Make it Boaty!

In our work, just as in many other professions, tidiness is important.

Recently, I attended a wooden boat show in Clayton, NY, home of the amazing Antique Boat Museum. Clayton, a pretty old town with lots of cafes and shops, sits on the St. Lawrence River, close to Lake Ontario and Canada. It is a tidy place. Things are well kept and well built, and efficient use is made of space there. I use a catch phrase for these qualities. When I want our designers to find space for storage or for the field crews to make things tidy, I say, “Make it boaty!”

You can see from these images that, on a boat, you must use space very efficiently and make sure that things get put away. Loose items can break or injure people when the boat rocks. In emergencies, items left lying around can cause serious problems.

On this boat, little cupboards are lovingly fitted into doorways or alleys. Map storage goes below the ladder. The bar is in the hallway. One of our trademarks is that on every renovation project, we look for similar storage and function opportunities.

The “head” — or toilet — in the front cabin of this boat (it sports two luxe compartments each with their own head!) is in the front, or bow, area. Quite a lot of thoughtfulness went into fitting that toilet into that space. All of the woodwork is nicely painted and easy to clean. The cabinetry and doorways are small and thoughtfully fitted. They are painted wood, probably spruce or fir, trimmed in mahogany. Each has brass fittings, and there is always a hook on the door so you can hook it open for air flow without the door slamming when the boat rocks. You’ll see lots of openings or vents in doors to help prevent musty odors and encourage air flow. The metal hatches encourage air flow, too, and these are latched with bolts in heavy seas so water stays out.

You can see the large glass windows on this boat drop into the wall sections. That’s a smart way to use the wall cavity space. Some very old houses in Philadelphia have similar windows that lift up or drop into the wall spaces instead of window jambs. Many times, these large windows face covered porches so the open windows would become doorways onto the porches.

The kitchen area has extra sleeping spaces on the benches at the tables. This old boat’s kitchen also sports an icebox, wet sink, tidy storage and a stove! It’s only about 36–40 sf of space, but it packs a lot of use into that footprint. I’ve cooked on boats before, and you have to have great discipline to work in so small a space.

I took these photos because I felt this boat was such a fine example of the kind of love and thoughtfulness great designers and craftsmen can put into a project. And this is what I mean when I say, “Make it Boaty!”