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Date: 3 July 2018. Making a Desk.


During summertime often it is too hot to do much except plan the next project. A few boats away from mine the owner has an air conditioner. What his boat lacked however was a desk with great visibility. I solved that with items from his back yard and a bit of ingenuity. Here is how I made a desk for less than $5.

This is a 36' Gulfstar circa 1973. Her name is Lefty.

The boat Lefty ↑ is your standard trunk cabin vessel with a fly-bridge. Down below and all the way forward is a cabin with vee-berths, a small sink and a composting head. Moving aft on the lower level is a galley to port. Across from that is a huge dinette on the starboard side. Up a few steps to the main salon which also has a steering station. Down three steps and you are in the aft cabin. In addition to bunks there is a full head with a separate shower aft.

Lefty's owner wanted a desk in the main salon. Fortunately where she is normally docked there is a backyard shed. That building contains boat parts. One thing I spotted was an old hatch cover. The size was perfect to hold a laptop. So began the project.

The hatch cover was framed in stainless. Pretty!


A trip to the local hardware store was required. I wanted matching screws for the project. Beach Hardware has stainless ones. They also have a large selection of stainless perfect for boaters. Because this project is for another boater, I opted to purchase matching screws.

Normally I just pick out some screws that are about the right size from my screw box.

Years ago my daughter gave me this kit. Since then I've refilled it numerous times. It's my Go-To for screws.

Aboard Seaweed I tend to use what I have rather than buying new. Many times ideas are implemented while anchored without easy access to a store. I do have a good supply of stainless hardware. In addition to these I have many bottles filled with screws sorted by size.

For the most part I use what is in this kit. It is convenient and easy to access. That trumps other considerations when projects loom. After years of living onboard Seaweed things that are not used frequently tend to be shoved into more difficult to reach spots. My "real" nuts and bolts collection is a pain in the transom to get to. 

Beach Hardware ↓ has everything from hardware to plumbing supplies and even fishing gear.

Jim and Kelley are always ready to help. You met Jim in the Backing Plate Concerns article.

For the desk project, a quick trip down to Beach Hardware on Madeira Beach was the simplest solution. Jim had exactly what was required. He has a sizable selection of stainless screws. I was able to find exactly what I needed in the proper length.

I drilled a hole in the fiberglass portion of the hatch. It's in the middle of the top, inside the stainless trim.

A piece of scrap starboard was screwed to the bulkhead between the two windows to support the desktop.

The owner sat down on the settee. We chose an appropriate height and then screwed the starboard to the bulkhead. Hinges were added to the bottom of the hatch. Then those were attached to the starboard.

Reasoning: I chose to have the starboard for a couple of reasons. First, four screws go into the bulkhead. They spread the contact area thus providing a more secure attachment. Because of the way I installed the hinges, when the hatch cover/desk is raised it lays flat against the bulkhead.

The hinges naturally only open to a point where the desk is horizontal. I did not believe that was secure enough. That is why I drilled a hole through the top for a piece of 1/8" braided nylon line.

The braided nylon attaches to a spot in the overhead, thus providing an additional steadying point.

This is not fancy. The former hatch now has a new purpose. It is a desk.

When folded against the bulkhead, the braided line ties to a small cleat.

This is a simple solution to resolve the need for a desktop aboard Lefty. Perfection would be to add some cork to the bottom side of the desk. Then the owner would have a cork bulletin board when the unit is vertical. That however is another project for a different day.


The desktop I created for the laptop was inspired by this ↓ table.

Table opened:

Support for table top opens with HINGES.

When not in use, the support piece folds flat against the
bulkhead. Then the table top lays flush atop the support.


I love hinges. My dinette table now folds because of two hinges. I showed you that in the
Dealing with Drunks (tool locker and dinette table) article. I still enjoy my new smaller dinette. It is where I do all my writing and a lot of reading too!

In the meantime I'm laying low. Tomorrow is the 4th of July. Boating on a holiday is not fun. I will be home relaxing while reading my Kindle. Life is good afloat.

Happy boating to you, and thanks for reading.

Have you any fold-away items in your home? What?!?
Do you prefer your desk hidden away or out in the open?


2018, 2023

Categories: Boats, Characters, Locations,

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