The Kids Get New Digs (on the Boat)

When we bought Mobert in 2014, we didn’t really know how to set up the living conditions on board for cruising with our kids so we did what at the time seemed logical. We, as the adults, took the larger aft cabin (albeit with lower ceilings) and we put the girls up in the forward v-berth sharing the slightly smaller bed.  But hey they are small so no biggie.

Ellie in vberth
Ellie up in the v-berth

Over the course of the last couple years of planning for our offshore adventure as well as cruising our local waters we’ve learned a few things that have ultimately pushed us to change-up the sleeping arrangements:

First, we’ve learned a few things about offshore passage-making.  One of which is that the bow of the boat is generally less comfortable than the middle or aft end of the boat at sea and another is that narrower berths are better for sleeping at sea than wide beds, especially as the boat heels under sail and/or rocks up/over swells and waves.  This means that at sea it’s likely that no one will be able to sleep in the v-berth, and we’d need to have enough berths/bunks in the main salon and the aft cabin to sleep anyone who is not on watch at any given time.

The other is that the girls have literally fallen off the aft end of the v-berth a couple of times, which is fairly high off the cabin sole and they bump each other at night, waking each other up, etc.  In addition, during the day when it comes to quiet time for themselves (nap, iPad, etc) they seem to prefer hiding out in the aft cabin vs. the v-berth.

4, 3, and 2-cabin layouts of the Jeanneau SO45

Then there are the particulars of our actual boat — the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45 model came in several configurations ranging from 2 cabins to 4 cabins.   The 2-cabin model has one bed in the forward cabin and one in the aft cabin.  The 3-cabin model splits the aft into two cabins with a double berth in each, while the 4-cabin model additionally splits the forward cabin in half.

The interesting thing about these two options is that Jeanneau made the partitions between each pair of cabins removable.  If you have a 3-cabin or 4-cabin configuration you can remove the wall and make the 2 aft and/or 2 forward cabins into larger cabins.  The fiberglass deck mould includes grooves in the ceiling of the cabins to hold the partitions in place.   Mobert is officially a 2-cabin boat and the layout of doors and heads is different from the 3- and 4-cabin boats but the moulded in grooves in the cabin ceilings to for the removable partitions in the other models still exists in our boat since they all come out of the same mould.

Custom wood partiotions for the aft cabin
Custom wood partitions for the aft cabin

The previous owner of our boat saw this as an opportunity to make the boat friendly for open ocean passage-making and had a carpenter make custom wood boards that fit in the moulding on the ceiling and between the two mattresses in the berth itself (since both berths have split mattresses rather than one wide one).   Because the cabin layout is actually different, these boards don’t completely separate the cabins, but they do separate the mattresses into completely independent beds.   He also had custom cushions made to convert the cabinets that flank the aft bed into additional berths.  Additionally, lee-cloths were made to separate the cabinet bunks from the actual bed, as well as for the salon dinette for one person to sleep there while at sea.   This setup allows for 4 people to sleep in separate berths across the aft cabin, plus one more in the dinette.   He also made wood partitions for the v-berth which separate the two mattresses up there similarly.

The upshot of this custom work is it’s actually really nice for open ocean passages when it’s all set up.  The downside is that when you want to convert back to normal you need to store all the pieces somewhere, and storage is a problem on boats.   The wood partitions can be stored flat under the mattresses, and the lee-cloths can be rolled up and stuffed almost anywhere, but the cushions are big and bulky and can’t be made any smaller.  For this reason I had more or less dismissed this whole configuration for our long-term plans.  But it turns out that at least some of it makes sense for us.   If we add up the various points I’ve described above plus a few others.

  1. The v-berth might be off-limits while passage making
  2. The girls like to spend time in the aft cabin given the choice
  3. The girls at least need some time in their own space separate from each other
  4. The aft cabin has a low ceiling that the adults struggle with a bit, while the v-berth has high ceilings good for us adults that pop up and smash our heads on things in the middle of the night when we hear a strange sound.
  5. The v-berth has large hatches that allow an adult to survey an anchorage in the middle of the night, while this is effectively impossible from the aft cabin
  6. The aft cabin shares a head (toilet, shower, etc) with the salon, while the v-berth has its own dedicated head, so the v-berth is essentially a “master stateroom”.
  7. I’d prefer that the girls not have to be moved from their normal beds to a special sea berth just for passages, and then moved back later, if they can use their own berths for all conditions that would be ideal.
  8. On passages, the adults are more likely to be sharing night shifts which means that we don’t necessarily need as many usable beds.  With the cockpit space and the dinette, all of the adults could effectively fit into one or two beds at any given time.

All that said, we decided to swap cabins with the girls.  We sold it as them getting their own little cabins and they seem excited.   I’ve taken the custom aft cabin partitions to the boat and installed them, moving our own bedding up to the v-berth.

Mobert's V-Berth
Here is a photo of the v-berth that the girls shared before and then the bedding for the adults in the second photo now that we’ve swapped. You can also see the groove down the centerline in the ceiling where the partitions would slide in to.


The bed in the v-berth is about the same size as a queen mattress.. It tightens up a bit at the foot but there’s plenty of room at the head (bottom of the photo) for shoulder space, etc for two people. The comforter is for a king size bed since we’d originally purchased for the aft cabin.  I’m working on a stowable headboard that will keep the pillows from falling off, but be able to hide under the cushions when not needed.

Now looking at the aft cabin…

Here you can see the aft bed as we’ve been using it, I had already stripped the sheets off so you are seeing the Costco memory foam mattress topper I crudely cut to size that sits on top of the original mattresses. The original mattresses are split down the middle, but to put the partitions in I had to cut the topper in half as well to match. (Semi-Pro-Average-Joe Tip: An Electric Carving Knife is fast and easy).


Finally, the same aft cabin with the partition in place and the girls current sleeping bags sort of thrown in.  We’ll need to get these beds all kitted out with comfy stuff but I think they are going to like having their own little spaces, while still being close to each other and able to visit each side without going through doors.

You can’t see the attachments in the photo but right at the point where the mattress meets the cabinet alongside, there is a hidden lee-cloth fitting under the edge of mattress and corresponding attachment points in the ceiling, so they can be easily attached when needed.

Next up we need to get some fitted sheets for these beds which will likely be the Quahog Bay Bedding bamboo CinchFit sheets from Sailboat Interiors.  You should check them out as well.  We love the bamboo sheets we’ve had for ourselves on the boat because they don’t smell, are very soft, and feel cooler than flannel and other fabrics.


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