David Cornes uses an old pelmet to reduce discomfort and steering wobbles caused by a missing Avon dinghy seat...
When I recently purchased my Samphire 23, Nutmeg, she came complete with an Avon dinghy of indeterminate age, an Evinrude outboard and a stainless steel outboard bracket. However she no longer possessed the original glassfibre Avon dinghy seat which hooks into two fabric straps at the rear of the dinghy before it is fully inflated.
Sitting on the tubes under power meant that the boat went largely crabwise and was not really under command, so I used to kneel in the bottom for the journey from Ridge Wharf Yacht Centre to my mooring on the River Frome below Wareham. This was far from comfortable, so I resolved to make my own seat.
The material came courtesy of a wooden curtain pelmet left by previous owners of our house.
I decided against slotting it under the existing fabric straps, as they were mounted on the inboard curve of the tubes and I felt that, when inflated, this would impose an unfair load on the straps. Instead I decided to lash the seat to the straps.
First, I placed the plank over the dinghy and marked it to the required length, approximately at half the width of the tubes. I then marked the position of two holes about 1cm outside the edge of each of the fabric straps (they are not parallel but ‘toe in’ towards the stern). It then remained only to drill and countersink the holes and strip off the many coats of paint with paint and varnish remover, finishing with a smoothing plane and orbital sander. The moulding at the front edge I smoothed but left to provide a rounded edge to the seat.
I hadn’t realised that, under all the paint, the board consisted of two tongue-and-grooved planks, so I glued and screwed a couple of battens across the bottom to avoid any risk of the seat coming apart. Finally, after a couple of coats of Sadolin, it was fitted to the dinghy. It provides a great improvement to my comfort when commuting up and down the Frome.
The cost to me was nothing – the pelmet would have gone to the council tip (a fiver should yield a decent plank from a builders’ merchant if you don’t have a bit of wood at home) and the bottom of the tin of Sadolin was rapidly skinning over and would have been solid shortly, but provided just enough paint for the project.