A New Cabin Sole

The first time I stepped down a sailboat’s companionway I was overwhelmed by the beauty and abundance of the wood I found below. As a result, I knew one thing I wanted for sure when searching for my first sailboat was a teak-and-holly cabin sole. In the end, I found what I wanted, but the teak and holly was veneer over plywood. It was in less than perfect condition, but having
Author:
Publish date:
sole.int.1


The first time I stepped down a sailboat’s companionway I was overwhelmed by the beauty and abundance of the wood I found below. As a result, I knew one thing I wanted for sure when searching for my first sailboat was a teak-and-holly cabin sole. In the end, I found what I wanted, but the teak and holly was veneer over plywood. It was in less than perfect condition, but having only spent $17,000 on the boat, I could hardly complain.

sole.int2

Over eight years I have improved many things on Orion, my 1978 Hunter 30, but my upgrades only highlighted how worn the cabin sole had become. Many pieces of holly were missing or delaminated. There was a large stain by the galley and engine compartment. Several sections of sole were no longer attached to the floor pan beneath. It was time for a change.

Materials and Measurements

DIY sailors looking to install a new cabin sole have several options when it comes to flooring material. At the top of the list, both in price and quality, are solid tongue-and-groove teak-and-holly planks. Properly installed and finished, these should outlast both the boat and its owner. Marine-grade plywood panels with teak-and-holly veneer are also readily available and cost much less. Some suppliers offer these with a durable impregnated finish. There are also composite flooring products that simulate teak and holly, yet never need varnishing. Another option is vinyl sheet flooring in a striped teak-and-holly pattern.

sole.int5

As a residential building contractor, I became interested in vertical-grain bamboo. While not specifically made for marine use, bamboo flooring has many attractions. It is a sustainable resource and can be purchased prefinished. You can glue, nail or screw it to a substrate. Compared to solid teak-and-holly or composite flooring, it costs very little, and it looks great.

But would it hold up in a marine environment? I put a small sample in a bucket of water for a week. It looked largely unchanged when I removed it, though there was a slight but noticeable “cupping.” Would the cabin sole on my boat ever be submerged for a week? This wasn’t likely to happen, and if it did, the cabin sole would be least of my worries. So bamboo it was.

Whatever material you use, you need to calculate how much you need to do the job. Most sailboat cabin soles are a combination of flat rectangles and triangles or trapezoids. When cutting new material to fit these odd-shaped areas, it is hard to use the stock efficiently, so treat the triangles and trapezoids as rectangles. Add up your total square footage and multiply by 1.1. This should give you enough to finish, with spare pieces for miscuts and the like. Don’t forget to order trim pieces, such as quarter-round or shoe molding. Simply add up the total linear footage along all vertical surfaces that your flooring will abut, then add 10 percent for good measure.

Related

Mail Call FILLER

Digital Mail Call Offshore

If you’re cruising for a few weeks or longer, how do you deal with your mail? Aboard our boat we’ve discovered a service called USPS “Informed Delivery” that lets us check mail daily right from the comfort of our cockpit.Basically, this free electronic service gives you the ...read more

7261ab1f-6891-424f-a22f-14c946c08ba8

Gear: Fusion Panel-Stereo

Plug & Play StereoIt can be a real pain to install a marine stereo inside a boat, what with the tiresome business of running cables through cramped spaces and finding somewhere sensible to locate the speakers. The audiophiles at Fusion thought about this and came up with the ...read more

00-2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more