It’s time to address that aft cabin aboard Galapagos. We don’t have a date for moving aboard yet, but I am loathe to wait until the last minute to do any kind of remodeling of the interior. Now’s the time. The goal: create a sleeping area that is appropriate for a couple, without giving up too much in terms of standing and walking room, and without breaking the bank. Here’s our current setup.
When we bought Galapagos, it was with the realization that high on our list of comforts we wanted was a big berth in the aft cabin. We had been spoiled by some of the boats we’d looked at. Many of them had a queen sized bed in the master cabin, some even bigger. After our time on Moonrise, our Cal34, we knew we wanted three things: to be able to get out of bed without climbing over each other, a way to sleep comfortably together at anchor, and a comfortable mattress that was as good as the one we sleep on at home, not necessarily in that order.
Thus, I was pretty disappointed in the aft cabin in our boat. It wasn’t enough to turn me off to the boat, but I knew we’d have to do something about that cabin sooner, rather than later. The disappointing thing is that the aft cabin, while very roomy by boat standards, has a split berth. Originally the boat had two single berths, one on each side. I guess this 1975 boat must have been designed before the days of cruising couples who actually wanted to sleep together.
Previous owners had extended one side into the boat definition of a double bed to try to solve that problem, but, well, no thanks. Really that’s not enough room for either of us to be comfortable. We each need our space for actual sleeping. And there is that whole thing about all the trips to the head we both make. They only seem to get more numerous as we get older. We both need our sleep. So we have ended up sleeping apart. We can handle that in the short term, but we would at least like to have an option that isn’t the v-berth. Ok, I’m a spoiled brat and am tired of having to crawl out of a berth in the night several times without kicking Mike in the head, or any more tender place. I’ll own that.
This week Mike removed the mattresses and we went down today armed with cardboard, tape, and tape measures, to create a new space. Here is a list of our goals for this space:
1. Be able to sleep side by side when we want to.
2. Maintain our current layout enough that we can continue to sleep apart when we’re just dog tired. That’s actually a bonus.
3. Be able to access the steering mechanism in the middle compartment, and also the stowage compartments on the starboard side by creating a mechanism to tilt the mattress pieces up individually. This requires that they be on a stiff underlayment made of plywood or some other, hopefully lighter weight yet sturdy, material. If that material were to allow air flow, that would be ideal. Our measurements and trial runs have confirmed that we can use a mattress up to 8″ high and still have plenty of access room when it’s tilted up.
4. Do as little cabinetry work as possible because…lack of skills to make it look good.
5. Leave enough room for the head door, and to easily walk through from one side of the cabin to the other. We’d like to be able to stand and get dressed in there.
6. Continue to be able to access the drawers on each side.
I started by making a template of the existing layout, then began adding to that, keeping in mind that the finished product measurements will be larger where the mattress butts against the hull due to the curvature of that surface. This gives us a few more inches of room on each side and on a boat, a few inches can be the difference between workable and terrible.
We’ve come up with two possibilities:
Solution number one leaves the starboard berth as is, extends the port berth out about 6 inches, and brings that middle section out just to the corner of the drawers on each side. The corner of the port berth (hint: we are facing aft in the photo) has been clipped to make it visually more pleasing and protect our thighs from a sharp corner. This is the easiest solution. The distance from the aft of the cabin to the forward part of that middle section is 4 feet, ample room to lay side by side athwartship.
Our other option is this:
It’s difficult to photograph this entire cabin at once. In this instance, the starboard berth is enlarged at an angle from the forward corner, and the port berth is brought straight across, intersecting it at a right angle. That little triangular piece of cardboard that shows in the above photo would be gone. There would be plenty of room to lay side by side in a fore/aft position, rather than athwartship in this scenario, but it would take a little more carpentry work, and the door would not open all the way. It would open enough, but not competely. Here is a pitiful sketch, not to scale or anything else, but you can get the general idea.
And here is a photo of the original drawing of the layout so you can get a better idea of what we are dealing with. Note in the drawing that the little white triangle between the berths is actually a cushion insert, like in a V berth. The solid rectangle connecting the two sides is a seat that is below the level of the berth:
That’s as far as we’ve gotten at this point. We are playing with how deep to make the mattress. We tend toward having memory foam or latex, or possibly the gel foam that is supposed to be a bit cooler than memory foam. All of that is heavy. Mike wants to be sure that the weight is not an impediment to getting under the berth. I want it to be easy enough for me to do it without his help. Wooden chocks could help hold the mattress and underlayment up and take some of the load so we could tie it off securely. I’m imagining having to get at the steering mechanism out on the open sea and not wanting the thing to come crashing down.
Finally, I want to keep resale value in mind because it’s always a good idea to do that. Of course we plan to have this boat for years, but I wouldn’t want a wonky aft cabin to get in the way of a sale if it came to that.
If you have ideas and thoughts, throw them out here. Any idea what we could use for an underlayment, besides heavy plywood, that would allow us to lift up pieces of the mattress to access the underneath compartments? (Yes, the mattress will be hinged in places, but that’s a different post.) I’d love to think there is something like a fiberglass grid that would allow airflow under the mattress. Surely someone has invented that already.
Update: August 3, 2016 Want to read the entire Aft Cabin Remodel series to see how long it can take us to make a project happen? Here’s the next entry.