1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Tent Model IX

I’ve learned a lot about shrink wrap tentmaking since our Roamer 46 refit began in 2007, including what works well and what fails almost immediately. From my previous experiences with tents, I knew the features I wanted in Tent Model IX:

  • Plenty of space to work on everything from the deck rub rail up.
  • Plenty of head room, but not too much. We don’t want to make a sail.
  • Stairs…because ladders truly suck.
  • Storm resistance
  • Lots of ventilation options but with the ability to hold in heat, too.
  • The ability to bring big material, like 4×8 sheets of plywood, onboard.
  • Finally, Tent Model IX needed to be built as a transformer…think Megatron, but in white.

The idea for the transforming tent came from earlier attempts to have a tent for all seasons: a tight work tent during nasty weather, but with the ability to roll up the sides when it’s hot outside. Tent Model IX’s transformation will be from a storm resistant work tent from autumn 2012 through winter 2013 to a paint shed in the spring of 2013, when we’ll paint the Roamer from the boot top to the helm station roof.

This is Tent Model V from 2009 (AKA The Beast)

We saved the frame uprights and bow pieces and reused them on Model IX in September 2012. When we transform Model IX from a work tent to a paint tent, we’ll install the scaffolding from Model V, too.

Introducing…Tent Model IX!

* Heavy duty 1.5″ PVC pipe frames
* Frame uprights hold the shrink wrap away from the deck rub rail
* To make it more practical to heat, the shrink wrap tucks in tight to the hull below all of the port hole and engine ventilation openings.
* And, it’s transformable. All I have to do is loosen the hose clamps holding the PVC pipe to the 2×4 uprights, and I can adjust the height as needed.

I know, I know…the nose is baggy.

I tucked that in and shrunk it later, but the wrap really doesn’t want to be in this shape. Shrinking it, especially on the underside, would always have unintended consequences somewhere else. Eventually, it got to the point of “good enough.”

The tent tucks in tight to the deck at mid-ships.

There was very little deck work to be done from the helm station aft, so it didn’t need to be as wide there. All of the aft enclosure work is scheduled to be done during the paint phase in spring~early summer 2013.

Making the vestibule/storage area/stairs.

The deck surface back here is just the right height for the painter to reach the entire transom when we paint Awlgrip later this year.

The vestibule/storage area/stairs enclosed.

It’s also closed off with plastic from under the boat, too, so no critters or water will be able to easily find its way in.

Inside, we have the stairs going up.

They’re extremely sturdy.

The dust relocator…er..collector is in the vestibule.

The piping for it runs up to the deck level and down the length of the boat to the bow.

Note the corrugated drain pipe “dust collector ducting,” a cheap solution since flexible 4″ duct hose runs $40 for 10 feet. While it’s not the smoothest flowing duct, it’s fine for our purposes and has been working flawlessly.

The view from the aft deck showing the dust collector duct running down the length of the cabin.

There’s one outlet for the aft deck/table saw area, another at mid-ships and one more at the bow. Each outlet has a blast door, so you can select which one gets the suction.

There’s plenty of width and headroom over the cabin top.

The bow deck is where I was cutting 3/4″ douglas fir marine ply for floorboards. Once cut, we would load them inside the boat through the salon hatch hole that was still open from the 2008 repower to Ford Lehman 120s.

Cutting and painting aft stateroom and V-berth floorboards on the bow.

Tent Model IX has plenty of working room. It’s by far the best tent yet, and the dust collector hose on the right is very good at controlling dust in the working space.

Removable storm supports go from the aluminum side decks to the 1.5″ PVC pipe frames.

We haven’t needed them in 2013 (yet!), but after Tent Model XIII collapsed under a snow load from Snowmageddon it seemed wise to be prepared.

While we didn’t get hit by Son of Snowmageddon this year,  Late October 2012 was when Superstorm Sandy came to town. One thing I’d noticed about large shrink wrap tents over the years was that strong winter winds try very hard to turn them into kites. Any time the wind hit 30kts it grabbed that big lifting surface on the under side of Tent Model IX around the forward part of the hull and tried to make it fly!

So, in preparation for Sandy, I tied a stone onto the end of three long lengths of shrink wrap line (the stuff that normally holds the shrink wrap to the hull) and launched them over the top of the tent. The lines crossed near the top, along the 2×4 backbone of the tent, and I fastened them tightly to the boatstands on either side so they put the whole structure under tension.

Tent Model IX survived Sandy’s sustained 45mph winds and 75mph gusts, with one local sailor noting an 85mph blast during the peak of the storm in Deale. When I arrived to survey the damage the day after the storm, I was surprised to see…no damage at all. For surviving Sandy unscathed and being outstanding in all other ways (except for the baggy nose 😉 ), Tent Model IX rates 5/5 stars.

With a stable tent that doesn’t require hours and hours to fix every week, as in previous models, by October 2012 we were going all-out gangbusters.

Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer Refit: The Bow Seat.


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