Cabin Refurbishment: Part 3 Interior Theme and Style

Continued from Cabin Refurbishment: Part 2 Approaches and Cabin Refurbishment: Part 1 the story so far and what is delaying us.

We want the interior to be light, simple looking, no fuss, intensely practical both at sea and living aboard on anchor, and comfortable but without any pretensions to being luxury. We want to build it from the most sustainable materials we can reasonably afford. Given that we expect the new interior to have a long life we are ok with us using some plastic in after all what is a 42 year old plastic boat that has plastic sails, plastic windows etc (Thanks Kika of Sailing Uma for that clear argument in this very helpful interview (“Electric Engines on Sailboats: A Complete Guide! | Sailing Uma Interview“)

Probably our general theme could be described as Herreshoff Style (mostly white with minimal wood trim) with some variations such as the cushions (what was on special offer for the aft cabin, recognising it is normally covered by a sheet and duvet; and in the saloon a blue because there wasn’t so much choice in the hard wearing semi recycled Sunbrella fabrics); stainless steel for the bigger handholds (as otherwise you need expensive and unsustainable hardwood) and “sophisticated” greys in the galley.

How to achieve this?

Part of the reason for choosing this style is that much of the internal timber is looking tired. There are lots of water stains, but fortunately we haven’t found any rot or delamination. So for the timber we are keeping (bulkheads for example) the best option is paint which handily should also be less work and harder wearing than trying to restore and varnish it.


This is the biggest challenge for us. As we have removed the, wet and sagging, headlining we are taking advantage of that by insulating the hull as well as under the decks and coachroof with 10mm closed cell foam (several layers where headroom isn’t an issue such as between the hull stringers). We need to hold this in place and we don’t want to look at black foam as we are not goth teenagers 😉 Our first attempt was to simply use spray contact adhesive with the idea of then painting it white. But it didn’t work.

The contact adhesive hasn’t held it in place, and so within a few days it all fell down. We have had discussions about whether being more generous with the adhesive would solve the problem, it was made clear to me that I was invited to do it myself next time with as much glue as I wanted but that it still would not stay up 🙂 More than that, the joints at corners are going to look uneven, we can’t see how to do anything approaching tidy for window surrounds, and finally if the foam is knocked at all then it gives and the paint cracks.

So we have been looking for something to hold the insulation up, give neat edges/joints and be light in colour, preferably white.

We have looked at various plastic sheets and plastic tongue and groove planks but didn’t want to introduce so much raw plastic and getting a good finish in awkward spaces is going to be tricky and time consuming especially with narrow plank styles.

We also looked at tongue and groove pine, but if it is thin enough to not cause headroom issues then it is also very fragile. We ruled out rectangular sections of timber due to the effort to fit them so that they look good (and cost).

In the end we think the best option for us is to cover it with thin plywood sections, which we will screw directly to the stringers or coachroof. Essentially this was what was there before. Now though it will have insulation behind and will be painted white rather than covered in foam backed vinyl. We will have removable sections wherever there is a bolt or fitting that we could need to access (fortunately not too many).

We can then cover the joints and edges with thin strips of softwood. Not sure what surface treatment except we will try to keep it’s natural colour, we don’t want to try to stain it to look like hardwood.


The floors are a problem. They are traditional Teak and Holly laminate so won’t match the new colour scheme. There are a few other problems too. They creak a lot, there is a hole from the old table leg and the matching plastic stuck to the slopes of the hull in various points is disintegrating.

Most of the floor boards are large awkward shapes and were screwed down, with a few loose sections for access to the water tank, speedo etc. We could do with being able to access more of it for storage, but we also need to be able to fasten every board down for safety (if we get knocked down you don’t want to be in your bunk getting hit by both floorboards and tins of baked beans).

We have seen a number of budget solutions applying standard DIY floor laminates but are not convinced, we feel they are not really going to last in the salt water environment and they are not designed for lift out sections.

For winter in the boatyard the cheap foam tiles sold in places like Halfords have been great but they don’t make access to the opening sections easy and they won’t last a very long time.

So one idea we are wondering about is cork tiles stuck down and then painted – comfortable, warm and soft while being a sustainable crop. Cutting for openings and awkward shapes is easy but edges are vulnerable.

For marinas and even at anchorages carpet or rugs can be nice but when at sea there are real problems with them slipping and getting wet.

So long term quite a lot of work to do but it will make a huge difference to living onboard (I really hate creaky, cold floors).


In Cabin Refurbishment: Part 1 the story so far and what is delaying us I had a bit of a grumble about the totally inadequate original lighting. There are very few lights, they look dated and are not in very useful places so not worth upgrading to LED bulbs.

We like a bright interior, especially in the winter but we don’t like bright point lights and shadows. So the easy solution is going to be lots of strips of LED lighting integrated into the corners of the headlining trim. We will have a red option for the galley, chart table and sea berths. But we don’t want flashing multi coloured, remote controlled disco lighting. Simple switches are much preferred as you don’t lose them and get in trouble with someone else on board 🙂

Lighting is going to be mostly LED strips that are hidden behind the trim to avoid direct glare.


We feel pretty happy with most of this and how it will be to implement (apart from the floor which feels very uncertain still). Next part will be on the layout.

Continued in Cabin Refurbishment: Part 4 Layout

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