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Ericson 38--Bookcase, Stereo Replacement

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Most of us put a car stereo on the boat. They're inexpensive and sophisticated. My existing stereo worked fine, was relatively new, and played CDs just like the one in my 2008 Prius Touring (the best automobile I've ever owned: original brake shoes at 90,000 miles, just about no-maintenance, easy to get in and out of, 45 mph on the highway even with Bridgestone Potenza tires; compare and contrast to all fancier cars).

Where was I? Ah, the perfectly good boat stereo with CD player. Did you know that CD players are entirely obsolete today? A friend of mine wanted one in his new Jeep; it was a special order; he waited three months). Being more hip, I switched to mp3s years ago with everybody else. I can fit theoretically 60 gigs of the stuff on my iPhone to play on the boat.

But my existing stereo had no Bluetooth or aux wire port. So out it had to come. Sixty gigs of music is more than 500 CDs. They don't t fit in your pocket.

A "car radio" is a miracle of compactness that fits into a tightly engineered space on a dashboard with specialized clips. Wonderful. Now try mounting one in a sailboat.

My previous owner had installed a plastic pod sold just for that purpose. I thought it looked like an egg laid by a kangaroo. There are various such mounts on line, but I'm tired of ordering stuff from pictures. So I shrugged and started cutting up the old teak hatch boards again.

The front corners on the box are mitered. I didn't feel like using screws, so the little job offered a test of Gorilla glue on teak. I wiped sample teak mating surfaces with acetone, as instructed, and the next day the glue seemed plenty strong for a no-load box. However, my miters weren't perfect, and my boxes are never perfect, so I put the actual box together with epoxy. It fills gaps and holds teak well.

This $120 non-marinized radio from Best Buy can make phone calls, interface with Sirius, use an app for Pandora and probably capture a higgs boson particle. I won't use any of it. All I needed was to connect to an iPhone. And radio station KJAZZ in Long Beach.

Adding cockpit speakers meant cutting 5-inch holes in the cockpit coaming. I found it easier to maneuver the jigsaw if I first drilled lots of holes in the perimeter so the saw was easier to turn in the confined space. Sawing big holes in your boat is too easy by far. Will the stern fall off now? I have no idea. I considered ordering an engineering study and then just yawned. While sinking from sudden structural collapse, music is soothing.

The speakers are JBLs, about $70 for two. Good reviews, disappointing sound. But they're waterproof! Right, tell that to the rogue wave rising above the cockpit and waving hello. Oh well, at least the speaker holes are high, rather than deep in the well as they often have to be placed.

There's a handy recess around the perimeter of these speakers that will hold shock cord for Sunbrella covers. Plastic left uncovered in the sun crumbles to dust in a few years.


A bookcase makes a saloon feel like home. On the E38 there's no logical place for one. I decided to mount it on the forward settee bulkhead, even though nobody could sit upright under it (higher would be better, but the clock, barometer and an oil lamp were up there and if moved would leave obvious shadows on the teak veneer).

It's designed to be removable. I cut a horizontal strip with a bevel and mounted it securely on the bulkhead (books are heavy).

A corresponding piece on the bookcase is beveled the other way, so it will hang on the strip and distribute the load over 36 inches. The idea was that the bookcase could be lifted off when full seating was needed for guests. It sort of worked, but not well enough to be trusted in a seaway. So I added two big bronze screws later to make sure it stayed put.

As soon as it was finished I knew I'd never remove it. Let a kid scrunch under there. If necessary, I'll sit under it myself like the hunchback of Notre Dame.


The wood is mahogany from Home Depot. I've just about used up the hatch boards by turning them into new stuff and sawdust.

The teak arriving in the Ericson shop in 1984 didn't know what it was getting into. A magnificent tree isn't good enough? OK, spin us for veneer. Saw us for cabin ceiling. Rabbet us for hatch boards. Oh, and now hatch boards aren't good enough any more? You're going to hack us down into pencil holders and stereo boxes and trash bin doors....

Cheer up, tree. Nobody repurposes formica.
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Updated 12-09-2016 at 08:24 AM by Christian Williams

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Maintenance and Mechanical , Racing & Crusing , Ericson Ownership


  1. footrope's Avatar
    Same interior speakers as my boat. Black grille, etc. Interesting. Where will you put the bookcase when it's not hanging up? Shifting stuff around, even to prepare for sleeping or cooking, is what keeps us so nimble.
  2. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Good question. We're having 18 people aboard tonight in the slip (boat parade) and the bookcase is staying up--no place to put it. By my count, with two sitting perched on the V-berth seat and two at the nav station/quarterberth, we can seat 14 people below (Six in banquette and four on settee) for paper-plates buffet.

    I will be the one under the bookcase.

    Update: Believe it or not, we had 27 aboard. Eight in the cockpit and, yes, 19 people below. I would not say the "flow" was good. I did think the boat was going to sink, and from the dock it looked very low and odd. It was a disparate bunch, and afterwards they said they had never met so many people so thoroughly, or been engaged in such "close" conversation. But then, they have never been in the subway in Madrid. There was only one single female, who had the best time of her life, she said, because wives were pinned in place and unable to interfere with her access to their husbands, who somehow found their way to her. Dinner was pasta with meatballs, passed hand to hand like Tequila in a mosh pit. You not think it possible all those people could enter and exit one small companionway, or think it all perfectly normal. You would not ordinarily think, either, of the social advantages of having people sitting on each others' laps. I myself showed an attractive young woman the V-berth, explaining at close range how intimate yachting can be, until she escaped through the hatch. Next time, dog down all the hatches.

    Only one small wine stain on the nav station cushion the next day, and a reminder that, in the slip at least, the more the merrier.
    Updated 12-16-2016 at 09:13 AM by Christian Williams
  3. GrandpaSteve's Avatar
    I thought about building a box to replace the old under shelf mounted cassette deck, but in the end I made a cutout right in the bulkhead. This Jensen unit is AM/FM/ Bluetooth + Aux in. No CD player, which suits me fine. It also has non-volatile memory, so it does not need +12v dc to retain station and bluetooth device memory.