General Maintenance Part III: Interiors

More than hull, deck and rigging, the interiors of yachts come with enormous variation: they use different materials depending on how much comfort you want – and can afford, how big your boat is and which conditions it was built for. The variety of materials used for yacht interiors can make maintenance a tricky task; in this article I will try to outline the key steps in caring for your offshore living room.

If you have to decide how to equip the interiors of you yacht, you will quickly find out that there is always a trade-off between comfort and convenience, between luxury high-maintenance interiors and a trailer-like environment easily cared for. You will choose how far you want to go on either one of these two extremes.

Make your decision based on practical questions: What are you going to use the boat for – local cruises or competitive sailing? Comfortable vacations or exhausting long-distance journeys? Where are you going to sail – in moderate climate, in the tropics, in arctic waters? All these factors will contribute to the equipment you will have squeeze into your boat. In the end, some key-issues remain the same for yachts with any kind of interior, mostly concerned with moisture control.

Keep your boat airy to fight moisture

1.) Ventilation: Moisture is naturally an issue with all water sports and causes fungal growth, makes wood rot and accelerates corrosion. You don’t want your cabins damp, and good ventilation is key to live dryly. Modern ventilation systems rely on hatches, ports and complex electronic ventilation systems.

Hatches are good for quickly releasing damp air and letting a fresh breeze in once in a while, but they have to be securely closed whilst sailing. Opening ports are safer and more reliable, only those in the hull should be closed at sea, whereas sophisticated ventilation systems often come with valves that maintain airflow, but keep all water out. Make sure that good ventilation keeps the air flowing in your boat – keep doors open and make use of cut-outs in doors, furniture and walls.

2.) Wood: It is classy and looks good – wood is often used for furniture and interior designs of modern sailing boats, even if there is no wood used anywhere else aboard. In its purest expression, high-quality woods come with polished layers of oil or varnish only; alternatively, lacquers and paints decrease the amount of care that will have to go into wooden furniture.

If you stick with the traditional way, keep the surfaces dry if possible and re-new the varnish once every few years (more often, if sailing in a tropical climate). Varnish scratches as soon as you discover them, but wait for dry and warm days for major re-varnish enterprises. Varnishes come in two groups, single and double-pack polyurethane, with the latter one providing higher protection. For more information on varnishes, you might want to read part I of this series, on maintenance work for the hull.

3.) Carpets, mattresses and cushions: All these soft things are even more vulnerable to moisture; avoid carpets and other soft furnishing as far as possible. There are water-repellent materials available for chairs, carpets and even cushions and bed ware. However, these materials tend to be expensive and are not necessarily comfortable. If you winterize your boat, remove all soft furnishing – it attracts moisture like nothing else.

4.) Work out a checklist: As you can tell now, maintenance work will mostly involve the prevention of damages. However, every yacht that is used will get damaged in some ways – scratches, loose plywood panels or blocked ventilation valves. Most of these things are easily fixed, but need to be found first.

If you use your boat very frequently, do a thorough check once every six months, or at the beginning and end of every season. Polish varnished surfaces, paint scratches, glue panels – you should be able to bring your boat into best shape in less than a day. Frequent checks and repairs are necessary to prevent small damages into big ones.

Take notes what exactly you need to check on your boat and refer to this list next time you do your routine examination. Schedule your check in a way that you will do it in dry and warm weather conditions, which is ideal for repairs.

Read the whole series on Yacht Care and Maintenance:
Part I - Hull; Part II - Deck and Rigging; Part III - Yacht Interiors

Further Reading

Back to "boats"

More on Winterizing a Yacht

DMOZ on Boat Care and Maintenance

Yacht care and Boat Maintenance articles