Restoring a Rival 38's cabins

Restoring a Rival 38’s Bow and Aft Cabins


Sailing trips of longer passages require a certain amount of comfort if you are away at sea for over 1 day. Guests need to cook, clean and importantly sleep to enjoy their stay aboard a boat. One of the great pleasures of being onboard a boat can be sleeping onboard, with the calming sounds of the waves lapping against the hull. But not if you are cold with a damp smell coming from your cabin. With this in mind, the aft cabins and double bow cabin became a complete overhaul and refurbishment project during the quieter winter months of 2016

The initial idea and concept was a simple one:

  • A sturdy build to keep in with the rest of the boat

  • An end result that would also increase a re-sale value

  • To give an impression of being spacious and comfortable in a small space

The aft cabins were stripped back to the bare fibreglass hull and battened out so that they could be refitted with 6mm plywood. Not two pieces were the same shape and almost every piece had a series of compound angles to keep close to the boat's shape, thereby keeping as much available space as possible. A handy shelf was able to be put in 1 area so that sleeping sailors had a safe place to store valuables such as keys, wallet and phones. Things dropped in the wrong place on a boat can become owned by the boat's bilge and never be seen again! Sharp edges that could cause damage were fitted with plastic corner protectors to minimize cuts and scrapes. The finish was decided to be in a light stone colour.

The bow cabin was not quite such a drastic refurbishment because what was there already was in an okay condition and was workable. A cream leather lining was stuck to a foam backing which was then stuck to a shaped plastic cut out to give the correct shape to be fitted. Again the cabin had battens along the fiberglass to provide secure fastening points for the leather lining. Once the 2 linings had been attached it was the tricky job of finishing off the edges with wood trim.

Now when the boat is booked up for a long distance private sailing trip, we know to the best of our knowledge that we have done everything possible to ensure the comfort of our guests. With a happily content crew fast asleep in their cabins, this gives even the skipper a few well earned hours rest on the hook!