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BOAT PROJECTS

By Dave Nance

Over the past fifteen years of sailing our 1987 Pearson 36 (P36-2), we have discovered a number of modifications and items that have made our boat more "livable." I have documented some of these projects for several Pearson owners that have inquired, and offer them for anyone who is interested. These items are not all original as many are from people that we have met or from boats that we have sailed over the past forty five years, and from books and magazines.

UNDER BERTH STORAGE

Access to storage bins under the port settee on the P36-2 is by lifting the cushion. If anyone is sleeping on the settee it was very inconvenient to get anything from the bins. To provide better access, we had a woodworker cut three doors from the original panel and make new trim to match the trim on the other cabin fixtures. Now the bins can be accessed without disturbing a slumbering crew.

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COWL VENT AIR CONTROL

Pearson provided good ventilation but if the boat is air conditioned, closing the vents meant removing the cowl vent when the A/C is on. An easy method to close the vent is to get flexible "nerf balls" and stuff them into the vent holes in the ceiling.

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REDUCE ONE HEAD KNOCKER

For years Pearson used the same companion way latch that hinged back when the hatch is open. On our boat, when going to weather the motion of the boat would swing the hasp to the "open" position. After scraping my head on the hasp repeatedly I made a latch from a piece of plastic and a nylon spacer from a hardware store. Now the hasp stays closed when the hatch is open.

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ADD INCHES TO YOUR DECK

I was envious of the Schaefer "Clear Step" furling lead blocks when they first were produced but just couldn't justify the cost, especially since the existing ones worked so well. So I made my own by turning the old style Schaefer furling blocks around and adding a strap made from a tang to hold the line in place when the furling line is slack. Schaefer conveniently provided holes in the block cheeks to add the tang. VOILA! Several inches more of deck is now usable.

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TOE CRUSHER

A dock neighbor came rushing back to the dock in his boat one day with his son bleeding and in pain with two crushed toes. The accident happened when his son was raising the anchor, standing with his toes over the edge of the open anchor well, the boat rocked, and the hatch fell onto his toes. The next day I mounted an eye strap to the underside of our hatch using the bolts that hold the latch, and tied a shock cord and hook to hold the hatch open. By mounting the eye to the inside set of latch bolts, the shock cord does not get caught in the hatch when closing it.

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MAIN CABIN TABLE SUPPORT

The main cabin table in the P36-2 was inherently unstable with its two point mounting. To better stabilize the table we added a teak brace from the mast to the underside of the table. Stability is now much improved. The brace is supported by a simple sail track stop in the mast track and a slotted wood stop screwed to the underside of the table. The table can still be lowered to make into a berth.

We raised the table about three inches by repositioning the attachment to the mast. This gives a table height and leg clearance that is close to what is normally found at a dinning table and is much more comfortable for us.

To provide light on the table for dinning and working in the evening we converted a small reading lamp to 12 volt. The lamp was from Target I believe and is all metal with a base that will hold a fluorescent ballast. I got a "component kit" from Alpenglow Marine Lights and installed the ballast, lamp socket and bulb in place of the 110 volt incandescent parts. I mounted a utility plug under the table and wired it to the lighting system and now we have light for dinners.

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V-BERTH STORAGE

We live on our boat about six months each year and need as much storage as we can conveniently find. The Pearson 36-2 has very nice sail bins under the v berth in the forward cabin. By adding shelves under the berth we can store four plastic "shoe" boxes on one side for miscellaneous items and five or more pairs of shoes on the other side and still store the spinnaker and gennaker in the bins. The shelves are sized to fit the boxes and a 3/4 inch lip on the edge keeps the boxes and shoes from sliding out.

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WATER FILL HOSE

I like to watch the water level in the two water tanks while they are being filled, and stop the fill just short of overflowing. Both tanks have the vent line attached below the tank top and when water covers the vent, the water pressure can crack the tanks. I made a fill attachment from 3/4 inch vinyl hose, a hose repair fitting and a plastic garden hose valve. Now the hose can be inserted into the deck fill connection and remain unattended while I watch the water level below. When the tank is full, just turn off the valve at the nozzle and the chore is done.

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RUB STRAKE

Pearson used three types of teak toe rails in the production run of the P36-2. Our model was the second development of the rail and the stern mooring lines would chafe the teak rail. I cut a 3/4" x 24" stainless rub strake in two and bent the end to match the angle of the toe rail. The rub strake prevents chafe of the teak 99% of the time. A one inch strake would prevent all chafe.

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REFRIGERATION

We have done several things to improve cold air distribution and reduce the run time of the Adler Barber refrigeration unit. First we drilled large holes in the plexiglass baffle to improve air circulation in the box. Then a Fridgemate battery powered fan, available from West Marine and other marine stores, was placed in the bottom of the box to circulate cold air from the bottom of the box and reduce the hot and cold spots. Lastly we cut a "blanket" from 1/4" closed cell foam to cover the food so that the refrigeration unit does not have to cool the empty space between the food and the top of the box. We got the foam at an auto upholstery shop. It is used in the headliner of automobiles. The refrigeration unit now runs about twenty percent less and the food stays cool.

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COMPANION WAY LOCK

While visiting Fort Lauderdale we were boarded one night by thieves trying to steal our folding bicycles. We ran them off and the harbormaster gave us an extra week free to improve public relations, but we didn't sleep very well after that. After that experience I mounted a small barrel bolt to the inside of the companionway with the stop bolted to the sliding hatch. The stop is made from a 3/8" tang. Now the hatch can be locked from the inside.

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TURNBUCKLE COVERS

The white vinyl boots commonly used for covers will eventually deform and crack where they rub the shroud deck plate. I found that the boots will fit into PVC pipe couplings and they will keep the vinyl covers from cracking and deforming.

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COMPANIONWAY CANVAS DOOR

To keep cool air in, water out and not restrict light and access, we made this canvas flap for the companionway. We replaced the bolts holding the trim above the hatch with snaps. Now we simply roll the flap up to slide the hatch open. If it is not needed, simply unsnap and stow. We made it with a standard sewing machine with a denim needle. Sunbrella cloth, polyester thread and window material are all available from Sailrite.

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A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING

The water key/fuel key is frequently used (at least on our boat it is). So that it is readily available I cut a slot into a short piece of teak batten and attached it to the bulkhead under a companionway step. The key is always handy. Similarly I drilled a hole in the batten pieces for our small AA flashlight. It's now in the same place every time someone needs a light in the dark.

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INTERIOR LIGHTING

There are a number of things we have done to make our boat living more civilized than camping. Adequate interior lighting is one of the prime improvements. We have added Alpenglow high efficiency lights to provide light for reading, cooking and lounging. Alpenglow lamps draw only 0.8 amps and provide the equivalent of a 50 watt household bulb. We have installed these lamps under the alcove lockers on both sides of the main cabin, converted a table lamp for the dinning table, replaced the lamp over the galley stove and over the chart table and replaced both lamps in the head. The lamps under the alcove lockers provide light for reading and the table lamp makes dinning a pleasure, all this without draining the house batteries. These photos show the light level with the cabin lights on and the red night light on over the chart table.

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RADAR MOUNT

When we decided to install radar for our trip to Maine, we spent more time deciding on where to mount the antenna than we did selecting the unit. We finally decided to use a backstay mount after we discovered that the Questus mount would fit over the Navtec turnbuckle and the pole would fit under the topping lift hook attached to the backstay. To fit the Pearson deck plate, the base plate supplied with the mount was not used. Instead we made a bronze bushing from an electric motor shaft bushing to fit in the opening of the Navtec turnbuckle. On our boat there is ample room between the turnbuckle screw and the end of the turnbuckle opening to get the bushing in when the backstay is tight as the bushing is only about 3/4" in outside diameter. The Questus mount fits under the boom topping lift and the antenna is mounted facing aft to miss the end of the boom.

The radar screen is enclosed in an Edson instrument housing and mounted on the cabin top using a RAM-111 swiveling mount. This permits the screen to be turned about for viewing from the cockpit or from the companionway. It also lets the screen lie down on the deck or be removed. The reason we mounted the screen on deck is so the navigator (Lois) can operate the radar and give target information to the helm while the helmsperson concentrates on steering the boat.

A comment about the antenna mount; If we were to do it again, we would probably mount the antenna on the mast even though it would be a higher cost to pull the mast to properly pull the cable in the wire chase. A mast mount would give the radar full range. We get about eight miles with the low mount on the backstay. In addition, because we haul the boat each winter, the backstay has to be released to fit the boat into the travel lift. This means the antenna mount has to be loosened and the cable pulled out enough let the backstay and antenna mount hang out of the way of the travel lift beam.

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CHART TABLE FIDDLE

The Pearson chart table is built with a great flexible edge to cushion a lurch against the sharp edge. Unfortunately nothing, like pencils, parallel rules, etc., will stay on the table while under sail. We made a fiddle from a 3/4" teak batten with small bolts in each end that will fit into the slot at the table edge and still retain the flexible edge. The fiddle can be removed if desired and set on the shelf mounted under the instrument panel we made to hold parallel rules. Of course all this has been made somewhat obsolete by the lap top computer running the CAPN navigation program. The computer is held in place by a holder we made that fits into the slot at the back of the chart table. We hinged the holder at the table hinge joint so that the top can be raised with the computer in place. (Note; polycarbonate (Lexan) sheets, available at hardware and home supply stores, can be easily bent to any shape using a heat gun. Acrylic sheets will also work but are more brittle and can crack when being cut.)

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DOOR HOLDER

A simple way to keep the door to the head in the open position while at anchor in a moderate roll or chop is to put hoop & loop (Velcro) "dots" on the door knob and the chart table edge where they hit. Look closely for the black dot on the chart table edge in the photo.

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TABLEWARE DRAWER

Pearson designed a wonderful dinning table in the P36-2 that will seat six but storing silverware for that many is a challenge. We made a two inch deep drawer and installed it in the cabinet over the galley stove. This leaves ample room under the drawer to store stuff. It slides on metal rails available at home supply stores and is sized to just fit inside the sliding door. A small rubber stop on the back of the drawer makes it snug between the hull and the sliding door to prevent the drawer from sliding back and forth and "thumping" as the boat rolls.

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CABIN FANS

Installing a fan in the aft cabin to circulate air on a warm still night was easy. We mounted it on the aft bulkhead and connected it to the lighting circuit. The Hella fan is not the quietest or cheapest fan available but it uses only 0.2 amps. The light circuit and the house batteries can easily accommodate this load. A fan for the main cabin presented a dilemma for a location unless two or more fans were used. Instead of permanently mounting a fan, we screwed one to a teak winch base so that it can be set anywhere it is wanted. Accessory plugs were installed beside each lamp under the alcove storage lockers. The fan can be moved to any location around the cabin and directed on someone lounging on the settee, in the galley, at the chart table or at the dinning table.

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JACK LINES

When we were planning for our trip from the Chesapeake to Texas some years ago we wanted jack lines and to mount an anchor on the stern to simplify fore and aft anchoring along the ICW. We were not satisfied with the quality of jack lines available at that time and storing the anchor rode on the stern posed several problems. We then saw an anchor rode made from nylon webbing mounted on a reel and we realized that that one item could function for both the jack lines and stern anchor rode. When we sail offshore we simply run the webbing around the boat from mooring cleat to cleat. When we are in the ICW we wind it back in and its ready for an anchor rode. In the event the stern anchor is needed as a brake for a bridge that won't open and current is carrying us toward the bridge, the rode is ready to roll out.

The only picture I have of the stern anchor and rode is one of my great vice captain, navigator, cook and all around first mate. This picture is somewhere offshore and shows the webbing reel partly empty as the jack lines are in place. The Danforth anchor is ready for the rode to be reconnected to the chain when we sail inland.

Another item that is shown in this picture is the mounting for the dinghy motor. Because the vertical stanchion is used for the anchor mount, the outboard mount is supported by another mount upside down with a pipe to connect and support them.

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A SIMPLE FIX

To keep from breaking fingernails opening the cockpit locker, put a short piece of line in the hasp eye. It's easy to grasp and hold the line. This is an old trick of the offshore sailor to keep the hasp in the locked position in case of a rollover.

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BOAT AWNING

This is not exactly a do-it-yourself project but I included it anyway since we designed it and made one of the panels ourselves. In preparation for a season in the Bahamas we designed an awning in three pieces that roll up into two pieces that can be tied to the cabin top handrails. One section of the cover spans the length of the boom, the second section spans the fore deck from the forestay back to the mast with a cutout for the baby stay and a third section that zips to both sections and fills the gap between the two and has cutouts for the shrouds. It takes about ten minutes for the two of us to put up or down. The awning reduces the cabin temperature five to ten degrees on a 90 degree day. We used 1 1/4" PVC pipe for the support battens and the awning has held up in a 30 knot squall while at anchor. We do try to take it down any time strong winds threaten. The awning makes ARIEL the most popular boat for gatherings during club cruises. Did you know a P36-2 cockpit will sit eighteen?

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HATCH COVERS

Acrylic hatches do a great job of letting light into dark cabins but they are a major contributor to fading of interior fabric and to heat load in the cabin. Sunbrella covers can solve the fading and we have found that sandwiching a sheet of metallized film ("solar blanket") between two pieces of Sunbrella will effectively solve the heat load problem. The "solar blanket," available at most sport and camping stores, will reflect over 80 percent of the radiant heat from the sun. After sewing a sheet of the blanket into our hatch covers the inside temperature of the hatch is now less than the temperature of the adjacent fiberglass deck liner. The A/C unit now easily keeps up with the heat load even on a 100 degree day. The picture shows a piece of the blanket protruding from the two layers of Sunbrela at the corner. A part of the blanket is under the cover.

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WHY DO WE HAVE BICYCLE SPOKES ON OUR BOAT?

To keep miscellaneous items in place while under sail (and even in the rolling anchorages of the Hudson River), we have made "holders" from stainless steel bicycle spokes. Shown are a holder for the dish soap in the galley (left photo) and for soap and toothpaste in the head (right photo). After bending a spoke to the desired shape, the ends are bent 90 degrees and mounted under a small piece of teak and screwed to a bulkhead. The teak is grooved with a Dremel tool to accept the spoke ends.

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WATER TANK LEVEL GAUGE

For years we have suffered the anxiety of how much water remains in our tanks. Level gauge systems are either expensive for a reliable system or are of dubious reliability for the less expensive units. After long deliberations it occurred to us that a level gauge sight glass can be made from a simple transparent tube mounted near to and on the same level as the tanks and connected to the tank outlet line with a tee fitting. (In this method the tanks must be at or above the sole as the water level in the tube must be easily observed. This method will not work for keel mounted tanks). The photo on the left shows the level in the forward tank. The right picture is of the aft tank. The tubes are inch OD polycarbonate (LEXAN) tubing. They connect to a 90 degree ell to extend through the bulkheads and connect to the tee in the outlet line with inch reinforced PVC tubing. The cap on the top of the gauge is a plastic door stop with a 1/32 inch vent hole in the end. Now we watch the water level rise when we are filling, and when the level falls to near the bottom we switch tanks. No mechanical parts to jam or break and no current draw. We have now sailed two seasons, both in the bay and offshore with no problems.

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