SJ23 Tech Tip C04, (Updated 2004-02-17) Bob Schimmel


Forward Cabin Layout, Panache.

INDEX - Cushions, Backrests, Speakers & Pole Storage.

Cushions - I replaced Panache's aging settee cushions with 3" thick medium density urethane foam.  This left enough ceiling height for a 5'10" person to sit comfortably with adequate support for sleeping without bottoming out (170 lbs).  See Tech Tip C08
  • Urethane foam is more expensive but outlasts and outperforms the cheaper stuff. 
  • Memory foam is even more expensive and is the ultimate for sleep comfort.  As your body heats up the foam, it relaxes and you sink into it, cradling you with uniform support and comfort.  It holds this shape till you move which is why it is called memory foam.  Great to keep you from rolling off when the hull rocks.  However, the absolute best to prevent you from rolling is a bean bag mattress in a bed box. 
  • Closed celled foam is warmer than open celled foam. 
  • Closed cell foam floats and open celled foam sinks, although not immediately.  You never know when this will be needed. 

All of my cushions are covered on the top and front with a high quality fabric and the bottom, back and ends covered with vinyl.  I chose vinyl for the bottom so the foam wouldn't wick up water from wherever it might leak or condense.  This way I can stay high and dry during the night.  Its been a wise decision on more than one occasion.  I usually flip them over for dining to protect the fabric from spills during meal time.  Wiping up a spill on vinyl is easy.  There is a zipper around the back for removing the covers for cleaning.
- My original design called for two cushions on each settee for easier access to the storage underneath.  This way I donít have to move as much stuff off the bunk or ask a person to move.  Unfortunately I ran short of material and opted for the improved sleeping comfort of a continuous cushion.  But having fought with a one-piece cushion for many years, I am convinced that two cushions are better.  Maybe in the future. 
- If you look at the photo below you can see a foot long teak fiddle at the forward end of the settee that keeps the cushion from sliding off.  There is another one at the aft end.  If I split my cushion in two I will have to add a middle fiddle to contain the cushions.  They do not interfere with sitting as I don't feel them on the back of my legs.  TOP 

Backrests - The original factory backrests that  covered each opening were made of 1/2" plywood covered with foam and fabric, stapled a zillion times at the back.  They looked very 1970'ish, so they had to go! There was also a low fiddle along the edge of the shelf to keep the stuff there when the boat heeled. 
I wanted to create a unique backrest with a continuous flat finish so I replaced the whole works with a single sheet of 1/2" teak plywood with no breaks in the grain.  To restore the fiddle I carried the plywood to 3" above the shelf.  I used a jigsaw to cut doors in the plywood to access the storage area behind.  Use a blade that cuts on both sides of the teeth to prevent pulling up splinters.  It also makes an incredibly smooth cut. Not all SJ23s have access to the storage area behind the backrests.  I believe this was done to the early SJ23s only.
 Each back rest is held closed with a double roller catch similar to those used on kitchen cupboards of a few years ago.  They are a bit stiff to operate but then they have never opened with the boat heeled. 

Construction - The back rest door hinges are positioned at the bottom, level with the tops of the cushions.  Positioned as such a door flips down to lie flat on the cushion.  I used stainless steel hinges, veneer for the edges and teak finger pulls in the holes to prevent splinters.  The finger pulls were expensive but they improved the appearance so much that it was worth it.  All the teak is coated with hand rubbed satin tung oil for a very durable, washable finish.  Now I have a smooth wall to sleep against and a slightly wider berth to lie on.  With my 5' 10" height I don't have sufficient headroom for sitting.  So I slump a bit and stuff a cushion behind my back.  This works OK, but I find it much more comfortable to sit upright against the bulkhead (full head height) with my legs extended along the bunk.  The cushions are also handy for those guests who are inclined to spend a little longer drinking their grog on a rainy day.  EVERY BOAT has its compromises! TOP

Speaker Enclosures A peek at the photo above will reveal a speaker installed in the top of the bulkhead.  This was done by the previous owner.  While I would never recommend cutting a 5" diameter hole into a load-bearing bulkhead, the plywood has shown no sign of fatigue.  I'm sure this is due to fact that I smoothed the inside of the hole perfectly round to distribute the forces uniformly and saturated the wood with epoxy to strengthen it.  A better technique would have been to surface mount a speaker enclosure against the bulkhead.  When I bought Panache my two sons were quite small and loved to poke sticks into everything, especially speaker cones.  This prompted me to construct the speaker enclosure shown at the left which does triple duty as an "after dinner roll holder" and nightstand for anyone sleeping on the forward berth.  There is a slightly different design of a similar unit on the port bulkhead that stores a small fire extinguisher and the forward hatch bug screen.  Both of them restore some strength to their bulkhead.  The cabin of a SJ23 is not an acoustical chamber so I stuffed the inside of the each enclosure with fibreglass insulation to minimize sound reverberations and a small hole to let air pass for the speaker cone.  The speaker wires are located on the forward side of the bulkhead, right against the hull where they are hidden.  If I had to install speakers from scratch I would have chosen a speaker enclosure on a mounting bracket on the aft side of the bulkheads.  They would be out of the way without compromising the strength of the bulkhead. 
NOTE: My choice in the late 1990s of an AM/FM/Cassette radio equipped with a carbon slug tuner may seem antiquated BUT it retains the station presets during a power down.  Granted it doesn't have seek or scan, which would be nice, but I know the frequencies of the local broadcast stations which seems to be a dieing art these days! 

Construction - Here is my original pencil sketch for building the speaker enclosures.  Please verify the measurements for your installation.  I used 3/8" thick solid oak to build the enclosures and Minwax cherry stain to match the teak.   TOP

Sleeping Bag Storage - I store a light polyester sleeping bag on the forward side of each bulkhead, one with a pillow in an old sail bag.  They are loosely stuffed in their bag to preserve the loft and stay bone dry to be warm at night.



Whisker & Mooring Pole StorageMost small cruisers lack proper storage for whisker, spinnaker or mooring poles.  They are always in the way.  Another compromise?  The design on the right has served me well since I installed it.  No more stubbing my toes on deck!  Moreover, my son always knows where to find the mooring pole, which is his job.  The poles have never come off their hooks, regardless of how rough the water is and they never make noise.  They also double as a handy clothes-drying rack!  

Construction - To mount the hooks I installed a (1x2)" piece of teak with the top end wedged behind the roof liner and the bottom end wedged behind the teak fiddle on the ledge.  The back is shaped to match the curvature of the hull.  The teak is fastened with stainless screws at the top through the hull liner and at the bottom through the teak fiddle.  The J hooks that hold the poles are made from 1" wide stainless steel strapping that I bent into a 1700 curve with a 1.5" inside diameter. They are fastened to the teak straps with two screws to prevent turning.  I applied vinyl electrical tape on the inside of each J hook to protect the pole from scratching.  Leave sufficient space between the upper and lower J hooks to conveniently remove the lower pole. I suppose you could add a third set of hooks for a fishing rod but I thought this would make access to the narrow shelf difficult.  There is nothing wrong with installing a fishing rod holder on the port side though!   TOP 

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