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Marissa and Chris Swap their Toe Rail for a Bulwark

Chris Neely grew up in a sailing family surrounded by small daysailers, as well as his family’s Mason 43 Sea Castle, which was berthed in Berkeley for 28 years. In high school, Chris convinced Marissa to crew for him in the annual High Sierra Regatta on Huntington Lake. They’ve now been together for a decade, got married, and live aboard Avocet, a Cheoy Lee 41 they’ve been refitting. Marissa wrote in about their recent project replacing the toe rail with a bulwark, and we published her story in the February issue of Latitude 38. But as is often the case, there wasn’t enough room to include all the photos Marissa sent us to accompany the story. So we decided to share some of the extra photos with you here.

New bulwark replaces toe rail
“After some lengthy research and discussions with boatwrights and naval architects, we have concluded the simplest way to determine the correct technical term; a toe rail is a piece of wood, aluminum, or fiberglass that usually does not exceed three inches tall and is bolted, every few inches, through the deck. Anything bigger, which typically is bolted to the stanchions to support it, will be called a bulwark.”
© 2021 Avocet
“We wanted to use teak at first, but our wallets did not agree, so we researched alternative rot-resistant hardwoods. There were many great options like white oak, purple-heart, black acacia and mahogany, but after consulting with a contractor we were pointed in the direction of cumaru, also known as the Brazilian teak.”
© 2021 Avocet
Glueing the bulwark join
“Chris used an accurate combo square, circular saw, Japanese hand saw, sharp chisels, an assortment of drill bits, 316 stainless hardware and marine glue to construct the bulwark plank.”
© 2021 Avocet
Stainless L-brackets lined up ready
“The bulwark bases were 316 stainless ‘L’ brackets that we had recessed into the deck so they would sit flush below the stanchions.”
© 2021 Avocet
Chris and Marissa on dock
If they can build a bulwark together and still want to hang out, it can’t be too bad.
© 2021 Avocet

Read the full story of Avocet‘s new bulwark in February’s Latitude 38.


  1. JEREMY PALMER 2 years ago

    LUCKY DOGS! Keep working, keep sailing.


    Jerry Kahana, Maui

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