SJ23 Tech Tip C01, (Updated 2022-05-21) Bob Schimmel


Cabin Layout, Panache Main.
Galley Cabinets & Thru-Hull with Grey Water Tank, Starboard Cabinets, Backrests, Stove Shelf, Drop Leaf Table, Table Pedestal & Settee Drawer.

When Panache came out of the factory she was equipped with the standard galley across the companionway.  The first owner removed it to lighten the boat for racing and built two upper cabinets.  When the boat was sold two years later, the galley couldn't be found, so the second owner built a custom galley over the aft half of the port berth, matching the upper cabinets.  The bottom was about 6" above the bunk with the idea that a person could stretch their legs under it for a restful sleep.  I am the third owner and shortly after I bought Panache in 1985 I tried sleeping on this berth.  I lasted all of 30 minutes!  Ever sleep with your legs locked in a bench vice?  While there was ample counter space, it was too low for standing and too high for sitting.  Awkward is the best word to describe it.  For these reasons I chucked the galley (saved the teak though) and kept the upper cabinets.

COMMENT - To date I have built two sets of kitchen cabinets and numerous other wood projects with a quality of construction to satisfy even my picky uncle.  Way back then his compliments gave me the reassurance to know I was doing it right.  I've never made household furniture though.  My mix of hand & machine tools is not up to that calibre.  I plan a lot with drawings to visualize the final product, including all the details.  I am also a miser with wood, trying to achieve the most efficient cut to waste as little as possible.  I scrounge every bit of teak I can find.  If you consider how scarce teak is you'll understand why.  If you keep your eyes open you can find 1970s Danish furniture that possesses that special patina of aged teak.  Matching wood colour is difficult and rare.  For these reason I measure 10 times to cut once!  With this in mind I refurbished Panache's upper cabinets & bulkheads, built settee backrests, storage boxes, speaker enclosures, and modified the drop leaf table, all documented below and in Tech Tip C04.  Bob.

GALLEY CABINETS - Panache's upper cabinets rest on the settee shelf and overhang a bit through a recess cut in the top of the back rest.  The 1/2" plywood "box" is divided into 3 equal compartments and the back is closed with 1/8" teak plywood curved to follow the contour of the hull (see photos below).  All joints are pin nailed with aluminum nails and securely glued with water proof Gorilla Glue.  The doors are supported inside a teak frame moulding (1/2 x 1)" glued to the front.  The edges of the doors are capped with 1/8" thick teak and the finger pull holes are lined with purpose made teak inserts.  Nice and smooth on the fingers.  Each door swings on brass piano hinge and is latched with a zinc coated roller catch, technology right out of the 1950s.  They look ugly but never rattle and don't release when the contents push against the inside of the door with the hull heeled.  I see no reason to replace them since some designs reach perfection and for that reason they should be left alone.  I decided against "bullet proof" elbow catch latches when I saw a door blast open on my buddy's boat, heeled over at 400.  The contents ended up all over the cabin sole.  What a mess.  The cutlery is stored in purpose made wood pockets glued to the inside of a door and the plates, bowls and cups are separated by dividers inside the cabinet.  If I do any extended cruising, food stores, beer, wine and scotch (not in that order) go under the settee. 

The cabinets are securely mounted to the settee with three well spaced machine screws backed up with large washers.  The dimensions are shown below if you want to build your own cabinets. 

2015 CABINET UPGRADE - In the Fall of 2015 I reduced the height of both upper cabinets by 1/2" to place 3/8" thick vinyl grid spacers under each to keep them high and dry in the event of a toe rail leak.  This was a lot of work but easier than trimming the flange of the head liner above the cabinet.  Fortunately I was able to retain the teak frame moulding, which simplified this job.   I also thought it prudent to drill some small drainage holes through the fibreglass shelf under each cabinet, just in case.  If the deck should leak again, the cabinets will stay high and dry resting on the vinyl grid.  The stuff under the settees is stored in vinyl basins to keep it organized and dry.  The bins are also convenient to drag sideways to a seat opening for unobstructed access.  Ironically the vinyl grid spacers make it harder to pin point a leak as the water just flows on through to the settee bilge.  I discovered this in 2023 with a toe rail screw that leaked when water was standing on the deck.  But much preferable than repairing wood rot at the bottom of a cabinet. 
All joints were set with Gorilla Glue.  You have to be very careful with how you apply this water proof glue.  It is incredibly strong and sets in minutes.  With a judicious application it is possible to minimize the cured foam that oozes out.  Masking tape along the joint prevents the foam from sticking to the delicate teak finish.  After the cabinets were reassembled I painted the inside a bright white with exterior enamel to make it possible to wipe clean.  It is now much easier to see inside due to the contrast.  I also added a free standing shelf inside the starboard compartment to organize my favourite audio tapes.  This way I can store other electronic goodies there as well.  The teak finish received a light rub down of my secret mix of Minwax Light Cherry and Fruitwood stains (colour blended to match aged teak) to even out the colour and darken some light scrapes that "visited and stayed" with the galley over the years.  Afterwards the teak was coated with Sikkens Cetol Marine.  The end results are really nice but it was a lot of work.

PORT UPPER CABINETS - Lunch, emergency rations, snacks (vitamin J), coffee & tea go in the aft cabinet.  Spices, wind proof matches, large cooking utensils & stuff go in the middle cabinet.  Cutlery, steak knives, coffee mugs, plates, bowls go in the forward cabinet.  I've owned the vintage Melmac mugs for 55+ years which equates to a lot of camping trips.  They are very difficult to replace and about 20 years ago a blue mug went missing at a club event.  I was pissed.  I'm happy to report that in 2021 it made its way back onboard Panache.  It was sitting in the back of the club kitchen cabinet all these years.  Some kindly soul washed and placed it there.  A bungee cord is now installed across the plates to keep them in their place when on a port tack >200.  The cord is under no stress so it can't loose its tension with age.  The idea is that I can still remove or insert a plate with one hand.


PORT BACKREST - I store a spare 1 lb. propane bottle, the companionway stove shelf, and my trusty 2 burner Primus cook stove in the aft opening.  Tools and spare parts go in the forward opening.  All of it rests on a 3/8" thick vinyl grid to keep it high and dry.


GALLEY with SINK (2005) - The "box" that houses the sink also stores the pots, pans, kettle, coffee pot, dish soap & scouring utensils.  The faucet is equipped with a latching switch to operate the water pump.  For servicing and cable constricts, it is one of the few devices that is connected with grease filled Marrettes (wire nuts) instead of connectors.  The sink drains overboard through a ball valve (below water) under the settee.  To speed up the flow the drain fitting is equipped with a clear vinyl vent hose leading to the top of the cabin.  I drilled and tapped a hole through the side of the downspout ABS to screw in a threaded fitting.  You can see the vinyl tube against the bulkhead in the photos above.

Panache's galley takes up about 2' of the aft end of the port berth, leaving the remaining 6'6" clear for all but the tallest crew.  This galley is essentially a "wood box" constructed from a 3/4" red oak frame with 1/2" teak plywood sides set into the rabbet joints of the frame.  I built the "box" extremely strong so I can stand on the corner straddling the companionway to work the mainsheet or the deck mounted line lockers; something I do in lumpy water because it's a secure place to stand.  The galley is bolted to the settee with 1/4" SS bolts and large SS washers.  The flip down door can lay flat on the cushion (see photos above), doubling as extra counter space.  It is equipped with low fiddles to keep the cushion clean.  The inside of the door and the counter are both covered with white melamine for a water proof finish that is easy to clean. 


GALLEY THRU-HULL FITTING (~2003) - The faucet in Panache's galley shown above is equipped with a latching switch that operates the demand pump next to the water tank under the forward berth.  At one time I considered adding a second faucet and pump for lake water since it would be so convenient to have endless water for rinsing things.  Problem is, it requires another thru-hull fitting that I'm not prepared to install.  So in the mean time I'll continue to throw a bucket over the side.  The photo at right shows the galley 3/4" fibre reinforced drain hose to the thru-hull.  It doesn't look like it but this hose is on a continuous slope.  All this plumbing changed with the installation of my portable grey water tank shown below. 

If your boat has a factory galley then a ball valve and thru-hull fitting was installed in the port settee as shown at left; although, this is probably not the factory valve.  Note that the handle is missing; likely broken off.  A close examination reveals the hull is thickened here to add strength for the thru-hull fitting.  This looks like a factory thru-hull vintage fitting.  It might be possible to break this fitting if a heavy item slides against it!  For that reason Randy protected it with a small barrier wall around the valve, fastened to the inside wall of the settee. 
Note the poor installation of this valve and drain hose on top of the thru-hull fitting.  The hose goes "uphill" from the galley to the top of this valve, trapping water and debris.  That water will split the hose if it freezes, sinking the boat.  It seems to me that thru-hull fitting is under a lot of strain.  Aaargh,,,,,, bad idea!  It shouldn't surprise anyone that this hose was plugged with debris when the slope was corrected during valve replacement (ball valve).  Just a good example of what NOT to do!  A slightly better solution would be to install an elbow fitting on top of the thru-hull fitting so the ball valve is installed horizontal and the hose is on a continuous downward slope.  With the valve horizontal it can stay sealed by water lubrication.  Finally, add a wood block (soaked in epoxy) below the ball valve to support it.  This will go a long way to support the ball valve and protect the elbow.  To ensure a hose drains drip dry it should slope at a minimum 1/4" per foot. 

NOTE 1 - Some SJ23s had a gate valve for the galley drain.  It should be exchanged for a ball valve since a gate valve seal can fail at the least opportune time.  Operate a ball valve at least once a month so it is lubricated with water and free to operate when it must be closed.  A valve that can't be closed will put you in deep, deep el toro poo poo!   While you are down there, check the integrity of the drain hose with a severe wiggle after the valve is closed.  If you close the valve every time you leave the boat you can dispense with this monthly routine. 

This warning label on my buddy's C&C27 is self explanatory. -->

NOTE 2 - If you expect freezing temperatures while your boat is out of the water, set the ball valve to HALF-OPEN to drain the water between the ball and the valve housing.  This simple action prevents the housing from splitting due to freeze expansion and protects the seals. 
- If you expect freezing temperatures while your boat is in the water, close the ball valve and either drain the hose or fill it with RV antifreeze.  Let a bit of the antifreeze flow out the ball valve to ensure it fills the bottom of the hose and flows between the ball and the housing, preventing the housing from splitting.


OPERATE THRU-HULL VALVE with an EXTENSION ROD - The drain line (5/8" fiber reinforced vinyl hose) of Panache's sink (10x12)" is on a continuous downward slope to the bronze ball thru-hull valve shown above right.  Prior to this extension rod I installed I could barely reach the valve since it was installed so far aft for a previous galley.  I'm not about to relocate this valve so in 2018 I installed an extension rod to operate it through the middle opening of the settee.  I cannot jeopardize the safety of this thru-hull valve by letting one of my settee storage tubs slide against the end of the rod and then "nudging" the valve.  So a block of wood glued to the hull (below right) caps the end of the rod thereby protecting the valve.  The block also supports the end of the rod in a hole drilled through the side.  I drilled the hole slightly oversize to allow for miss alignment of the rod due to the curvature of the hull.  A hairpin inserted through the rod, just beside the block, holds the rod captive to the block and can be removed for quick disassembly.  A bolt to turn the rod (shown at right) is installed in line with the valve to indicate if the valve is open or closed.  The rod is labelled as well.  At right is a photo of the dry assembly of the rod and valve.  

PORTABLE GREY WATER TANK (2022-04-30) - I sail Panache on a large prairie lake that is fed by snow melt, rain and a few tiny creeks.  Once the water exceeds the height of the weir, the excess flows over to contend with the beaver dams downstream.  This results in little flushing action so extra precaution must be taken to preserve the health of the lake.  When I'm boating on such an ecologically sensitive lake it is prudent to contain grey water.  Besides, the fish and other critters don't like it if you dump stuff in their "living room" any more than them dumping stuff in your living room.  If you are in doubt, consider the following statement by the US Environmental Protection Agency;

"Grey water is rife with microorganisms originating from food and the human body.  The US Environmental Protection Agency has found that in some instances grey water has higher concentrations of fecal coliform than domestic sewage, which is associated with the pathogens that cause salmonella, typhoid, cholera and dysentery.  Noroviruses, rotaviruses, and adenoviruses (pathogens responsible for fevers, coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, vomiting and pink eye) are also present in grey water.  Exposure can occur through activities like swimming or consuming contaminated shellfish."  US EPA.

Over the years I have dumped very little grey water in the lake since Panache's fresh water tank holds only 10 Imp gallons.  For example, in 2000 I moved the rigid drinking water tank to the V-berth to offset my weight in the cockpit to sail faster.  Ever since then I've been reluctant to loose any of that portable, go fast "ballast."  For this reason I carry my day's supply of drinking water in a reusable water bottle.  But if Panache's effluent is added to that of other boaters anchored near by, the combined volume obviously exacerbates the pollution, especially when accumulated over time.  A harmful component of the effluent is phosphate from dish soap that accelerates vegetation growth.  A lot of soap that is labelled as "environmentally friendly" is simply lip service to sell the product.  In reality it is only somewhat less severe.  For all these reasons it is prudent to install a grey water holding tank and dump the effluent into a shore based facility where it can break down.  So, how to store grey water in an SJ23? 

DECISIONS, DECISIONS (Design Criteria) - I found a grey water tank installation to be ridiculously complex due to the many variables involved: the size & shape of the container that must fit, that it must be water & gas tight, the plumbing fittings must be mechanically secure & align to the tubes, the water must flow on a continuous downward slope, the container must be secure, and above all, it has to be convenient to remove without spilling the content.  Just a few simple things really!  Hence the following research information.

  • BLADDER - A bladder can fit most anywhere but may be difficult to handle when full.  No vent is required for a collapsed bladder but the filler tube connection must be threaded to ensure a water tight fit.  Every bladder I have seen is installed in a basin, just in case it leaks.  A quick search will reveal that a quality bladder is expensive. 
  • 10L (2 Gal) POLYETHYLENE GAS JUG - A polyethylene gas jug equipped with a threaded fill cap, a vent and a carrying handle is fully compliant to contain the fumes and pressure of grey water.  It is tough as nails and are inexpensive which appeals to my frugality.  A gas jug is perfect for an upright installation below the SJ23 factory galley that goes across the companionway.  With Panache's galley on the port settee I decided to install a 10L jug under the settee so it is out of sight and water can flow directly to it.  This photo shows the jug during initial fitting.   I can't install it below the companionway due to the difficulty of running tubes through the bulkheads and I rejected the V-berth as being too far away.  All three locations demanded a thorough investigation for which style fittings to install, flow & vent rate, and a convenient connect/disconnect procedure to empty the jug.  The following are my findings.
    - Orientation: The tank should be oriented to have the smallest surface area so it produces the least sloshing (noisy).
    - Drain: The drain hose to fill the tank must be on a continues downward slope to empty it drip dry for cleanliness and protection against winter freeze. 
    - Vent: The vent hose to the transom must be on a continuous upward slope to drip dry and pass air.  The tank vent fitting must be installed centrally on the top of the tank to prevent clogging from sloshing liquid.  The vent fitting on the port transom must be installed well above the water line.  It should be an open thru-hull type so the hose can be flushed with pressure water. 
    "For those who might wish to forgo an external vent, at least use a chemical treatment designed for a porta-potty or holding tank.  Most of this treatment is enzyme-based to break down waste and eliminate offensive odour in about 10 minutes.  Also pay attention to the following Coast Guard regulation regarding fill level."

    - Fill Level: A Coast Guard regulation states that no electrical components are allowed in the tank to measure fluid level due to the explosive nature of methane gas.  You are better off to keep track of how much water has gone down the drain!
    - FITTINGS: The tank fittings should be plastic, not metal.  Even brass cannot deal with the corrosive methane gas from grey water.
    - A Friction Fit Spin Welded Plastic tank fitting is easy to install on a tank since all work is done on the outside.  This fitting doesn't leak but must be installed on a flat surface.  It usually requires a plastics shop to install one since they have the heavy duty router and special adapters to grab and spin a fitting. 
    - A screw in tank fitting is easy to install since all work is done on the outside.  I have no experience with how long the thread stays sealed.  I'm skeptical of this technique if installed on a thin wall container given the motion inside a sailboat.
    - Uniseal with threaded PVC insert is easy to install since all work is done on the outside.  It is guaranteed leak proof and requires only a hole saw to install. 
    - Bond Polyethylene is easy to install since all work is done on the outside.  The chemical permanently interlaces two surfaces together on a molecular level achieving the original strength of the jug.  Order from Tech-Bond
    - Bulkhead Union is very strong but difficult to install on the side wall of a small container since access inside the jug is restricted by the size of the jug opening.  It is easiest to install the bolt on the inside and the nut on the outside using a weighted string as a guide to pull the bolt into place. 
    Attach a small weight to the end of a string and drop it in the hole, then tip the jug so the weight drops out the drain hole.  Did you hang on to the end of string?  Slip the string through the PVC bolt and pull the string with the bolt to the hole.  The threaded end of the bolt should pop out the hole with a bit of juggling.  Hang on to the bolt!  Left hand thread of the bulkhead union is used to turn against the right hand thread of the PVC fitting that couples the tube to the bulkhead fitting.  The rubber washer goes to the inside and the plastic washer goes to the outside behind the nut.
    It may be possible to install an elbow fitting that is within reach of a wrench pushed through the drain hole.  Drill a machine fitting hole for the fitting.  Hold the nut in a box wrench and direct it to the hole from inside the jug.  Now screw the elbow fitting into the nut.  The final tightening will require you to hold the nut with the wrench.  Get creative here.  It is possible.

PANACHE INSTALLATION - The installation on Panache uses a 10L gas jug resting on a (16 x 8)" wood shelf under the port setteeThe shelf is equipped with a full length foot at the low side to raise it to horizontal over the sloped hull.  It has a fiddle on the outboard side to keep the jug on the shelf.  And finally it is saturated in epoxy to protect the wood.  The gas jug rests on its narrow side for minimal fluid slosh and is secured with a 2" wide Velcro strap to ensure it stays put during a 600 heel.  With the top mounted fittings released from the hoses the full jug can be slid aft and lifted out the settee hole without spilling a drop.  Any spillage after first use will determine if a catch tray is required.

  • PLUMBING - I have committed to draining the sink into the holding tank without a Y valve.  This satisfies ecological requirements on our lake and simplifies the plumbing.  The thru-hull valve is temporarily plugged off and I may repurpose it for a deck wash down system. 
    - The 5/8" drain tube from the sink is a short run but tight to install.  I added a 900 barbed fitting under the sink to ease the strain on the jug. 
    - The large tightening ring at the jug opening also serves as a union to relieve torque loading on the drain tube. 
    Just is case there is a drip when disconnecting the drain hose, make the last drain a bit of clean water!  Don't say I didn't warn you! 
    - The 1/2" ID vent tube is directed through the port locker to an open thru-hull fitting installed through the transom, above the tiller notch.  This hose is 1/2" as it needs to be rinsed occasionally with a garden hose. 
    - Later this summer I will determine if the sink needs a P-trap to block gas from the tank.  I suspect not since the Nicro cabin vent pumps fresh air into the cabin.  I also have an option to
    keep the sink strainer closed.

  • INSTALL FITTINGS ON JUG - The sink drain tube is connected to a fitting installed through a flat plug (1/4" puck board) that seals the jug opening using the bulkhead technique described above.  The vent tube is connected to a fitting screwed into the 1/4" thick side wall of this jug. 
    Fill Fitting - Cut a plug from 1/4" thick puck board using a hole saw in a drill press.  This plug must completely block the hole of the jug opening.  See Fig 1&2 below.  To cut a smooth plug, drill half way through the puck board, then flip the board over and drill the other half.  To drill the center hole through the plug (for fittings) use the drill press and grip the outside of the plug with channel locks.  I made 3 identical plugs with holes through them (doughnuts).  Never know when you need a spare!  The alternative technique is to set the plug over the jug opening and tighten the ring.  Drill the fitting hole half way through both sides.  Dump the debris from the jug.
    - A second cap (loose) will be tied to the tank handle which saves having to look for it!  This is needed to carry the jug to shore in a civilized manner as dribbling grey water on your trousers just before the club soiree is generally frowned upon!  I will carry a second jug on board to store excess grey water.
    Vent Fitting - The vent tube elbow fitting is screwed through the top side of the jug.  I cut the thread through the sidewall using a brass fitting with matching thread.

  • PARTS - A 10L (2 gal) polyethylene gas jug, 1 plywood shelf (16 x 8)" with a 1" deep support foot, Velcro strap to secure jug.
    Fill - 1 set of nylon adapters for 5/8" reinforced vinyl drain tube, 3' of 5/8" reinforced vinyl drain tube.
    Vent - A 3/4" poly elbow to 1/2" barbed vent fitting, 1 Gardenia quick connect garden hose fitting, 1 garden hose male to 1/2" barbed fitting, 12' of 1/2" vinyl vent tube, 1 thru-hull open fitting for 1/2" hose.

Fill Fitting Components - (left to right)

- The white tapered "nut", black seal, white puck board plug, 1 hex reducer and 1 female garden hose fittings make up the fill connection.
- The white tapered "nut" is half of an elbow fitting was cut to direct spray away from the vent.  The threaded portion of the elbow acts as a nut to retain the seal and plug against the hex reducer.
- Note that the black seal is on the jug side of the plug. 
- The thread sealant tape keeps the fittings together as a solid assembly.


Vent Fitting - The 3/4" poly vent fitting is screwed into the 1/4" thick sidewall.  When carried, the end of the vent tube is above the handle so it can't spill.


Wood Shelf - Wood shelf is raised slightly to pass power and water lines under it. 
The shelf has a notch that fits snug around the strap bracket (epoxied to the hull) to keep the shelf in place.  The shelf can be lifted.


Velcro Strap - The top strap bracket (epoxied to the hull) to keep the jug on the shelf.  The combination of Velcro strap and bracket notch keeps the jug confined to the shelf.


Access - The grey water jug as seen through through the port settee opening.   The perspective doesn't look right but this is the view when looking down at the jug, while kneeling in front of it. 

(I have yet to find suitable sheet metal to fabricate a more robust wall to protect the bilge pump.  One day).

Plumbing - The fitting below the sink is a 3/4" copper elbow chosen for faster flow to prevent a clog.  While it is not recommended to fit 5/8" tubing inside a fitting, this combo is water and air tight.  Electrical tape secures both tubes well.

Plumbing - All the plumbing is in place and the installation is now  functional. 

A view inside the port cockpit locker showing the vinyl tubes through the locker bulkhead and continue to the transom.  The grey water vent hose is the clear top one.  The black hose next to it is propane.  The bottom clear vinyl hose is the port settee bilge pump that dumps water into the cockpit at the bottom right of the photo.  The blue locker bilge pump dumps water out the transom.

HOW FULL IS THE JUG? - The fluid level would be easy to see if this were a translucent jug.  Problem is, many translucent jugs are designed for drinking water and will pass sewage odour.  This is disgusting for this application, not to mention a waste of time to install the wrong type of jug.  A person could keep track of how much water goes down the drain but that is easier said than done.  What does work is to shine a bright flashlight to the side of the jug and look at the fluid level on an opposite or side wall.  This works well even with clear water.  The prospect of having a full tank with standing water in the drain tube is not to be taken lightly.  Consider that it will be impossible to release the fill fitting without spilling the content.  So draw a fill line on the jug with a permanent marker and empty accordingly.

PS - It's probably wise to label this jug and the spare one so you don't take them to the gas pump!  Damn that would be embarrassing.
      - Also, use the sink strainer to trap food debris rather than letting it clog the drain tube.  Now that would be a pain to clean.
      - I used to drain the fresh water tank via the thru hull at the launching ramp prior to haul out.
        Without a Y valve I now attach a vinyl tube to the faucet and drain it into the cockpit so it flows into the lake.



LOOKING FORWARD - The magazine rack on the port bulkhead has vent holes in the bottom and a 3/8" vinyl grid to keep documents high and dry, just in case.  A small cooler is usually stored on the floor below the heater.  Food for an extended cruise goes under the settees.


STARBOARD UPPER CABINETS - The orange container holds flares and a flare gun that I hope to never use.  The forward cabinet stores my burgees (sail club & SJ23), flags, first aid kit, and hats.  The first aid kit (bleeding control) and space blanket are front and center.  You can never have enough band aids.


SETTEE BACKRESTS - The factory backrests were made of foam glued to plywood and covered with fabric stretched over the back and stapled to the wood.  These backrests were pitiful looking so I chucked them to get a wider bunk for sleeping.  This demanded a thin backrest so I made a new one from a single piece of 1/2" teak plywood and cut out the doors over the access holes where the original backrests were.  If you want a soft backrest you just have to grab a pillow from the end of the settee.  Problem solved.  By the way, the access doors can lay flat on the cushions, preserving the hinge screws.
- The storage area behind the port settee backrests house my portable Primus stove with it's companionway stove shelf, a Coleman 222 lantern (back up), fuel, tool kits and a box of spare parts. 
- The storage area behind the starboard settee backrests house my foul weather gear and other goodies. 
- Just in case it decides to get damp or wet in this space I've placed
EnviroTile on the shelves.  These are the same vinyl tiles that are on the cockpit sole.  See Tech Tip B13.  This way anything stored here stays high and dry so none of it can rot.  The same must be done for the wood.  Keep the bottom slightly off the fibreglass so it can't wick up water.  It wouldn't hurt to saturate the plywood with epoxy to prevent wicking.
- In the bilge area under the port settee I store my supply of "libations".  It's amazing how cool it stays down there.  Everything stored in this area goes into one of six Tupperware basins so the contents stay dry in the event of "some solid water!"  The bins also organize the contents for easy finding.  I carried this practice over from the previous owner and found no reason to change it.  One time a bottle of wine started a second ferment down there so a basin comes in handy to contain the overflow.
- In the bilge area under the starboard settee I store my battery, boots, boat shoes, and snorkel gear; just in case I have to dive for something.  I have earned the odd Scotch this way!
- My small cooler rests on the floor under the heater.  Wedged in there it stays put.  If I need the floor space, the cooler is placed on the floor in front of the head, which is a great spot if you want something to stay put during rough weather. 
- My sea bag is usually strapped to the forward face of the starboard bulkhead.  This is a relatively convenient spot that is easy to access and clear of the head.  Great place to do some thinking!  

STARBOARD UPPER CABINETS 2 - In the aft cabinet is my stash of 60s & 70s tapes stored in a rack I added during this upgrade.  These are all original artists, otherwise they aren't worth listening to!  Note the retaining bar that comes into it's own on a starboard tack.  With the unfortunate passing of my analogue AM/FM/Cassette receiver this music MUST be converted to digital and stored on a USB drive to play on my new Kenwood digital media receiver.  I also need to repurpose this handy rack.  (update this photo).  I'll figure this out sometime soon.  At the bottom is where I store my electronics hardware; a spare antenna for the VHF, a USB charger.  The small box they go in was busy holding other stuff at the time of this photo!



The newly upgraded electrical distribution panel and media receiver installed in 2017.  Also installed 2 additional magnetically shielded rear speakers to the ends of the companionway storage box.  Four speakers really makes the joint classy with poor man's quadraphonic sound so you hear all the symbols and pops regardless of where you sit.  The speakers also don't mess with the compass.  That fire extinguisher is inspected about 4 times a year; tipped, tapped to ensure powder is loose.  There is another one in the forward cabin.




COMPANIONWAY STOVE SHELF - One of the features that attracted me to an SJ23 is the head room available compared to a "sit down" boat.  For most movement in the cabin I can get around quite easily with my hair brushing the ceiling.  But for cooking I want unobstructed head room and the only place I can get that is in the companionway with the hatch open.  So I built a small removable "stove shelf" to hold my portable stove, a 2 burner Optimus 22B.  I also didn't want cooking fumes, moisture or heat in the cabin during summer and I needed a secure, convenient spot.  The companionway fit the bill quite nicely.  It has the least motion, which is great for boiling water in a kettle or making coffee.  It is mostly out of the wind when I'm swinging from an anchor.  If the shelf is in the way or it's real windy it can be moved to the cockpit floor or other convenient place.  STEPPING OVER the stove is not allowed, as it is too dangerous.  Besides you'll probably drop something nasty in the soup.  Sure would like to get some silent burners for this stove.  Anybody know where? 

Above you can see the legs on the bottom of the shelf that fit over the companionway bridge.  It's a bit  difficult to see in the shadow but there is a slot cut in each leg, that is just a smidgen wider than the thickness of the threshold.  The legs slip over the threshold and the shelf sits very secure with no wobble.  Very important.  When I am finished cooking, I can pick up the shelf with the stove to move it out of the way without burning my hands.  At times, the shelf is used to hold our "happy hour" food and whatever maintenance project I'm doing.  I've also been told it would make an excellent fish cleaning station if only the fiddles would direct the guts into the cockpit!  If you decide to make a shelf like this, bring the legs and table top to your boat.  Slip both legs over the companionway and then rest the shelf on them for alignment.  Finally screw the shelf to the mounted legs to guarantee a perfect fit.  The only improvement I could suggest is to make folding legs for more compact storage but this hasn't been a problem for me.  The legs should fold inwards for storage and outwards about 200 for use, (think aircraft landing gear).  With the legs spread outwards the shelf is stable when resting on a flat surface.  I store the shelf behind the port settee wall where it fits very well on top of some none slip urethane cloth.

What's cooking?  Egg in a nest and dish water.  Lightly butter a slice of bread that has a hole in it or use a bagel.  Place it on a hot frying pan.  Let the bread heat for about 30 seconds then crack an egg into the hole.  Let it fry as you normally would with an egg.  Flip it once and eat.  This is toast and egg all once that doesn't get cold when served on a plate or eaten as finger food. 

STOVE SAFETY - The safest way to light a gas stove on a boat is to use a flame from a BBQ lighter, not a spark.  A flame held next to a burner is the only sure way to prevent unburned gas or vapour in the cabin.  This is especially important if you use heavier than air propane.  The fire extinguisher on Panache is mounted low on the starboard side of the companionway, opposite the galley and convenient for the cook.  There is a second extinguisher in the forward cabin, just in case the cook is trapped inside by a burning stove.  I have never been able to understand the extinguisher requirements on a pocket cruiser so opted to go the safe route and install two, one on either end of the cabin.    TOP

DROP-LEAF TABLE (2002) - I added oak fiddles to the original table leafs after the wake from a passing powerboat rocked us so much it spilled hot soup over our laps, staining the cushions at the same time.  There has to be a special place for yahoos like this!  While fiddles are usually left open at a corner so it is easy to wipe things up, I closed mine all around to contain liquids and protect my lap and the cushions.  Closed corners hasn't been a problem.

- I also constructed a new bridge (strong back) between the leafs from a piece of 3.5" wide red oak.  This way I can use the slightly wider surface as a narrow table when the leafs are folded down.  The cabin is small enough as is without blocking traffic by lifting a table leaf.  The bridge is wide enough to hold a cup of coffee, provided the cup is equipped with a non-skid bottom.  If your cups are not equipped with non-skid bottoms, then lay a mat of none skid material on top of the bridge.  Be very careful with the various wood cuts you make on this bridge.  Eventually someone will be laying on a settee, staring at your handiwork.  Expect a comment or two!

I once considered double folding the port leaf so half of it could be folded out but rejected it due to complications and a possible leak through the hinge when it was fully folded out.  An alternate solution would be to clamp or set a short narrow shelf to the forward end of the bridge in a similar fashion as the stove shelf shown above.  It could be useful for mugs-n-stuff.

- To match the colour of the red oak to the 20 year old teak, I blended Minwax cherry and fruitwood stains.  The final colour is pretty close as some people have asked where I bought such a large piece of teak.  Some people can't judge wood by its grain.  All wood is finished with Sikkens Cetol Marine because it is food grade and tough. 

- The forward end of the port leaf is cut out to create space for the heater.  This is when I had to get fancy with forming the fiddle around the corners.

- Notice that I have a blue Velcro strap around the leafs.  This prevents banging noises at night and keeps the aisle clear when the Panache is heeled.  You can find long straps like this around the bulk rolls in a rug store.

- I mounted a combination magazine rack, chart holder and navigation tool holder (compass, divider and pencils) against the port bulkhead to the left of the heater, just in case I get lost! 

- A two-speed fan is hung from the ceiling, slightly to the left of chimney.  It drives the warm air down to the floor and keeps people cool on a hot day.  Living at 550N I need both features. 




This is the sketch I used to rebuild my drop-leaf table with a wider bridge.  The measurements will be close to your boat, but please verify them for your installation.  The oak fiddles were glued and screwed with the screw heads plugged along the perimeter of each leaf.  At one time I intended to add fiddles to the bridge but their absence has not been a problem.

Note the small wood plug screwed to the bottom of the bridge and resting inside the top of the pedestal.  It helps to anchor the table to the top of the pedestal. 

In future I may mount a 1" deep shelf under the port leaf to store folded charts.  This place is well protected from the weather and is relatively convenient to access.   TOP

ENCLOSE TABLE PEDESTAL (2015) - I've always been concerned about the strength of the fibreglass table pedestal when sailing in rough weather with someone walking (more like stumbling) in the cabin.  It is so natural for a person to lean against the table bridge for support when the boat dives into a deep trough, there being no other hand holds inside the cabin.  My fear is that body weight might crack or snap the pedestal if the motion is violent enough.  NOT a good situation as the cabin sole is about a foot below the water line.  Don't believe me?  Remove the table and look down the pedestal.  The Clarks would never have sold an SJ23 if the pedestal was transparent.  It's probably a good idea to have something handy to plug the hole as the boat will sink in less than 5 minutes.  Oh darn it all!  If water occasionally slops out the top, its a good sign to reduce the heel or slow the boat down!  I'm not alone in this judgment as other people have emailed me with similar concerns.  By the way, I have no intention of testing the strength of the pedestal to put my concerns to rest as I have a pretty good understanding of physics and my imagination has served me well over the years! 

"The hull liner is a one-piece component that is bonded into the hull using a bedding of chopped strand mat and a polyester resin thickened with Q-cell, microspheres made of fibreglass. Visualize a thick frosted cake.  With the resin catalyzed and the "cake frosted", the interior pan is lowered over the table post, aligned with a fore/aft, port/starboard jig.  A hose is then attached to a hole next to the table post and a vacuum applied.  The hull liner is instantly pulled tight down to the hull and the vacuum maintained until the resin sets.  You'll see remnants of the microsphere putty inside the settees and all points of hull/interior contact.  Think frosting again.  You will note a void beneath the head floor.  Don't fill that with foam.  It's fine.  If you spill water in the v-berth by cleaning, you can dry it by sponge or towel.  If you continue to see water down there, there is a leak somewhere, and the usual suspects need to be checked."

So my solution is a 1" OD stainless steel support post, floor to ceiling, installed just forward of the table pedestal. Think of it as a grab post similar to one on a city bus.  The ceiling height of an SJ23 is just low enough to make it hard on my back while cooking, working in the cabin or getting off a settee.  With this post it is easy to manoeuvre around the cabin by swinging from it.  This project is not too difficult as it requires mostly carpentry skills.  With planning you can incorporate other creature comforts that are so appreciated on a small cruiser.  Shown above is the finished post with electrical switches and LED lights added to the ceiling support.  The red LEDs provide adequate night vision and the white LEDs are wonderful for general illumination.  They are too far away for reading a book but provide enough light for all movement in the cabin. 

  • POST - I choose a 1" OD stainless steel post for its corrosion properties, comfort on the hands, strength and appearance.  The post is held in place by a floor anchor at the base of the pedestal, goes through a hole in the table bridge and into another anchor glued to the ceiling. The three of them support the pedestal quite nicely.  Polishing the post is a time consuming process that will improve the appearance but it will make it slipperier.  A season or two of use will polish it naturally.  Your choice.  The post should have a minimum 1/8" end gap at the top to leave room for hull flex and thermal expansion.  My guess is that the cabin height changes at least that much from the boat floating to resting on the trailer. I have no idea how much it changes while heeled over at 20 degrees. This would be an interesting test. 
    - I cut my post 59" long, leaving a 1/8" end gap.  The post should slide in/out by releasing the clamps and lifting the table bridge with the ceiling anchor firmly in place.  File the ends of the post smooth so they slide easily over the wood. 
    If you coat the hole in the table bridge with candle wax, it can slide easier along the post and shouldn't seize with time. 
  • TABLE BRIDGE - If you have the original factory bridge for your table, you should replace it with a 4" wide version to maintain the strength around the 1" hole for the post.  Once you drill a 1" hole in the original bridge there isn't enough wood left for the required strength.  I replaced my bridge several years ago, as shown above, but still added two 1/8" thick aluminum plates to reinforce the sides around the hole I drilled.  This is shown in Fig 1 & 6 below. 
    - Drill the post hole through the table bridge and use a drum sander to larger it till slightly looser than snug.  The fit will still look tight while permitting you to slide the bridge up/down along the post.  Lubricate the inside of the hole with candle wax so the bridge can slide easily. 
    The bridge it bolted to the top of the pedestal with a small block of formed wood fastened to the bottom of the bridge.  The block slips inside the pedestal and a bolt goes through the side of it. 
  • PEDESTAL CLAMPS - I designed the pedestal clamps for easy assembly since you will eventually have to replace the centre board lift cable or the sheave it runs over.  It would be a real pain to have to disassemble everything for this job.  Simply release the bottom and top clamps, slide the table bridge up the post and rotate the assembly out of the way to access the top of the table pedestal.  See Tech Tip B01 to replace the lift cable.
    - The pedestal clamps are made from two pieces of hard wood, the insides of which are shaped to fit snug around the pedestal and the outsides are square.  This is a simple way of converting the shaped form of the pedestal to a square box that plywood can be attached to.  The pedestal clamps are through bolted at the ends to clamp the two halves together around the SS post and pedestal. 
  • CEILING SUPPORT - I made the ceiling support from a (2x6)" block of light coloured cedar, coated with Sikkens Cetol Marine.  The final colour is darker than teak but at about 1/10 the price and weight!  I like to optimize the features on a small cruiser, therefore the ceiling support will also house some high intensity LEDs for low power consumption cabin lights.  White LEDs for normal cabin light and red for night vision.  I also installed a sturdy hook for my mosquito lamp that may double as one end of a short clothes line, just down wind from the Force 10 heater! 
    - If you wish to install lighting in the support then rout two 3/8" wide grooves into the back of the block to act as conduit for the electrical wiring and drill a sequence of larger holes at the aft end of the grooves to recess the switches and LEDs.  See Fig 4 below.  The grooves meet with the holes that the switches and LEDs are installed in. 
    - Install the wires, LEDs and switches and apply tape over each groove to keep the sealant out.  I chose to glue the support to the ceiling to keep the deck wood core sealed.  Outline the support with a pencil line on the ceiling and mask it off.  Apply the silicon sealant to the back of the support and press it against the ceiling, holding it there with the stainless steel post supported inside the pedestal anchors.  It is important that you fit the post to ensure it lines up with the pedestal anchors.  Form a fillet around the support to seal the edge.  Let cure for 24 hours.  I originally planned on using tape to keep the support aligned in the fore aft position while the silicon sealant cured.  However, much to my surprise, once I pushed the glue laden support against the ceiling, suction held it there. 
    - I glued an electrical terminal strip to the ceiling between the mast compression post and the ceiling support.  This a convenient spot to terminate wires and trouble shoot problems from.  To hide the wires and terminal strip I covered them with a smoked Plexiglas panel screwed between two strips of cedar glued to the ceiling.  Fasten the Plexiglas to the cedar strips and align the assembly ceiling to ensure a good fit.  Draw a pencil outline of the cover on the ceiling and mask off the area along the perimeter.  Then apply silicon sealant to the backside.  Temporarily support the cover against the ceiling with a stick propped on top of the table.  Let cure for 24 hours.  Hiding the wires makes the final installation look professional.  A neat clean installation looks a lot better than a tacky one. 
    NOTE - I chose silicon sealant over Sikaflex, so I can remove all traces of this installation if I choose to remove it in the future.  Silicon sealant is more than strong enough for this project and a dissolving agent is available to remove all traces of it.  I was amazed at how simple the installation went.  But then, there was a lot of advanced planning and dry fitting to ensure success. 
  • LEDs Lights - I installed two banks of high intensity LEDs, one white and the other red.  This is an excellent combination for overall visibility and night vision.  When installing the electrical wiring in the ceiling anchor, it is best to terminate the wires to a conveniently located external terminal strip.  This makes it relatively easy to connect the LED wires to the electrical harness and to create a test point should you have to diagnose a trouble in the future. For any other technical issues regarding LEDs see Tech Tip E11


POST INSTALLATION - Please excuse the cabin clutter during my construction.  This project actually started in Fall 2003 by installing the heater which morphed to restoring the bulkheads.   It finally finished in the Summer of 2017.  That's why there is so much unrelated mess lying around. 

I divided this project into three manageable portions since Panache is stored outside for the winter, about 20 KM from where I live.  I normally do my wood work at home but this one demanded lots of on site measurement, cutting and fitting.  Unfortunately I hadn't finished installing the heater so wore my insulated coveralls.  Their bulk makes it somewhat difficult to crawl around and there is a limitation to one's finesse and creativity when working outdoors in winter.  I had the Workmate set up in the lee of the hull and my power tools are battery operated. 

  1. Phase 1 - The three supports; floor, pedestal and ceiling, plus the post hole through the table, were installed as the first job of this project.  This is the major part of the project and secured the pedestal for peace of mind. 

  2. Phase 2 - While the electrical switches, LEDs and associated wiring were included in the ceiling support, connecting these wires to Panache's electrical harness and building a cosmetic cover were done as the second job. 

  3. Phase 3 - Fabricating the pedestal enclosure was the last job.

Fig 1 - Table bridge is reinforced with aluminum to strengthen the bridge where the SS post fits through.  Just below it is the top pedestal clamp to which the plywood sheeting will be attached to enclose the pedestal. 

Fig 2 - The bottom anchor dry fitted to measure the post installation.  Not shown is the removable wood spacer that goes under the post to raise it to the ceiling.  This makes it easier to install or remove.


Fig 3 - The SS post installed through the table bridge and into the floor anchor.  Sure is nice that it fits like a glove.  I sailed Panache with just the SS pole and bare pedestal for many years.


Fig 4 - The ceiling support equipped with LED lights and switches. The 3 switches are for the fan above the heater and red & white LED lights.  Still to be installed is the wiring cover from the SS support to the mast compression post. 



INSTALL "MARTY" PANELS - It was my son Marty who thought I should enclose the pedestal leg to make the cabin look classier.  For many years he egged me on to complete this job.  So in his memory I finally got "tuit".  Hope you like it kiddo.

Fig 5 - The upper and lower pedestal post clamps.  The oval hole in the lower clamp is tapered to match the base of the pedestal.  I thought about creating templates but of 3 pedestals I measured, all are shaped different, which forces you to make clamps to fit your own boat.  The alignment of the four post holes (ceiling, bridge, top clamp, and bottom clamp) must be perfect as the SS post must be free to slide up/down with temperature changes.  It must be plumb for appearance.

The outside of the clamps were trimmed so they are inline with each other to receive the side panels. Then a forward spacer was fitted with rabbet joints along the sides to receive the side panels.

Fig 6 - The top of the forward panel is fastened to the top anchor on the pedestal with two screws. 


Fig 7 - The bottom of the forward panel is fastened to the bottom anchor with two screws.  The small block below the anchor supports the pole.  It is removable so it is easy to remove the pole.


Fig 8 - Forward panel in place, ready to support the forward end of the side panels in the rabbet joints.  This is all very secure.


Fig 9 - This is the final dry fitting of the 29" tall side panels prior to coating.  The culmination of two days of very finicky carpentry work requiring lots of trips up/down the ladder.


Fig 10 - This is where the free end of the center board lift line will hang.


Fig 11 - Aft view with panels fitted to the rabbet joints & screwed in place.


Fig 12 - And finally, the assembled table with leafs attached.  The wood was stained with Minwax and sealed with Sikkens Cetol.


The SS lift cable was replaced with a double ended Dyneema lift line in summer of 2022. 
See Tech Tip B01.  This was a job many years in the making.

CONCLUSION - The post is strong enough to support a line backer and should therefore dispel all fears of the pedestal ever breaking.  Cutting and fitting the panels was a very complex bit of carpentry work, there being no reference to measure from.  While I had a mental image of the final product, this was mostly a "design and build it as you go" project.  The number of times I climbed the ladder in and out of the boat is ridiculous.  I can't believe I stepped on exactly the same place every time, evident from my foot prints in the dust.  Enclosing the pedestal really does make the "joint" classier.  By the way, a real handy place to install a cabin handhold would be just under the windows, especially if the genoa track is installed against the cabin wall.  See Tech Tip F06  TOP

SETTEE DRAWER - Several members have installed a drawer under their settees to create convenient storage.  It sure beats lifting a cushion and digging through the top access holes or asking someone to move off the bunk.  While I have found a drawer to be very convenient on larger boats, on an SJ23 I would recommend installing a flip down hinged door.  There just isn't enough room to pull out a square drawer.  Whether you install a drawer or a door, you must restore the wall strength to retain the rigidity of the hull.  However, if you sail in an area with high winds and rough water, I would think twice about this installation.  I am not going to install drawers on Panache!  Some issues to note are: 

  • To retain the strength of the settee wall, cut the hole so the corners have a minimum 1" radius.  This prevents stress points in the corners.  File the edges smooth.  Reinforce the inside perimeter of the hole with 1" thick wood or aluminum stiffeners to keep the fibreglass wall straight.  This would also give you a convenient attachment point to mount the drawer slides to.  Note that two smaller drawers will retain more strength than one big one! 

  • To make a flush drawer cut the opening to fit your drawer, then use the cut out as a drawer or door front.  The alternative is to cut a drawer front out of solid wood, using the perimeter to reinforce the hole.  Drill a finger hole pull so you don't create an obstruction for your feet. 

  • It is probably easiest to construct a complete drawer housing that can be installed from the front, through the cut out hole.  The housing requires support at the back, inside the settee.  Mounting it just to the front is a design asking for trouble.  The drawer housing should also be equipped with four L shaped drawer glides for easy slide in/out.  Two at the bottom to support the drawer and two at the top to keep the drawer on the bottom glides. 

  • You MUST install some sort of positive lock to hold the drawer closed so you don't trip over an open drawer when the boat is heeled.  Having a drawer dump its contents on the cabin floor would not look good!  This is NOT a time for visiting crew to be "fancy stepping" their way around the cabin. 

NOTE - An argument can be made for retaining the strength and integrity of the settee wall just in case you puncture the hull in this area.  The idea being that a solid wall may give you some extra time to get to land.  A settee with drawer holes will equalize the water level quicker than if the settee were sealed on the side.  While a solid settee wall CANNOT stop the water from filling the boat, it can contain the water a bit longer thereby slowing the flow.  The ends of the settees are not totally sealed and water will eventually drain from the bow and stern cavities, albeit slower.  Regardless of drawers, once the settees are filled, the water will continue to flow over the top access holes and fill the cabin.  Eventually the hull will fill and well, you don't want to hear the rest!  I am not going to install drawers on Panache! 
- Consider this; an SJ23 hull with a 1" diameter hole forward of the keel will fill to one foot deep in about ten minutes.  The water fills equally throughout the hull.  Once I bailed the cabin, including bow and stern, the settees remained full. It took me some time to realize this and was the reason why the boat sailed so sluggish!
 What a mess to clean up but did I ever have a clean bilge.  TOP

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