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Small Boat Table Solution

Posted by on April 29, 2011

My favorite section of sailing magazines has always been the Clever Solutions section. I’m sure you

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know what I mean, the section where boat owners write about how they built or adapted something to work within the confines of their boat and how they solved the problems they encountered. (Sail Magazine used to call it, Things that Work. In the old Yachting Magazine it was called, Gadgets and Gilihickies.) It seems the best of these ideas usually came from folks with relatively small boats.

During our visit to Port Townsend to speak at the Northwest Maritime Centers first spring symposium, we were invited on board Jim Heumann and Karen Sullivan’s Sockdolager, a Dana 24. Karen is an experienced offshore sailor and professional Mariner, Jim has been sailing for 5 years, logging a lot of miles in Washington and British Columbia. The jaunt down the Pacific coast will be his first long voyage. Both are excited to be headed off toward Mexico within the next few months on an open ended voyage. Their excitement was contagious but even more fun was seeing the dozens of innovations they have added to turn Sockdolagar from a stock boat into a highly personalized and efficient cruising home.

Our favorite was the slide-away dining table that reminded us the one we enjoyed on our first cruising cutter, 24 foot Seraffyn. That table had slide out into the cabin from under the cockpit. It was slightly problematical as once in place, guests could not get in or out of the companionway. The table on Sockdolagar slides out from under the double bunk that fills the forward section of the cabin. The problem Karen and Jim encountered was, the stanchion supporting their deck stepped mast is only a foot away from the bunk. As with many of the best inventions, the problem became part of the solution. A strong stainless steel pin, fitted into the edge of the table now goes into a hole in the stanchion to provide a really sold support for the table. The photos below show how it all works.

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Fully extended, the table has plenty of room to hold dinner plates for four.

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In its closed position, the table hides completely under the forward bunk. (We have left it out a few inches for this photo.)

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There is a small hinged center section to cover the slot were the table slides past the stanchion.

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Here you see the center section laid completely open. Once the table slides past the mast, the center section flips back into place before the table is fully closed.

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The support pin shows clearly here.

3 Responses to Small Boat Table Solution

  1. TedHanley

    That is a really wonderful solution to the table problem! I loved it until I saw that support mechanism, the pin in a hole drilled into the post. I’d be nervous about compromising the integrity of that post. On the other hand, I think the main stress on that post is in compression and the thickness of the metal is visible at the edge of the hole and my intuition says it is still plenty strong for that purpose. Still, I would have made some type of clip to sit over a turks head for support of the table. Drilling a fat hole in that post would have made me a little queasy in the stomach.

  2. Lin & Larry

    Glad you liked this idea. We did too.
    No reason for a queasy stomach. Take a look at all the masts on boats in the marina. They have dozens of holes drilled in them, for shrouds, for track etc.As long as the hole is less than 1/5th the diameter of the pipe it will not compromise the strength of a metal tube.

  3. Karen Sullivan

    Hi Lin and Larry,
    Jim and I thoroughly enjoyed your visit and look forward to seeing you in New Zealand. We leave Port Townsend for San Francisco and points south in less than a month, and are working long days to convert the “To Do” list to “Done.”

    Although we’ve enjoyed making many modifications to our boat, we can’t claim credit for this table. It comes standard with every Pacific Seacraft Dana 24; newer models have a flatter piano hinge so you get a smoother table surface. The compression post is very thick stainless, and you’re right, the hole for the pin doesn’t compromise its integrity. If readers would like to take a video tour of the newest Dana 24 with footage including a nifty kite cam, they can find it at:
    Fair winds!

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