Design and Building Ideas to Sleep On.
bunks need, primarily to be comfortable.
However, on every small boat space is a premium.
So, like everything else on a small boat the bunks should be able to
more than one function
The most common arrangement is the settee berth, which is used for
during the day but converts into a bunk for sleeping.
are an inventive lot and over the centuries they have come up with
ingenious sleeping arrangements.
This is especially true of
wooden boat owners.
Much depends on the space
available after all the other
essentials, such as galleys, chart tables etc have been catered for.
The settee or transom berth
the most common arrangement.
what is comfortable for
sitting is too narrow for the average person to sleep on, (see the page
So, some method of extending
boat bunks for night time
use is needed.
The hinged backrest is an
excellent idea where the space
behind can be used, during the day to store the bedding.
The backrest needs to be at
and angle of about 10 degrees
from the vertical to be comfortable during the day, yet be out of the
comfort during the night.
Various other methods have
been used such as using
in-fills to increase their width between settees.
The fold away saloon table top
can double up as part of
On one of my previous boats
had settees on either side of
the saloon, the infill was made up of 12inch/305mm boards, these were
store and I often used just one as a 'coffee table'. Another
method is to have an extension
which slides out from
However, if you use the 'padded' backrest as
an infill there is no need to find storage space for the extra
All that space under the
settees makes for ideal storage space.
This space can be accessed fro
However, as this will be quite
a deep space, access will
be easier from the top.
And the openings can be made
quite large, accessed from
under the padding/mattress.
However covers for the
openings must be constructed
securely so they don't give way under a large bottom or bouncing
(unless you deliberately want to get rid of them).
And take care when using knotty
Wood as framing
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The Pilot berth
or sea berth is usually a fixed affair which is only found on biggish
Quite often they end up being
used as storage areas for
bags and the like rather than boat bunks for sleeping on.
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The 'Quarter berth' is an excellent use of that 'tunnel'
under the cockpit seats or aft side deck.
Although some find them too
claustrophobic for comfort,
they can be snug, safe bunks for use at sea.
The major down side of the
quarter berth is often the
lack of ventilation.
The bottom end of that dark
tunnel can become damp and
A vent of some sort at the
bottom end will help keep it
smelling sweet however, this will need to be one which can be closed
foul weather, such as a mushroom vent.
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The basic pipe cot is
regarded as a
space saving utilitarian arrangements only
fit for occasional use.
However, they can be very
comfortable boat bunks,
especially when underway.
And with a bit of imagination
they can be designed to be
converted into comfortable seating areas for daytime use.
The usual arrangement is
rather like a stretcher with a
canvas base either sleeved or laced on to supporting poles.
The 'temporary' arrangement I
Mignonne is still in use.
Originally it was set up while
I was rebuilding Mignonne
so I could sleep on board.
But I was then still at the
stage where I wasn't ready to build something permanent.
Neither did I want to spend
money or time on upholstery
which would most likely soon become grubby.
also needed to be
convenient and easy to stow and
erect and have somewhere to hide my bedding.
Nor I didn't want to spend too
much time building
However it turned out to be so
comfortable and convenient
that the original contraption is still there.
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Boards for Boat Bunks.
The off watch crew trying to
sleep on board, at night, at sea need something to prevent them from
off their boat bunks as the boat heels.
Falling asleep on the leeward,
downhill side is fine but
if the helmsman changes tack you could be thrown across the cabin, not
nicest way to be woken up.
The lee-cloth is probably
best solution to keeping you in your bunk.
A good, stout, canvas cloth,
well secured is much more
comfortable than a board and easier to stow during the day.
And the lee-cloth will do away
with the need for any
hard, wooden lip at the edge of the seating which will uncomfortably
the back of the sitter's knee.
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Ventilation Day/night Plus Solar Vents
As a wooden boat
owner you won't have the same degree of condensation and mildew as
poor relations, the plastic boat owners.
However, damp and mildew are
an ever present danger in any boat.
It is common practice to build
boat bunks from plywood
over a wooden frame work.
While this is an excellent
construction method the ply on
the top of the bunk/settee needs to be pierces with ventilation holes
the upholstery to breathe.
I've already mentioned the
need for ventilation
at the bottom
end of quarter berths, fore peak berths can also suffer from poor air
Mildew can be eradicated by a
good spaying with vinegar
however that is no substitute for good ventilation.
The more air flowing through
the boat at all times,
whether through mushroom vents dorades
or other means the
better not just for your boat bunks but the boat as a whole.