Spirit is a 1986 Catalina Capri 18.





This log presents some of the work done on her to turn a very small daysailer into
a comfortable weekend cruiser.

The Capri 18 is "dimensionally trancendental" - meaning that she is larger inside
than outside. At least is seems that way when below because there is an amazing
amount of room below for such a small ship.

Still, the biggest problem with most small boats is the lack of storage space.

The second biggest problem is the amount of stuff we tend to bring along -
just in case?

Taking a realistic inventory of what we actually need was helpful.
But the boat needs something to help organize and secure all the stuff.


Fo'csle vs V-Berth

I sometimes have guests aboard for day sailing, but cruising and overnight trips
are just for two people. No kids in the V-berth! So why have a V-berth?

Wouldn't a forecastle (fo'c'sle) be a lot more useful?
Where to stash stuff so it is easy to find (not burried under all the other stuff)?
So I came up with some simple ideas to help organize things.

The Captain's Office to starboard has chart table and locker.

Like any good nav station, the lid of the desk is hinged for access below.
Forward of the chart table is the caprain's locker. Room for binoculars,
spirits, and personal effects stashed in a waterproof plastic box.

Forward of the lockers is the proposed sail loft. It is about 4 feet long and would
be a great place to stash It is large enough to stash a complete set of well folded
sails, several PFDs, fenders - what ever.

The small anchor (10 pound) will fit below the loft shelf, along with a plastic dish
pan below the sail shelf will hold all the extra docking lines and a couple of plastic
buckets for anchor rodes and chain.

The 12 pounder hangs out on the bow pulpit.

Lastly, notice the bunk shelves located above each berth. Catalina forgot to put
them in the boat. BIG mistake! So I'll make my own.

Well, that was the plan. Ambitious?


Here is how it turned out.

I didnt get the sail loft done, but I think the rest came out pretty well.

To port is the galley. The sketch shows double lockers, but in the end I wanted
to keep the water jug handy, so only the forward half is closed in.
The aft end has a water jug with a plastic dish pan below.
Besides, it looked better with the lockers opposite each other.

As you can see, this made a substantial increase in usable space in a very small boat.

The sail loft shelf would have been perfect here.
But like the Rolling Stones said - You Can't Always Get What You Want, Babe.

Still, it wouild have made a big difference!


Bunk Shelves:

These are so useful, and so well placed, they should have been installed at the factory.
What a difference they make in such a cozy cabin.

These are hand laid laminated fiberglass - with a foam core in the horizontal surface and have
a molded lip inboard and outboard for stiffness.

They are about six inches wide in the center, and taper slightly at the ends.

Velcro holds the shelves to the brackets so they can be removed easily when desired,
but stay tight the rest of the time.

The shelves were hand laid using some left over 8 ounce glass fabric and West resin.
They were formed on the simple mold below - each on an opposite side.

The "flat" part (not really visible here) had a 3/8" thick urethane foam core for added
stiffness. At each end is a piece of 3/8" birch plywood scarffed in to make a hard point
for mount screws - should the be needed. (but they didn't. The velcro worked fine)

 As you can see, the "mold" is nothing more than four pieces of 3/8"
birch plywood with a Bondo fillet in the corner. The whole thing was
sprayed with several coats of sanding sealer and heavily waxed
with paste wax.


The shelves, complete with inboard lip were laid up first. Then the operation transferred
to the boat for the next step. I wanted and outboard flange on these shelves but it needed
to match the curvature of the hull. So - why not use the hull itself for that part of the job?

On the port side (first try) I taped some sheet plastic to the inside of the hull and laid up
some 2 to 3 inch wide strips along the outboard edge - overlapping on the hull and shelf top.

Then I laid on a strip about 6" wide to cover all that. It kinda sorta worked, but the plastic
would not stay up against the hull and I had a bit of extra "clean-up" work to smooth things
out before laying on the last layers of glass (top and bottom).

The starboard side went "smooth as glass". I simply ran long strips of duct tape on the inside
of the hull to form the outboard lip form, and taped a piece of plastic below the working area
to catch drips and mess. This worked beautifully.

Once the outboard lips were formed the final step was another layer of 8 ounce fabric top and

The "mounts" are small wooden blocks carved to shape and screwed in place.

After a while I decided that the outboard flange was pretty much perpendicular
and added a plywood surface there. But then I sold the boat and haven't made
any more shelves. So now I'm looking for someone with an 18 to take over this


Companionay Ladder

This is a picture of the companionay "ladder" we added. It was found at C-Me Marine sales as
a folding foot step.

C-Me Marine Sales can be found on the web at http://www.c-mesales.com/ or by
phone at 800-659-4262. Their order number 07103 for $29.99.

For those interested in the nuts and bolts, the top bolt is 1-1/4", the bottom one is 1"
and the middle one is probably 1-1/8" long (not installed). My local guy didn't have
the right lengths, so I got 1-1/2" long 1/4x20 SS machine screws and trimmed them
to length.

An abrasive cut off wheel on a Dremel will do the job after installation, but I cut
them on the chop saw. (Angle iron bracket clamped to the saw with the bolts bolted
down tight. When removed, the nut will help clear the trash off the end of the bolt).

The nuts are elastic stop nuts (acorn heads won't fit when folded).

Don't forget the washers!

Also notice that when the step is folded down the mount brackets
may not be exactly parallel to the step any more. Measuring the
bolt hole spacing and transfer that to the wall where you want to
mount the step. Otherwise, the bolt heads may interfere with
the folded up step.

I set mine so that it's an inch or two higher than the cockpit sole.

I can't describe how pleased I am with this set up!

It is very sturdy and provides a secure footing at just the right height
to enter or exit the cabin. Stepping onto a wobbly ice chest - or all the
 way to the cabin sole seems to me a very good opportunity for someone
to get hurt. This guy makes it easy and comfortable.

Best of all, the bottom half of the companionway boards can be left in
place and still have easy access to the cabin!

If I were running Catalina Yachts, somethink like this would be
standard equipment!
It's so much more stable than stepping on top of the ice box!

VHF Base Station:

Cobra VHM55 base radio installed out of the way near the
companionway hatch.

I made a mount bracket from an old computer chassis to replace
the plastic bracketthat came with the radio. The steel bracket
(properly primed and painted to prevent rusting) is thin enough
to mount on the bottom of the winch bolts.

 No added holes!

Outboard Motor:

Hiding under that cover is a mighty Briggs and Stratton 5 HP outboard motor.

Yep, just like the motor on your lawn mower.

It is on a spring assisted swing up mount and can tile to get teh prop completely
out of the water (for racing! And yes, with our handicap we can beat you long
after you 're home (and maybe in bed!)). At 55 pounds, it is probably a little
heavy for the 18, but it has proven capable of maintaining way into 30 mph
winds, so it's a keeper.

One problem I ran into immediately was steering. With the motor running I
found I had one hand on the outboard tiller, one on the rudder, and the main
sheet in my teeth. So I came up with the following rig to lock the motor so that
it doesn't turn except when I want it to.

This is my solution. A brace link made with two clevis ends and a pair of
aircraft type eyebolts. The mount end had a bent stainless steel bracket
(made from on old fitting). The quick release pin lets the operator pull
the pin for normal steering.

The clevis ends screw on the threaded rod allowing the length to be
adjusted, which changes the motor's thrust line angle. That makes it
possible to to trim out the motor thrust (motor is on port side) to power
in a straight line. It only works for one power setting, so I trimmed it
out for meduim power cruise.



Cabin Lighting:

Also note the little red light near the radio. This is a Dot-It, made by Sylvania.
These things are awesome. Powered by three AAA batteries, they burn for
WEEKS (maybe months?) before needing to have the batteries changed.
They have a sticky back for mounting, but - the back plate must be removed
to replace the batteries.

So... I used sticky backed velcro - loop side on the light and patches of hook side
stuck on the overhead in handy places. Highly recommended and less than $10.


AC Power:

The AC power strip has a 15 amp circuit breaker and Ground Fault Isolation (GFI).
I wire it up to a Marinco battery charger connector and called it done.

The Battery Maintainer plugs in here. As well as any other AC devices (a fan in summer, and a
small heater in Winter. On this size boat, what more could you want?)


But some things you can't buy or make.
Those you just have to find...




Be careful what you wish for!
You just might get it!

Fair Winds!