Once I get committed to some particular product, be it a type of computer or brand of car, I hate to admit to any faults in my chosen brand. I happen to think the Westsails are among the bitchinest sailboats ever built so it pains me to say that the designer of the Westsail 28 really got the settee storage wrong.
In the stock, factory boats, the settee is designed to become a fairly large double berth. To do this, all you have to do is remove the back cushions from the outboard seating, move the other back cushions out of the way temporarily, raise the outboard settee back which is hinged along the top (revealing a space behind), fasten a hook to hold it up, drop the table, replace the fore and aft seatback cushions, put the outboard back cushions down on the table to fill in that area and now you have a nice big double berth. Of course one of the folks sleeping is partially under the side deck which might cause a little claustrophobia. And, if you were using the area behind the seatback, under the side deck, for storage you'll have to find someplace else to stow this stuff. All this so that you can sleep 2 more people aboard. But since that's about 2 people too many for comfort, why would you want to?
Okay, so if you decide to not use the bed feature, you can still use the area for storage, right? Well, sure, you could but what a hassle. In order to access this storage you still have to do almost everything outlined above up to the point of lowering the table. That means that, if you want a bag of chips, say, everyone who happens to be sitting at the settee, as well as anything you have sitting on the seat, gets disrupted. We didn't put up with this situation very long before engineering an alteration.
So here's what we did:
First, the outboard seat cushion in the settee was extra wide and the fore and aft cushions are extra long. They extended into the "storage" area so that it was ready to use for sleeping. When I looked at the amount of cushion under the side deck, all I could see was 2 cubic feet of wasted space. So, we marked the foam, cut it and Lulu had her first sewing job of making new custom seat cushions.
Once the new cushions were in place, I built a face frame that would limit the outboard travel of the seat cushions as well as give the back cushions something to rest on. This was, of course, after I had removed the big one-piece factory seatback.
Then to allow access to the stored goodies and also give more support to the backrests, I built cabinet doors. Since the backrest is two cushions wide, I made 2 doors so that only one person would be disrupted when access to the storage was needed.
I also installed vertical athwartship dividers to create 4 separate compartments to make it easier to organize things. The dividers are not tight against the hull because I wanted to maintain free air flow between compartments and because it's too freakin' hard to make dividers that are flush with the curve of the hull.
All this work resulted in a pretty large storage area. The table can still be dropped, although not as easily as before (see yesterday's blog), turning the settee into a small double bed instead of a big one. Mostly, though, since we usually have only one guest at a time and even that not very often, we just remove the back cushions and they sleep on the outboard settee cushions which is about the size of a couch.