The Office Returns Aboard

It may seem weird to go from 90 square feet to about 36 square feet, but in the case of the boat, one of our goals is to move all our stuff out off the land storage and onto the boat so we are totally independent of the land if we want to be.

So, with the bigger boat (we moved into a much larger, classic wooden boat from the sailboat in mid-December 2010) the change in expenses plus the greater space made it worthwhile to move my office back aboard. It wasn’t the highest priority but it was still further up the list than, say… painting the trim.

Boats are funny shapes here and there and you really have to optimize your space. When I said I’d take the forepeak cabin for my office–it was being used as a laundry room and junk storage on the narrow stacked bunks–he thought I was being kind of silly, but the forepeak is a difficult space to use for guests or workshop space and as long as I could get all my junk in it, I had no complaint. As an office, however, it is a very odd shape being an equallateral triangle on the outside with a length of 6′ and a width of 12′, but a right triangle with a length and width of 6′ at shoulder height (the floor is only 3′ 10″ at its widest) due to the presence of storage shelves taking up most of the port (left as you look forward) side. We also left the top bunk in place so it could continue as storage. The lower bunk was removed to make room for the desk and chair.
The forepeak cabin before installation of the desk.
It’s difficult to show you the whole room since the space is narrow and the door is even narrower, so shooting from the galley wouldn’t show you any more than this.

So over the past couple of months I’ve been working on it, slowly but surely. Sunday, Mr. Kat got the desk installed in the forepeak, and I’d already moved all my stuff out of the old office and packed it into boxes that were now stacked in the storage section of the office cabin. So I just needed to move some other things around to clear up the storage in the office and I could move in the last of my stuff and set up the desk and chair.

After a lot of discussion, we decided to attach a custom-cut board to the chain locker bulkhead (the forward most load-bearing wall in the boat). Mr. Kat cleverly scavenged the heavy plywood that had been used for the original bunk that we’d removed and cut the desk from that as well as a piece for a shelf that we’ll install later. Here’s the desk:
Starboard desk corner
The starboard (right as you look forward) side of the desk is supported from the upper bunk/storage shelf with a piece of chain, since that required no cutting of legs or attaching to the hull–holes in the hull being something to avoid if possible. The desk is supported on the chain locker bulkhead with two heavy duty shelf brackets. We chose the decorative kind made of angle iron and loops which are not only heftier, but the decorative loops created wire guides right next to the wall to pass power cables through. There’s also an existing hook on the upper bunk to hang other things from like my headphones and mouse cable.

The port (left as you look forward) side of the desk has a supplemental support in the wall of the cubby hole below the paper storage you can just spot up against the bulkhead with the leaf wallpaper. That little cubby is currently not quite finished, but it will eventually have a complete shelf and will house the backup drive and un-burned discs.
Port side of desk with cubbies and the file pile.

We added an anti-static desk mat from Office Depot to create a smooth, but non-skid surface and here’s the desk from just a little farther back with the top of my hulking-great behemoth of an office chair just barely visible in the foreground.
On board office with a bit of chair.

Eventually we’ll get the other shelf installed at the rear of the cabin where the head of the bunk used to be–on the galley bulkhead–so the printer can be placed there. After this photo was taken, I added a desktop drawer set and a letter tray for my small office supplies on the starboard side and now I’m all moved in! It’s not luxurious or roomy, but it suits all my needs and the commute is down from 4 miles to a mere 50 feet (since the bed is at the far aft and the office is at the far forward end of the boat.)

I’ll update when the shelf is installed, but in the meantime, back to writing in my Writer Cave!


About Kat Richardson

Writer, editor, eccentric pain in the tail, bestselling author of the Greywalker novels.
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5 Responses to The Office Returns Aboard

  1. Miss Bliss says:

    How brilliant. Living and working in a boat is always a study in Extreme Use of Space! I look forward to all the awesome stories that will be written in that Writers Cave.

  2. Dawn says:

    It looks great and it is an awesome repurposing of the space! Now you can work in jammies again! YAY! 🙂

    Best of luck and I can’t wait to read more Harper novels created here!

    be well,

  3. Andrew says:

    Wow. That’s really nifty. I dig the work in progress.

  4. Marc says:

    I rather love it. I’ve also got two suggestions.

    1. I see your headphones hanging there. When I wear my headphones while typing, it drives me nuts to constantly have to brush the cable out of the way. So, for the last several years, I ran a 1/8″ male to female extension wire under my desk so the head phone jack shows up just at the edge of my desk and off to the side. This lets me enjoy my music unencumbered by the nuisance wire. As a foot note, I wear a pear of head phones that have a single wire on the left ear cup and keep the wire to my left.

    2. To avoid splinters, you should think about putting some kind of molding on the edge of that desk.

  5. That’s all on the to-do list. I just haven’t gotten to it yet, because galley proofs arrived today.

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