While air travel may have replaced most of the international and even some domestic routes for great distances during the last century, there are still those of us who prefer the sea or lake over the clouds for the sake of nostalgia, enjoyment and perhaps even safety. There is a sedentary pleasure in meandering through the sea at a slow and relaxed pace, enjoying the magnificent waves of the deep waters and the bijou waves that crash along the vessels body.
Thus the life necessitates a certain level of available comfort. In short, the berth of a boat refers to the a bed, or bed area whereby crew members sleep. This should not be confused with berthing a boat which refers to the location of a sailing vessel within a pontoon or harbour.
Since the ships take a considerably longer time than flights to reach their destination, accommodation needs to be made on any vessel for the passengers to rest their weary heads. While the extravagance of the insides of the boat may have been mellowed down, giving way to more modern and understated infrastructure, there are still beds on the ships which are commonly referred to as ‘berths’.
A berth is nothing but an accommodation area for the crew to sleep in. Due to the constraints of availability of space on a small yacht, most berths end up having very similar aesthetics, although the specifics vary according to the type of vessel and price range. It will also depend on their preferred use. A yacht designed for day sailing might have a difference in design with respect to berths than one more suitable for cruising. In case you are looking forward to any overnight journey, you will need to sleep on one of these berths.
Large sailing vessels have considerably more room that affords cabins to be created that are spacious and allow a certain degree of privacy, possibly with a stand up shower. However, the lack of space in the smaller yacht enables enough room for bunk beds or berths. There are many types of berth on a small sailing vessel and the most common berths are known by different names:
One can easily find this kind of berth in the front of the sailing vessel. The forward end of the hull has a conical shape which gives the berths its unique moniker. V-berths can be found in the most extreme forward side of the hull. Often times, they reside in a separate cabin referred to as the forepeak. The unique shape of the hull gives the bed a peculiar triangular shape. For the convenience, the bed sometimes has a notch cut out of the middle of the aft end in the pattern of a triangle. This partially divides the single bed into two separate beds causing the stereotypical V-shape.
One can easily bridge this small gap with upholstery like a wooden board and cushions. This gives an illusion of a double bed. However, there is a drawback to this as well. There is not enough space left for the feet to stretch to provide a comfortable sleeping position. In fact, the average width of a typical V-berth is only 12”!
In the United Kingdom, V-berth’ is a seldom-used terminology. Most people simply refer to it as the cabin as a whole or call it the forepeak.
Quarter bunk is a solitary bunk or a single bunk bed crammed under the cockpit of the ship. This type of berth is generally seen in a boat of a smaller size where there is not enough room for a cabin to be built onboard.
Often, there will be two quarter berths, one on each side of the companionway. They are quite snug and have the added advantage of being near the exit of the yacht in the event of an emergency.
Owner Cabin Berth
These sorts of berths are usually found on smaller boats or private yachts meant for the owner for the vessel. The berth is of moderate size and provides enough leg room and a scope for privacy. They are more commonly found on boats designed for cruising and a 35ft yacht can often have a great deal of room in an owners cabin. Additionally it can also be situated next to a shower so the owners can have private access to bathing facilities inside the yacht.
The pilot berth can be found on the high side of the vessel above common seating area of the ship, usually on the side of the cabin. Typically, this narrow berth is located above and behind the settee berth and exactly below the deck of the ship. There is an interesting history behind the naming of this kind of berth. Historically, these berths used to be so small and congested in terms of available space, no passenger used to opt for them since they were so uncomfortable to sleep in. This small berth was only offered to the pilot of the ship in case he opted to spend a night on the ship.
Often times, the side of this berth are surrounded with a wall up to the bosom of the sleeper. One can even find some furniture built into the “wall” like shelves and lockers which gives the illusion that the bed is located indeed behind the furniture’.
The typical layout of a small yacht is quite simple. The yacht has seats that are lined on both the sides of the cabin and there is a small table occupying the center space. This is the sight that you will usually see on a yacht during the day-time. However, the scenario changes a night when the lined up seats are converted into beds for the passengers to lie down.
One might think that this would make a very narrow bed owing to the fact that there is not enough room between the back of the seat and its front edge where you usually rest the back of your knee. This typical problem is taken care of by utilizing an engineering solution that can move the back of the settee out of the way. This simple yet effective solution makes for a wide and comfortable bed that can easily accommodate anyone. Often times, the berth stretches out to the hull end of the ship just below the lockers.
To use the settee berth for ships at sea, there is a need for lee-cloths that can safeguard the passenger from falling out of the berth during the maiden’s voyage. When the ship is in the harbor, the settee berth is utilized to form a double bed with the help of detachable table and additional cushions. However, these beds are not typically called settee berths.
Irrespective of whether you are a light sleeper or simply want to revel in the sedentary pace of a maiden voyage, the berths inside a modern yacht can be quite comfortable. Looking forward to a good sleep whilst you wait to see the magnificent view of the blue horizon where it meets the sky meets can now be a most relaxing activity. You can drift off on the wide variety of berths with the slow and rhythmic movement of the tides.