Where it comes from I don’t know but I hate making holes in boats. Perhaps it’s the fundamental fact that holes and boats don’t go together. Holes let in water and it’s better to keep the water on the outside of the boat than the inside. There’s another good reason for not making holes and that is because they are hard to hide in the years to come when the essential (at the time) instrument you fitted is no longer working and of course it’s replacement has different mounting holes. Every old boat that I see has many old, unused holes. One or two is not so bad but after years and years they start to stand out and lend a tatty look to any boat which will reduce it’s value.
When I bought my new boat I was determined not to make holes. Take for example the compass. Normally it is fitted into the cockpit bulkhead on the starboard side. This I find a bit silly really. I can understand the manufacturers reasoning but having the compass only on one side of the cockpit is far from ideal because when you are sitting on the port side it’s almost impossible to read it with any level of accuracy. Worse though, is the fact that it spoils a really good place to sit.
The solution was to replace the 4 washboards in the companionway with a set of doors. A frame was made that simply drops into the groove where the wash boards used to be. (The doors can be removed and the washboards replaced at any time). At the bottom of the frame I left some space for the compass and other instruments to be fitted. To further reduce making holes, I opted for a tack tick speed and depth instrument that is solar powered and wireless so can be positioned anywhere on the boat. Also on this panel is the gps so all the instruments are in one central place.
For the autopilot I bought an aerial mount and simply bolted it to the pushpit. I fitted the original bronze pin retainer into the aerial mount. This has worked fine for over 10,000 miles. It’s a much better option than the ugly mounting bracket that you can buy, does not require making holes and can be easily removed at any time.
When it came to fitting the shower head in the bathroom, the same logic was applied. I made a wedge of wood and that fits nicely between the mirror and the wood trim above it. To hang the shower curtain I made tiny triangles of wood with hooks screwed in and glued them in at the corners where the plastic trim left small gaps.
For the MP3 player, again I simply made a wedge of wood which sits between the fiddle fitting and the wood trim. I put Velcro on the wedge and on the back of the player to attach it.
For the clock and barometer I used a loop of bungie cord which I fed behind the wooden slats on the cabin sides and stretched over the instruments. The clock cannot be adjusted, nor the battery replaced without access to the back so this is a better system than tiny screws that would have to removed every time I needed access.
Fitting the spray hood without making holes caused some head scratching. Normally the spray hood would go right across the cabin top but I didn’t really fancy that since it adds too much windage, makes using the winches difficult and going forward from the cockpit awkward but worst of all requires making loads of holes in the cabin top. In the end I made a small spray hood that just covered the companionway. Now, when the weather is nasty, we can stay warm and dry by sitting on the door step and keeping a look out.
The front of the spray hood is attached to the boat by sliding a rope into a groove. Normally this is achieved by using an alloy or plastic groove but I made it in wood. Two pieces were routed out and then glued together to create the slot. There was a wood trim there anyway so the new piece looks exactly the same and is only a little thicker.
A friend made up custom hinges and frames for the spray hood and they are screwed to the wooden trim pieces on either side of the companionway. I have no problem drilling holes in wood as replacing or repairing wood is much easier than trying to repair holes in the gel coat. The sides of the spray hood are held to the boat by Tenax fasteners with the receivers also screwed to the wooden trim pieces.
It really is amazing how you can avoid making holes if you think about it a little and often the solution is actually neater and more practical than if you made holes.