Over the years we've made various minor alterations to Bluebird, most of which are shared here. We hope you find one or two good ideas you can use or adapt for your own boat.

Cabin Floor

I always assumed from the way the cabin floor flexed slightly that it was just plywood panels with carpet laid on it and secured around the edges with aluminium angle. During last season I stepped into the cabin and felt the floor crack below me (I'm a big bloke) and I thought is was probably a plywood floor panel that had given up and would just need replacing and beefing up a bit.

When the boat came out the water for the winter we went and lifted the carpet to inspect the damage and I was surprised to find the floor was a (not so) solid sheet of fibreglass and not the plywood I was expecting.

The fibreglass in way of the step down has cracked and spread and after further inspection we found the only reason we hadn't gone right through was that the bilge under the first few feet of floor has been filled with cement for ballast.

We also discovered two holes about two inches in diameter had been drilled out at some point in the boats life. One mid cabin and one forward just before the vee berth.

My plan for fixing the floor was to use the exiting holes/damage to fill the void below the floor with foam and then fibreglass over the whole floor again with two or three layers. This should both strengthen and seal the whole floor. However the advice from my fellow was to retain the air space and so the foam idea was shelved.

Finally, Instead of just re-laying a carpet over the top of all this, I thought of using laminate flooring to provide an even firmer surface. Step One: Fixing the damage.

We started out by packing the gap between the broken fibreglass and the concrete ballast with a chopped mat and resin gap filler to prevent any further flexing and giving a solid landing spot below the step. The whole area was then levelled off with fibreglass filler and sanded smooth.

 

We then reinforced the area still further with three layers of fibreglass which left us with a pretty solid repair.

 Having this “sound” area only emphasised how springy the rest of the cabin floor was by comparison to the repaired area and we decided to beef up the rest of the floor with three layers of fibreglass too.

The next stage was to lay a layer of 3mm laminate underlay which will not only compensate of any slight imperfections but make the finished floor quieter than laying laminate directly onto the fibreglass.

 

Using a bench saw on a workmate in the cockpit, the floor went down pretty quickly apart from a few fiddly bits. It took me two attempts to get the last two pieces fitted at the end next to the vee berth but the finished job looks good.

Finally the flooring was secured using the original trim that held the carpet in place and it was interesting to note we’d not lost any height at all as the trim screwed in just a little below its previous level.

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