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     Built in 1977, the Down East 45 is not what I would term a modern design. There was much sacrificing of accommodation for what I would call ‘traditional design.’ For example the bed in the aft cabin was a downright silly layout due to the two massive lazarette deck lockers which reduced the bed height to only 20” under the lockers. This cabin also had an en-suite bathroom but for some inexplicable reason the wash basin was in the bedroom, making it impossible to climb in or out of bed on the port side.

Project-completeChart-table   A chart table takes a lot of space out of any saloon and this design makes getting in and out of the chart table seat a squeeze. Who needs a chart table nowadays anyway? But then, Britannia  was built before GPS had been invented. I bought a secretaries desk (bureau) and removed the chart table and bulkhead altogether. The desk has a drop down lid which when opened is the same size as the original chart table. It also has four drawers beneath, which increase the storage space as well. The chair is also useful when we need extra seating at the table.

Finished-table   The saloon table was mounted on the port side of the saloon and could not be reached by people sitting in the starboard seats. I built a completely new table, centrally mounted with leaves which swing up and now enables the table to be used from both sides. The center section is smaller than the original table and gives more room in the saloon.

Port-cabin The port side cabin bed was far too narrow for a double because the lockers alongside the bed restricted the width. Yet the small doors could not be opened when the bed was made because they were set too low. I removed these and repositioned them above the bed head where they are deeper and open properly. The existing boatswains locker has been converted into a hanging locker by installing a door from the port cabin.

Finished-cabin3  The forward (fo’csle) cabin has been renovated. I removed the slats on the side of the cabin because it was impossible to clean behind them and they accumulated mildew. I replaced the old vinyl roof covering and replaced them with plastic sheet used in other cabins.

   The chain locker under this cabin was much too small for 300’ of 3/8” chain and  always caused serious chain jamb-ups on deck. The pile then had to be knocked over by hand by someone crawling over the bed. This was very unseamanlike, so I re-routed the chain into the largest storage space under the beds, where it now self-feeds directly from the windlass.

These two drawings show the boat as it was, and how it is now

showing the original layout when we bought the boat.




wheel-pedestal    Major modifications like these are of course a personal choice and others might not agree with what I have done. We have lost some lockers, but there is still tons of storage and the new layout is much more comfortable for us and any guests, since we now have two large modern bathrooms with showers.

    The aft cabin and bathroom alterations have been completed, including the full size bath. The galley is complete including converting the ice box into a very efficient freezer. The Stbd bathroom has been enlarged and now has a shower. The old saloon table was removed and a new one built in the center, allowing people to reach the table from both sided.

    I rebuilt the helm, replacing the destroyer style wheel with a traditional teak and brass wheel, which I think is more in keeping with the rig. I built an instrument pod above the table, to accommodate my new chart plotter/radar, multipurpose depth/wind/speed instrument, the autopilot and all the switches. I also relocated Doorsthe ludicrously positioned engine gages, which were down the side of the cockpit at foot level and difficult to read. You can see the new location on the photograph.

   Another addition has been a powerful sea water deck wash and hose, capable of washing all the ground dirt of the anchors and chain as they come up over the bow roller. Washing the chain, before it goes into the locker, prevents smell in the bedroom. This can also be used to wash the complete deck.

   I also got fed up with the two heavy solid teak washboards which we had to slide in and out of the companionway, with no place to store them in the cockpit. I spliced the two washboards together, then sawed them in half to make two doors. These now open inwards and have inset ornamental leaded lights of Florida lighthouses.

Article by Roger appear regularly in these boating magazines, about alterations to Britannia and other nautical matters

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