V-Berth, Clothing Storage Shelf, Part 1: Mock-Up

The mock-up shelf installed
Space is at a premium on any boat, especially on a twenty-five-foot pocket cruiser. Typically, on a boat this size, there is but one space dedicated to the storage of clothing - the hanging locker. The only problem is that this locker is normally far too small to hang clothing. The hanging locker on my boat was no exception. Knowing that I had to have a space somewhere on the boat for the storage of toiletries, first-aid supplies, and cleaning supplies, and knowing that there was no other practical and easily accessible place on the boat to store them, other than in the hanging locker, I decided to install shelves in this space, i.e., the hanging locker, specifically for these items and to dedicate this space to them.
The hanging locker as it appeared at the time of purchase
This left me in need of a storage place for clothing - clothing that I would not hang up, but clothing that I would store either in a rolled-up or folded-up fashion. The lockers under the settees in the main salon were an option, but they were not preferable, because they were close to the bilge and not easily accessible, covered as they were with cushions.
One of the settees as it appeared at the time of purchase
The lockers under the V-berth were also close to the bilge, and like the settees in the main salon, they were not easily accessible, because they were covered with cushions.
The V-berth as it appeared at the time of purchase
This left nowhere for the storage of clothing except in a duffel bag on the top of a cushion on a settee in the main salon, or on the top of the cushions in the V-berth. Neither of these locations was preferable, because the duffel bags would interfere with the normal use of these spaces. Who wants to move duffel bags around every time he wants to sit down, or perhaps lie down for a nap?

For this reason, I contemplated for some time a solution to this storage problem, and eventually I hit upon an idea for the storage of these duffel bags of clothing on a shelf in the upper area of the forward half of the V-berth.

In this seven-part article, I describe the steps I took from beginning to end in the construction of this useful, yet attractive addition to Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.
As is almost always the case, I began this project by constructing a mock-up. Needing a material that was not only lightweight but rigid, I opted for foam board over cardboard. This foam board was simply a scrap piece of rigid foam insulation left over from an earlier project.

From the very start, I unsure whether I would be able to fit a shelf into this space. After all, the entryway to the V-berth is rather small. This foam board, therefore, would allow me to perform an easy and inexpensive test. After cutting the board to the desired size, I took it out to the boat, attempted to insert it into the space, and, much to my dismay, realized that this approach was a failure. The board would not fit. It was simply too wide and too long.
Not wanting to surrender too quickly, I returned to the main salon, reoriented the board, and attempted to reinsert it into the space.
Fortunately, it just barely fit. From this point forward, I had to remind myself to approach the V-berth in this fashion, whenever carrying the mock-up or the shelf itself.
I had designed the mock-up to fit into the forward half of the V-berth. This would allow enough room for two duffel bags. It would also allow enough room for a person in this space not to feel overwhelmed by the shelf.
I intentionally made the aft edge of the shelf correspond to the midpoint of the alcove box trim. This midpoint in the mahogany trim defined the forward end and the aft end of the V-berth, and this shelf helped to define it further.
You've probably already noticed in the pictures above, that, intermixed with the cushions of golden plaid, is a small cushion of blue-and-gold plaid. This small cushion was not designed for the V-berth. It was, rather, designed for the settee berth extension in the main salon. My boat did not come with one of these optional berth extensions. I was fortunate enough, however, to have acquired one from an Ericson 25 owner who no longer wanted his. Below we see it as it appeared soon after I received it from UPS.
Knowing that during the day, when the settee berth extension was not in use, I would need to store this narrow cushion in the V-berth, I made sure to add the cushion to the space when analyzing the mock-up. This would be the Admiral's quarters, and I wanted to make sure that, if she wished to lie down or take a nap during the day, the shelf and the cushion would not discomfort her.
In terms of securing the shelf in the desired area, I planned to add cleats to the bottom edge of the mahogany trim. The shelf would thus rest on these cleats. Into the aft cleats I planed to drill two holes for two screws. These screws would prevent the shelf from sliding aft.
I couldn't load up the mock-up with duffel bags, but I could get some sense for how much space might be available to me for the storage of the duffel bags. Below, you see that I have placed one of the duffel bags underneath the mock-up. The pieces of wood on the cushions indicate the midpoint and the aft edge of the shelf.
All along, before I had ever come up with the idea for the clothing storage shelf, I had been planning to install a fan at the forward end of the V-berth. Now, I needed to rethink that, since the shelf and the duffel bags on the shelf would impede the flow of air. The fan would need to go at the aft end, either on the port or starboard side.
Since the portside was the entryway side for the V-berth, I decided that the starboard side would be the new home for the DC powered fan. Thinking about this side of the V-berth led me to think about other things that might need to be stored there during the day. When the weather was chilly, this would be the best place for the daytime storage of blankets. It would also be the best place for the daytime storage of pillows at any time of year. Even with all this stuff in there, the V-berth was still spacious enough for someone, namely the Admiral, to lie down and get a little shut-eye, if so desired, during the day.
All of this also started to make me think about the bulkhead on the starboard side of the V-berth. I really liked this bulkhead, because you could sit in the V-berth, lean your back against the bulkhead,  and read a book without feeling cramped by the space. I wanted to keep this bulkhead open for this very reason - at least for the evening hours. During the day, however, why not use this valuable space for the storage of something? That's what I started thinking.
The Admiral likes her clothes and always feels compelled to over-pack. She would definitely need a second duffel bag. This is where she could stow it. A simple hook at the top of the bulkhead would do the job. She liked this idea. So did I.
Content with the mock-up, I marked it with the measurements and prepared to cut the plywood that I would use for the real shelf.

This ends this first of seven postings on the clothing storage shelf that I built for the V-berth of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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