Adventure 40—Interior Arrangement


This post has been superseded by this chapter, however we are leaving it up because of the excellent comments attached.

Now we are getting to the really hard part of specifying the Adventure 40, the interior. Unlike most production boats where an interior is specified that will sell at a boat show and then a boat is designed around it, resulting in a poor sea boat, we have already specified the hull form and deck of the Adventure 40, and spent some serious coin in the process.

So now we are going to find out if people are really serious about wanting a true offshore voyaging boat for less than $200,000, because this is where we are going to make the hard decisions and compromises to make that possible for the price.

This is a long post, reflecting the complexity of, and the compromises required in, this area. However, even if you are not interested in buying an Adventure 40, you may wish to struggle through to the end since we will cover many of the difficult decisions we must all make when selecting a boat, regardless of size.

And we will do this analysis from the point of view of someone who has really been out there (me), assisted by a lot of people with real offshore experience (those that comment on this site), rather than some salesperson.

Guiding Principles

If you have not read this post about the basics of good offshore boat interior design, please read it now so you have an understanding of the principles underlying this specification.


Before we get into specifics, we need to define the mission of our Adventure 40 interior arrangement. Here is is:

  1. A comfortable offshore voyaging and live-aboard interior for a couple with occasional guests that don’t stay long—trust me, they won’t.
  2. Good sea-berths for three people, which allows a crew at sea of up to four, assuming a single watch stander.

What about couples with children? I have wrestled with this more than any other issue about the interior and come to the conclusion that we simply can’t fit two private sleeping areas into the Adventure 40 without messing up the boat or making her substantially bigger and therefore more expensive. So, children (or guests) will have to live and sleep in the salon. Is that workable? Only you can decide based on your family dynamics.

If not, maybe one day there will be an Adventure 45, but in the meantime I suggest that families with children consider a Boreal 47.


Since we don’t have a hull actually drawn, it is impossible to come up with an exact layout at this time, but what we can do is look at an existing offshore boat of about the same displacement, with a layout that we know works well, and then discuss the changes and tweaks that we can make to meet the Adventure 40 mission.

This approach will stop us falling into the general silliness so often exhibited in those “My Ideal Boat” discussions on the forums where people add every possible feature to their wish list without any understanding of the volume required and thereby end up with an arrangement plan that might just fit into the hull of the Queen Mary II and be barely affordable by Warren Buffet.

Ian McCurdy, at McCurdy and Rhodes, designers of our own Morgan’s Cloud, has been kind enough, once again, to let us use the design of the McCurdy family boat Selkie—an extremely successful offshore boat that is about the same size as the Adventure 40—as a starting point. You might want to print out the plan that starts the post (click to enlarge) so you can use it for reference as we continue.

I’m going to guess that the Adventure 40 will be a little wider and a little longer on the water and, therefore, if we are going to stick with a sea kindly hull form, a little heavier than Selkie. But we just can’t go over 20,000 pounds displacement if we are going to hit our price point, so we had all better get used to the fact that this is all the volume we have to work with. And, after all, many people have successfully and happily cruised in far smaller boats.


As I explained in this post, storage is vital for a live-aboard voyaging boat, so let’s start there with the changes we need to make to Selkie, which was designed for racing and shorter cruises.

Selkie has much better storage than most boats her size with a good-sized forepeak and a roomy port cockpit locker. In addition, her relatively deep hull form allows much of the tankage to be in the bilge, freeing up even more room for storage. This is an advantage of deeper boats that buyers often miss when evaluating a wider boat with almost no bilge.

So all we need to do for the Adventure 40 is replace Selkie’s starboard quarter berth with a storage and equipment space. This change will also give us really good access to the engine, running and steering gear.

In addition, it would be really great if we can fit in a small work bench with a vise. And even better if it could be designed so said bench can be removed and installed somewhere in the cockpit for those jobs that require more elbow room.


Selkie already has a near ideal U-shaped galley layout, although it would be good if we could upgrade the stove to three burners, which I think the probable additional beam of the Adventure 40 will allow.

Chart Table, Or Not

This is a hard one. As frequent readers of this site know, we are big believers in navigating on deck and the Adventure 40 will have a hard dodger with room under it to mount electronics and work on a chart, albeit folded fairly small. But on the other hand, it’s really nice to have a “ship’s office” below where we can use a computer, draw, or write in comfort.

Separate Shower Stall Wins

Having said that, and given the amount of space we have, I think that the best thing to do is scrap the chart table and replace it with a separate shower stall that can also be used as a wet weather gear locker at sea. After all, we can work at the salon table.

For those of you who may be understandably stunned by this decision, Dick Stevenson does a great job in this comment of explaining the many benefits of a separate stall shower.

It would be nice to put the head here too, convenient to the companionway, since this will put the entire “working area” of the boat near the companionway and separate from the salon and sleeping areas—absolutely the best way to do an offshore layout. And moving the salon forward will result in a bit bigger galley too.

However, moving the head aft may not be possible since this may require moving the salon too far forward. We won’t know for sure until the hull is drawn.

Assuming that we can move the head aft, it is likely that access to the storage and equipment space to starboard will be through the shower stall.


I’m a great fan of dinettes for salons but they do take up more room than settees and I’m doubtful that we can fit one in without making the whole thing too cramped to be comfortable. You often see dinettes designed with straight backs and seats that are not deep enough for the human form in an effort to shoehorn them into too small a space, which results in a sitting position that the Inquisition would have approved of.

But there is an even bigger problem with a dinette layout and that is the difficulty of fitting in three good sea berths that are parallel to the center line of the boat. (Sleeping on a berth that is not aligned with the center line is truly horrible because as the boat heels your head is either higher or lower than your feet.)

So, on balance, I think that the best bet is to stick with Selkie’s classic settees and drop-leaf table salon and use the additional beam of the Adventure 40 to add a pilot berth on one side that has the added benefit of being a good place to store bedding during the day, and can, with the addition of a curtain, act as a private space for a child.

We may need to resort to “trotter boxes”—extensions of the settees and pilot berth for your feet that go under the counters or into lockers  in the head and galley—in order to get a full 7-feet of berth length. Done right, “trotter boxes” don’t reduce the comfort of the bunk, but allow the length of the salon to be reduced to 6-feet, which is plenty for two people to sit comfortably side-by-side. Of course “trotter boxes” will impinge on the storage in the head and galley, but you can’t have everything and by going this route, both will be bigger than those on Selkie.

Forward Cabin

Since this is primarily a boat for couples, and we are anything but puritans here at AAC, I will leave the forward V-berths but add a removable filler between them to facilitate cuddling.

Assuming that the head moves aft, we will lose much of the hanging locker and bureau shown, but I would hope that we can retain a smaller hanging locker on one side and a set of shelves on the other.


There is no gentle way to say this. If you are dreaming of a varnished wood interior fitted with lots of beautifully made drawers and clever and complex places to store stuff, the Adventure 40 is not for you. We simply can’t afford the labour costs of that kind of fit out if we are going to hit our price target.

The interior will be mass produced outside of the boat in modules that are pre-finished, probably with some kind of plastic laminate. There will only be two drawers, both in the galley for storing sharps, etc. The rest of the stowage will be fitted with shelves—adjustable up and down would be good—and we may even resort to zippered fabric locker covers rather than doors.

I am hoping that we will be able to trim the edges of at least some of the cabinetry with wood by designing it all in CAD and then cutting it out on a CNC router. This will result in a light and airy feel, but with a touch of classic class, much like the  traditional “Herreshoff interior” of white painted wood with mahogany trim.

By the way, I can tell you, having had boats with both types of interior, that the Adventure 40 will be much more pleasant to live in and easier to maintain and keep clean than some varnished cave.

Light and Ventilation

The boat will have three big Dorade vents: one forward and one each over the galley and head. There will be four ports: two fixed in the salon and two opening, one in the head and one over the galley.

There will be only one hatch, situated in the forward cabin. Yes, I know that many owners will want more hatches for light and air, but keep in mind that a white interior needs a lot less light to feel bright than a varnished one and a wind scoop fitted forward, together with the Dorades and two opening ports, will keep the boat plenty cool.


One thing we might be able to do would be to incorporate a flat area with no core into the deck amidships where a reasonably handy owner could easily install another hatch. A feature that would be in keeping with the easy to customize ethos of the Adventure 40.

In the same vein, a little clever DIY cabinetry could turn the forward port end of the salon into a nice office/working area out of the way of people moving forward on the other side of the table.

Not Set In Stone

I’m certainly not arrogant enough to think that the layout I have come up with is the absolute best posible, so I will certainly listen to suggestions in the comments. Also, I almost guarantee that the professional naval architect who eventually designs the boat will come up with improvements.

Having said that, please don’t forget that the arrangement I have specified is the  result of some 20 years, spaced over 45 years, of living on boats that go offshore—this is not just theory.


If you have any thoughts for improvement, or questions, please leave a comment. One thing I would ask is that if you want to see a feature added, please think carefully about what you are willing to lose to free up the required space and budget to accommodate your idea, because we don’t have any of either to spare.

Further Reading

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

115 comments… add one
  • George M Apr 26, 2014, 12:05 pm

    Just been thinking about the cheapest possible interior and here are those thoughts.

    1 It would be moulded, fitted out outside the hull and then dropped into the hull and glued in place. The A 40 would require two such moulds, one for the forecabin and one for the main cabin/heads. Just as for hulls, it is cheaper and more efficient to mould than to build.

    2 No headliner. The underside of the deck left bare and simply painted.

    3. Lighting provided by spots on bulkheads rather than by overhead lighting.

    4. Marine ply used for any covers for access holes under cushions, the cabin sole, draw fronts etc.

    5. Stainless steel galley work surface with integral sinks one side of the cooker, plain GRP the other side where the cool box is moulded in.

    I’m sure there would be lots of fine details to work out, but lets imagine that this is the quickest and cheapest way of fitting out the interior; who could live with an interior like that?

    I could because one of my past boats had an interior like that. I don’t find painted GRP unattractive (particularly as the A40 wont have many deck fittings with bolts protruding through), and moulded interiors are very robust, easy to repair and easy to keep clean. But this is the kind of interior you expect to find on a trailer sailor, not on a 40ft world girdler. So how basic an execution of the interior can people live with?

    • John Apr 27, 2014, 10:44 am

      Hi George,

      We are a long way ahead of ourselves here, so I’m not going to render any sort of opinion on how the interior will actually be fabricated. I would not expect to be making decisions about this kind of thing until the fall, at the earliest.

      Look for us to publish a preliminary interior design in about two months, after we have gone through the hull and then deck.

  • George M Apr 26, 2014, 12:31 pm

    For an example of the sort of thing I’m talking about take a look at the sunfast 3600.

  • Peter C Jul 12, 2014, 1:34 pm

    What standing headroom are you aiming for down below. Many of the next generation of ocean cruisers including myself are well over 6 feet tall. I find many of the older we’ll designed great sea yachts to be lacking in standing headroom.

    • John Jul 13, 2014, 8:45 am

      Hi Peter,

      We will have full standing headroom of well over 6-feet for the entire length of the coach roof. This is one of the advantages of a relatively deep hull.

  • Patrick steel Aug 31, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Nice idea, hope it goes well! Out of interest, in making use of our chart table, it has a seat either side (fore and aft). We use it to eat most of pour meals instead of the larger table in the saloon. Its also more useable at sea Yacht is freya 39. Can send pics if it helps.

    My one vital bit of gear would be general ecology water filter, tank water always tastes like bottled and filters last forever – i would also be tempted by tek tanks instead of aluminium, but hey, each to their own!

    • John Sep 1, 2014, 7:57 am

      Hi Patrick,

      See my answer to George on interior suggestions.

      Yes, those filters are great. We have used them for over twenty years. It won’t be standard on the boat, but they are easy to install.

  • Patrick Sep 11, 2014, 6:29 pm

    Thanks for the reply John, much appreciated. great project and really interesting idea and approach!
    Good luck, if I win the lottery, id be very tempted!

  • mike h Sep 25, 2014, 12:29 pm

    I love the concept of this boat and am following it closely.

    Do you think you will be able to find room to make the aft berth large enough for two? By definition the boat will still be spending time alongside, and I really prefer when visitors can sleep and put keep their stuff in their own space.

    Thanks for your efforts.

    • John Sep 25, 2014, 3:56 pm

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the enthusiasm.

      We will be revealing the interior design in the next few weeks.

  • Paul Oct 31, 2014, 10:10 am

    Are the hull & deck envisioned to be solid fibreglass or cored? If solid could condensation be a problem beyond the capabilities of the proposed ventilation & heating systems?

    • John Oct 31, 2014, 1:06 pm

      Hi Paul,

      The hull will be solid below the water and the deck will be cored. Details are still to be worked out. Rest assured we will deal with condensation, Exactly how will be determined during the engineering phase.

  • Bill Attwood Oct 31, 2014, 12:43 pm

    Although the A40 design and specs as far as they have been published are excellent, there is still one area which for me will be a deal-breaker. All the rest are either exactly what I should choose, or things I could happily live with.
    The deal-breaker is the use of embedded plates to fix deck hardware. Surely the fastenings for all mission critical fittings must be visible or the fittings must otherwise be easily disassembled for inspection. Is it good engineering practice to have a mooring cleat or samson post bolted into a plate embedded in the deck? No matter how good the sealing of the fitting, seawater will get in and corrosion will start. I prefer to see the leak down below and be able to do something about it, then or later. Deck leaks are a pain, but the lesser evil. To be clear, I think the ability to have chainplates, cleats etc, welded or if composites, bonded to the hull is fantastic. I also hope that the internal lining of the boat will facilitate inspection – please no moulded interiors dropped in and bonded. The builder of the A40 will need to make economies on the internal fitout in order to meet the price target. The interior of my boat has large amounts of teak, including a turned mast support about 6′ 3″ by 5″. Heaven knows what it cost the builder, but it doesn´t add any seaworthiness to the boat that a stainless pole wouldn´t have. Open cave lockers, locker fronts of fabric, shelves of netting, construction using melamine coated multiplex plywood, are all areas where cost savings could be made without compromising on quality or seaworthiness. And they would also add to the no-nonsense ethic of the A40. Think early Landrover or Landcruiser?
    Hope I haven’t trodden on too many toes.

    • John Oct 31, 2014, 1:04 pm

      Hi Bill,

      Rest assured we will get the engineering right. We have a full on commercial naval architect and engineer (in his native Holland) on the case. Having said that, it is too early to get fixated on this stuff. Or start saying that one or other method will be a deal breaker.

      I postulated the plates as one way to get the job done, and I think it still is, based on years of experience with my present boat and the one before that, but that does not mean that’s they way it will happen. By the way, what makes you think that the use of imbedded plates makes the fasteners difficult to get to? The exact opposite is true. To remove a fitting for say re-bedding you simply unscrew it from the top.

      Whatever we do it will be easy to service and there will be no liners.

  • Bill Attwood Nov 1, 2014, 11:31 am

    Hi John,
    I don´t wish to take this as an issue too far; as you point out, you are still some way from any final decision. However, I do wish to answer your question on why I believe this method of fastening would be difficult to get at. Assuming that the same material would be used for plate and fastener, stainless steel would be the most likely. As you know it suffers from cold welding if not coated with Duralac, Tefgel or similar, and suffers from corrosion in an oxygen starved environment – one reason why I am completely unable to understand the use of stainless in chainplates. Assuming that the fastenings and fitting are easily removed, how can you inspect the plate? How do you know if seawater has got into the spaces between deck and plate? Even the best laminator will not be able to ensure that the boundary between plate and laminate is totally free of voids. Even if plate, fitting and fastenings are made of a material where corrosion is not an issue, there is still the problem of seawater in these voids. Winter weather such as you experience on the eastern seaboard or that we have in the Baltic will cause delamination. This doesn´t seem to support one of the A40´s planned USP´s, the low 10 year cost of ownership.
    I should be interested to know if there is any yacht currently in production which uses this method.
    I must sound like a dog worrying a bone. My problem is that I want the A40 to be as near perfect as possible and cannot see the logic in a system which solves one problem, deck leaks, only then to cause others which are much more difficult to fix. And as a dying gasp, what about all the sundry other fittings, builder and owner installed, which are through bolted? They will also eventually leak, so maintaining a leak-free deck is going to be a continuing part of boat ownership.
    Yours aye,

    • John Nov 2, 2014, 8:40 am

      Hi Bill,

      I was not thinking of SS as the plate material. And insuring a good bond and no voids is a solved problem using an adhesive called Plexus.

      But, be that as maybe, why don’t we leave the bone be until we get to that level of engineering. Like I say, rest assured that whatever we do will be well thought out, well researched, proven in use, and have a long life.

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