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Old 19-08-2022, 19:57   #1
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Grab rails for cabin

Hi everyone,

I just went on the first sail of my new sailboat, the Carol Marie, an Islander Bahama 30. I got an interesting comment from the crew, that I think makes sense, which is that the cabin could use some grab rails/handles. I was wondering where I could put these. The boat has a headliner, and that would make installing grab bars/handles in the overhead more involved. The fore and after bulkheads, and pretty much all of the interior, is nice looking teak. I'd sooner put the grab rails or handles someplace besides the bulkheads because I don't want to damage the wood, which leaves the overhead. I was hoping someone has some advice on installing grab rails through a headliner and how to make that look nice. Also, in general, what is the best product to create a backing plate for inside-cabin grab rails; these will be visible on the outside of the boat, so I'd prefer something that looks nice.

thanks,
Zach
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Old 19-08-2022, 20:42   #2
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

Zach,


Handholds do not necessarily have to be overhead.


You could consider finding convenient handholds at waist level such as at the edge of galley counters and perhaps nav station surfaces.
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Old 19-08-2022, 20:57   #3
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

Consider the smallest person on the crew, and place hand holds where they can access them. Think about the boat being heeled and someone weaker than you needing to use the toilet. They have to get from the companionway down and across the length of the boat to the head. Place the hand holds accordingly. (The overhead is too high for kids to use.)

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Old 19-08-2022, 21:28   #4
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

I you do use overhead grab rails, 1 long rail on either side of the centerline if the cabin top is wide, or 1 down the center. You'll need to experiment and maybe get the crew to give their ideas. Because it sounds like you have a "thing" for teak, you'll probably want to use that. There are various ready-made ones in most chandleries.

There is no simple easy way to attach overhead grab rails "through" a headliner unless the headliner is actually in contact with the cabin fibreglass moulding (not spaced out from it by wooden strips). If it is in contact, then you can just through bolt your grab rails with the bolt heads (could be round head machine screws) on the outside on top of washers to spread the compressive load. IMHO, you don't need a backing plate if you use, say 6mm (1/4") bolts with an appropriate sized washer (could be a "fender" washer if you are really worried)


If your headliner is NOT in contact with the cabin top BUT you can get it off without destroying it) then: you will need to 1) position the grab rail(s), 2) drill the mounting holes through the headliner and cabin top 3) take headliner off and 4) glue a wood "shim" or block to the cabin top (thickness is equal to the space between back of headliner and the cabin top) in the places where the bolts will be. Then 5) put headliner on and mount the grab rail(s).


If you don't want to take the headliner down (or can't because some idiot glued it on), you could carefully cut out say a 3"X5" area of the headliner just where each "foot" of the grabrail will go. Then glue a block of (teak?) wood into that cutout with its top flush with the headliner; then bolt the grabrail onto the blocks. Cutting the openings and fitting the blocks with no spaces would be a pretty fiddley job, and unless you are a good woodworker, it won't look "nice". Much better to have a headliner that can be easily removed.
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Old 20-08-2022, 03:15   #5
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

do you have any grab rails on the outside of the cabin?


could you mount the interior rails opposite of the exterior? using the same bolt/screw Ie through one handle into the other.



I would also imaging that you could epoxy in a suitable backing plate under the headliner, and then screw the handle to the backing if you add in a backing plate of appropriate size, should work fine.


if you used a backing plate like g10, you should be able to drill and tap....
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Old 20-08-2022, 05:22   #6
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

You can also use rope for your hand holds.
An old halyard?

Depends on your aesthetics I guess.
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Old 20-08-2022, 06:12   #7
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

Quote:
Originally Posted by zachduckworth View Post
Hi everyone,

I just went on the first sail of my new sailboat, the Carol Marie, an Islander Bahama 30. I got an interesting comment from the crew, that I think makes sense, which is that the cabin could use some grab rails/handles. I was wondering where I could put these. The boat has a headliner, and that would make installing grab bars/handles in the overhead more involved. The fore and after bulkheads, and pretty much all of the interior, is nice looking teak. I'd sooner put the grab rails or handles someplace besides the bulkheads because I don't want to damage the wood, which leaves the overhead. I was hoping someone has some advice on installing grab rails through a headliner and how to make that look nice. Also, in general, what is the best product to create a backing plate for inside-cabin grab rails; these will be visible on the outside of the boat, so I'd prefer something that looks nice.

thanks,
Zach
Looked at interior pictures Normally I would expect some teak grab rails along the bottom of the windows on a boat like that. Can you fasten something there?
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Old 20-08-2022, 07:05   #8
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

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Originally Posted by nuku34 View Post
I you do use overhead grab rails, 1 long rail on either side of the centerline if the cabin top is wide, or 1 down the center. You'll need to experiment and maybe get the crew to give their ideas. Because it sounds like you have a "thing" for teak, you'll probably want to use that. There are various ready-made ones in most chandleries.

There is no simple easy way to attach overhead grab rails "through" a headliner unless the headliner is actually in contact with the cabin fibreglass moulding (not spaced out from it by wooden strips). If it is in contact, then you can just through bolt your grab rails with the bolt heads (could be round head machine screws) on the outside on top of washers to spread the compressive load. IMHO, you don't need a backing plate if you use, say 6mm (1/4") bolts with an appropriate sized washer (could be a "fender" washer if you are really worried)


If your headliner is NOT in contact with the cabin top BUT you can get it off without destroying it) then: you will need to 1) position the grab rail(s), 2) drill the mounting holes through the headliner and cabin top 3) take headliner off and 4) glue a wood "shim" or block to the cabin top (thickness is equal to the space between back of headliner and the cabin top) in the places where the bolts will be. Then 5) put headliner on and mount the grab rail(s).


If you don't want to take the headliner down (or can't because some idiot glued it on), you could carefully cut out say a 3"X5" area of the headliner just where each "foot" of the grabrail will go. Then glue a block of (teak?) wood into that cutout with its top flush with the headliner; then bolt the grabrail onto the blocks. Cutting the openings and fitting the blocks with no spaces would be a pretty fiddley job, and unless you are a good woodworker, it won't look "nice". Much better to have a headliner that can be easily removed.
The headliner is not attached to the bulkhead and it has a bunch of zippers do that much of the overhead is accessible to some degree. I thought something like this would be the way to go, glad to get confirmation. Iíll probably use stainless handrails. Teak is nice but I want to limit the holes in the overhead and bulkheads.
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Old 20-08-2022, 07:06   #9
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

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Originally Posted by ChrisJHC View Post
You can also use rope for your hand holds.
An old halyard?

Depends on your aesthetics I guess.
Someone mentioned this. How do you do this though?
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Old 20-08-2022, 07:07   #10
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
Consider the smallest person on the crew, and place hand holds where they can access them. Think about the boat being heeled and someone weaker than you needing to use the toilet. They have to get from the companionway down and across the length of the boat to the head. Place the hand holds accordingly. (The overhead is too high for kids to use.)

Ann
Good point. Iím looking at some lower down too, or maybe on the bulkheads above the settees.
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Old 20-08-2022, 08:11   #11
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

MySaintedMother usta say: "Build it so it can take the weight of a well-grown man thrown against it in a seaway!" That principle goes for handrails also: Build 'em so they can take the weight of a well-grown man hanging on to them while he's being thrown in a seaway.!

For handrails under the deckhead that absolutely means that the only acceptable means of fastening them is by through-bolting them to the coach roof. Were I to do it I would use properly fitted (and sealed) carriage bolts right through the coachroof moulding with their heads outboard. The rails under the deckhead would be shaped so thier would be enuff goods at the fastening points to accommodate the shanks of the bolts securely and to take the nuts with washers under.

In a thirty footer one rail will suffice you can hold it with both hands and proceed crab-wise fore'n'aft.

The central passage way twixt the furniture in the cabin in a thirty footer is narrow enuff that little ones can stay safe by CRAWLING fore'n'aft.

People have four limbs. The rule for moving aboard a small ship is that only one limb can be airborne at any given time. Thus, to move a foot you need to be able to have both hands holding on while you do it. Thus, the distance between solid handholds must be no more than a small man's reach. Five feet max is good.

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Old 20-08-2022, 09:18   #12
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

I’ve been carving wood handles and putting them wherever seems handy. Which is a lot of places. To replace the rather ugly stock wooden ones.

One spot that might work for the OP is if you can fit one or two handles in the corner of the companionway opening, like so.

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I’m very happy with the handle in this spot - it’s been extremely useful. The companionway being a spot people are often standing to look out, and subject to a lot of flinging around sometimes. I might put one in the other corner as well.

Just make sure there’s enough clearance between the hatch cover and your knuckles. I made mine of laminated wood and it ended up a bit overly fancy with the fish thing (I must have had extra time in my hands) , but it would be easy to install a simple metal one with a bit of custom bending.

It’s strong enough fastened with screws that a person can easily hang from it and do chin-ups/whatever with no issues.

Click image for larger version

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Old 20-08-2022, 12:04   #13
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

Splendid work, Oeanda :-)!

And speaking of companionways: Having done lot of teaching using the venerable Catalina27, I've come to loathe that boat's companionway. FAR too wide. Standing there, facing aft and focusing on your students, you get flung from side to side and your midriff gets awfully sore! Companionways in boats meant to be something more than floating travel trailers, should be no wider than JUST enuff to let a man pass through. 27" is probably optimum since you don't have to proceed crab-wise, but you can still brace yourself easily. In a passage simply by putting arms akimbo, and in a hatchway by grabbing the rails for the sliding hatch.

Details, admittedly, but sometimes important for your safety, and always important for the crews convenience and happiness.

Cheers

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Old 20-08-2022, 13:18   #14
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

^^^^
True, Sam, until you need to bring something large below (or out from below). This has been a problem off and on for us in our cruising life, one that can cause grief! Or have an unusually large person in the crew... as we have done in years gone by.

Jim
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Old 20-08-2022, 13:27   #15
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Re: Grab rails for cabin

Standard equipment on my boat and have some pint size gymnasts who have mistaken their purpose.
“Hey grandpa from the stairs to the dinning bed no feet!”
The high fiddles on furniture bits are suppose save you also. I broke both shoulders,not boating, so I’m more likely to grab them.
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