As the knees get older, steps get higher. Last year, at the Annapolis Boat Show I was sitting on a 45-foot VERY expensive catamaran, along with a group of mature sailors who had the rocks to buy said boat. It was VIP and Press Pass Day and there were a lot of well healed folks about. Across the dock was an even more expensive Gunboat 50. Very pretty.
I pointed out that these boats all had tall step disease. A standard step is 7 1/2" x 10", yet even on the largest cats where space was no real concern, the step pitch measured 11" x 5", I suppose because it looked better. In conversation we also learned that fully 71% of our group had either personally or had a spouse go through knee surgery. Two artificial knees were displayed. My wife has an artificial knee, though she was resting it elsewhere, and I have had serious knee surgery. Are the boat builders so stupid--no, I don't think that is too strong a word--that they don't realize the buyers of these boats are either older or will soon become so?
Until now we have used the "runt box" you see under the helm seat. Honestly, only a 6'6" sailor can reach the floor while seated. We would move this box below the step, where it worked well. But while sailing it wasn't really available and own we didn't bother to move it.
Even younger sailor get worn down by big steps over the course of a long day--I can ride a bike 100 miles in 5 hours yet the steps get to me some days--and so I've been fighting my own battle, on a limited scale. The steps leading up from the cockpit are 14 inches and the steps down below are 11 inches.
I built these low stools (the cabin steps must fit under the swing of the bedroom doors) from scraps and a few squares left over from the cockpit floor project. Thus, they cost only a few hours left over materials. I don't think any real explanation is required for a carpenter to reproduce them. For the boat owner and tinkerer, hours spent making sawdust on small projects are not subtracted from out lifespan (yup, I bastardized that a bit).
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Drew, over at Sail Delmarva, continues with this Spring's burst of projects. Today, he is dealing with the problem of out-of-proportion steps on boats: