What is the issue?The companionway is a natural place on a vessel to sit and use as a watchpoint when using an autohelm. This is particularly the case for the cruising couple, where there are not too many comings and goings to obstruct, plus the off-watch are typically resting below decks. With a good spray dodger, the location offers protection from the elements and almost instant access to either the cockpit or the navigation table that typically resides immediately below. Although the position has the occasional blind spot, depending upon the spray dodger visor locations, these may easily be circumvented by occasionally leaning back and forth.
The issue with this location is that it is uncomfortable, as one invariably has to sit on the raised frame of the hatch that the washboard slots into. Even when a bridge deck is available to sit upon, one’s legs still fall uncomfortably over the frame and onto the steps leading down below, which tends to cut off circulation after any length of time.
Why address this?This position offers both a natural and excellent position to mount a watch in settled conditions. Facilitating this makes the boat more comfortable and the watch more endurable.
How to address this?Tailor a cushioned stool for the location and add grab holds to the coach roof or below decks, whichever best lends itself to them.
Drawing: Tony Gibson
The grab holds are essential as the position is unsafe with the stool alone. When seated in this position the natural inclination is to grab the front edge of the companionway hatch when the vessel pitches up. As the hatch typically slides back without any resistance, it will cause anyone relying on it for support to fall back badly into the cockpit sole and perhaps injure themselves. Hence grab-holds are essential. Apart from this, it is a small and easy to store solution to the problem.
With thanks to:Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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