Anchor, Chain Locker, and Anchor Roller, Part 4, Anchor Roller Platform, Construction, Part I

The mahogany anchor platform dry-fitted into place
Having reached some conclusions concerning the placement of the various components of the new anchoring system, it was now time for me to discard the mock-up piece of wood that I had used to assist me in reaching some of these conclusions; likewise, it was now time for me to construct the real piece of wood that would rest at the bow. This piece of wood needed to be some two inches thick, in order for it to correspond to the raised fiberglass shelf at the peak of the bow. This piece of wood also needed to be of a sort that was appropriate for the marine environment. I had a scrap piece of mahogany from my earlier construction of a new companionway hatch. It was this piece that I selected to use for this anchoring system project. In my first posting on this project I spoke of anchor platforms, that is, those planks of wood on some boats that project outward, over the bow. This block of wood on my boat would not project outward in the same way that anchor platforms on other boats do. Nevertheless, it would resemble them. For this reason I came to call this block of wood my anchor platform, and from this point forward I will refer to it in that fashion in this series of postings on this subject. How I constructed this anchor platform on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, is the subject of the present posting.
You'll recall from my previous posting that I had constructed a mock-up that was stubby in appearance. Its aft end terminated on the forward end of the chain pipe.
In this regard, this mock-up closely resembled the set-up of the Ericson 25 owner in Alaska. As I said in two previous postings, this was the model of sorts that I consulted in the creation of my own set-up. You might remember me saying that one thing I did not like about this Alaska owner's set-up was that it was cramped in appearance. In other words, the block of wood looked like it was encroaching on the chain pipe. Moreover, it appeared as if there was not a fair lead from the chain pipe to the anchor roller, since the roller and the chain pipe were at two different heights.
There more I thought about it, the more I realized that my mock-up, despite the fact that I had oriented it in a more visually pleasing fashion along the centerline of the boat, was just as awkward looking. My problem was that I could not think outside the confines of the chain pipe. I looked at the chain pipe as an obstacle that I could not and should not overcome. Suddenly, however, I realized that my set-up did not need to be confined by the chain pipe. It could, in fact, incorporate the chain pipe into it. I had cut an oval hole in the deck to accommodate the chain pipe. Why not also cut an oval hole into the block of wood above it? That was what I started thinking, and that changed everything.
I began by using the mock-up as a guide for scribing an arc at one end of the piece of mahogany. I did not make marks along the sides of the mock-up. I did not want to make the piece of mahogany more narrow than it already was. I wanted all the mahogany I could get, because this would provide a better foundation for the anchor roller.
After I had scribed the arc, I marked the centerline of the mahogany.
The arc that I had scribed was not clean and symmetrical. After all, I had based it upon a hastily fashioned mock-up. I searched the house far and wide for some object whose curvature matched the arc that I had scribed. A friend was visiting at this time, and at this time he'd gotten into stir-fry dishes. He grabbed his well-used wok. It worked just right. Do I care about using household objects such as this one in fashioning one thing and another? Not a bit. I learned to improvise like this long ago when messing around with power tools as a youngster.
One thing that I had never done when I constructed the mock-up was to bevel its edge so as to take into account the beveled edge of the shelf against which it would be placed.
I made this cut with my Makita jigsaw.
The angle of the bevel in the mock-up seemed to correspond well to the angle in shelf.
For the cut that I would make in the mahogany, I made sure to install a new blade. I selected a Bosch T-101BR Reverse Cut blade. This would make for a clean cut through this dense wood.
I made sure to make the cut in one, unhalting sweep from port to starboard. This was the easiest way for me to ensure that the cut would be smooth and consistent. Starting, stopping, and restarting can cause a jigsaw blade to walk, especially when making a beveled cut such as this one.
Out on the boat, I dry-fitted the mahogany into place. At this time I was not sure whether I should allow this wood to remain at its existing length or whether I should cut it shorter. If I left it as it was, there would be about 8 inches of excess mahogany aft of the chain pipe. I didn't really need this much, but this excess amount made the entire piece look just right. My friend and I talked back and forth about the pluses and minuses involved, and ultimately the consensus was that the full piece of mahogany was preferable. It just looked so much better. There was something about the proportions of it relative to the bow of the boat. Moreover, the excess on the aft end might one day be a useful foundation for some other piece of hardware such as a pad-eye for the securing of some object to the foredeck.
Two major obstacles that I had to overcome in the creation of the mahogany anchor platform were the two forward legs on the pulpit. With the mahogany being the width that it was, I would need to create some cutouts on the port and starboard sides so that this piece of wood could fit in this space. I used cans of food to help me get an idea of the size of the cutouts that I needed to create.
I decided that it would be much easier to figure all of this out, if I removed the stainless steel bases from the legs of the pulpit.
One of the challenges that I faced in the creation of these cutouts was that the legs were not straight up and down, but angled. To keep the cutouts from being excessively large and awkward looking, I needed make the cutouts angled as well. I first made some cutouts in the mock-up. I used these to gauge how large I should make the cuts on the topside of the mahogany.
I intentionally started small so that I could work up to larger cutouts. Better to remove small amounts of material at a time than too much at once.
The cut on each side was tricky. I had set the Makita jig saw to cut at an angle. This allowed me to make the top of the cutout small and the bottom of the cutout large. The cutout, in short, was wedge-shaped. Additionally, it was curved. Both of these things made this cut tricky. The burn marks are a testimony to the friction generated by the blade in these tight quarters.

The first cutouts were not as large as they needed to be.
Therefore, I made two more wedge-shaped cuts on both sides.
These new cutouts were the right size. When I tried them out on the boat, they fit well with regard to the stainless steel bases for the legs of the pulpit.

My dry-fit of the mahogany at the bow of the boat revealed that I needed to trim some material from the forward end.
This helped.
The forward end of the mahogany now fit more snugly against the shelf, but the fit was still not perfect.
I was worried that if I continued to attempt to remove small amounts of material from the forward end of the mahogany with the jigsaw I would ruin the nice, clean lines of the curve that I had cut into this piece of wood.
A power sanding tool would not do the trick. I knew that from trying to reduce mahogany by sanding in the past. This wood is just too stubborn. That's when I hit upon the idea of using an angle grinder. This tool worked just right. It allowed me to make very fine adjustments to the shape of the wood.
After multiple trips back and forth to the boat, I finally got the mahogany to fit the curvature of the shelf like a glove.
My work on the forward end of the mahogany had the unintended consequence of altering the fit of the stainless steel bases on the port and starboard sides of the wood. Consequently, I had no choice but to make the cutouts even larger on the port and starboard sides.

Despite all my work, the mahogany still did not fit as well as it needed to fit around the stainless steel bases on the port and starboard sides. At issue were the flanges on the stainless steel bases. I needed to make room for these on the bottom side of the mahogany. In the picture below, you'll see that I have turned the mahogany upside down, and I have scribed and arc with a can of Pettit mahogany stain.

Back at the cut table, I created a jig out of a scrap piece of pine.
I clamped this jig to the underside of the mahogany.
With my router in hand, I removed about 3/4 inch of material from the underside of the mahogany.

These semicircular routed sections, as I said, would provide the necessary space for the flanges of the stainless steel bases.
Back on the boat, everything fit just right.
There was plenty of room for the flanges on the underside of the mahogany, and there was plenty of room for the legs of the pulpit on either side of it.

This was a good start, but I still had a lot of work to do in terms of shaping this piece of mahogany to a finished state. I needed to shape the underside to account for the camber of the deck; I needed to cut the hole for the chain pipe; and I needed to figure out where to put the chock and the chain stop. Before I could do all of this, however, I needed to patch some old holes in this area of the bow.
This ends this posting on the initial steps I took toward the construction of the anchor roller platform for Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

Anchor, Chain Locker, and Anchor Roller, Part 3, Analysis, Part III

The components of the new anchoring system loosely fitted into place
Having completed my thoroughly unexpected and thoroughly unpleasant digression to repair the deck core at the bow of the boat, I could now continue to determine where I would install the various components of the new anchoring system that I had purchased for Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25. The steps to reach some conclusions on this layout issue out are the subject of this posting.
You'll recall from the previous posting that I had cut the hole for the new oval chain pipe that I would install over the chain locker. You'll also recall that I had decided to install a block of wood on the centerline of the deck and that this block of wood would serve two purposes. On the one hand, it would provide a foundation for the anchor roller; on the other, it would conceal the hole that I would soon patch in this area forward of the chain pipe. This was the hole where the old ventilation cowl was located. In the picture below, the mock-up block of wood is concealing this hole.
I knew that I would need to custom-cut this block of wood so that it would fit into this space. Below you see the arc that I have scribed at its forward end.
Below, we see the mock-up dry-fitted into place.
Now it would be easier for me to figure out where exactly I needed to install the Garhauer brand anchor roller and the Lewmar brand chain stop.
The picture below illustrates clearly why the real block of wood would need to be about twice as thick as the mock-up. You can also tell from this picture that I had not yet fully determined how I would terminate the block of wood on its aft end. Notice that in this picture the wood encroaches on the flange of the chain pipe.
You'll notice below that I have scribed an arc along the aft end of the block to see whether a a block of wood in this shape would be both practical and visually appealing.
My work with all of these components was not as easy as it might seem. It was hard to hold the anchor roller in one hand and a chain stop and a pencil in the other. I also, of course, had to take into account the anchors that would hang on this roller. The roller had to be positioned far enough forward so that the anchors would not come into contact with the hull of the boat, but the roller could not be positioned too far forward; otherwise it would present more opportunities for trouble in terms of the fouling of the anchor rode on the roller when the weather was up.
I had purchased two different anchors at two different times, taking advantage of the price matching that West Marine used to do. First, I purchased a Lewmar brand Delta plow anchor. This 22 pound anchor was rated for boats in the 25 - 41 foot range. My friend with the Stamas 27 powerboat (that I discussed in the previous posting) had success with this type of anchor in the pluff mud of the Carolina Lowcountry, so I figured I would too. This anchor fit well in the 24 inch Garhauer AR-30 anchor roller that I had earlier purchased.
Below we see my friend's Stamas 27 as he launches it from his trailer for camping trip we made out to Capers Island, South Carolina, an uninhabited island north of Charleston. At the bow is a Delta plow anchor, at this moment resting on its side. I believe he had positioned it this way on the deck to prevent it from getting snagged by the bow roller during his launching of the boat.
My thinking on the size of my Delta plow anchor changed when my friend and I later made a weekend trip out to the inlet at Morris Island, South Carolina for the annual campout for the Friends of the Morris Island Lighthouse. This lighthouse, long ago abandoned, now sits in the water off Morris Island, an uninhabited island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. At any rate, there was a low pressure system off the coast of Florida. On the second night we were out there at the Morris Island Inlet the wind picked up to 30 knots, and many of the boat owners spent a sleepless night setting and resetting their anchors because their anchors simply would not hold. My friend's Stamas 27, which was similar in weight to an Ericson 25, held fast, but only because he'd anchored his boat in a nearby tidal creek. All of those in the inlet were harried by the unrelenting wind.
As soon as I got back home I began to look around for a heavier anchor. I had heard good things about the Lewmar brand claw anchor, and I found a 33 pound one for sale at an incredibly low price on the Defender website. The local West Marine matched the price, and I walked out of the store with this weighty monster in one hand and my Garhauer anchor roller in the other. Yes, this 33 pound claw fit into the Garhauer roller, but just barely. This claw was rated for boats in the 36-40 foot range. Everyone knows that these specs change when you factor in high winds. I had seen too many persons at Morris Island spend a miserable night fighting the wind. I didn't want what they had on any night I might spend on my Ericson 25.
I decided that I would make the 33 pound claw my primary anchor and the 22 pound plow anchor my secondary one. Fortunately, both anchors fit well on the anchor roller in the spot where I hoped to install it on the bow. In other words, neither posed a threat in terms of damaging the hull. A friend stood on a ladder and held the anchors in place while I knelt on the bow and held the roller in place. With my one free hand I quickly marked the spots where I needed to drill the holes for the bolts that would hold the roller in place.
The carriage bolts for the anchor roller were 5/16 inch in diameter.
I decided that I would drill only one hole. This one hole would allow me to insert one of the carriage bolts and then pivot the roller here and there slightly until I figured out the best spot for it to be.
The peak of the bow through which I drilled the hole was over two inches thick. It appeared as if Ericson had sandwiched a block of wood between two thick layers of fiberglass.
As soon as I drilled the hole I went below and looked up into the chain locker. I had done a lot of guesswork in attempting to determine where this hole would be. Fortunately it appeared that there would be enough room not only for a washer and nut on this bolt, but also on the next one even farther forward than this one.
With this one carriage bolt loosely inserted into this first hole, I could now freely experiment with various arrangements at the bow. I still had not quite figured out where I would install the chain stop and how I would cleat off the rode when the anchor was deployed. Below you see that I am using the 1/2 inch nylon rode in place of chain to make some decisions about the chain stop. I had no desire to use the heavy chain for this experiment.
Ideally, I wanted a cleat between the chain pipe and the anchor roller.
This was similar to what my friend with the Stamas 27 had. He used one of his two cleats when setting the anchor. He had the luxury of lots of space at the bow. I did not.
I considered the set-up below, but I was concerned that there was just not enough space for me to make proper use of the cleat.
This was when I began to think about using a chock to guide the nylon rode to one of the cleats on the port or starboard sides of the bow.
I also, however, considered installing a Samson post, also called a mooring bit or bollard. I knew someone else who had a set-up with one of these pieces of hardware.
I looked at the dimensions online for the Whitecap brand and the Sea Dog brand Samson bits. This was the only way I could determine whether one of these would fit in this space. Above we see the Whitecap brand Samson post available from Defender.
I liked the Whitecap Samson post because it seemed to be of a higher quality.
I marked the wooden block mock-up to get a better idea of how the Samson post would fit, or not fit, in this space.
Eventually I concluded that there just wasn't enough space for the Samson post. With about 18 inches more space between the anchor roller and the chain pipe it might have worked.
Having abandoned this idea, I returned to my previous idea of using a chock to lead the nylon road to one of the cleats at the bow. This was the most workable solution. Now I needed to create the real wooden block that I would place here at the bow. That would help me figure out exactly where I needed to locate the chain stop and the chock.
This ends this posting on how I reached some firmer conclusions regarding the set-up for my new anchoring system on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.