Practical and Ideal Berth Design

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Grant Nelson, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. Grant Nelson
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    Grant Nelson Senior Member

    Hi All,

    I struggle with the berths I see on most designs these days. They are almost all Doubles with access limited to one side, or 'top' of the berth. OK, some bow berths have access to the other side to about shoulder height, but that is as good as it gets.

    I think that if you can not design a double berth with access to about one third from the 'top', you can better use single berths, for example the traditional 'V' berths in the bow, and perhaps 'bunks' further aft, or if you have the room, and its not a sail boat, athwartship single bunks combined with fore-aft bunks.

    Someone looking at one of my (amateur) designs where I took this single bunk approach told me that no-one will give my (powerboat) design a second look for this reason. This was a boat for 1 or 2 week cruising. I was also kind of thinking that part of my audience would be people like my parents, or even my own faimily, where my wife (although she like to sleep next to me) would rather have ease of entry and exit to her sleeping place.

    What do you all think?
     
  2. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    I think you are right. It's however not a marketing argument nowadays. Strange I think...
     
  3. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Unlike a land based environment, good berths need to cocoon the person in them, or they're just not safe to be in when things get rough.

    Most production boats have poorly designed berths, just because they sell, style, number of bodies they can technically berth and fancy gadgets, like cup holders built into the tissue dispenser in the head, not how well their berths work.

    Good sea berths are small, tight, don't let the person flop around, have lee cloths and preferably located directly under the likely deck leak sources.

    This brings up the question, "what kind of berth are we talking about". There are basically two types of berth, a harbor pad, which people collapse onto, after an afternoon of drinking at the local watering hole and real sea berths, which as the name implies, are used when the boat is underway.

    The harbor pad is just as comfortable and accessible as you can make it, given the confines within the hull shell. These berths often are little more then odd shaped versions of land based bedding, which are about the worst thing to live with, in a damp offshore slosh to windward.

    A sea berth needs to protect the sleeper from getting tossed to the sole in a rough patch of wet, blue stuff. The best I've found for this are pipe berths, which also happen to be the lightest and easiest thing to install as well. They can be stowed out of the way when not in use and really "wrap" up the person in them, providing a secure feeling.

    A "practical and ideal" berth design isn't realistic, except in individual applications, where the design brief has dictated the priorities.
     
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  4. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Hi Par,

    Nice explanation. It could be fun if the two of you get sloshed around on the bunk at times :D but only on occasion.

    Have you a picture of a proper berth, or where can one find some ? The berths I googled for looks like beds to me...
     
  5. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    \
    "A sea berth needs to protect the sleeper from getting tossed to the sole in a rough patch of wet, blue stuff. The best I've found for this are pipe berths, which also happen to be the lightest and easiest thing to install as well. They can be stowed out of the way when not in use and really "wrap" up the person in them, providing a secure feeling."

    I agree with the sentiment , BUT , the "concordia bearth " is a variation of pipe berth that is far superior.

    As its built away from the hull a bit , a deck or port leak doesn't wet the bed.



    The bunk can be built wide 30 inches for the tropics , and the ability to sag it is simply done by inserting a cushion under the open bunk.

    Best of all it is a comfortable backrest when in port
    AND has the huge advantage of hiding both the bedding , neatly , and much of the gear of a guest assigned to that bunk.

    For "modern" boats where a double is required, It should be accessible from either side , so someone doesnt have to clamber over their partner to give back some beer.

    A "Bundeling board",a removable bed divider allows sleep in a seaway
    OR two folks of the same sex to share the bed with out jokes from the crew.

    FF.
     
  6. Grant Nelson
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    Grant Nelson Senior Member

    Thanks all, indeed expected function is key. For sailboats the single, longitudinal bunks seem most logical. Ditto for anyboat that expects to go to 'sea'. But since most boats will travel from harbor to harbor in calm waters, I was aiming at that group (I know, design for the worst, but we need some leaway in that philosophy I think). Inparticluar, I was thinking about powerboats. It seems there is some agreement that having to crawl over you mate is unhandy. I have also seen so many cuddlyhole 'cabins' where both person have to crawl over their pillow, that I really started to wonder if I was in able to understand what boat buyers want / accept. A boat cost more than a house these days, and no one would accept that in their home... So, if someone designed a boat with personal access to the side of every sleeping space, wouldn't they win some favor from the buying public, or are they really think double berths are better no matter how you have to get in and out of them? Darn, I will probably never know...
     
  7. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    All of the above thoughts have merit. The snug longitudinal sea berth with strong lee cloths can make getting to sleep and staying asleep off watch much easier and more restful. In port or calmer water, that same berth might be hot and claustrophobic. Everyone seems to agree that the double is not a good sea berth, even on large powerboats if they venture into rough water. That is from three years on a destroyer when even the pipe berth was of questionable value for safe sleeping in the worst weather.

    Crawling over your pillow or your mate gets old but, my mate and I have had to make do with both on many occasions. For coastal cruising, we have settled on V berths with lots of foot room and enough headroom to sit up and read plus good ventilation. A good berth is at least 6" longer than the tallest sleeper. A plug for the center with cushions that also work as back rests is also good. A side shelf for the most used gear and clothes is a must and should be at proper height for a back rest.

    A berth that must be converted for day use is low on our list. A quarterberth is OK if there is good ventilation and part of it is open to the cabin for sitting and ease of entry. A double quarterberth is not so good because some climbing over is necessary and there is only one sitting position.

    A big comfortable stern cabin might be ideal but we will never know since I can't afford such a boat.

    If you wanted a marketing solution, I expect that something that looks most like a bedroom at home is best. Lots of open space.
     
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  8. ted655
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    ted655 Senior Member

    Back to selling the design. No matter the proper design, people bring their ignorance of ocean reality with them to the selection/buying process. No matter the true conditions they will encounter, they SEE themselves having great sex, tender moments & breakfast in bed. We know it's not going to happen, but the customer doesn't. So I'd market both berth types & change the design name of the boat. Same boat, marketed to 2 types of buyers. Let the sales staff explain why the "beds" are different. The customer is always right. THAT attitude sells boats. Salts will "know', & lubbers will learn the hard way. Your objective is to design & sell, don't get in the customers way. Sell both the "Honeymooner AND, the "passagemaker".
     
  9. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    I think you are correct on your analysis, except on this last portion of the sentence....I got a laugh from this one :D
     
  10. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    How about a berth thaqt can fold open... A quarter berth for one person, for couples who insists... fold it open to be a double quarter.

    Ok Par, you've got me here. What is a 'pipe berth' and what does it look like ?

    I can just see one crawling into a round pipe with a 360 all round matress... even if the boat flips over you won't be tossed. Would even provide a dry berth while you wait the weeks for the resque to arive... :rolleyes:
     
  11. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I was wondering if anyone caught that comment Brian. This is a mandatory configuration, which helps insures guests revolve around the 3 day rule.
     
  12. yipster
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    yipster designer

    not mentioned yet are the 180 and 190 cm beds that use to be quit common
    designing or buying a boat 2 meter lenght beds are worth checking out
     
  13. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

  14. dskira

    dskira Previous Member

    The biggest stupidity invented by the marqueting division of any boat company was the double berth. It works only on the showroom while the suckers are drooling over the double berth so they feel like at home. Only once on a bad sea, if one day they leave the marina, they understand the lie given by the builder and designer about the double berth. The reason for these so called double berth (which is never a real double) is simple: double berth are easier to design, easier to built, cheaper, and easier to put tanks under or anscilliaries. It is a sad state of affair when boatbuilder and naval architect make bad desisions and sell it as a pluss for the sake of a marqueting stunt.
     

  15. KnottyBuoyz
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    KnottyBuoyz Provocateur & Raconteur

    Good thread fellas. Been putting a lot of thought into what we may/may not be able to do in the fwd cabin space of our 30' trawler project. It's definitely too small for an island berth w/o it bing 4' off the deck. A v or modified v are the most likely candidates. This is what the first builder of the trawler we chose did....

    [​IMG]

    This second pic is from the same model trawler built in Turkey by a pro builder. They chose what we call the modified V with a nearly double width on the port side.

    [​IMG]

    I can't really see getting an island double berth in the bow of a boat until you get well into the 40'-50' range. My preference was for a hammock but the ole' woman won't have that!
     
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