A Master Potter Modifier

by · March 13, 2010

A lot of us like to tinker with our boats. Out on the interwebs you can find all kinds of sites where owners have executed modifications that make their boats more useful, correct shortcomings,  or simply personalize their mass-produced plastic tubs a bit.  And then there’s the people who build their own boats, a group whose penchant for personalization knows no limits. 

I have a great fear of doing anything permanent to my boat. I know it’s irrational, but the thought of drilling holes in the virginal fiberglass just gives me the willies. One time I had to attach a cable tie to hold some wires to the interior of the cabin; I put it off for at least a year, then when I actually resolved to do the deed, I found myself barely able to drill two tiny, 1/8″ deep holes for the stainless steel screws. I stared at the job site, breaking into a hot sweat (this is Arizona– Nobody does the cold-sweat thing out here), and finally managed to force myself to drill the holes, all the while in near panic that I was going to punch through to the topsides. Everything about that experience made me quiver, and I felt extremely guilty as I watched the fiberglass tailings drifting down from the holes while I drilled. It turned out fine, but I still bear the emotional scars.

I have this ragged hole in my companionway hatch, a souvenir of my second voyage on the Potter. Since 2006 I have made ongoing resolutions to fix the hole. I placed a temporary piece of duct tape over it  back in ’06 to keep the elements out while I girded my loins for the repair.  I’m still girding. And we won’t talk about my pathetic loins, thank you very much.  I even bought a Dremel tool, including the Bonus Testosterone Toolpack, to facilitate my fiberglass repair project.  Larry Pardey, I’m not.  My boat glares at me reproachfully every time I go up to the lake and replace the weathered piece of duct tape. The Dremel tool sits in my garage grousing about it’s girly-man owner.

What’s really weird about this is I have no problem wrenching the crap out of anything but my boat. I have designed and/or built, with my own hands, 6 houses. Water beater blows up? No problemo. Electronics fried on stove? Piece of cake. Wife doesn’t like door into the den?  Move the door to a different wall, child’s play.  When I was young and stupid, replacing a clutch,  or broken valve pushrod on a small-block chevy didn’t faze me in the least.  My wife’s friends all express admiration at her success in landing a “handy” husband.  My wife takes a different view, naturally.  To her I’m kind of an idiot savant who may be able to replace a toilet, but can barely drink a glass of water without drowning myself. But I’m actually pretty good at this kind of stuff– Just not on my little fiberglass baby.

Anyhow. Thinking of my wussiness as a boat butcher, I am reminded of one fellow who is about as far away from me on the Boat Modification Audacity Scale as one can possibly be. This guy took a West Wight Potter, identical to my poor boat, and did things to it that make me, a wannabe naval architect, drool in admiration.  His name is Charlie, and you can visit his website here

Potters are huge inside, and can store a lot of crap. But getting to that crap can be problematic, especially in a seaway when everything migrates, unseen, to the furthest nether regions of a locker. Charlie, not afraid to wield his manly Dremel with authority, solved that problem in clever and appealing ways. Here’s a picture of the galley he built:

He ripped away a large chunk of fiberglass and built a multifunction galley unit that completely reworks the functionality of the stock “galley” area.  If you go to his site you can see many more pictures that show how wonderfully useful this mod is.

Potters have a silly little molded sink on the port side, that for me at least, serves more as a catch basin for random gear like GPS, cell phone, beer, etc.  Here’s what Charlie did with his:

Just for comparison, here’s what the stock version looks like:

The amazing thing about this is the origami-like sink/table combination Charlie designed.  On his website you can view an interactive page that shows you how all the various pieces slide in and out and rearrange themselves for the desired purpose. Here’s one configuration:

One thing that annoys the crap out of me, and quite possibly most of you, is the mast compression post on my Potter. I have to twist myself into a pretzel to stuff myself into the V-berth, and reverse the process to escape. Charlie solved that problem with an ingenious aluminum arch that really opens up the interior:

And the arch before installation:

There are more modifications, including a really interesting lifting rudder:

A cockpit table:

There are many more modifications, and Charlie has done an excellent job of documenting his work.  I am ashamed to be such a feeb when I look at what he has accomplished with his Potter.  I highly suggest you visit his website, if for nothing else then to admire his craftsmanship.  And perhaps gain some inspiration.  I know I’m inspired– I think I’m ready to go put a fresh layer of duct tape on the hole in my companionway hatch!  Maybe I’ll document that process for you blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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