If you are a real fan of NO FRILLS SAILING.com and stick with me blogging about my sailing and boat adventures, then you might remember faintly one of my first entries ever: It was a text about me removing the old decking in my first sailboat, the King´s Cruiser 33 OLIVA. During that time I was full of hope and good faith that the whole refit project would just last a year or two … how little did I know. Well, anyway, OLIVIA is sold and a new owner looks after her and I´ve got a new boat.
And because GEKKO is a brand new Beneteau First 27 SE that normally would not need any refit-action, I re-named the category to “Yacht upgrade & refit”, which describes much better what I have planned for this new boat. Last week I´ve completed the first small project. A little idea I´ve had back in last summer when I was sailing the First 24 on a Southern German lake and also slept on the boat at one occasion: I really love the job that the Seascape-guys are doing with their boats. But one detail is really not living up to my expectations and leave much room for improvement – the floor boards.
Upgrading a brand-new boat?
And here is where the circle is closing and why I mentioned OLIVIA. Where I failed to finish my ideas on my first boat I succeeded in the second. But why taking off brand new material? Well, the yard is delivering the boat with a 10 millimeter thick EVA-foam floor decking. That´s a light grey custom cut flooring that has some interesting features – and some are not. What bothers me about the yard-standard is that this material has a literal magnetic attraction on dirt.
Look at this picture: This is the floor panel after I entered the boat one single time – on socks! So, maybe that´s part of the material properties, but having a light and bright color drawing in dirt and all sorts of stains is not a good combination. I knew from my sailing adventures on the MADCAP, First 24, that the floor decking is very easy to clean: No problem. Just a moist sponge and some soft dishwashing detergent and it will be shiny and bright as new, but next day the foam will again be kind of dirty.
So, one of the first upgrade projects for GEKKO was to take out all the floor boards and use them as gauge models to cut out or manufacture new floor boards. The First 27 SE is a small boat in comparison to my old 34 feet cruiser and so I was happy that in the end there were just four parts of EVA-foam in my home flat, where I stored them: Thinking about the question which new material I should utilize to manufacture new floor boards.
Fake Teak, Seadeck, Eva-Foam & Co: Which to take?
There are loads of different possibilities: Real wooden decking is possible, sure, but I ruled this out. For a racy boat like the First 27 SE this seems a bit odd. Now, fake Teak decking is an option and as you may know from previous posts I found a promising product “Made in Germany”. This fake Teak is a proprietary recipe of a Hamburg-based company called Rosch Yachts. They manufacture custom decking panels of absolutely spotless quality. The downside: This of course needs a budget.
There are also cheaper alternatives, one of which is EVA-foam. Now that I have dealt so often with this material I really like the properties of the material, the light weight, the dampening and isolating effects and the feel on the bare feet. EV-foam seems to me being not just appropriate but a well suiting material of choice for GEKKO´s new flooring inside. So I´ve checked the internet what to do. I refrained from the – as well high priced – offer of companies where you send in gauge models (mostly plastic or cardboard pattern) and they make the floor boards fit neatly. Too much of a hustle, it appeared to me.
Instead, I chose to run a check on amazon-bought low-price alternatives. Two days later (yeah, I am “prime”!) my EVA-foam arrived. It´s a two meters long roll 6 millimeters thick and 90 centimeters wide EVA-foam. The underside is self-adhesive prepared with a glue, strong enough to stick to a boat´s GRP-deck and withstand the stresses of people walking around, UV-rays and saltwater. At least that´s what the amazon description of the product praised. We will see, I thought, and from a wide variety of colors – I went for black deck with white caulkings.
Speaking of Color-Schemes …
While I was waiting for my amazon delivery to ring my door bell, an other package arrived. This time from Slovenia. In it I found the the two most important items for my new boat when it comes to at-anchor-comforts: The bean bags. Seascape, now advertising their boats under the Beneteau brand “First”, is offering a custom-made bean bag which is absolutely cool to recline on when in harbour or at anchor: I´ve checked it out last summer and fell in love: As the boats are too small to feature a full-size cockpit with all that cruising-fuzz, these bean bags are essential. But, you know, I am a marketing guy and have a pretty clear idea of what the boat should be looking like. So I asked for a custom color.
Which was possible, to my surprise and made me quite happy. You may have seen the green-based outward appearance of GEKKO so of course I went to choose a fresh lemon-green for the bean bag´s leather. Unboxing the Slovenian delivery I saw them and jumped for joy: Such a neat color! It made me think of this whole project and realize how nice and smooth all goes – in comparison to the hard work and all the uncertainty connected to the refit of my old boat. Now, with this new boat everything works so easily, everything turns out so nice.
Now, leaving the Gecko-colored bean bags in my flat in the time being, I returned to the floor board-project where I unrolled the black/white EVA-foam in my living room to un-bend it and get it straight. Let´s take a look on tis project and how one can work with it. Was it worth skipping a professional company and opting for a do-it-yourself solution?
Working with self-adhesive Eva-foam
First of all the product itself: I went for a 90 Euros product by amazon. The material feels solid and proper and it arrived without any flaws. Touching the foam is a nice sensation, I also think that when tools or heavy items fall on it there won´t be harm or damage. The right choice for a boat like my First 27 SE for sure. I took some rough measurements and cut the foam to four pieces roughly to match the size of the gauge panels. Now, let´s put both together.
I think that substituting the 10 mm original panels with the 6 mm new EVA-foam in black won´t work. Instead I think that sticking together the original floor panel with the new material is the best choice: As there isn´t any standing height inside the First 27 SE anyway so another 6 millimeters on top won´t do anything. To the contrary: The isolation might be a bit better, I guess. Working with the amazon EVA-foam was easy as ABC: Just cutting the pieces to size, taking off the protective foil and pressing the foam to the panel.
When done, I used to walk on the black foam. Pressing the two panels together. It took me approximately 5 minutes for each new panel to have them sticking together just neatly. The overall quality and adhesive power of the glue that was already applied and delivered with the foam is good. The fact that the foam has been rolled on the other hand makes it a bit tricky to get it to a straight and flat form. I used counterweights, screw clamps between old books and some drops of foam-glue to have the edges, which tended to un-stick – glued together. I let them overnight in this stage and the next morning everything was finished.
Now, would I recommend using “cheap” amazon-bought self-sticking EVA-foam to make new panels and floor boards for your boat? Probably yes: I think the outcome looks absolutely amazing and fits the interior color-coding of my boat. Where on the outside white and fresh “Gecko”-green are the dominating colors, in the inside the warmer, but equally fresh, orange of the cushion together with the white topcoat of the boat match perfectly the black new EVA-foam floor boards and the black mesh backrests. I am really satisfied with the outcome and can´t wait to re-install the flooring in the boat. For now, the first GEKKO-upgrade project is crossed off my to-do-list. Nice!
You might as well be interested to read these articles:
Fake teak, the high-class way
Why I don´t want a used boat anymore
All data on my First 27 SE / Seascape 27