Barry Pickthall makes a cheap and simple sleeping comfort upgrade - a double boat berth

Spending weekends and holidays afloat used to engender some reticence within my household.

A working toilet to replace the bucket, together with a roll-down modesty screen fitted above the main bulkhead opening to the forward cabin helped, but it was not until I tackled the sleeping arrangements on board that the enthusiasm for more than day sailing returned.

Pre-1980s narrow girthed classic cruising yachts like my own 27ft Rhodes 6 tonner Sea Jay make great sailing boats, and their single berths either side of the main saloon are very comfortable in a seaway.

a boat berth with blue and white stripped fabric

The companionway with plywood springs fitted to provide the central boat berth base. Credit: Barry Pickthall

But what about at anchor or in the marina?

My wife had no interest in overnighting in such antisocial circumstances until I came up with the bright idea of making a quick and simple double bed conversion across the cabin, long enough to accommodate my 6ft 3in frame.

A comfort upgrade

There are quite a few production yachts out there that are ripe for a similar comfort upgrade.

A quick scan through online classifieds throws up early Albin, Beneteau, Etap, Kingfisher, Neptune, Newbridge, Triton, Vertue and Westerly designs all with the same simple two-berth saloon layout as Sea Jay.

The idea came while clearing out an old Z-bed occasional folding bed frame that had lost some of its castors.

Part of a boat berth

We attached a square section length of mahogany to each berth side, then measured and drilled the location holes for each plastic end to fit into. Credit: Barry Pickthall

It was fitted with lightweight plywood ‘springs’ – the same type fitted to many single and double bed frames these days.

They have plastic connectors at each end which clip into predetermined holes on the side of the bed frame, so it was a simple case of screwing two lengths of wood to the outer bunk sides either side of Sea Jay’s companionway and drilling the same pattern of location holes.

To ensure each lined up and are equidistant apart, we made up a simple plywood template taking in two sets of holes, and applied tape to the drill bit to gauge the depth of each hole.

Continues below…

The companionway on Sea Jay narrows slightly towards her midship sections so each plywood spring had to be cut to size and numbered for easy reference before being varnished.

We also re-cut the backrest cushions to fit the gaps and it made a super comfortable bed.

It takes little more than a minute to assemble and disassemble and cost us no more than £20 to make.

Multipurpose cushions

A thin cut-down mattress topper spread over the berth cushions, smooths over the joints to add a depth of luxury and ensure a good night’s sleep.

When at sea, the plywood springs are packed away in a bag along with the rolled up mattress topper, and stowed in the forepeak.

a double berth on a boat covered in blue fabric

The double boat berth made up for a night at anchor. Credit: Barry Pickthall

The in-fill cushions return to being backrests during the day.

The result is marital harmony returned afloat!

Enjoyed reading Boat berth upgrade: a cheap and simple way?

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