Best book on building modern sailboat interiors?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Jay and Ebben, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. Jay and Ebben
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    Jay and Ebben BilgeRat

    Hi All,

    I am considering reconfiguring an interior on a center cockpit 42' steel ketch I recently purchased. It was built in '82 and has some dated ideas. I purchased the vessel as a restoration project (it is currently in rough shape) and at this time I am working at laying out my long term plans. Does anyone have any thoughts on a few books that they hold in high regards on interior joinery? I am looking at something similar to the Little Harbor style below. I can handle the woodwork fine but as far as the initial planning goes I would like a strong jump start in the right direction.



    Attached Files:

  2. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Jay, I've been down this path on past restorations.

    I can't suggest a book, but I can suggest some basics:

    1) You will not be able to lighten up a heavily teaked interior. Teak is dark and once you seal it up with anything, it gets dark again.

    2) Modern boats don't have a lot of real wood. They often just have a smooth veneer.

    3) Those "Hereshoff" style wooden trim pieces up on the headliner make it look old.

    4) New seat cushions will go a long way.

    5) Big festoon bulb 12V fixtures look very dated and take up a lot of power. LEDs.

    6) Get rid of that little wooden legged "coffee table" and put in a modern glass one.

    7) To get good ideas for interior design concepts, don't look at boats! They all do a lousy job at it. Look at home design concept books.
  3. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Just some suggestions:

    Classic Yacht Interiors by Jill Bobrow and Dana Jinkins (Oct 17, 1993)

    Yacht Interiors (Design Book) by Anja Llorella (Aug 11, 2005)

    Yacht Style: Design and Decor Ideas for Your Boat by Daniel Spurr (Apr 1, 1997)
    1 person likes this.
  4. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Very little joinery work on modern interiors. Very few square corners. Very much vacuum bag veneer work. Best to make a boat show tour with your camera for ideas.

    Interiors are complex....ergonomics. Form and function.

    Outside help from a Pro is worthwhile for styling and buildability. This Pro may be a residential designer and know nothing of boats .

    Standardized components...molded radiuss, drawers, locker doors, shower stalls ...all the same helps during build.

    Interior components are mocked up on board the yacht with door skin ply, hot glue and a staple gun. This mock up is disassembled then brought to the workshop and built.

    Only use teak veneer and semigloss finishes on the interior. Teak ages well.
  5. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Interior Design Methods for Yacht Design and the Boat Building Industry by Lisa C Hix.. can be ordered from Westlawn Institute
  6. Jay and Ebben
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    Jay and Ebben BilgeRat

    The ideas you have all posted are appreciated. I am looking up the books right now. Has anyone read "Interior Design Methods for Yacht Design and the Boat Building Industry"? it is quite expensive and not available used. I am not wealthy and every penny I have budgeted for this project is essential.... I hate to buy a book by its cover, but it looks good! Worthwhile?

    Correction - the interior photo I posted was a Little Harbor, not otherwise. I do like the classy and refined interiors they strive to build. My hull is a traditional shape and I want to be in pace with that, but take advantage of modern curves, materials etc. The boat has no refrigeration in it (as original) and little lighting. I am going to keep it as simple as possible with minimal electrics but I want to be smart about it. I want to end up with a simple and modern boat that holds classic appeal and is extraordinarily elegant. In addition, I need to do this by resorting more on my skills as a craftsman than on buying the best of everything.

    At this time the boat has much mold in it and a bit of rot. The worst of the molds have been removed... colors and textures I cannot begin to describe! As I remove the unsalvageable interior this summer I would love to have an idea of how I will be going about making the main salon more comfortable. I will post photos when the cover comes off in the spring. Right now there is 4" of snow and no light below for picture taking. This past fall I was just happy to get the boat here in one piece and have it drained before freezing! For those of you who have not seen it... my son Ebben made the following movie of its arrival.

    All ideas and thoughts are welcome - especially at this time of planning. Thank you for your input.
  7. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    The interior is designed to compliment the way you use your boat. How will you use the boat ?
  8. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

    Michael is right, though I'd go further... Start with the function, then worry about the form.

    For instance. If you are going to be sailing long ocean passages, you will benefit from a relatively small galley with plenty of places to brace yourself against. If you are only going to sail short distances, and intend to do all your cooking at anchor or mooring, then you can afford a larger galley, with less concern about it's effectiveness at sea.

    The same thinking applies with the saloon, berths, heads and everything else. Do you need to use them at sea? Do they need serve a double purpose? Do double berths need to split down to singles for passages? etc.

    For electrics, you need to decide on the required usage as well. Do you want a TV in each room, 240V in each room? What you do need is light, so don't skimp, as this will change the whole atmosphere in the boat.

    You also need to consider whether you need A/C ducts (which could just pump cold, moist air out of the boat, or be connected to a dehumidifier or full A/C unit), and, similarly, what heating you require (if any). You should also consider cable-runs, pipe-runs, rigging points, controls run under-deck, and anything else that might "get in the way" of the interior you want.

    Plenty to think about here, and it will take many attempts drawing it out to scale to get it right. If you can, measure the interior space and re-produce it in 3D CAD; that way you can try a large number of different options, and you *should* be able to cut parts direct from the CAD definition. (I have just done this with the structure for a model boat, and it works VERY well.)

    Hope this helps,

    Tim B.
  9. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    On modern boat the interior is very many House Service details to accommodate.
  10. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Is the original poster talking about systems design, ergonomics, or design as in "interior design?"

    This thread seems to be addressing all of them at one time with all of us posters going in different directions.

    They are 3 very different things that all need to come together.

    I always start with systems, then go through ergonomics, then finally, go a step further than most interior "designers" do on yachts - I incorporate true interior design and aesthetics.

    My wife actually demands this. She has asked, from day one, while we lived in a loft in Manhattan, "why does a boat always look like a little boy's room inside?"

    She's right. Nearly all are terribly designed from a styling point of view. Very few are pleasing to the eye. Mostly, they are dark blue, have little light, lots of teak and are quite similar to living in a cave.

    Some megayachts and superyachts, or course, excepted.

    PS: Better than using a computer to model an interior layout, IMO, is using a scaled drawing of the hull. Just have that drawing from above and from the side. The drawing can come from a CAD system. Then, you can use cardboard or some other kind of stiff cut outs to place things right on the drawing where you think they might fit. Much faster as you can make a change in less than a second. Make the cut outs to scale. Represent berths, settees, tables, staircases, galley equipment, etc...
  11. Jay and Ebben
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    Jay and Ebben BilgeRat

    I am speaking about the whole enchilada. It is the time to think about as many aspects as I can since this boat is somewhat of a blank slate of possibility.

    Once again, thank you, you are all right on the mark. Here is a bit of my story - I am sharing it because each time I seem to post something on these forums ideas come back to me which I had no idea were applicable. The brainstorming aspect is a very powerful tool here which I value very much.

    I was a wooden boatbuilder turned live-aboard after I got tired of waving goodbye to my work from the dock. I always wanted to see the other side of all of those customers leaving in apparent euphoria. I lived on my 38' wooden ketch ( see profile photo above) for 4 years between Maine and South America. They were wonderful years. Rarely in a marina... almost always on the hook.

    Now... so many years later... I have seen most of my best friends pass on from this world without their biggest dreams coming to fruition, or even having given them an effort to make happen. The writing is very clear to me - Now is the time to create a wonderful boat.... to sail long distance... ideally around the world.. perhaps only to the edge for a good look over the side. I have 9 years to rebuild it (as I continue a healthy and wonderful relationship with my wife and kids) and when my kids are old enough to embark on their own I hope they might join me. My wife sailed with me for the previous voyaging and supports me doing this but she will not be on the boat too much.

    Refit parameters;

    Keep my homestead healthy for my wife and kids to enjoy and feel secure in.

    Be responsible financially. Don't be self indulgent. This project has to return most of the money in the end that I put into it. I bought an excellent dutch hull for the price of scrap. When I sell it one day it will be worth a lot more than I have into it.

    Fit it out for sailing very long offshore passages solo and also with small crews. Have the ability to have my family (four of us) and a couple friends here and there for extended cruising.

    Keep the boat simple for ease of operation and also for a lower cost basis in the rebuild and overall maintenance.

    Fit the boat for expected updates when a new owner signs on. This should make it more appealing at time of sale. I simply do not have the resources for expensive electronics and such. The boat has fantastic custom stainless hardware to start and I have the resources to fabricate more as needed.

    I am interested in soliciting thoughts about practicality.... what people really like on their boats and what was over rated. And what people value most when the day comes to resell it. If I am able to put this all together I am sure I will be better off in the long run.

    I don't have much interest in reading of those who feel an urge to tell me how I don't have enough cash to make this happen. I do have the time, will, and tools to make up the difference. What I need most right now are some powerful suggestions!

    Thank you for your continued input.

    Sail on!

    Below are a couple photos of my work. Steel, wood, paper... simple. Taken from some older styles, but still original.

    Attached Files:

  12. Jay and Ebben
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    Jay and Ebben BilgeRat

    A couple of photos - about 13 years ago. Before she stated the decline into disrepair.

    A wonderful hull. I will be building new spars - as crazy as is sounds. I really like the bright work. I have room for it in my life... you almost never see it now unless you are at the museum dock! My guess is that it may not be good for resale... but on this one I am likely going against all reason. Ha!


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  13. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    When designing an accommodations arrangement, many particulars need to be considered, aside the engineering and technical assembly details. This can be a daunting task for the novice designer. The best and most useful method, to which a well fitting and serviceable interior can be established, is a mockup.

    The mockup can be cardboard, door skin material or other light, cheap, easily cut stuff. This will help you arrange the accommodations, find flaws and not spend a lot of money or effort re-arranging and altering as required. General ergonomic dimensions are available in a number of sources. It would be wise to stick to these generalities initially.

    With the accommodation plan mocked up, you can establish building details based on one of several methods or a combination of them. Stick built is easy, if you're a reasonably skilled wood worker, foam sandwich if you'd like lightness and have 'glassing experience, taped seam is an option as well as other avenues of construction detail pursuit.

    My point is, the layout is more important, then the building details. A well built, but uncomfortable or not well suited accommodations arrangement, may be good looking, but unusable. On the other hand, a cobbled together, but well fitting accommodations plan, will see better service underway, even if it needs duct tape to repair it from time to time.
  14. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    I agree with PAR and in this case, especially, you will need something ergonomically correct above all else...

    *hand holds?
    *how high is a counter?
    *what keeps your drink or dinner in place?
    *how is a galley used in practice?
    *what is the right seat height?
    *what angle should the back supporting portion of a settee slope at?

    These are what will make your boat useable for real service like you plan.

    I've been suggesting a lot of books on here today, but here is another I have made a lot of use of:

    Boat Data Book - Ian Nicolson

    Inside you'll find exact dimensions for everything inside a boat - down to making holders for the cups and dinner plates. Very useful book in general.

  15. Jay and Ebben
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    Jay and Ebben BilgeRat

    Forums are a newly found resource of unfathomable depth. I have asked a few questions here not knowing exactly why I was asking and look at the thought provoking responses. I just find this outstanding. This morning I was not able to pull much up on the internet of interest to read... and now I have a handful of books on order that are backed up by valid testimonials. And to think... a book named 'Boat details' available for $4.00 - ha! my library has grown in new directions and I have so many wonderful thoughts to ponder tonight whilst so many others are merely sleeping.

    Good night (and happy problem solving....) and thank you for a day of inspiration.

    Sail on!

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