a part of such discussions for most of those living in the middle of society as well, which says something about the society.) When the LED light project morphed into the interior rebuild, it was time to come up with the materials.

That same day we heard the wood working shop here at the marina was closing down.  When we arrived and the yard didn't have anywhere to put our boat, we took a slip next to Hugh and his wife. Within a couple of days neighbors became friends. You guessed it. During the winter, Hugh went cruising. In the summer, he ran the wood shop. But the time has come for them to make a final move south. He, like all good craftsmen, had a collection of stuff from other projects that didn't need to go along. We were welcome to go through it and see if we could find the material we needed for out interior build. And at a very attractive price.

Visions of the completed project were quickly abandoned.  We would make do with whatever we could find.

At its most basic, the job required two shelves. One would replace the deck under the berth with something more attractive than rough-hewn plywood. A second would be mounted about 2/3 the way up to the cabin top, just deep enough to hold electronics. Two fiddles were needed as well. One to replace the rather massive looking rail that lurked at the edge of the berth to keep people from falling out of bed. It was so thick and beefy that it seemed to fill that side of the cabin all of its own. A second fiddle was needed to keep the electronics from spilling off the top shelf and cascading across the cabin. It would be visually attractive if both were less massive than the original, but still matched. Then there was the odd bit of this and that to trim it in and make it look like it belonged there.

As Deb worked her way through the pile, setting first this aside and then that, I was more than a little skeptical. Though my vision of the completed job was never very detailed, none of the stuff she had in the pile looked right to me.

One would think, by now, I would know better.

She found a teak and holly bit of plywood that would make the lower shelf. A piece of left-over marine grade plywood would make a light colored top shelf. She picked out two long pieces of spindle rail to serve as matching fiddles. Admittedly they were lighter – both in mass and color – than that overbearing lower berth rail. But somehow, leaned up against the wall, all I could think of was an old lady's house. There was a very classy looking wood handle that would make lifting the lower shelf out to access the storage space underneath easy. I was pretty sure that would be okay.  In any case, with the price and the fact the stuff was already in the place where the work was being done, I would just have to do the best I could and live with the aesthetics.

The project came together like magic. Within a day the bottom shelf was cut and rough fit. Two days later the top shelf fit in at an angle completely un-imagined at first, but one that works perfectly for what we need. The two parallel fiddles / spindle rails change the whole cabin interior into something special while almost hiding their functionality. End trim cut from the old berth fiddle, now used on the top shelf and matching that of the lower shelf, complete the illusion. All built from fire-sale stuff left over from who knows how many other projects, sitting around for who knows how many years. Yet it was perfect. It was like the cosmos was deliberately compensating for my modest woodworking skills while still steering us toward the look and functionality that best fit Kintala's interior needs.

Chain plate access on the port side, always a sore spot with me, is now a matter of removing a dozen screws and lifting out a panel. The two compartments under the bottom shelf are easier to open. The whole thing is so much better than a mattress no one ever used, piled high with stuff, filling up space.

Since the whole project got started as "a little light project" it wouldn't be finished until there really were new lights mounted somewhere in the area.  We had, in fact, taped some lights up here and there on that very first day, before any bits of wood went flying .  Nothing looked right.  The decision of exactly where the lights should go was put aside.  Sometimes it happens that the sub-conscience chews on a problem while the conscience mind measures. trims, cuts, and brushes on clear coat; a bit of internal woo, if you will.

Kintala now boasts a strip of lights, port and starboard, embedded in the trim that covers the mounting hardware for the staysail sheet tracks.  In this case the woo (and our little hand router) worked wonders.

There is, of course, no serious woo involved with a wood shop closing down and selling off some old stock at a good price. There is no woo to us being here when that happened since we do, after all, have to be someplace.  And the internal woo that came up with a good idea isn't really that wooish. It happens to people all the time.

Still, it never hurts to be grateful when things work out for the best.


Unknown said...

That is a darn good almost pro-fesh-in-al looking job. Very nice

Mike M. said...

Great job! I love the little details that make the project really come together nicely. Now it'll be functional, which most certainly, is better than what you had before!