I am going through The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew to update it for a new fourth edition which should be ready for September. (The third edition will remain available as an eBook until September, but the paperback third edition will be out of print by June 15th.) As I came to the chapter on building a galley table, I remembered the complaint made by one of the overseas cruisers who sailed into our cove this season. We were invited on board for dinner and when we sat down to eat, the wife complained, the fiddle on their table worked well at sea, but always got in the way in port. When we showed them on board Taleisin, they really liked the way our removable fiddle works. So thought I’d share it for this month’s tip:
Because we don’t like the appearance of brass- or copper-lined pinholes in a table (besides, we doubt their strength) and because we like the idea of permanent fiddles even less, a completely different idea evolved. Larry set three ovals of 1/8inch bronze into the edge of the top leaf. (This leaf is 3/4inch-thick ash.) He then made a 5inch-wide fiddle board, 3/4inch thick and tapering toward each edge. Three bolts go through the middle of the bare-teak board and thread into the bronze plates to hold it in place at sea. When we are on the starboard tack, the table is used in its closed position, with the fiddle over the port settee (downhill side). On the starboard tack, the table leaf is opened; the fiddle is now over the starboard settee. This puts you in the best-supported and most comfortable eating position at sea—downhill with a good backrest and nowhere to fall.
Though most galley tables do not have a fold-over leaf, this same fiddle arrangement will work by making the fiddle board only 3 inches wide. It is important to ensure the attachment holes are at least one inch from the lower edge of the fiddle to ensure the wood doesn’t split If someone grabs it in a seaway.
Whether you have a double sided fiddle or a single fiddle, removing it takes less than a minute. This means that in port it can be stowed away to leave a clear expanse of table. Even at sea, removal is easy enough that I am willing to remove the fiddle to clean away crumbs that inevitably collect in table corners.