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How to Rebuild the Interior of a Sailboat

by Will Charpentier
Almost all sailboats eventually need some interior work.

Almost all sailboats eventually need some interior work.

Whether you've purchased a sailboat at auction, online or in person and without inspection, or if you simply grabbed a used sailboat because you thought the value was there even though some sweat equity was needed, you now have a project. You've stripped the interior down to the bare wall studs and now you have to rebuild the silly thing. Since it's only logical to assume you have skills in carpentry, electrical work, flooring, the installation of watertight portholes, plumbing--all the skills you need to build a new house--you just need to know how and when to apply those skills to the interior of your sailboat.

Run the wiring first. It's easiest when there's nothing in your way. Begin at the bow (the front of the boat) and work aft.

Install the overhead panels--the ceiling--next. If you haven't removed the ceiling panels already, or if you're in the process, use the old ceiling panels as patterns to cut the new ceiling panels to fit: this may be critical if the mast penetrates the interior spaces. Vacuum the deck.

Do all the plumbing before you add the wall panels over the wiring and the piping. Check the windows and portholes for watertightness before paneling over the windows, and again before putting the interior trim rings or interior window frames in place. Spray the outside of the boat in general, and the windows in particular, with a hose. Repair any leaks from ports and windows, and clean up any water that leaked in before putting in the wall paneling. Vacuum the deck in the spaces where you do plumbing and electrical work.

Install any interior fixtures, like bunks, tables, permanent seating and fixed galley appliances. Putting these in before you put in the flooring saves damage to the carpet and vinyl. Vacuum yet again.

Last of all, install the flooring, whether carpet or vinyl. After the flooring is down, add finishing touches like teak trim. Vacuum one last time to pick up any wood shavings or loose nails. Clean and polish the result.

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.

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