Working on the boat

Redoing the navigation station

By May 24, 2022 No Comments

I wrote an article about a DIY project I completed last year where I made a new cover board for the navigation station. I am going to submit it to several magazines to see if any of them would like to buy it. What I need first is to have people read the article and let me know what you think. With that said thank you for taking the time to read the article below and commenting. – Shane


When I bought Guiding Light, which is a Lagoon 410 catamaran, it was 12 years old and the navigation station already had a few holes in it from where equipment had become obsolete and removed. Things did not improve over the first 12 years of my ownership, since I relocated the chart plotter to the helm (where it seems to make way more sense) and have added or replaced equipment over the years. By the year 2021 the nav board still worked, but was not organized and did not look great.

I had wanted to redo the entire station since I bought the boat, but it was when my main radio was not transmitting as expected that led to a transformation. As I am sure most people would do, the first thing I thought was wrong with the radio was the antenna and then the wire to it. Turns out the most common issue with marine radios is actually the power supply coming to it and my case was no different. Lucky for me my best friend Joel was already coming down and he is my go to electrical guy. Once he got aboard he located the bad wires and replaced them bringing much needed power to the radio. Since we already had the nav board removed and he was going to install my new AIS transceiver I decided to get a new board and redesign everything….along with a few upgrades.

While he was tackling the electrical side I got a 2 foot by 4 foot sheet of plywood from the home improvement store and cut out the original outline of the old board. From here I contemplated various locations for the already existing stereo, VHF radio, battery monitor, battery charger control, inverter switch, and weather station. I also wanted to upgrade from two 110 volt outlets to six (critical when you run crewed charters) and the old 12 volt outlet was replaced with a new device that had an outlet, two USB plugs, a monitor, and switch. All of this was in addition to the AIS which had an alarm, lots of equipment behind the scene, and a powered radio antenna junction. We decided it made sense to have separate power switches for the antenna and AIS.

As well laid out as the Lagoon 410 is, there is quite a bit of dead space behind the navigation station and I have always wanted to take advantage of this. With all the equipment laid out on the new board it looked like I was going to be able to finally reclaim this dead space by installing a door on the nav board to store cruising guides inside the navigation station. All we had to do was add a board to take the support of the books off the hallway ceiling panel below the navigation station.

With everything laid out the way I liked, it was time to use a jig saw and cut out the appropriate holes for each device, outlet, switch, and the door. After that I used a palm sander and smoothed out the holes and the edge of the new board. The next step was to stain the wood to match the boat and I already knew I needed to use Minwax fruitwood with a small touch of red oak. Once both stains were dried it was time to add three coats of polyurethane. I have used polyurethane on all my interior woodworking projects and it has stood up very well over the years. The important thing to do is sand the project down after each coat has dried using 1000 grit (or more) sandpaper. This is important since the polyurethane raises the wood fibers and the sanding knocks them down. By the third coat the boards were as smooth as a piece of glass.

All was needed now was to install all the equipment and to mount the new nav board. The final touch was mounting the new door and since it was only a quarter inch thick I chose to use 3M removalable poster stickers between the door and the hinge. It has worked great, but I have to replace the stickers about once every six months. All in all, this project turned out just as I imagined it and I could not help but show it off to anyone that came aboard for the first several months. 🙂

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