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"Thelonious" Ericson 32-3

Fuel Jugs, Bookshelf, Tell-Tale Compass

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Fuel jugs appear on deck when a cruiser needs the option to motor past his tank capacity. For the 32-3, that's 22 gallons, or 200 miles. The four 5-gallon containers shown roughly double the cruising range to 400 miles or so.

They're slippery plastic, however, and with only one handle there's no way to easily secure them. What's more, if placed on deck at the shrouds they badly impede movement to the foredeck. My answer was jug racks built of exterior grade 3/4-inch plywood and a couple of coats of paint. They rest on the cabin house, and tilt outward. The jugs are a close fit, and snugged down with line which also provides protection for the deck surface.

The racks themselves are lashed to the turnbuckle mounts. Slots in the back of the rack loosely receive the stays, providing fore and aft security. The jugs weigh about 30 pounds each when full, and the racks are supposed to be strong enough to withstand the force of breaking waves.

It can be quite difficult to refuel at sea, simply because the containers are heavy, the stance awkward and everything is moving. These Briggs and Stratton models from Home Depot have a proprietary valve which only permits flow when the filler tube is depressed against the receiver. Almost all the reviews of that valve on the Web are negative, with a great deal of beefing about design by morons etc. However, on a boat, once the filler neck is jammed into the diesel fill, it actually works remarkably well. The pour is slow, because there's no pressure relief hole--another factor that infuriates people just trying to refill their lawn mower. But the lack of a vent is a plus for jugs on deck exposed to weather and dunking. Not every day we come out ahead in the product design wars.

(On the advice of Ericson Forum counsel I later bought a $15 rattle siphon, which makes transferring fuel easy even offshore.)

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I considered building a simple bookshelf out of mahogany, but it's heavy and expensive. This one is poplar, with stain. It blends right in. Normal sailing conditions don't dislodge the cargo, but I split the base so as to eventually add a movable central bookend--a simple vertical plate held in place with a butterfly nut to keep the books securely together. When you build one I'm sure you'll measure for clearance of the opening port, and not have to take yours off the bulkhead and cut down the outboard end to fit.

A tell-tale compass is a great comfort when below. A proper one would be on the overhead above the bunk, so the captain while lying on his back can grab the speaking tube and call up the bridge, "Damn your eyes up there! Mind the course!" I've tried saying that a few times, but all that happens is somebody throws an empty Diet Coke can at my head. Also, the brass tell-tale compass I found on line was $600.

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This one is $30 worth--the Sea Rover kayak compass from Seattle Sports. It's surprisingly well made for the money, nicely damped, and easy to read even when placed at eye level next to a bunk. It doesn't work upsidedown, but as captain you can still consult it before calling out course corrections from your domain below.

Just remember to duck.

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Comments

  1. toddster's Avatar
    Hmm... I was just thinking of a tell-tale installation, during a v-berth upholstery test (what some untrained individuals might think of as a "nap.") Actually, I was considering a couple of rails to hold my iPad overhead, so I can read more comfortably. But the nav thing would work too...

    Rats. Just realized I left the main hatch wide open when I left. BRB...