The V-Berth Project

The V-Berth is our first area for a revamp. One of the previous owners had obviously tried sleeping in here and found it too cold so made a brave attempt at insulating with panels of loft insulation, backed by hardboard and wrapped in a vinyl. In our opinion, the v-berth was too small for the colour choice, the depth of insulation made the area almost claustrophobic for me let alone Her who I felt would struggle in here…






So She set about ripping it all out.

The loft-insulation panels came away easily, with the hardboard already proving soft and mildew-riddled.

Next came away the original headlining, leaving a powdered black dust – the original 40-year old foam rotted away.

Lost of scraping and cleaning left us with this:


The plan is to clad the v-berth in Polyethylene (PE) Foam – Camping Mat Material. PE is a closed Cell Foam that should be moisture and mildew resistant.  It has quite a good insulation rating.  10mm thick or maybe double up to 20mm thick.

Inspired by Ken’s page here we thought we would try a painted finish.

Here I tested foam adhesion and tried to paint it ..

image image

The paint adhered OK – until you touch it. 

Unsurprisingly the paint flakes off after continuous pressing of the foam.
Not unexpected when the paint forms a brittle inflexible surface on a pliable foam – it was bound to give way:

imageI have read that perhaps Acrylic paint might provide a better coating but I haven’t tested it and I think we’re going to try and cover the foam in a white vinyl instead.


The Acrylic paint seems to have faired better. Two coats required at least.

But it passed a bend test.



I’ve placed the order with Intec Foams who supplied me with 50m x 1m x 10mm of PE foam delivered to the boatyard. 50m might be a bit much but I’d rather not run out, and can always use the rest for other projects or sell it on.


Time and Tide and No Waiting

The weekend we first put ‘Free’ into the water was exciting and memorable. It was August Bank Holiday Weekend, a week or so after taking ownership, almost exactly a year ago.

We spent the long weekend cleaning, tidying, scrubbing and ‘Free’ started looking quite tidy. The sun was out and we started making acquaintances on the boatyard, asking all sorts of newbie questions and no doubt getting on peoples nerves.

One such acquaintance was a very Salty looking character, with a proper Captain Birdseye Beard who pointed out that our spray hood could do with a timely repair and that he, Charlie, could do it for us. “A stitch in time saves nine and all that!”…

Acutely aware that all sorts of people might see a couple of landlubbers who can’t name the pointy bit and seek to take advantage of them I told Charlie we’d think about it and get back to him.

Overnight we discussed it and decided that before we went home the next day we would just whip off spray hood and give it to Charlie to have done before our next visit down.

The next day we rowed out to ‘Free’ on her mooring to remove the spray hood. She was already sitting on her keels but looking gorgeous in the sun-dappled but diminishing water…

Working as fast as I could I got the spray hood off and into the dinghy without dropping any nuts or bolts over the side all the while becoming acutely aware of how little water there appeared to be.

We hurriedly started paddling to shore.

And made it 10 feet before we were aground.

10 feet from ‘Free’.
50 feet from the shore.
Maybe 6 hours till the dinghy floats again. At least it was not raining…

6 hours in a rubber dinghy in the August sun was not looking like fun. She wasn’t looking amused!

So for the next 20 minutes I tried to lasso the boat from the dinghy with the painter. Every throw, whilst getting tantalisingly closer, only succeeded in splattering finest Cornish mud over the pristine cockpit that we, (mainly She), had spent the previous two days cleaning and scrubbing!

Finally! The rope caught and we manage to hop-pull the dinghy back to the mother-ship! At least we could sit out the tide in relative comfort…

There was nothing else to do but laugh.
And wait.

Luckily the previous owner, or perhaps the previous-previous owner had left some provisions on board:

Emergency Rations! Mackerel in Tomato and Pineapple Chunks…

An out of date tin of pineapple chunks and some mackerel fillets in tomato sauce. A combination not to be sniffed at!

We had to open the pineapple with a screw driver.

Luckily we were able to wash the taste out with a bottle of Vintage Spring Water:

Vintage Spring Water

Needless to say, some of the hours waiting for the tide to return were spent writing Lists. A Provisioning List and a List of Implements to facilitate opening/eating/drinking those provisions.
I’ve come to learn that Lists are just as much part of sailing as knots!
One day maybe my knots will be as plentiful or at least as reliable as my Lists.

Of course the tide did return, and we didn’t die of thirst, starvation, sunstroke, or kill each other.

The spray hood was delivered to Charlie and we set off home, 6 hours later than we had planned, but at least we had Lists!

This was the first of what I am sure will be a catalogue of Rookie Mistakes, and so it deserves to be tagged under the new category: “Rookie Mistakes”.

I’m sure this new category will become the one most used on this blog, quickly followed by Fixing Stuff!