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Keeping floorboards in their place

Jan 1, 2003

After reading the recent piece on the major storm in the South Pacific ("Voyagers 'squashed' by a New Zealand storm," Issue No. 64), I have been looking into the flying floorboard issue. Vessels registered in New Zealand are required to pass inspection before being allowed to depart for overseas. Among the safety requirements is a means of securing the floorboards in place, in case the boat should roll and throw the boards and contents of the bilge around inside the boat.

In the article it was reported that a sailor suffered a broken clavicle and shoulder blade from flying floorboards during a 360° roll. It would seem that either the floorboards were not secured or the securing device failed. At the Newport Boat Show, I noted that the new Valiant 40 is fitted with flush latches to secure the floorboards, but these could easily be left in the unlatched position. I have been in touch with someone at Perko, which supplied the latches, and they have informed me that Perko makes several flush latches and locks. Most suitable for securing floorboards, which I plan to use, would be the latch design that has a pull ring which sits up when not in the closed position (Perko catalogue # 1012). Each board would have to have a tongue fitted to the other end to secure it to the cabin sole or the next floorboard. These flush latches are a handy solution to the problem of securing floorboards.

It would be interesting to learn what lessons the survivors of the New Zealand storm could share with readers about effective preparations for such conditions. For example, was there anything they could have done to avoid being knocked down and rolled?

Christopher Robinson is halfway through a circumnavigation.