This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Sleeping Platform for Navigator

Here is another project I've been working on lately.  It's a sleeping platform for my Navigator.  It's still a work in progress, so check back here later on for updates.  I hope to try it out for the first time this weekend at Sucia.

There is plenty of room in Navigator's cockpit to sleep one or two full sized adults, especially if you fill in the footwell area.  Without this filler, the seats are too narrow for comfortable sleeping, at least not for an adult my size.  But add this filler and one or two sleeping pads plus a boom tent, and you're all set for a blissful night at anchor.

This sleeping platform is strong enough to sit, lay or carefully walk on.  It fits flush with the seat tops.  There are no edges poking you in the back to interrupt your beauty rest.  Mine is built in two halves to accommodate one sleepy sailor or two, but you can build it as one piece if you prefer. When not in use, it stores away on the cockpit floor under your feet where it requires essentially no additional storage space.  All you need to build this platform is one sheet of plywood.  I used 1/4" ply but you can use 3/8" if you want yours to be extra tough.

Sailing solo?  Then just set up one side.  You'll have plenty of room not only for sleeping, but also to sit, get dressed and undressed, or anything else.

This platform is sturdy. The secret to its sturdiness are its supports, which use ingenious sliding-slot interlocking technology.  There are three supports per side.  When not in use, the supports slide apart for easy storage.  No glue, fasteners, hardware or tools are required.

When finished using the platform, disassemble the supports, lay them on the cockpit floor, and then lay the platform halves over them.  Or, if you'd rather not have them underfoot, store them elsewhere, like on your front thwart.

Building the platform is easy.  Start by cutting a piece of plywood oversized, lay it over your footwell and trace the outline of the footwell onto the plywood from below.  Cut out the pieces.
To build the supports, rip several strips of plywood 12" wide.  Because the footwell is deeper at the front than the back, the three supports need to be different lengths.  Stand the plywood strip in the footwell and trace the seat top onto it. Offset that line down by one plywood thickness and cut out the part.  Make three more copies of it.  The bottom of the supports will have square corners but the top edges will be at a slight angle, with the taller side facing forward. Cut slots in the center of the support, halfway down from the top on one piece and halfway up from the bottom on the other. Make the slots the same width as your plywood thickness.

Repeat the process for the middle and aft supports.  Sand and finish the platform as desired.  For quicker assembly, label where all the parts go with a sharpie.

Pleasant dreams!


  1. Joel -

    Very elegant solution. You are a master at this innovative stuff and Ellie is a most worthy recipient of your talents.

    I may consider this as a SCAMP solution but I'm concerned about the weight of the plywood setup, especially if it was 3/8". How wide is your well? Perhaps you will need tensioned fore/aft webbing on each side of the well to hold them in place during sailing foot traffic or in the event of a capsize. Having them floating around loose in a capsized boat would make recovery a lot more difficult.

    I was planning on using three sections of bamboo slates joined by webbing that could be rolled and stowed in the seat lockers.

    I don't doubt that you will be sleeping well on them:-)

    Thanks for the great write-up


    1. Thanks, Simeon,
      The well is about 28" wide at the front and 22" at the rear. 1/4" plywood is strong enough to stand on, but it slides around rather easily when I bump into it. I think the extra weight of 3/8" would help hold it in place better. I'm having second thoughts about storing it underfoot. It tends to slide around when walking on it which could be dangerous. And you're right, the pieces should be lashed together and lashed to the boat. I'm going to see if I can store them on the front thwart. It's a work in progress.

  2. Ok here we go
    1. Doh......why didn't I think of that?
    2. Oh what it is to be an engineer....what an elegant solution
    3. Would you mind if I copied it for Arwen? Or adapted it?

    1. Hi Steve!
      1) Probably because you spend less time daydreaming at work than I do.
      2) Thanks! I like simple solutions because I'm a simple man.
      3) Of course, Steve! Sharing ideas and experiences, and helping one another is why we do what we do my friend!

  3. did you secure them, just in case of an accident capsize?


    1. You're a step ahead of me Steve. I haven't even thought about securing them for a capsize yet, to be honest. My plan would be to first save my soggy behind, then if I could gather my drifting platform pieces, that's frosting on the cake. But yours is a much better plan than mine. I think they could be secured by drilling some holes in strategic places so the pieces can be lashed together and lashed to the boat, somewhere where they won't get in the way. Got any ideas?

    2. The two large platform pieces are too big to fit on my front thwart, but they would hang fairly well lashed under the side decks between bulkheads 3 and 5. Or, if I hinged them and made them from three pieces so it folded up accordion style, then folded it would be about the same size as the support pieces. Then the entire stack of pieces could be stored under the rear thwart.

  4. Hello Joel,
    I am truely impressed by your clever design,

  5. Joel...did you come up with a solution to storage? I'm thinking leaving them in footwell but lashing them in via wide webbing straps attached to cockpit side walls?

    1. Steve,
      I lay the two platform halves on top of the aft thwart. They are too slippery underfoot. I stack the supports into a tidy bundle and store them underneath the aft thwart. That's been working well enough. Maybe someday I'll think of something better.

    2. If 3/8 was used, I would've thought it would be strong enough with out needing the supports under it [?]
      Would halve the cargo, and then piano hinging it in 3 sections would reduce the length issue too, as you've already suggested

    3. I wanted the platform to be flush with the seat tops so I wouldn't have any edges poking me in the back or damaging my sleeping pad.

  6. I agree with everyone: elegant solution!
    Especially since I just built a 36 partition shoe rack for my wife on the same slotted divider principle. Your idea might be the Final Solution on how to make a sleeping platform for my small Bolger designed Sharpie.