V-Berth Shelves for Nordic Tug 32

By Russ & Carol Birchfield — Spirit, 32-182, Galveston, TX

I just finished our V-berth shelves. Something we thought the boat sorely needed from the start, needing storage for clothes and bed linens. We really did not want closed cabinets, considering weight and mildew issues with closed spaces. So open shelves were the answer and perhaps a net face to keep things on the shelves if needed. But only if really needed. Folded clothing does not move around much.

Pondering the construction—conforming to hull curvature.
Method of fastening to bulkheads—hull and maybe even under deck. Yuk!
Keep them light weight but strong—plywood and vinyl upholstery to match interior.

I decided to tackle the shelf geometry first and see where it led me. I made patterns of 1/2" foam poster board. (See photo below.) Made individual pattern for each side of boat as they were not symmetrical enough to get a proper fit against hull. Cut and taped together several pieces of foam board over sized and rough out the curvature. Transferred curvature of hull to pattern with compass or trammel. Retraced desired depth of shelf (12" seemed perfect for us) offset from first line. Cut and taped pieces of board to fit between for and aft bulkheads. Did all this while maintaining the desired height above cushion or preferably v-berth deck under cushion—This is important.

Ok, it needed a fiddle to keep clothes in place. This is where the design took on its own life. Turned out to be a simple I-beam in cross section. See illustration.

Shelf: 3/16" hardwood ply.
Fiddles: 1/2" hardwood ply. Front fiddle 2 1/2" high. Rear fiddle: 1 1/2" high.

Rout or saw a dado into length fiddles to accept edge of shelf. Make this a very snug joint. Glue together only. Use plenty of clamps to bend and draw together tight. Set overnight. The rest is a bit of cut and fit to match. Seal and finish wood as desired. 1/4" auto headliner for cushion under vinyl covering. Staple and hot melt in place trim out with 1/4round trim.

Only two cleats screwed to the fore and aft bulkheads support and retain the shelves. Screw shelf to cleat two places each end. Longitudinal support is provided by compression along and against the curved hull and inwards slope and the integral strength of a lateral I-beam. The installation provides plenty of strength for its intended purpose without any noticeable deflection. Shelves weigh in at 5 and 6 lbs.

We are real happy with this simple light weight solution to a real storage concern.


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