How Big Is Your Hat Locker?

You have to wear a lot of hats to keep a boat going. Engineer, navigator, bosun, mechanic, plumber, rigger. Yesterday I had to break out my shipwright hat.

shipwright  \ˈship-ˌrīt\    noun

a carpenter skilled in ship construction and repair

I didn’t have a major project planned for the day, and since nature (particularly boats, apparently) abhor a vacuum, the microwave oven decided to cook itself in order to fill the empty hole in my schedule.

Microwave1Having tackled this job on our previous boat, I had a pretty good idea how Hunter had probably installed the unit. They use some alarmingly long wood screws through the bottom of the cabinet and up into the base of the microwave.

Yes, seriously. Think about that for a moment. How would you feel about shooting two inch long stainless steel screws through the bottom of a microwave oven?

I think I’d have been holding my breath and shielding my eyes the first time I pushed the “On” button. But the little Goldstar appliance had been happily nuking food for 18 years, so I guess you can call Hunter’s approach crude but effective. Sure enough, when I felt along the underside of the cabinet, I found four screws, which I removed. Then I disassembled the cabinet. It’s good sailboat design to assemble all the furniture with screws only, so that it can be taken apart if there’s ever a need to get to areas of the hull covered by cabinets.

Microwave2Naturally they don’t make a microwave with the same dimensions as an 18 year old Goldstar. That would have been too easy, as it would have allowed me to just swap out the units.  After a few hours researching online, the closest I could find was a unit from LG, that BestBuy actually had in stock, and it was even on sale this week.

It was close, but it was going to require some carpentry to make it work.

Microwave3I keep a jig saw onboard for quick and dirty wood butchering, and I was able to do the rough framing for the opening on the dock. But the finish trim required a run to a former neighbor’s house, who has graciously given me free run of his woodshop whenever I need.

Microwave4Not bad for a day’s work.

Yes, we’ve learned that in order to prepare a boat for cruising, you either need a big hat locker or a big bankroll. Fortunately, shipwright is a hat I wear comfortably.

I wonder what hat I’m going to have to wear tomorrow…


4 thoughts on “How Big Is Your Hat Locker?

  1. Matthew

    Hello Robert — it is Matt again, that other H376 owner up in Maryland. I continue to marvel at how relevant and interesting your blogs are … I too have wondered about that microwave — as in “just how much longer can it last” and what will I do when it finally fails. As with your various projects, tools, etc. if I haven’t already done it, am doing it now, I shall surely need to one day. I read them all – a great reference. Fair winds :>)

    1. Robert Post author

      Glad you’re finding our blog useful! One quick note in case you do have to replace your microwave sometime – I had to use a piece of 1/2″ plywood to raise the new oven to center it in the cabinet properly. In puzzling through how to mount it, I noticed that the oven had a bunch of small ventilation holes in the bottom that were just a bit smaller than a 1/4″ screw. So I used my tap and die set to tap out a few of the holes to take a 1/4″-20 machine screw, and then used screws through the 1/2″ plywood piece into the bottom of the microwave. Then when I set the microwave with plywood attached into the cabinet, it was easy to shoot some wood screws up through the cabinet bottom into the plywood piece to hold it in place.

  2. fdthird

    Good morning Robert….

    Having just discovered your blog last weekend, I have enjoyed this week binge read every one of your posts in chronological order. Kind of like when we binge watch a TV series on Nexptfix (which my wife and I are now doing with Man Men), it is such a luxury to finish reading a post and thinking, “Hmmmm…wonder what Robert and Rhonda are up to now” and just launching into another post or indeed month of posts!

    But, then the inevitable happens, and you get to the end of the the old posts and think, “Oh, I wonder when Robert will continue the adventure?” So I subscribed to your blog, in order to not miss a post, and low and behold, just opened up my email and discovered a new post which I greedily consumed!

    So when you write your next post Robert, know that I will be waiting for the next chapter of your adventure, waiting for the rest of the plans to be made, for Rhonda to join the retirement world, and for Eagle Too to carry us all on the adventure of a lifetime! Thanks for the sail along!



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