Boat Office

Quarter Berth

There is the quarter berth area as it looked originally.

Now that I’m working remotely, I decided that I need a dedicated desk area, designed ergonomically, to support my marathon writing and programming endeavors. I’d been casing the starboard, aft quarter berth as the potential site of my new desk area. To be honest, I’ve been trying to imagine a desk in this corner of the boat for the better part of two years.

To date, the quarter berth has been used largely for storage. A huge cushion covered the access to three storage lockers. Above the cushion, a plywood divider created a backrest and a storage area behind it. Creating a desk area meant I’d have to sacrifice some storage space.

Boat Desk Construction

I cut out one of the lockers with a sawzall.

My original design was to cut out two of the three lockers, build a two-piece sliding desk area that would fold down under the cubby, and a chair that would have my feet facing aft. After taking every object and cushion out of the corner, I pondered the wisdom of this plan over a couple cocktails. I squeezed my body into all sorts of positions, took measurements of all dimensions, and sketched different layouts on paper. A new, simpler plan began to emerge that included the removal of only one locker, a desk attached to the companionway stairs, and my back against the starboard hull. This new plan didn’t differ too much from the original layout, maximized the utility, and minimized the construction required.

Boat DIY Fabrication

My trusty jigsaw and rotary grinder allow me to modify and fabricate all sorts of things on my boat. Here I’m cutting out some 2″ x 1″ board that I’ll be fiberglassing in to reinforce the support for the companion way steps.

By simply removing the divider and cutting out the storage locker, I gained a lot more seating space. I also had to cut down the cushion to match the new seating area and missing locker space. This broke the forced ignorance I had adopted about just how nasty my boat cushions are. The covers on the cushions are original and they were not designed to be removed easily. Every cushion used metal zippers, which over the last thirty years have completely frozen up – on each and every cushion. The bigger cushions also had buttons going through both sides, further complicating removal and reassembly. The few cushions where I’ve managed to remove the covers have large black stains from mildew. The lot of them are simply disgusting.

That’s a long winded way of saying that the installation of the desk area inspired me to bite the bullet and order new cushions and cushion covers. I found a local upholstery company in Anacortes to do the work for me. It won’t be cheap, but it will be worth it. The new cushion covers will be made from a heavy denim and removal will consist of a single plastic, industrial zipper. I’ll be able to flip the cushions regularly, wash the covers regularly, and I’ll also be lining the underside of all cushions with Grip-Loc or Duragrid plastic interlocking tiles to encourage air flow and reduce mold.

Boat Desk

The semi-completed new desk area.

While I’m at it, I’ll also be using the same plastic lattice to line every shelf and locker, including the anchor locker. This stuff is simply wonderful and I’ve seen several mariners put it to good use all over a boat. The sides lock into one another to form any custom shape and a jigsaw cuts through the plastic like butter.

All in all, I’m incredibly happy with my new desk area. I spent some time tweaking the desk at work to fit the dimensions of my body. Just an inch here or there can mean the difference between a sore neck or not. I built the new boat desk to the same hard won ergonomic dimensions.

At first I thought I’d attach the desk with bolts and giant wing-nuts for easy removal. The plywood desk is attached to the companionway stairs via big L-brackets. When sitting at the desk, I can stretch my legs under the companionway stairs. So far though, the desk hasn’t gotten in my way and I’m happy to leave it where it is. While I’ve lost a little storage space, I’ve gained some significant utility.

Related posts:

Sea Cucumbers, Oysters, Cattails & other Wild Foods
My Last Hunt?
Winter Sailing
One Response to “Boat Office”
  1. Doug Bostrom says:

    Amazing! With first photo I wondered “how is he going to do it?” But you did, and nicely. NASA could do worse than hiring you to help arrange the innards of the Orion capsule. 🙂

    Really enjoy your blogs; the name says it all.

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