Friday, February 3, 2012

Chamisa "Below Decks"...What's Down There, Anyway?

If you have never been on a sailboat, this blog is for you.  If you own, or dream of owning, a Westsail, maybe you will get some ideas.  On the other hand, if you are already sailing, you may want to skip this one!

Below are photos to show you what "Chamisa" looks like below decks – and, yes, when underway, everything has to be stowed, so obviously these were all taken while at a dock.  The previous (and only other) owners, Hans and Doris Pieper, spent over twenty years building out the interior.  However, Hans was disappointed because the final product was not “nautical-looking” in his words – a common problem for home boat-builders.  Thus, he hired a young Boatwright in Ventura to re-do whatever they decided together should be replaced.  The lone “survivors” were the two armchairs and the dinette benches, and the happy result is that we have a beautiful interior composed of many different woods – teak, mahogany, and ash to name a few which is a beautiful work of a talented craftsman.  And, luckily, we found another talented Boatwright in Long Beach who honored the "look" when he did some revisions for us as explained below.

This tour takes you from the bow (front) of the boat to the stern (back) – we hope you enjoy it.

In the forepeak (which is in the front end or bow), there is a large chain locker behind the louvered doors you see just above the head (toilet).  This is where the anchor chain lives when not on the bottom of the ocean, along with various cleaning supplies and other odds'n'ends.  The head can also refer to the entire bathroom on a boat – we are fortunate to have a hot water shower, a toilet and a sink with plenty of lockers to hold the usual supplies. 
Head (Bathroom) - hot showers behind the door.
The head includes the usual toilet, sink and happily, a shower, too.  The curtain and shower head are hiding behind the door (not visible, but just behind the wall heater).  Forward of the toilet is a huge locker where the anchor chain rests when not in use, along with large plastic bins of supplies.  Just wish there had been room, power and a water supply big enough to house a washer and dryer!  That's the only thing I really miss about not having a's back to re-living college dorm life when we drag laundry ashore.  When we are in remote anchorages, we can use a small hand-crank washer and an electric spin-dryer, then hang laundry in the cockpit for that wonderful fresh-air smell on the sheets and towels.

Aft off the head, is the salon (traditionally called “saloon”) which is our living room.  We have double bunks on the starboard side (right as your face forward) that convert to a sofa....something we rarely bother doing as the upper bunk is a perfect “catch-all” for projects, including the inventory of new provisions – more on that at the end of this post. 
Bunks - Great for company, reading, naps or movies.

On the port side (left as you face forward), there are two armchairs – my favorite reading corner as these are very comfortable being "midship", and not the usual salon furniture on a sailboat.  Surrounding those, under the bunks and under the sole (floor) are numerous lockers and cubbies (the difference being doors - cubbies are open – note the fishnet we added to hold the contents inside the cubbies) where we store all the provisions, books, games, sewing supplies, CDs, DVDs, boat manuals and other goodies needed to sustain life aboard.
Super-comfortable armchairs storage all around.
Aft of the salon are the galley (kitchen) and the dinette where we spend a lot of waking hours because the dinette table also doubles are our nav station.  The SSB radio, a “baby” Garmin chartplotter (display of charts or maps of where we are and routes to where we are headed) and our laptops are all stored and used there.  The full-size Garmin chartplotter is on the bridge deck (the flat shelf-type space on each side of the companionway) out in the cockpit.  It’s a nice luxury to have the little one inside which has all the same functionality needed for planning trips, checking to ensure we are not dragging our anchor and for looking at the radar views of what is around us.  
Galley (kitchen) for one, or two if you know 'the dance' to make it work!
 The galley has a double sink on the mid-line (to keep water from spilling out when "Chamisa" heels underway), a two-burner propane stove/oven/broiler, a reefer (refrigerator), a small Engels freezer, a microwave, and storage for dishes, cooking and more cleaning supplies.

Dinette with benches on either side - like an RV.
The dinette seats two comfortably or four very close friends for dinner.  Again, more storage all around plus three big ports next to it and above the stove make it easy to watch what is going on in the "neighborhood".

Next is the aft cabin where we sleep, reached by ducking through a passageway which used to be the nav station, but we converted it to a deep locker to hold our folding bikes and other large items.  In the aft cabin, we converted from a v-berth (two bunks meeting at the foot) to a regular double bed which means we can use standard size linens - a major convenience and savings.  The cabin houses a small sink, several clothes lockers and a non-working toilet which we want to convert to a composting toilet. 
Aft Cabin - we had the original v-berths converted to hold a double Tempurpedic mattress - aaah!
The last stop is the engine room – probably Keith’s favorite spot on the boat as I rarely enter there!  The engine room and deep locker are next to each other on either side of the small passageway from the galley to the aft cabin, and they provide an excellent sound buffer between the sleeping and living area.

The engine is a Perkins 4-154, 62 hp that we are happy to say is very reliable and ensures we can move at the average snail’s pace of 6-8 knots/hr (approximately the same in mph!) so now you know why we have plans to be on the ocean for a number of years.  Keith upgraded the battery bank with four new ones totaling 630 amp hrs with a battery monitor so we know when to recharge by running the engine.  The original solar panels mounted outside do provide a small boost if the sun is cooperative, but with all the technology improvements, those are on the “someday” list for an upgrade, too.

We take the time to update our inventory when we do a major re-provisioning. This means updating the list of the boat’s contents and their location in Excel.   Yep, it’s not the best software choice, but how many of us know how to use Access or, after retiring, want to buy a less robust database application such as FileMaker Pro?  We'd rather have a few more beef tacos, another Corona or another gallon of gas for the dinghy!  Here’s what it looks like when we first bring all the new goodies aboard.

This takes patience to sort, log and then store, but in the middle of the ocean, we are glad to have it all!
So that’s the tour...we hope you can better envision the space below decks now.  Ya'll come on aboard for a visit anytime, you heah? 


  1. Hey! What's all that crap doing on my bed? Oh wait, Corona... Never mind.


  2. Dear Kay and Keith: Enjoy reading your blog and would like to comment now and then. Steve told me how to do it so here I am. Hope the tortilla recipe works for you. My spanish grandmother made them many years ago but she had a wood stove so would fry them on top of the stove. Now we have to revert to frying pans or griddles. Works. Boat looks great. Joan

    1. Joan,
      many thx for the recipe...I made them yesterday but w/o lard that we have all grown accustomed to here, they didn't taste quite as good. I'm sure they were better for us! ha. Keith is headed in to the grocery and we will try some with the evil lard and report back!

      All is well here in La Paz, just waiting to re-unite with Steve & Lulu when they return from the mainland. k