From Land to Sea ~ Part Two: Decor and Construction Projects

sailboat galleyThe S/V Libby is a girl, and a girl lives within. When she sailed under a different name, she was a liveaboard boat for 30 years, and I have to assume that she was inhabited by a y-chromosomed individual, one who didn’t put a great deal of thought into her interior. When I first saw and fell in love with my boat, I saw so much potential for beauty, and lots of work to be done to make her look amazing. Now that I’m living here, it’s time to start making plans for how to bring her out of the seventies and into the new millennium.


As I described in this post, the fabric colors are disgusting. If you don’t care to read or reread that post, I’ll give you a refresh: the cushions are the color of earwax, which do nothing for the varnished wood or my mood. They need to go. Sooner rather than later.

Libby’s canvas work (what covers the mainsail, tiller, and lots of other places inside and outside of the boat) are royal blue. Royal blue is my least favorite of the blues, but I’m not in a financial situation to change all of her canvas to suit my petty needs. Besides, limitation spawns creativity. Colors that work well with royal blue are bright greens, bright blues, white (shouldn’t count, as white goes with everything) and certain shades of orange or pink. What’s nice about this scheme is my locality; all of the Seattle teams use the dark blue, bright green/blue and white color scheme, so I know it works well and looks snazzy, and she’s a Puget Sound boat.

Below is a before picture of my salon. Photoshopped after photos of various color possibilities are under the “Table Top” heading.

Earwax settees, posh table.

Table Top

You’ll notice the table top is lovely. If you missed it, that was sarcasm. Fortunately I have a solution to the gorgeous wood laminate (more sarcasm), and I’m already working on it. My plan is to overlay the table with an artistic but accurate map of the Puget Sound, using the same color scheme for my boat. So the water portions will be bright blues, the land bright green. It’s going to take a while to complete–since the map must be printed at such a large size, the file to create it is huge and takes forever to save to my 3 year old computer. But it’s coming. Below is a photo of what the table will hopefully look like after it’s been modified.

Bright Blue
Off-white (my favorite option)

Shelves and Drawers

Everything has its place, everything has its space. Living aboard a boat means organization. If you’re not organized, you’ll end up in a rubber room, mumbling and rocking yourself. When I first moved aboard, I brought a lot of stuff onto the boat, including tupperware bins full of clothes (and that was after I purged my closet and reduced it by half). Having my clothes in several tupperware bins got old fast, and when I took two huge bags of laundry to shore, and an equal number of clean clothes stayed on the boat, it was time for the second purge. I gave away socks, shirts, and towels (none of my winter clothes are yet aboard), then got rid of the tupperware and purchased two fishnets to hang in my v-berth, to store everything but my pants. Those are still in one tupperware bin (as you can see). What would be oh so loverly: shelves and drawers. Below that bin is my kerosene tank, which fuels my stove and oven. I need easy access to the tank to pump it and refuel it. There originally was a settee there, as well as a heater. I don’t need the settee, and I need the heater, and I could also use extra counter space. Shelves and drawers right there would be perfect. It would also be great for storing charts.

I need shelves and drawers right here!


The little countertops that I have are crappy looking. Nothing says old and cheap like cracks, gouges, and exposed fiberglass. A winter project if ever there was one, the countertops need some laminate or at least something to cover up the scratches. Once I have the funds, time, and know-how, I’m fixing the counters. (Photos Below)

Brightwork Whitework

One of the main things that drew me to this boat was the warmness of the interior, executed by the gorgeous wood. There are some places where the wood is chipped, scratched, or some substance stained it or made it otherwise ugly. To return it to its original charm, the interior woodwork may need to be sanded, smoothed, and revarnished.

Light colors make a space seem larger and nothing is lighter than white. Like the countertops, the walls and other surfaces are chipped, cracked and scratched, and need a healthy coat of paint. Ultra bright white can sometimes make interiors look like that of a hospital, so I’ll try a warmer off-white, cream, or something similar.

Galley Before
Photoshopped "after." Brighter wood, new surfaces.

Refrigeration Conversion

Hauling ice into my boat a few times a week is kind of annoying. Okay I’ll admit it, it’s terribly annoying. I’m not the only person it annoys, for there are refrigeration conversion units available for marine living. I’d love to eventually swap out my ice for a battery powered cold plate, which can be installed in the existing icebox. A Norcold Refrigeration unit costs several hundred dollars, so until I can afford it, I have to keep bringing ice aboard. But the refrigerator is moving up the I Must Have List rather quickly…

Exterior Paint

Libby needs painting. Badly. Sailboats need the bottom of their hulls painted every few years, due to the growth of various life on the hull and constant exposure to salt water. Since she also has one osmosis blister where the keel meets the hull (this is great news for a 40 year old sailboat, to have just ONE osmosis blister), she has to be hauled out for the repair, and I might as well paint her once out of the water. Painting takes a long time, a few days at least. But having a gorgeous, freshly painted boat will also be wonderful, and it gives me an opportunity to put my signature on the girl.

The transom, where Libby’s new name resides, was recently painted and doesn’t need work. Since the transom is white, so will the rest of her, but she needs some more color. I’ll most likely bring more color to the bottom, perhaps even dark orange or sky blue, so when she heels, she’ll show off some personality (it may also be fun to write something, perhaps “yeeehaaaw!”). Libby is named after a fictional individual, who’s cute in personality and looks. It might be fun to add vector graphics of Libby to the hull, giving it that pop of color and personality she deserves. Below is a current picture.

Libby's port side


I. Want. A. Dodger. Dodgers keep water out, and since I live in Washington, keeping water out is just as important as drinking the stuff. It’s much cheaper to make your own dodger, and since I’m so cheap by nature and necessity, crafting my own dodger may have to go on the winter project list. Man, that list is getting long! One thing’s for certain: I won’t be using royal blue. I’m not sure what colors are available to me for the dodger, but I’ll have to give the dodger a different color. A rusty orange sure would look neat!

Companionway Door

Every time I want to go outside, I must pull up five teak slats. In the summer I just wait until it’s warm enough in the morning, then pull them out, and leave them out until I go to bed. That plan’s not going to work well in the winter, when it’s 30 degrees or less, and rainy. Going in and out of the sailboat by removing and replacing five slats is inconvenient, so I’ll need a door with hinges and everything. If I can’t figure that out, I may need to create one giant slat, maybe with plexiglass inside to let light stream in.

Want to help?

These many needed improvements take time and money. My novel, Jaden Baker (the boat was named after a character in the novel), is available for purchase from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as a paperback and ebook (ebook price is cheap!!!). Buying a book would not only help support my sailboat fund, but also my dream to be a novelist, and just a novelist.

I’m also a designer of websites (I did this one) and can create a nifty WordPress or custom HTML/CSS site for you and your business. To learn more, please visit my business website True Northe.

Or if you just want to donate a few cents or bucks and forget about my book and business, you can use the PayPal donate button in the footer (bottom) of this website.

And of course, if you’d rather not donate a dime, and simply wish to opine, well that’s just fine. 😉

Have some ideas?

If you have worked on a sailboat and have some tips, tricks, or photos of before and after, I would LOVE to hear about it. Please leave your comments below!


  1. Jaye September 7, 2011 at 3:12 am

    What cool ideas! I LOVE the chart on the main table, & the offwhite cushions. Check out for “Sunbrella” fabric, and kits and videos to make your own dodger – they even have rusty orange! We painted our own hull using Interlux Brightside paint – worked fine as long as you are meticulous about the surface prep and 2 coats of primer, then 2 coats of paint.

  2. Mike Cameron September 12, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I like the white cushions best, but thinking muddy winter dog paws may make them hard to keep clean;o) I also just purchased my own boat, after sailing on my brother’s for the last few years. As soon as it’s up from Annacortes (long engine saga…needs happy ending) I will be moving aboard myself. Your blog is really inspiring. I watch the Lin and Larry Pardey videos all the time; they have loads of ideas and help me dream of the near future. You may find them helpful, too. I’m also learning that if you can find stuff anywhere besides a marine shop, that will save you a lot of money. My sister is hooking me up at a paint/lumber store in Vancouver that she works at. So if you’re up in Vancouver, BC next spring, I’ll look for your snazzy “new” boat!

    1. Courtney September 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      Congratulations on your new boat, Mike! What is it? And I hear you on the marine shop mark up. Anything that says “boat” on it is at least 25% higher in cost than anything else. I’ll get the paint somewhere other than a marine shop, for sure. I love the white cushions, so I may need to wipe Riley’s paws before he comes inside. I’m a girl, like things pretty. 😀 I can’t wait for next summer’s adventures, and I hear wonderful things about Vancouver!

      1. Mike Cameron October 2, 2011 at 9:35 pm

        Well Vancouver is wonderful, when you don’t have hooligans (some from Seattle, I hear, most from our “valley,” very few actually from Vancouver) burning down the city over a hockey game. But ya, I’m pretty lucky to live here. My boat is a 32′ Pearson Vanguard. Still waiting on my engine saga to draw to a close, but I am REALLY looking forward to moving on board. Still loving the blog :o)

  3. Cindy September 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Congratulations on your boat purchase! I love the background behind how you arrived at a name for her!

    As far as boat ideas……Like you, I love the off white cushion option & your idea for the table! Great conversational piece too. My tip to share is for the galley area where you have the blue tinted plastic sliding cupboard. We had a boat once that had terrible material sliders and my husband converted them to white plexi glass. Fairly inexpensive to replace. They were beautiful, easy to clean & really helped to brighten up the galley! Aside from that, never underestimate the power of lighting! It can be as inexpensive or expensive as you choose but makes a big difference to the feel of ones boat & to our mood 🙂

    Love the spot you chose for Riley! We have a beautiful husky/lab/shep cross & her bed is right below ours in the V-berth too. Great spot to put their beds, as they feel safe & secure.

    Really enjoying your blog & look forward to following you along on your new lifestyle!

    1. Courtney September 15, 2011 at 5:03 am

      Hi Cindy! Thanks for dropping by and leaving some suggestions. I detest the blue sliders in both the head and the galley. Too dark. White frosted plexiglass would look great, and I’ll add that to my winter projects. I have no idea how to tear the old ones out and install new, but that’s what learning is for. Lighting is also something to work on. I love the look of dome/port lights, which I have a few places, the rest are just exposed bulbs (which are quite hideous). Somehow I’ll have to install LED lights but give them a yellow tint for the warmth. I’m not a fan of the LED light look, too sterile. Thanks for your comment! What kind of boat do you have?

    2. Courtney September 15, 2011 at 5:03 am

      Hi Cindy! Thanks for dropping by and leaving some suggestions. I detest the blue sliders in both the head and the galley. Too dark. White frosted plexiglass would look great, and I’ll add that to my winter projects. I have no idea how to tear the old ones out and install new, but that’s what learning is for. Lighting is also something to work on. I love the look of dome/port lights, which I have a few places, the rest are just exposed bulbs (which are quite hideous). Somehow I’ll have to install LED lights but give them a yellow tint for the warmth. I’m not a fan of the LED light look, too sterile. Thanks for your comment! What kind of boat do you have?

  4. Cindy September 15, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Hi Courtney!
    Glad you liked my suggestions. The way to remove the sliders is to put in closed position and push up & pull. There will be a little bit of give there & you can take them to a glass place & have them cut you new pieces from the pieces you provide as patterns.Nothing on a boat is square so patterns are always a good thing! As far as the LED lights I know exactly what you mean about the starkness. The “Warm” LED’s are actually pretty nice as far as warmth goes!

    Our boat is a 38′ Dencho Choate, which is an old IOR raceboat that my hubby fell in love with & we have converted to a liveaboard cruiser. I have a blog also so feel free to check it out & of course comments are always appreciated! 

  5. Pingback: Land-Locked Lessons | Courtney Kirchoff

  6. s/v Eolian December 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I can just feel your enthusiasm and excitement! It reminds me of us, 14 years ago. The best advice I can give is to make a list of all the changes you’d like to make, big and small. If you don’t do this, then the things that get left “for later” will never get done.

    s/v Eolian