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E38--Stern Rail Jump Seat

Rating: 1 votes, 5.00 average.
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Visibility at the helm is fine on the E38, especially without a dodger. In fact, with a wheel pilot I'm seldom actually "at the helm," but rather nearby or next to it, steering by the buttons.

That means standing up, because if I sit down on one of the comfortable quarter seats, nicely protected by the weather cloths, I can't see forward sufficient to identify a paddleboarder and her dog prior to violently separating them, or scaring the pants off a Boston whaler, or cutting off some 10-year-old in his Optimist pram. Yes, there is the famous helm hump designed for Ericson Yachts by Lawrence of Arabia. It feels like sitting on a camel.

Therefore, in search of a rest when trapped by a cockpit full of guests, I slapped together a jump seat. In fact, that took five trips to the boat, three plan modifications, and used every tool in the garage.

The first design try flopped because half-inch plywood isn't robust enough to withstand the required cantilever out from the stanchions. I had figured to make a connecting brace out of stainless bimini parts to span the stern pulpit corner. That didn't work because there are no suitable fittings (the angles are neither 90 nor 45 degrees). That meant wood to span the gap and support the plywood. Works fine, but requires rather precise measurements to get the seat flat and resting on the horizontal tubing with minimum overlap.

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The prototype above was padded with indoor-outdoor carpet covered in vinyl. It was hard as a rock and didn't fit quite right, but on a test sail seemed to prove the concept. So I started over. This time I used 3/4" plywood, which is much stiffer, and made the brace out of red oak.

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The seat is padded with 2" closed-cell foam, wrapped in batting and sheathed in vinyl. I had some blue piping left over from cockpit cushions, so added that. It was also another good excuse to get out my $700 Sailrite LSZ-1 sewing machine, set it up, make a mess, and then clean it all up.

I keep telling myself I enjoy two weeks of my life spent on a job like this. I told myself that while driving to Foam Mart for $30 worth of foam cut to shape by the owner, who did a worse job with his expensive equipment that I would have with my serrated bread knife (but did also sell me $12 worth of spray adhesive). I told myself that while shopping for more stainless staples, which when shipped to the giant chain store named Staples, were not stainless at all, sending me back off again from one dying hardware store to another. Did you know that stainless staples are "not recommended for marine use," despite $15 a box? No, no, sir, you need monel staples, at $28 the box. (No, I really don't). And of course I didn't have the right piece of 3/4" ply, so back to Home Depot again. I decline to confess having to watch Sailrite's "how to cover a bench with piping" video three times--again.

The completed seat is held in place with a single pipe clamp on the outboard side. It is quite secure, strong enough to jump on, and looks fairly professional--or at least matches the cockpit cushions I made.

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Worth it? I think so. Time will tell. It does put the skipper well out of the way and gives him a comfortable elevated view forward. On the test sail, the guests all pronounced it comfortable and stylish.

I'll take it. And it comes off with two screws.

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Updated 10-25-2018 at 12:35 PM by Christian Williams

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Maintenance and Mechanical , Racing & Crusing


  1. Rick R.'s Avatar
    Another great innovation Christian. I looked into this as well and often thought they would eliminate the hip numbing that long hours sitting aside the hump cause.
  2. Christian Williams's Avatar
    The other day things got breezy, and I found that while reefing the genoa and cranking the winches my knee dislodged the jump seat vertically several times. So I have added a second copper pipe clamp to hold it down. Sometimes the forces are not simple gravity.