July 2013 – Cockpit Enclosure

It started simply enough.  I was meandering around West Marine with my list of ThingsToBuy when I spotted their floor model beanbag.  It was big and floppy and looked exceedingly comfortable.  It was also dirty.  I talked the price down to $70 and walked out clutching my prize.

The Beanbag! Cockpit ceiling mold

I know, I know…. you think I’m crazy – a beanbag on a boat, whoever heard of such an idea.  But my cockpit has absolutely NO seating.  None.  Well, nothing remotely approaching comfortable and I knew the beanbag would fit perfectly in the starboard corner of the cockpit.  So I dragged it back to the boat, made a cup of tea, and settled down in the beanbag to watch the weekend boat traffic.  And fell fast asleep.  By the end of the weekend, I was hooked.  So much pleasure for just $70.





The problem was that lying prone in it, I was looking up at the ceiling of the dodger, which I noticed was covered in mold.  I have never had a mold problem in my cockpit, that is, not until I surrounded it with the Stratoglass and canvas enclosure.  This made the cockpit a welcoming place to sit without the wind howling through, but it also made an appreciated spa area for the mold.  And I could see from my prone position that it had proliferated in vast numbers on the underside of the dodger.

The following weekend I was at the hardware store buying anti-mold everything, and I returned to the boat with anti-mold spray, anti-mold primer, external paint, a bucket of 200 (wiping) cloths, paintbrushes and trays, rolls of plastic sheets, and lots of help.   In total it took 10 days to spray the mold off the ceiling, scrape off the flaking paint, sand gently, re-spray anti-mold, clean thoroughly, paint 2 coats of anti-mold primer, and then an exterior coat of blue/green.  All the anti-mold War Material cost nearly $400.  And the labor was even more at $600.   Who knew it would be so time consuming?!


Caribbean ceiling

Once the ceiling was painted in a new fresh coat then the other parts of the cockpit looked grimy. So the following Saturday I poured some primer into a container and trusty brush in hand I painted everything in sight – the propane container, the compass housing, the hatch cover, the companionway door; and got paint all over my hair and hands.  But the cockpit looks fresh and bright now. Well…. until I find something else to daub!



I settled down in my beanbag once again and gazed at my new clean ceiling and sparkling cockpit.  I thought the end result looked very Caribbean.  My $70 beanbag had now cost me $1070.

By the following weekend I noticed that the underside of my beanbag was getting spots!!  Was that mold or was that dirt?  I wasn’t taking any chances.  Back to West Marine where I bought Dri-Deck to place under the bean bag to lift it off the cockpit floor and enable a draught to the underside.  That was $224.



I liked the look so much that I decided to put Dri-Deck on the cockpit “dashboard” because I place my iPhone and iPad there and I have seen the sea splash under the windscreen canvas in high seas.  So that put me back another $182.


So far my floor model $70 beanbag had cost me $1472.




I comforted myself with the fact that I had spent around $17K when my transmission went out in Mexico, and $18K on painting and re-glassing the topsides, and $4K on a new dinghy, and $6K on new sails, and $6K on the enclosure = $50,000.  So what’s a measly $1500 on decorating?


My family came to visit to ooh and aah over my new and improved enclosure.  As the beanbag was immediately claimed by an eager butt, I realized that I needed more seating.  Back to West Marine where I bought 2 seats, 2 pedestals, and mounting and sealant supplies.  Another $350.  I then found that my drill charger that had not been used since last season, was kaput.  Off to Home Depot for a replacement.  After charging my drill, I spent the afternoon fighting the chairs into position.

port chairs



I have found that when I am on watch then I like sitting up high so that I can see 360 degrees. These chairs now give me great visibility – with the added advantage that they are not that comfy so you are not likely to fall asleep on watch – which you may do in the beanbag!  Lord, but that thing is addictive.




So my total enclosure seating now consists of the beanbag to starboard, and the two chairs to port.

Lounging in the beanbag again, cup of coffee in hand, gazing out at the passing boats, and staring lovingly up at my Caribbean ceiling, I decided that I was definitely over the grey fabric that covered the electronics and wheel.  I needed something more cheerful, more colorful.  So I browsed Fabric.com but found that Sunbrella fabrics are really, really boring.  They have solids, stripes, or chevrons.  That’s it!  Reminds me of Henry Ford and you could buy his Model-T car in any color, as long as it was black.

I found some gorgeous fabrics online which, according to the website, were classified “outdoors” for deck chairs, etc. and I ordered some swatches.  I eagerly ripped open the packaging when the swatches arrived, and the fabrics are beautiful, but pretty lightweight compared to Sunbrella.  I don’t think they will last more than 3 or 4 years – but by then I will be bored with that color scheme anyway, and want a change.  So I went ahead and ordered yards and yards of the colorful fabrics.

Wheel and Compass

A young woman in the marina was recommended to sew the various coverings that I needed, and when I asked her she quoted me $35.00 per hour.  Then I remembered that I had sent my son to Design School where he had studied pattern making and design.  He could sew!  And I own a sewing machine.  Definitely a match made in heaven.

I immediately called him and told him my Grand Plan was for him to sew all the coverings I needed, and I would even buy him lunch…. well, a burrito from the food truck on the corner.  “Mom, that’s about 75 CENTS an hour”, he protested.  “Yes, but I already paid for your education at about $500 per hour”, I pointed out reasonably.

The fabrics finally arrived and I draped them all over the cockpit to get a feel for the colors.  The space allocated as The Captains Chair is really just a stainless steel enclosure with no padding.  I decided to up the ante and make it a snugly and comfy spot for curling up with a good book. As my sister put it one rainy day…. Or at least curling up with a man who has read a good book!

So off I went to Jo-Ann to buy stuffing and piping and thread. My son was (conveniently?) away for the weekend and I am too impatient to wait.  So out came my lightly used sewing machine and I set to with a will.

Which is when I realized I had no idea how to sew a cushion.  However, YouTube has dozens of videos on how to sew cushions, with piping, so I set to with (another) will. I made a bolster to soften the back seat pole, and 2 side cushions to soften the side poles, and of course a base cushion to sit on, with my newly learned piping technique. Now the captain’s chair is a colorful nook in the cockpit.

The University of YouTube is a wonderful tool.

The final cockpit















While I was about it, I sewed a baggy for the back of each chair, to hold a blankie.  I find that even on warm evenings the breeze can be chilly and its lovely to have a blankie close to hand to pull out and drape over your arms.  And when you are done with it, you simply slip it back in its convenient bag.

Blankie bags





















So my bargain beanbag ended up costing me a total of $1900, broken down thus:

Bean bag $70

Dri-deck for back floor $224

Dri-deck for dashboard $182

Mold removal/paint supplies $115

And more Paint Supplies. $169

Labor / painter – Axel. $600

2 chairs & pedestals for port side $315

Mounting supplies $50

Fabric ordered $110

Sewing supplies $65


Total $1900

……. and sunset from the beanbag!

Sunset from beanbag

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: