Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Columbia 43 Mark IV; the new interior layout

My drawing of Oceanus's new interior.
One of the reasons I was eager to buy Oceanus was the interior layout. The original Columbia 43s had a traditional layout well suited for an ocean racer. But for a cruising couple it was less than ideal.

Jason, the previous owner, took a sawsall to the old interior and then expertly fiberglassed new bulkheads in place and built new furniture. The result feels more spacious with a head large enough for a separate shower, a larger galley and a real double bunk in nearly the center of the boat. Of all the boats we looked at, this was the best interior layout by far.

The top bunk in the forepeak can serve as a sit-down desk or a standing workbench.
In place of a V-berth in the forepeak, is an over-under pair of berths. The top one works well as a sitting desk at the foot end and a standing workbench at the head end.

The hanging locker and a nice place to sit.
The double bunk is used for tool and lumber storage at the moment.
Aft of the forepeak is the stateroom with a double bunk that is just a few inches narrower at the head than a queen-sized bed and just as long. There is lots of storage space and a nice place to sit.

Aft of the stateroom is the large U-shaped galley and a head that's nearly twice as big as the old one. Nice improvements for full-time, live-aboard cruising couple.

Aft of the head and galley, and stepping up, is the saloon with two large settees facing each other.The saloon is under the gun-turret cabin top (sometimes referred to as a "bubble top") so even though you step up, headroom remains about 6'5" as in the rest of the boat. The raised saloon accomplishes a couple of things: it allows space for two 50-gallon water tanks (doubling the original water capacity), allows you to look out the windows, and it means one step less up to, or down from, the cockpit.

The head. Also used for storage for now.
The galley, which is my main work area for now.
Jason stretched the main saloon by moving the aft bulkhead a few inches underneath the cockpit. This allows the starboard settee a length of 78 inches so it makes into a full-length berth. With a lee cloth it will make an excellent sea berth. Moving the bulkhead aft also strengthens the cockpit and better supports the cockpit floor.

Furniture on the aft bulkhead is removable providing excellent engine access.
All of Jason's work served to strengthen and stiffen Oceanus. The old dropped-in interior did not add much stiffness to the hull. I hefted a chunk of fiberglass cut from the original interior and it seemed much heavier than the equivalent sized piece of plywood that replaced it. I'm not saying the new interior is lighter in weight, but my guess is that it weighs the same or less. And it is stronger and stiffer as well.

Changing the interior was a huge undertaking. I can't imagine all the work and planning that went into it. If it was me would I undertake it? Maybe... if I was younger.