Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Taking Steps

You know how you put up with a crappy situation, sometimes for years, because it just doesn't seem worth the energy to put up with the inevitable upheaval if you should try to make a change?  And when you finally do get around to doing it, it's just as chaotic as you feared, if not even more? But then after the dust settles, your life is so much better that you wonder why you waited so long?

For some people, the "crappy situation" could be a toxic personal relationship or a dead-end job. For us it was the companionway stairs.

Before. The steps are steep. They don't fill the space. The cut-off corner on the bottom step is a tripping hazard for visitors unfamiliar with the boat, but is necessary to allow your feet to fit under the nav station. Note three different materials on the risers.
Previous owner of our boat modified the stairs to accommodate an air conditioner. The result worked, but was awkward and (*ahem*) ugly. We lived with it for years and FINALLY are doing something about it. Last summer in Oriental we relocated the air conditioner (more detail here) to improve engine access. Last week we ripped out the old stairs and, inspired by the graceful stairs on El Galeon built a prototype of their successor. The final will be made of teak after we come back from Annapolis. For now, we're making small adjustments and road testing the new layout. It will have four small steps instead of three steep ones in a nod to our commitment to grow old still living aboard.

Stairs on El Galeon, for inspiration

After prototype. (yes it will have a back panel to keep out engine noise and heat!) Four small steps, evenly spaced, and plenty of toe room.

In the last week we've been fidgeting with the exact slope of the stairs. The ones in this photo are too steep and ladder-like for comfort. It also turns out that spanning the full width of the entry doesn't work; it makes the ladder too hard to remove to get access.  So now the prototype looks more like this:

Continuing to fine-tune: a little less slope, a little less width

And even with the unesthetic prototype, we are appreciating the more comfortable stairs.  Can't wait for the final version!

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