Blue water comfy bed
Sleep is, for us, without question a crucial commodity on board and is right up there at the top of the list along with fresh water, fuel, food, power and wind.
A bed needs to be comfortable yet firm, well ventilated, cool and not in the habit of rolling you around when you are trying to sleep.
Our Sealord arrangement in the aft cabin was originally set up with two longitudinal berths, one single and one pretty miserly double with feet under the aft locker, somewhat like a trotter box arrangement. We had found this to be far too cramped even for the short summer holidays we used to spend in it but, worse than that, on the few occasions we slept at anchor in those days, totally impractical when the boat rolled.
It was certain that this layout was unsuitable for long term cruising where we would leave marina living behind for years at a time and be at anchor or on passage for the vast majority of our adventure.
When measured up it was clear that, with the bed across the boat (athwart ships), a full size standard mattress would just about fit. It would also be possible to make storage space at both the head and the foot for the tanks I wanted to fit for drinking water and an above waterline holding tank. In the crystal clear
waters of a South Pacific anchorage a holding tank is obviously important when you frequently swim off the boat and placing it above the waterline is a far, far more sound idea than below. Separating drinking water from the general fresh water system allows its contents to be much better managed and protected (see https://yachtcamomile.wordpress.com/job-list/water-system-modification/ ).
In any case, it was clear that sleeping athwart ships would be more comfortable even in a
moderately rolly anchorage but also, if the space under the aft lockers were left clear for our feet then we could also comfortably sleep there solo when the boat was heeled to port or starboard on passage.
The tops of the lockers were all the same height so minimal changes to the woodwork would be necessary to seat the mattress. The biggest drawback with the scheme was that access to the now huge storage area under the bed would be made more difficult. This was overcome by
making an independent plywood frame for the bed which would be stiff and light enough to swing upwards on built in pivots. A well ventilated plywood slatted support system (from Victoria Yachting) was mounted on top of this frame.
With the mattress in place this is still heavy and awkward to lift so supporting gas struts were used to balance the system. These are cheap, robust and adjustable to different loads by degassing with a small adaptor tool. They made the area under the bed space easy to get at and could be locked down on a single, simple spring latch.
There was also now room to fit a small locker to sit in the front of the bed to provide additional storage and a retractable step up into the bed. This arrangement is sealed at the back so, in the event of severe water ingress from anywhere aft, flooding would be slowed down somewhat.
A further benefit of the arrangement on our boat turned out to be that, by running a net across the access to the bed area, it could be easily isolated against mosquitoes, a major consideration for some areas of the tropics.
Added ventilation is provided by 2 dorade vents on the aft coach roof, opening side port lights which are sheltered from tropical downpours with a low level awning and finally 2 electric fans connected into the lighting system. These inexpensive fans are probably one of the most essential electrical accessories for on board comfort fitted to Camomile and, even if you have air conditioning (which you will struggle to run because of it’s appetite for diesel), are a must.
All this may sound like overkill but when we are in the tropics we have found the arrangement to be a minimum when the night time air temperature is more than 25 degrees and the sea water even warmer.Fitted with an inexpensive 6’x4’6”x6” solid foam mattress (to avoid rusty springs) on top of the supporting slatted suspension system, with upholstered headboards at both ends and foot rests down under the aft lockers we can not only choose which way around to sleep according to the conditions but have found this to be the most comfortable and adaptable beds we have ever owned bar none. I often wonder how anyone manages with anything else on board.
If you have any questions, queries or further ideas relating to this article or others please don’t hesitate to mail them to me on the addresses shown in Contact Us. All feedback is welcome and reading it gives the old man something to do when it rains.