Upgrade Your Boat - Part 5 - Interior
By Simon Boyde
Cave Canem has a pretty conventional interior layout. Down the companion way you have a 'double cabin' on the port side aft of you, a head on the starboard side also aft. Port side beside the companion way is a very useful little galley, starboard side is the chart table. Forward of that a well proportioned saloon with pilot berths high up on each side, giving us (with the aft cabin) 5 sea berths which has been a boon on offshore trips (no pipe cots for us!).
Forward again is a double cabin with an ensuite head. Both heads double as showers.
The boat was built in the early eighties when the transition to GRP was nearly complete, but owners at the time still liked and wanted to have that dark wood interior which mimicked the traditional interior, albeit with full head room. What also appears to have been plentiful in the early eighties was thick marine plywood. Everything has been built with this - in fact everything has been overbuilt with this!
Take a look at that interior (pictures from a brochure). Now look at the forward cabin (right). For some bizarre reason, but probably associated with a marketing department somewhere, rather than run the double berth full width, it has instead been put on one side and an entirely useless settee has been put there. I mean really useless. I've not used it once in five years and I lived on board for two years! The double berth, squeezed up to one side, means that if the person on the port side wants to get up, the starboard body is going to know about it. On top of this, in order to get the width of the berth in as well as the useless settee, the whole bunk is high - high enough that you cannot sit up in bed - and slopes upwards to the bow, the foot end of the berth.
On the starboard side when entering the cabin a hanging locker was built - so deep that you cannot get to the back of it, so short that you can hang anything.
When sailing, the forward head is not too useful. Frankly, the aft head is closer to the action, and by being further aft is a lot more comfortable. Perhaps the marketing department has again caused an error in design by creating a counter top with a sink in it which runs the full width of the bulkhead. This means that showering space is tight.
Fore Cabin Redesign
So we gutted the whole forward cabin.
A new full width berth has been built which is also lower by some 200mm, and which has a slight downwards slope to the foot end. Rather than the useless settee, a small step with stowage space under has been built on the starboard side, and with access now to a vertical board on the aft end of the double berth, space has been created to put in two big drawers (luxury - drawers!!!). On the port side at the aft end of the bunk a soundproof box has been built to hold an airconditioner. Forward of this stowage space is empty, but is a space which can easily be used to put a holding tank if required later.
The useless hanging locker was ripped out and instead a forward facing open shelving unit has been built. This will eventually have clip-on cloth covers to keep items on the shelves from falling out.
Originally the sides of the cabin had a very heavy mahogany trim. This again has been ripped out and will be replaced with lightweight plastic boards covered with headlining material from Trinchero.
An Oceanair Skyscreen will be fitted to the underside of the hatch over the berth for light and heat control (and insect control - it has an integral fly screen).
In the head, we pulled out the original 18kg porcelain head and have replaced it with a much more reasonably-massed 3kg head from RM69. This after all is the head which is only occasionally used, and the weight saving here compensates for the airconditioner which goes in under the forward berth.
The original and useless shelf space behind the head has been removed and replaced with a new construction which will be a blank faced cupboard capable of holding all the first aid kits and things of that ilk which currently fall around the boat as no lockers are big enough to handle them.
Beside the head we will put a new sink in, but in the corner. Which means that in the flat part of the space in this small room, we now have room to have a shower without feeling cramped.
The whole construction has been done with rot proof materials. A honeycomb fibre glass board has been used. It is around 1/3rd the weight of the original plywood, is pretty rigid and is equally as strong.
Work on the interior is progressing, if a little slowly, but we expect to back on the water soon.
The next article begins the story on the electricals. More weight reduction!
Simon Boyde is a Director of Storm Force Marine and regularly races Cave Canem