Read an Excerpt
From Chapter 1:
Yacht decorators and designers talk a slick, chic lingo that dances with ideals, dotes on romance and delights in theory. That's all well and good ashore, but you and I are boat owners. While we'd like to be rhapsodizing about mauve and aubergine, our language leans more toward words like dry rot, mildew, algae, knockdowns, diesel soot, corrosion, leaks, rust, beating to windward and getting pooped.
Pretty is as pretty does
This book is a guide to products and techniques that will make life aboard your yacht more comfortable, more swank and more in pace with today's opulent lifestyle, but without compromising the kinds of materials, preservatives, placement and construction the serious, seagoing, pleasure boat demands.
Creating Comfort Afloat is not a guide to cute new shades of chintz. Nor is it a how-to for the ship's carpenter, electrician or painter. It is for men and women who want a more livable boat, both those who are working with a professional decorator and those who are doing some or all of the work themselves.
Our theoretical boat is in the 35-foot to 65-foot range. Her owners are savvy in the ways of boating, enough to know money must be spent, sometimes lavishly , to furnish or refurbish a boat, but it can be spent with wisdom, restraint and a view to both today's comforts and tomorrow's maintenance, good looks and resale value.
No matter how extravagantly you intend to decorate your boat or how tightly you must pinch pennies, this book will lead you through questions, answers, solutions and decisions. My hope is that the resulting boat will bring you years of pleasure, enduring value and few surprises.
It may seen to some readers that this book overemphasizes household products at the expense of attention to time-proven marine equipment. I have always favored the use of the best, marine-quality materials and equipment. A good marine air conditioner, heating system, generator or galley stove has no competitor in the household market.
However, many modern products can come aboard without compromising quality, safety, strength and durability. Some items designed for marine use end up ashore and vice versa. Many products, though advertised and marketed only to homeowners, are as at home on a boat as they are in a mountain lodge, recreational vehicle or beach cottage.
My aim is to give you as wide a choice as possible, assuming you'll make the best choice for your boat and the way it will be used and cruised. Furnishing a 35-foot sailboat for a circumnavigation will be different from decorating a houseboat that will never leave fresh water.
Some readers may be offended by my use of such landlubber terms as floor, wall, bathroom, ceiling, door, closet and window. I am familiar with nautical terms. My closest friends might even admit my sailing vocabulary extends to a saltiness somewhat beyond that of a lady's needs. Where appropriate, I've used nautical references.
However, in the interest of clarity when discussing furnishings and decor, I've used whatever terms are most likely to be used by your decorator and by the suppliers of furnishings and materials.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, to say head when I mean toilet and also head when I mean bathroom is a form of errant pedantry up with which I will not put.
In summing up decorating trends for the l990's, Home magazine began with a surprise: "A dumpster in the driveway" is the new status symbol, the magazine said. In the new millennium, the need for recycling and trash management will play an increasingly important role in galley design, just as entertainment electronics are shaping our saloons, the Internet has transformed our communications, GPS has become indispensable to navigation and the popularity of spas and fitness machines requires that our bathrooms -- areas that can no longer be called heads -- be larger and more luxurious.
Only a generation ago, we would have smirked at any suggestion that a pleasure boat should be anything but a floating summer camp -- austere, practical, furnished with castoffs and bare of any sissy touches. We progressed into an age of creature comforts afloat, but even those were trimmed in brass and brightwork, were nautically themed ad nauseum and had color schemes centered around red, white and blue.
Next came an era of miniaturization, in which entire living rooms, dining rooms, bars, libraries, dens, pantries and harem-size bedrooms were shrunk and stuffed into a hull. They had eye appeal in the showroom, but were as livable as a doll house and not much more durable.
The New Age in Yacht Decor
Today we expect boat interiors to be plush yet sized for real people and decorated in tones that are more tasteful, less strident and more homelike. We can have them without sacrificing seagoing durability, thanks to brawny new plastics, effective waterproofers, tough wood finishes, stain proof carpetings, fade-proof dyes, unbreakable mirrors and much more.
Once bulky to install and expensive and clanky to operate, refrigeration and air conditioning are now de rigueur on boats as small as 21-footers. The most sophisticated consumer electronics, from CD players to VCRs, come in 12 volt models, and few families would go to sea without them. Rarely do you see a boat larger than 21 feet that does not have a microwave oven. Cellular phones, computers and Internet access have moved into the "necessity" category too.
We all like to think we go boating to get away from it all. But a quick tour of any boat show makes it clear we yachties are more likely to take it with us. Even the most independent circumnavigators are ardent e-mail users or ham radio operators, consumed with pressing schedules and constantly in touch with networks of like-minded souls.
If boats were only a means of escape, there would be no need for raft-ups, regattas and yacht clubs. Let's cheerfully admit that it is our goal to surround ourselves with friends and with any comforts we can provide at an affordable cost in money and space.
As a former live-aboard and still a frequent boater, I know life on a boat can be harsh, wet, sticky hot or clammy cold. Even in the best of times, there are the assaults of mildew, salt spray and merciless sun. At its worst, the sea is a rampaging demon that can throw your floating home onto her beam ends, crack holes in her hull and send winds and spume shrieking through the most carefully contrived decor.
Now, however, thanks to new products that are toughened for marine use and new protectants that allow us to use non-marine products on board, the sailor is able to live with the beauty of both worlds. We can be surrounded by the sea in all its harsh realities, yet cupped in the comforts of a gracious, but enduring and practical, home.