Boat Project Living Aboard a Boat

Headlining a Project Part II: The Salon

Friday, April 04, 2014S.V. CAMBRIA

One of the many projects we’re working on this off-season (and by ‘we’ I mean David) is our ever-present sagging headliner. The problem first showed itself seven years ago but, in reality, it started from day one with a poor design. We love our Westerly. It’s a solidly built boat, above and below the decks. The company put everything they had into the Ocean 43 and 49, including higher-end finishes. But some of their ideas fell short. The headliner’s one of them.

The salon starboard headliner before.

Our headliner is nice and, presumably, expensive but it’s a foam backed vinyl material that was glued to the cabin top and, in places, sides of the hull. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that over time, the foam would break down and the glue would no longer hold the very large, heavy pieces of material. But they installed it that way regardless and we’ve been left to correct the mistake, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

We started in the forward berth and, every now and then, we’d have to fix a similar problem in other areas of the boat. But the salon and galley have had us scratching our heads for years. Because the deck hardware comes through the hull in these places, there are several bolts to work around and the ‘roof line’ is uneven and tricky to work with. So David had to come up with a plan. After a lot of back and forth, he created a design to attack the problem – use Durasnaps to hold the headliner along the smooth areas and a piece of oak trim to hide the sections that get messy (at the corner of the cabin top and hull). To give the trim work a functional purpose, he decided to add ambient LED lighting. Here’s how he did it:

David securing the headliner and drilling the pilot holes (left and center).
The first row of Durasnaps (right).

1.                Measure, measure and, then for good measure, measure again.

2.                Draw up a complicated set of plans.

3.                Glue or screw a corner of the headliner in to hold the edge and get the job under “control”.

4.                Layout the design for the Durasnaps.

5.                Drill the pilot hole and pray that your measurements were correct so that you don’t go through the hull or cabin top.

6.                Screw in the Durasnaps. 

David adding the lights to the backing block on the port side.

7.                Measure, cut, route and varnish the trim work to match what’s already on the boat. 

8.                Install the backing piece for attaching the trim work.

9.                Add the lighting strips to the backing piece. 

David making up the 12 volt connection and wiring the starboard side.

10.           Wire the LED lights into the house lights.

11.           Add the piece of trim work.

12.           And voilĂ , Bob’s your uncle!


The salon starboard headliner after. 

The salon has been finished for a few days now and we LOVE it. Not only do we FINALLY have red lights for night passages, but they also shine in 15 other colours, dim, flash, strobe and fade (all by remote control). And the best part is the two sections burn less than 0.5 amps so we can leave them on at night for Sally who needs a little help seeing these days. 


Next up – the galley!

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