TO PHOTO PAGES:
SAIL BOAT INTERIORS
READ THIS FIRST:
While the following was written for the
benefit of those building
metal boats, much of the content applies to boats built of other materials.
Lining materials. Cabin soles. Building bunks. Head and shower compartments. The galley.
The galley stove (gas, diesel, alcohol, paraffin). Heating. Stowage for food and stores.
Hot and pressure water. Water tankage.
Comfortable seating; measurements and suggestions. Chart table. Sail stowage.
Refrigerators and ice boxes. Ventilation.
is the time to consider how you are going to select and install the insulation that is so
important in any boat. Even fiberglass boats need insulation as they 'sweat' in the same
manner as other boats, including metal ones.
If you are planning spray-in-place foam
insulation then this should be installed after the deck and superstructure are in place,
but before you start work in the interior joinery. An alternative is to install 'bats' or
sheets of foam glued or held in place by the 'ceiling'. See below in the section covering
lining materials for details on installing the ceiling planking.
My choice for foam insulation is the type of
urethane foam that has fire resistant and non-toxic properties and is sprayed in place. In
steel boats, the interior of the hull should be first grit-blasted and primed, or built of
pre-primed materials. The foam will now be sprayed to a depth between 1" / 25 mm and
2" / 50 mm; the thicker the better. It is a good idea to cover the stringers and they
will most likely be about 1 1/4" to 2" / 30 to 50 mm deep. The foam will form a
skin and should be of a type that is forms a skin on the surface that is impervious to
water. Make sure you choose a variety that in the event of fire does not give off toxic
fumes. You will also need to make sure that the foam is of the self-extinguishing type.
The supplier of the foam usually has all the
equipment needed to install the material and charges by the cubic foot / cubic metre or by
the pound / kilo. Make sure you obtain an estimate of the cost for the boat to be sprayed
to the desired thickness. Be very careful that you get what you pay for. Measure the depth
of the foam and check that it is reasonably constant thickness throughout the boat.
are a variety of materials that can be used to line the interior of your metal boat. This
is one area where the wrong choice can damn your boat and scream 'AMATEUR'. If you want to
achieve a decent resale value, then you had best get it right.
If you are building a 'traditional' style
metal boat such as a Spray replica, or if you like the warmth of an all timber interior,
then ceiling planking can go a long way to achieving the right effect. Ceiling material
should be 1" x 5/8" / 25 x 20 mm light coloured fine grained timber that is
rounded or arrased (bevelled) on the outer edges. Install the planks longitudinally and
space them at about 1/4" / 6 mm apart. You can plank only those areas that are
visible after the joinery is complete, or you can plank the entire accommodation area and
use the material as the lining for the various lockers. If you take this latter course
then you had better reduce the spacing to say 1/8" / 3 mm so you will not lose small
items though the gaps in the planking. If you only use ceiling where there are no lockers
then you may have a problem getting a fair curve where there is no frame to attach one end
of the planks.
The lockers can be lined with plywood. Leave the bottoms loose with a neat fit but not
tight; you will often want to get under and behind the locker to have access to cables and
the inner hull. Do not forget to put finger holes in the lining.
the entire interior of the accommodation with light ,plain, painted or veneered fancy
plywood can produce a pleasing result when combined with solid timber trim. Too much
varnish or areas of paintwork that are too large, can spoil the interior appearance, so
you will need a balance between the two finishes. If you are unsure of this balance, then
use as much varnish as you like, you can always paint over it at a later stage. The
reverse is obviously not so simple.
For deck-heads and the interiors of the cabin
top you can use plywood that is painted. Use some timber trim to relieve and break up the
area. Timber planks, similar to that used for 'ceiling' but say 2 in / 50 mm wide can also
be used to line deck- heads and cabin tops. There are several alternative vinyl type
products that have a light foam backing and are ideally suited to deck-heads and certain
bulkheads. Be careful using this material for bulkheads in the main living areas as it can
cheapen the look of your interior. The foam-backed vinyl can look acceptable in some parts
of sleeping cabins. The use of vinyl is fine for deck head and cabin top linings in any
part of the boat. Use timber trim as needed to break up any large expanses of lining
In the past, some builders, both professional
and amateur, used carpet and carpet like materials for lining the hull and deck heads.
These materials are inexpensive and easy to install but can look cheap! We do not
recommend this route, besides the interior would look 'dated'.
sole framing will need considerable planning. Usually L- angle is used for the main
framing and some timber can be used where it would be attached to vertical plywood
surfaces, such as bunk fronts and dinette ends. The size of the angle will vary depending
on the span and spacing of the framing. Your boat plans should give you a guide. As the builder
sometimes changes accommodation layouts, you may have to use your judgement. There are few
things more annoying than a springy or squeaky sole.
Plywood is universally accepted as the
material to use for this area. The thickness will vary between 1/2" / 12 mm and
3/4" / 20 mm, depending on the spacing of the under sole framing. Usually 5/8" /
20 mm is sufficient and the thickness can be less if you plan to add teak or another
timber surface. This is such an important area that you should try a sample area, before
deciding on an overall thickness. A spongy sole is most undesirable, but you will not want
to add excessive or unnecessary weight.
While you are still constructing the
interior, you should only fit and lay the plywood in position, do not screw it down until
the all of the joinery work is completed. It is advisable to arrange the sole so you can
remove all parts of it including those areas that form the bottom of lockers and closets.
This may mean additional under-sole framing to provide a base at the edge of the
particular area of the sole. Under no account 'build in' areas of the sole so they are
impossible to remove. The plywood can be screwed down using self-tapping stainless steel
Make sure you have carefully planned hatches
to those areas of the sole which will need
frequent or even infrequent access. The hatches should be laid out in an orderly manner
and have aluminum or similar trim around the edges and be provided with flush
'ring-pulls'. Hatches in unseen areas such as inside lockers may have finger holes in lieu
of more expensive hardware. Where carpet is installed, aluminum edge trim is an important
feature around the sole hatches.
Carpet covered soles are fine in most
powerboats and also in well-maintained and dry sailboats. If your cruising habits mean
that you will be bringing a considerable amount of water into the cabin, then carpet is
not a sensible option. I personally like carpet, it offers a good footing under most
conditions, is warm and attractive and considering the small area of a boat interior, it
can be replaced at very little cost.
Do not finish a teak and holly sole to a high
gloss. Rather use a mat finish that will give
you some chance of remaining upright in adverse conditions. A slippery surface can be
deadly in anything of a seaway.
first consideration will be how many permanent berths to build into your interior. Less is
better! My idea of the perfect number of berths is a spacious double for use in port and
in suitable weather, two single berths suitable for watch keeping and for use in adverse
weather conditions, plus additional single berths for the permanent crew. The number of
berths should not exceed four plus those required for the permanent crew. Boats under say
38 ft / 11.60 M should not have more than one double and two single berths otherwise too
much of the interior space is used up in this manner.
All boats are a compromise. You may have to
be creative to provide the necessary sleeping accommodation, without turning the boat into
one large dormitory. Avoid berths that are too narrow. Singles should be a minimum of 2 ft
/ 610 mm wide and preferably just a few inches / centimetres wider. Doubles should not
bear that title unless they have a minimum width of 4 ft / 1.22 M and preferably wider.
You will find 4 ft 6 in / 1.37 M is ideal and up to 5 ft / 1.52 M width is fine in a
larger boat. For designers and builders, achieving adequate berth length, is always a
problem. It is a fact that as each generation becomes taller, they require longer berths
for a good nights sleep. In new designs we use 6 ft 6 in / 1.98 M, as a reasonable length.
It is hard to include longer berths than this, without encroaching into other areas of the
Berths can be framed up in 2" x 1
1/2" / 50 x 30 mm timber or 2" x 1" x 1/4" L- angle. Depending on
which metal you use to build your hull, framing in the same material may give satisfactory
results. In steel boats and in the interests of saving weight, you may prefer to use
timber framing throughout the interior. Plywood of 5/8" / 20 mm thickness will be
adequate for all berths and if you have adequate framing then 1/2" / 12 mm may be
sufficient. Berths should have hatches in the top to allow access for stowage and
inspection of the boxed in areas of the hull. The plywood tops of the berth should also
have a few 1 in / 25 mm diameter holes bored at random to allow the air to circulate in
the area under the mattress.
Face the berths with a timber board of around
6 in x 1 in / 200 x 25 mm and round off the top and bottom of this face plank to remove
any sharp corners. This facing will hold the mattress in position and give a finished look
to the berth.
The mattresses should be of good quality
foam, between 4 in and 6 in / 100 to 200 mm in thickness and covered with a light cotton
or other suitable fabric. Hooray for the Duvet! Duvets make the best bedding arrangement;
they are easy to make up, especially where a berth does not have access from all sides. A
fitted under-sheet combined with a duvet that is equipped with a slip on cover makes for
perfect sleeping. This arrangement also provides easy bed making in the morning. Duvets,
when they are used on settee berths, have the additional advantage of being easy to stow.
AND SHOWER COMPARTMENTS:
space permits, a separate shower compartment is very desirable, especially on any boat
intended to be used as a live-aboard. The shower can be totally separate with its own
entrance, or simply a shower stall entered through the main head. On boats where the
regular crew is four, I would prefer two medium sized heads and one separate shower
compartment. Choices in this area are a personal matter so you should discuss the options
with your partner and those family members, who will be crewing regularly on the boat.
The floor of the shower/head can be formed
from fiberglass and laminated as a one-piece unit. Do not forget to include a non-skid
surface. The actual shower pan can be slightly lowered and fitted with teak slats. This
arrangement may allow a wider sole, even if some areas include a slight slope. Separate
shower stalls can have a tiled sole, a nice touch if your boat can accommodate the
additional weight. The walls or bulkheads in the shower/head area should all be lined with
a plastic finish such as Laminex (tm) or Formica (tm). The entire floor area as well as
the bulkheads and cabinets, should be designed for easy cleaning.
If you are building or own a small or
minimalist boat, then you may be happy with a 'shower bag'. These plastic bag devices
are wonderfully efficient. Provided you have a reasonable amount of sunshine each day, one
bag can provide hot showers for two. Shower bags are great water savers and recommended on
vessels where replenishment of water tanks is infrequent. Shower bags can be a great back
up device and even if used only infrequently, they will pay handsomely for the small
amount of stowage space they require.
Drainage for the shower can take many forms.
In our sailboat the 28 ft / 8.53 M steel Spray K*I*S*S, the builder had fitted a
fiberglass shower tray in the head and drained this into the main sump in the keel. The
sump was emptied by way of a manual bilge pump loCATAMARANed in the cockpit. This pump also
served as the emergency bilge pump. This arrangement was fine except that you had to pump
out the water soon after your shower, otherwise the sump would generate sufficient gas to
set off the alarm intended to service the gas stove rather than the shower sump. A better
arrangement would have been to have a separate 'grey water' tank to temporally store the
shower water, or an automatic pump. In our present boat we have a plastic sump about 1ft /
305 mm square, fitted with a lid and an automatic Rule shower/bilge pump. The 800 gallon /
3,028 Litre per hour unit, is the same size as those of smaller capacity and this unit
provides a backup to the regular bilge pumping arrangements. Shower pumps need regular
cleaning, usually about once every week or more often if the facility is used by more than
Manual or vacuum toilets are a must. The
electric varieties, while they do reduce the solids to a fine mist, are incredibly noisy.
Unless you can find a quiet version do not consider these devices. To those
traditionalists who wonder what is this fellow doing talking about electric toilets;
please remember that not all metal boats are built as basic cruisers. Even some of the
smaller variety, are built as finely fitted yachts. The 'Lavac' toilet is one of several
proven units and is available as a manual, (recommended) or more recently as an electric
unit (unknown quantity). Make sure, especially
in a sailboat, that the plumbing for your toilet is such that it cannot back- siphon and
sink the ship.
You should fit a reasonably sized hand basin.
If fresh water is at a premium then the smaller variety saves water. About 9 in / 228 mm
diameter is the smallest that can be called a basin. On smaller boats and boats with
medium -sized head/shower combinations, a convenient arrangement is to have a water
-saving type shower rose, serve as both the tap for the basin and as a shower head. The
flexible supply hose leads through the counter top and self stows under the basin. The
rose is drawn out when required as a shower. When using this system, and if hot water is
available then a two-tap mixer can serve both shower and basin. On all boats, the basin or
sink should have a shut off valve or sea- cock fitted and its location should be familiar
to all crewmembers. This advice applies to all inlets, outlets and sea-cocks.
is an important area of your boat and if you want to keep the cook happy, then you had
better get it right! In my books 'Choosing For Cruising' and 'Choosing a Cruising
Powerboat (see appendix 1), I have covered the
subject of designing a galley in considerable detail. These books have much more
information on all aspects of design than space allows here.
You can arrange the galley benches to suit
the available space. It has been found that a 'U' or 'L' shaped arrangement usually works
the best. In a sailboat, the stove is best placed outboard, facing inboard. For easiest
drainage, the sink on a sailboat should be as close to the centre line as practical.
Galley benches can be built from 3/4" / 20 mm plywood and covered with Formica,
Laminex or other laminated plastic. If weight saving is not critical then tiled bench tops
add a nice touch to any galley. Make sure that you round off any corners, otherwise the
cook will soon be covered in bruises.
Framing for the galley can be 2 in x 1
1/2" timber. The framework will generally be arranged to accommodate the size doors
and drawers that are available from the available standard sizes. Unless you are fitting
out a Dutch barge or other vessel that is mainly intended for use in inland waters, you
are not advised to install the standard kitchen units that are available at the local DIY
store or lumber yard.
There are many suppliers of ready-made teak
and mahogany door and drawer fronts that you can incorporate into your galley and
elsewhere. These items may be more expensive than those you construct yourself, but unless
you can produce fine cabinet and joinery work ,you are advised to at least investigate
this option. Resale value of your boat will be considerably affected by the quality of the
interior finish of your vessel. Three-ply sliding galley doors with finger holes as
openers may be inexpensive and easy to construct but they will add little to the resale
value of your boat.
as a 'Cooker' and elsewhere as a 'Stove' this appliance will get considerable use in your
boat. First you must decide which fuel you will use. The choices include bottled petroleum
gas, bottled natural gas (only available in certain areas), diesel fuel oil, alcohol or
kerosene (paraffin). In times past, galley stoves were always 'gimballed' and today most,
when installed in sailboats, are still arranged in that manner. Powerboats and stiff
sailboats like the Spray types may not require gimballed stoves. Discuss this
option with the manufacturer of your chosen appliance.
many if not most, new sail and powerboats are fitted with bottled gas that is commonly
known as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). This gas is available in two main types called,
butane and propane. The two types are similar in usage, and each has its advoCATAMARANes. If you
choose gas, then you will probably choose the one that is more readily available in your
area. Most appliances will burn either type; some may need minor adjustments to the
burners to get the best results. If you choose gas as a cooking and/or heating fuel, you
must have a certified technician install the system. Also check it over on a regular
basis. LPG is a wonderful aid on any boat, but it is heavier than air and can lie in the
bilge. Even a small amount of stray of gas, when ignited in the confines of a boat, can
cause a CATAMARANastrophic explosion. You must loCATAMARANe the bottles in their own self-draining
locker; fortunately this is easily arranged in most metal boats. Usually two bottles are
carried, thus ensuring continuity of supply, when one bottle runs out you switch to the
next and refill the other at the first available opportunity. We have had gas in our own
boats and I have taken my own advice regarding installation and servicing of the
installation and the individual appliances. If you have gas aboard, then a reliable gas
detector with one or more sensors must be installed. One sensor is required for each gas
appliance that you have aboard. If your gas appliances are grouped in one area then a
sensor may be arranged to suit the group.
or kerosene stoves, once the mainstay of any galley, have largely given way to LPG gas. If
you can stand the smell (although some fuels are now supposedly odour free) and you don't
mind the fiddly lighting procedure, then you may find this an ideal fuel for the galley
Galley stoves fired with diesel fuel would
seem the obvious alternative. Diesel fuel does work well in a properly set up appliance.
The drawback is that it takes these stoves some time to reach operating temperature. Perhaps diesel fuel stoves are more suited for
use in colder climates. To be practical, you should be able to leave the stove on low heat
between meal times.
FOR FOOD AND STORES:
is another area where the person who will actually be working in the galley, should be
consulted at the planning stage. The storage lockers or galley cupboards should be
arranged to make best use of the available space. The plates, mugs and eating utensils,
should be always to hand. Regularly used food such as condiments that do not need
refrigeration, should be all, more or less, at eye level. Pots and pans will normally be
stored in lower cupboards and cleaning and dish washing fluids may be under the sink or in
nearby lockers. If you have steps nearby, these make excellent stowage areas when combined
with hinged tops. If you lay out your galley in a similar manner to a regular house
kitchen, taking into account the obvious space restrictions and with the necessary changes
to suit the marine environment, then you will go a long way towards keeping the cook
Under- sole stowage for canned goods and
other non-perishable foods is a great idea. Try to arrange these lockers so that the cook
is able to access them without having to disrupt the area around the galley. Properly
fitted hatches in the sole and 'drop in' plastic bins are most useful. Most general
foodstuffs, except items that need refrigerating, can be stored in these under-sole
lockers. All hatches in the sole should be equipped with ring-pulls or finger holes.
Lockers in the galley, and elsewhere, will
need to be ventilated. Louvered doors or doors with built in vents or other arrangement
will be required to allow air to circulate freely in these areas. You will need a 'trash
bin' locker so this can often be arranged on the end of one of the lower galley benches.
The bin can be hinged at the bottom and designed to accept a standard medium size garbage
bag. Most cruising folks and live-aboards use supermarket sacks as garbage or trash bin
is another subject too complex to be covered in detail in this text, however there are a
few comments that should be made at this time. Firstly, avoid most ready built
refrigerators that can only be powered by 12 volt DC power. They can consume large
quantities of your valuable battery storage capacity. In powerboats you can use gas
refrigeration and this is generally very efficient. It does generate a considerable
amount of heat, so make sure it is properly ventilated. For more information on this
important and complex subject, please see recommended reading in appendix 1
BOXES: These can useful but need to be very well insulated to be of any
value. The most practical arrangement is an icebox that can be used to take one of the
freezer conversion kits. A freezer compressor that is powered by a take off from the main
engine can be a good alternative in cruising or live-aboard vessels.
THE CABIN: For cabin heating, the diesel-fuelled heater has no peer. A drip feed
version is ideal for installation in any boat, one per cabin, if you have a large cruiser.
These heaters are trouble free and throw out great quantities of heat for a miserly usage
of diesel fuel. Dickinson (Canada and USA) and Taylor (UK) are two popular makes but there
are several others available in all parts of the world. All fuel-consuming appliances
require good ventilation, so keep this in mind when installing your heaters and
powered, forced air heating can be a troublesome partner aboard any boat. The Eberspacher
or similar units need lots of TLC to keep to them operating. This type of forced air
heating with multiple outlets is a great convenience, but it can be difficult to maintain.