The excitement onboard Meridian on Monday ranked somewhere between Christmas and winning the lottery.
I’d been counting the days until our new cushions would be delivered and practically jumped out of bed Monday, I was so excited. The shiny blue velvet cushions that were on our 1985 Passport 40 when we bought her in April (and as far as I know, were original to the boat), were worn out, their foam broken down by decades of use.
I had the cushions cleaned before we stayed onboard, but it did little to get rid of their musty, stale smell. They also released alarming clouds of dust particles. I didn’t want to think about what we might be breathing in. The cushions in the v-berth, which we’d been sleeping on since moving aboard at the end of June, provided little in the way of padding.
Generally, the cushions just gave me the heebies, which made it difficult to really get comfortable onboard and feel settled in.
Not only were the cushions arriving on Monday, the lengthy installation of our hydronic heater was finally finished three days earlier. In preparation for the big day, Marty and I gave the boat a thorough scrubbing on Sunday, cleaning the wood throughout with Pledge and Murphy Oil Soap until it gleamed.
By the time we were done Meridian almost looked like a different, newer boat. The cushions would be the icing on the cake.
On Monday morning, Pam Tregoning, owner of Portage Canvas & Upholstery, and her husband, Tim, arrived at the scheduled time. They’d brought the cushions in their van over from Vashon Island, where Pam’s shop is, and Marty and I hurried up the dock to meet them.
On first glance, the cushions looked gorgeous. We’d debated between two shades of Sunbrella’s Linen fabric, a variegated weave with tiny flecks of neutral tones — the warmer Linen Sesame and the cooler Linen Stone. I first saw the fabric at last year’s Boats Afloat show on Seattle’s Lake Union, while touring Galatea, a 43-foot Hans Christian that had been revamped with new Sunbrella fabrics inside and out.
We decided on the Linen Stone, hoping the tone wouldn’t look overly cold against the teak interior of our boat. It turned out to be perfect, more grey in certain lights, more beige in others. It’s exactly what we wanted. And Pam’s craftsmanship and attention to detail was impeccable. The buttons she’d suggested putting on the settee backs looked terrific and the various pieces fit together perfectly.
As we’d discover that night, the new cushions also made our bunk deliciously comfortable. The foam was considerably thicker than the old stuff, and on Pam’s suggestion, we opted for a custom two-layer type with a softer foam on top and a firmer one under it. And since Pam cut the three foam pieces for the bunk so they overlapped, we could no longer feel the wood edges of the triangular-shaped v-berth insert when we got into bed. Ahhhh.
The cushions transformed Meridian even more than we’d anticipated. The lighter color makes the interior look bigger, brighter and refreshed. Suddenly the worn soles don’t seem quite as noticeable, the areas in need of revarnishing not as obvious. It was a spendy project, but well worth the cost.
Lily Winston Churchill seems to like the new cushions too:
Settling into a used boat and making it your own is a process that’s highly individual, I believe. For some boaters, arriving at that moment when a vessel finally feels like your own might require sailing it. For others, maybe it’s completing a project. For me, it seems to require several rounds of cleaning and figuring out where everything fits.
But even after doing that, after scrubbing off the boatyard dust and years of accumulated grime, Meridian still didn’t quite feel like our boat.
Now she does.