Built in an era when boatbuilders thought that fiberglass hulls had to be as thick as their wooden predecessors, my sturdy 1975 Trojan F-32 did not start out its 44 year old life as a long distance, live-aboard cruiser. But not long after I purchased her, I knew she was up to the task with a few modifications. Its interior, after all, is already highly regarded as one of the best laid out, most spacious of all boats in its class and size, but in order to realize my dream of doing The Great Loop, I had a few ideas to maximize its potential to that end, and beyond.
All F-32’s have a galley down configuration. You walk into the main salon through a sliding glass door and step down four steps into the galley, head, and dinette area. I’ll translate for the non-mariners: walk through the living room, down into the kitchen, bathroom, and breakfast nook area. My wife and I had a problem with the dinette or breakfast nook: when sitting down to eat, the view is very limited. Two small ports are all you got.
“What was that noise?”
“I don’t know hon, let me check,” I would say, and proceed to slide out of my bench, climb the stairs, and look around.
“Oh, it’s just the Joneses starting up their new Ranger Tug.” Back down the stairs I would go to continue eating.
“Ooh! What color is it?”
Well, you get the idea. Not a great position for a couple of nosey boaters. The mechanical engineer combined with the woodworker in me and devised a simple solution:
A table connected to the bottom of the salon window with tall swivel chairs. The front one can be swiveled around to drive the boat from the lower helm. The table itself is hinged so it can be folded down for access to the starboard engine. Now we can eat and people-watch to our hearts content.
Next, I turned the dinette into a permanent full-sized bed.
The original dinette was designed to be converted to a bed, but it was a bit too narrow for the two of us to sleep in. The sides of the boat angle in, of course, so I built a platform and raised it to where it was wide enough. As you can see, it hangs over a few inches into the companionway, but not enough to be a problem.
I made the mattress from memory foam I bought at Walmart. I glued together two 4″ and one 2″ thick pads then trimmed it to size with a serrated bread knife. A conventional full-sized sheet set fits nicely. A room darkening curtain on a spring loaded rod provides privacy and keeps the morning sun off my wife’s face so she can sleep late.
There’s plenty of room for a bookshelf above the bed. I attached it to the wood panel that runs along there.
Just to the right of the bookshelf is the access panel to the back of the lower helm station. Every time I wanted to get in there I had to remove 6 screws, a real pain in the butt, so I hinged it.
Since we were no longer sleeping in the vee-berth–the aptly named front part of the boat–I built two long shelves and a work bench. It became our storage and pantry area. I installed a fan and LED lights. Not shown is the Dometic countertop icemaker that fits nicely under the starboard shelf against the bulkhead. My wife duct-taped insulation around the cooler. Sure is ugly but it keeps ice for a week.
This boat had a puny holding tank. Gawd, we were always pumping out. After taking careful measurements, and doing a lot of research on line, I found a perfect match from a California outfit called Ronco. I got a 45 gallon tank designed to fit into the front of a boat. It was a stock tank right off the shelf. Ronco will supply the all the elbows and fittings you need, and tap the holes for them wherever you want.
The original bathroom door opened out into the galley. I didn’t like that at all. It had to be shut all the time or it would get in your way. Bad for airflow, especially for a bathroom. I reversed the hinges so it lays against the bulkhead and can be held there with a drop-latch. I didn’t like the vee-berth door for the same reasons. I removed it and set up a privacy curtain with a tie-back. Guests can go in there and change out of their swimsuits or whatever.
We didn’t have much use for the factory installed electric stove and oven, in fact, we never once used it. We keep Ginger Lee on a mooring at home, and in a slip, that old appliance would require 50 amp service, which meant running two 30 amp shore power cables. Sure, the genset would run it, but who wants to listen to that for an hour while you bake that cake? Not me. We cook on our barbeque grill 90% of the time. Sometimes we use the butane canister stoves made by Kenyon. We have two. I like them because after you’re done you can tuck them away.
I’d rather have the counter space, so I tossed the old Princess stove, and put in a top loading freezer.
I found solar panels the same size as the hatch covers. Between those, and two on the aft-deck top, we run the Engel freezer, the refrigerator, and a 2000 watt inverter continuously.
On long passages, try a Crock-Pot or slow cooker. After three or four hours the wonderful aroma of beef, potatoes, and gravy will fill the boat.
Thanks to Mr. Sun, we have all the continuous electric we need while moored, anchored, or underway. So why do we need a 4,000 watt gasoline powered generator?
I didn’t like having gasoline on a diesel boat. I dunno, it’s like bad form or something, so I removed the gen-set and put an extra fresh water tank in its place. Tank is available from Tractor Supply Co.
Would you believe that generator had a huge 42 gallon gas tank! I cleaned it and now use it as another diesel tank, increasing my range by a substantial amount. I had no problem selling the genset for $1500.
I made a cabin heater from a Ford F-150 heater core and plumbed it into the port side engine cooling system. I used the Ford one because it’s big, and for some reason, substantially cheaper than the others. This type of heater is commercially available for boats, but I’m a dog that needs a job, and I had a 12 volt fan lying around, so I made my own.
Even on a cold day, this thing heats the cabin too much, which is good, because you can always shut it off. Of course, like a car, it only works while the engine is running.
I get a lot of comments on my aft-deck roof. I built it because my fair skinned wife is from the land of the pink people, She actually gets sunburned though a tee shirt. Not me. With my swarthy Italian skin, I’d be out there in full sunlight bronzing like Dennis Eckersley, but you know how it goes, happy wife, happy life.
Over the Winter, I built the aft deck roof in my garage. I carefully photographed every step of the process from beginning to end, including the fabrication of the stainless steel supports, the roll-up clear curtains, and finally, the installation.
Oh, I had big plans. It was going to be an epic blog entry. I would become famous among Trojan owners. The impossible has been achieved! Rick has done it! There would be write-ups in magazines, ticker tape parades down 5th Avenue, interviews on Good Morning America. My God! I would be on Ellen!
Alas. It was not to be. I somehow managed to delete everything from my camera.
We all make mistakes. Right? Now I can only tell you about the process:
it all started with scrap carboard…