Cutting the Cockpit Recess

I like to put what I call a "recess" around the cockpit. On some boats, like these microBootleggers, the recess is not all that recessed, i.e. the coaming is not actually set down below the deck much. But, this recess does make the coaming a little lower than it would otherwise be. What it really does is reduce the amount of curvature in the coaming. If the coaming were mounted directly on the existing deck it must follow a curve that twists and turns in all directions as it proceeds around the cockpit. Looking from the top there is the outline of the cockpit. From the side it sweeps down from the front and back up at the back. From the front it follows the arc of the deck bending down from the front towards the side and then back up again at the back.

By installing the recess which are strips running horizontally across the boat, I have slightly reduced one of the above degrees of curvature. From the front of the boat the coaming does not now need to conform to the sectional curvature of the deck. This little reduction in curvature makes it easier to install the coaming lip later on by making the transition around the ends a little straighter.

Plus, I like the look. All the above rationalization may just be an excuse for doing more work earlier on, when in fact the real reason is I just like the way this recess looks. It breaks up the line of the deck, give a feature line that serves to highlight the deck shape. By including an accent strip around the edge of the recess I add a little detail that further highlights the shape.

I used a pattern I generated using my CAD system. I taped it in place and used a jigsaw to cut out the hole. I had not determined the location on both boats so I had to cut right through the forms.

After cutting out the hole I cleaned up the edge with sandpaper and planes, then cut a thin strip of maple to serve as an accent stripe and glued this in place using green tape as clamps. The green tape is a high adhesive tape high adhesive tape for hard-to-stick surfaces. Blue tape is generally an easy-release product that can release at unfortunate times. I used a razor blade to cut the ends of the stripes into a pseudo-scarf.

After the stripe was installed I glued up some flat panels for each end and fitted them in place. I first rough-cut the shape then tweaked the shape with a block plane and sanding block. I fit in some long strips along the side to finish up the full perimeter.