Category Archives: MortMade

Custom made additions for the boat made by Paula’s Dad.

Documentation Number Board

Each boat that has Coast Guard documentation (federal) is required to display that unique documentation number somewhere in the interior of the boat. When we bought C Ghost, her documentation number was displayed on the interior of the starboard cockpit locker via a white board with black lettering. If the boat is boarded or inspected by the Coast Guard, they must view this number.

To access the original number board we had to lift the hatch of the starboard cockpit locker and remove any gear covering it.

While in the Bahamas, we met folks who had a beautifully treated wooden board inscribed with their number in their boat’s salon, and we were taken with it. It is always neat to see a “necessary” item become a smart-looking addition to a vessel.

We therefore again enlisted the help of Paula’s Dad (Mort) and he produced a great tooled oblong of teak with the digits carefully routed out to a good depth. This was, by design, just the size of a planned hanging space on the bulkhead behind the companionway stairs in our galley. Mort decided to adorn each end with a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle. Only later did he and we realize that this bore a resemblance to the Island Packet star.

The unfinished teak number board as received from the Mortmade woodshop.

Paula hand-sanded the board to smooth consistency. We then chose black gloss acrylic paint (vs. our other considered choice, white) and Paula carefully filled in the depths and sides of the numerals with a very tiny brush and occasional swearing. A can of mineral spirits was kept close by for any mistakes. Two coats and a “touch-up” coat sufficed.

The board has now had a preparatory hand sanding and the painting of the numerals has begun.
The numbers are painted (2 coats and touch-up) and the first application of tung oil is soaking in.

The board was then wet-sanded with 8 coats of tung oil and 400 grit sandpaper until it was soft, smooth, and faintly glossy.

Final result after all the coats of wet-sanded oil are complete.

Two brass screws fit into the center of the stars to mount it to the bulkhead. We now have an eye-pleasing addition to the salon that also serves a practical function. Our thanks again to Dad’s “Mortmade” workshop.

Our new number board in place. In the right side of the picture is an earlier Mortmade project – our spice rack.

Battery Switch Panel Cover

When we replaced all the house batteries and slightly modified the battery compartment on our boat, we decided to install a remote battery switch. The remote switch replaces the familiar big red & black rotary switch found near the battery compartment on almost all boats. It is essentially a very powerful “relay” that can be operated by way of a much smaller switch located in a more convenient place on the boat. Since the relay does not have to be physically accessed to operate, it can be mounted inside the battery compartment along with the batteries using very short cable runs. It has worked great for several years now, but left us with a small cosmetic puzzle to solve.

The old switch in the factory installed location. The bilge pump switch and lights are on the left side of the switch panel. We also relocated the “DC Main” breaker and “Charger Output” breaker which is why you don’t see them in their usual place on the right side of the panel. We had a tendency to accidently kick these two breakers every so often, which is why we moved them.

With the old switch now inoperative and no wires going to it, we wanted to remove it so as not to confuse any mechanics or crew who wouldn’t be familiar with our modification. However, simply removing the old switch left a big gaping hole in the panel on which it was mounted, with some high current wires visible just behind the panel.

We though about removing the entire panel and replacing it with something decorative, but the bilge pump switch, light, and labels were mounted very neatly on the left side of the panel and we didn’t want to disturb them if we didn’t have to.

We turned to Paula’s Dad, who has provided a number of clever decorative solutions on the boat for problems just like this. After providing him some careful measurements, he designed a beautiful wood overlay that covers the entire panel, but has a cut out for the bilge pump switch & lights. The overlay is also routed out 1/8th of an inch on its reverse side so that the original metal panel (which will remain in place) will be inset in the back of the overlay piece. That allows the edges of the wood overlay to be flush with the surrounding fiberglass surface.

Finished wood overlay of the battery switch panel.

To add some nautical flavor and additional functionality, he cut a round hole out of the center of the overlay so that a small but elegant barometer could be mounted flush on the surface of the panel.

The overlay fit perfectly and the barometer looks great! You can’t see it with this angle, but there is 1/8″ of space between the left side of the overlay and the right edge of the small Windlass breaker panel.

It looks great and, as it happens, is located right next to another of his creations – a frame and protective cover for an additional breaker panel.

At this angle you can see how nicely the overlay flush fits to the fiberglass surface even with the old metal panel still mounted behind it. The screw holes for the overlay line up precisely with the screw holes in the old panel and it can easily be removed if necessary.

Snack Tray

Since moving onto on the boat, and spending a lot more time in the main salon, we wanted a convenient place to set down drinks or snacks when sitting on the forward end of the starboard settee. This location is a favorite movie/TV watching position. This is the same area where the dining table folds down, and we thought there might be a way to use the bulkhead mounted “box” that supports the dining table to also hold a small snack table. The trick was to make sure it didn’t interfere with the operation of the dining table or when extending out the settee for use as a berth.

The “deployed” mock-up of the snack tray. The back edge of the tray would be attached with a piano hinge (it’s just tape in the mock-up) and supported by a swing-out arm attached by a hinge to the bulkhead.

We used some cardboard to make a model of a small folding table which would not only meet the above two requirements, but would be nearly invisible when stowed in place. The first set of pictures that follow show our simple mock-up of how the table would work and also how big it would be.

To stow the tray, the support arm is first swung back against the bulkhead.


The tray is then swung all the way down and back so its bottom rests against the bottom of the dining table “box”.


The fully stowed position. The measurements for the tray were critical to ensure that in the stowed position, there was enough room between the front edge of the tray and the bulkhead to accommodate the thickness of the stowed support arm. This limited the width of the tray to a max of 7″. Also, there was a natural limit to how long the tray could be. On the outboard side, it could not interfere with the seat cushion when being folded. Since the support arm is desired to be under the center of the tray when in use, and the arm itself doesn’t hit the mast when being stowed, the maximum length of the tray was 14″.


At this point we enlisted Paula’s Dad again to take advantage of his woodworking expertise and cleverness in finalizing the design. We also wanted the tray to have fiddles and a simple way to keep the tray captive in its stowed position. We didn’t mock-up either of these items. He made the tray and support arm from 3/4″ teak stock as well as the fiddles. A clever turnbuckle made from teak to keep the tray in its stowed position rounded out the design. Below are pictures of the unfinished tray mounted to test the fit.

The unfinished tray test mounted. The coffee cup gives an idea of scale.

Here you can see the support arm swung out and holding up the tray. In the background you can see the wooden turnbuckle which will twist to hold the tray up in its stowed position.

The unfinished try and support arm in their stowed positions. Note the very nicely shaped curve Paula’s Dad incorporated into the support arm.


With everything fitting nicely, we unmounted the parts for finishing. Paula was in charge of that and did a very nice rubbed oil finish. I felt a little guilty at this point since it turned out so nice and I hardly did any work!

Here is the finished tray deployed. The left side front corner has a break in the fiddle to allow for easy crumb removal. As usual, the carpentry work by Paula’s Dad is first class.

The finished tray in the stowed position. It blends in beautifully with the rest of the wood.

Breaker Panel Cover

A few years after we got the boat we found we needed to expand the 12V electrical system beyond the original installation that came with the boat. To that end, one of the first things we did was install an additional 12V circuit breaker panel, the subject of one of the very first posts to this blog site ( Additional 12V breaker panel ). Recently, we discovered the need to expand the system even more. A problem this time however was a lack of available space to mount another breaker panel near the existing ones. The original 12V system on the boat included a small fuse panel mounted near the floor under the Nav desk on the forward side. Because of the proximity to the battery compartment, this was a good location for a new panel. We wanted to use the same exact spot as the existing fuse panel, so the new breaker panel had to have enough breakers to replace the fuses we were removing in addition to supplying power to the new circuits we needed.

This is our 2nd additional 12V breaker panel. It takes the place of where a smaller fuse panel existed in the original factory design.

Everything went well with the installation and the panel works great, but we have had one nagging issue. While the location for the new panel was ideal from a wiring point of view, occasionally some of the breakers would accidently be tripped by our feet when getting into and out of the nav seat.

Here you can see the obvious problem. While we were always careful, we couldn’t prevent the occasional accidental kicking of a breaker or two.

We needed some sort of guard or cover for the panel that would prevent our feet from kicking the breakers, but still let us see the state of the breakers from a distance. We tried a few simple solutions but they were either ineffective or aesthetically ugly. So once we enlisted Paula’s dad again (see all the “MortMade” posts in this blog) for both some ingenuity and beautiful woodwork.

His idea was to build a teak frame that would surround the panel such that the panel would be inset behind the frame and the frame would be flush with the surrounding wall. He would also carve a channel in the top and bottom parts of the frame so that a piece of clear plexiglass could slide in from one side of the frame and cover all the breakers. We made a paper template of the panel for him to go by and sent some pictures of the area where the panel was mounted. A few weeks later we received a great looking teak frame with pre-drilled mounting holes that fit perfectly over the panel. The teak was unfinished, so Paula set about to wet sand in eight coats of oil once we got it back to the boat.

Here is the hand made teak frame ready for Paula’s oiling expertise.

All ready for mounting with eight coats of oil wet sanded into the teak.

The result is a gorgeous breaker panel cover that is not only perfectly functional, but adds unexpected additional beauty to the interior of the boat.

Here’s how the clear Plexiglas panel slides in and out of the frame. The Plexiglas stands off from the panel just enough to allow any of the breakers to “trip” if they are called on to do so.

The beautifully finished panel cover installed with the Plexiglas slid in place.

Trash Bins

The space around the toilets in each of the heads in our boat does not lend itself to a typical home sized bathroom trash bin. What we needed was a “skinny” enough bin to fit in the small space between the toilet and the wall, but tall enough to overcome the lack of volume from being skinny. Each of these bins was built with a purposely heavy inset lid that won’t fly off in a seaway.


Decorative Plaque

When we bought the boat, there was a hole cut out of the base of the starboard settee that appeared to once house a stereo speaker. We needed something to cover the hole, and asked Paula’s dad to be imaginative. The result is a lovely little plaque with both a compass rose theme as well as a pictogram of the name of our boat (C Ghost).