• Ana

Making the cockpit feel like home - cushions

When we bought The Dream back in 2016 one of the things that we liked was how big the cockpit area was, we could see this would be where we would spend most of our time when sailing or when not sailing. With the integrated BBQ and fridge the cockpit would easily be our living room but for that to happen we needed a few things to be done so we could fully enjoy the space.

The two big tickets were the Bimini, that was not of very good quality and needed to be redesigned to combine a full enclosure of the cockpit that would give us protection from the sun and rain. And the cushions, the original Dufour cushions were just pathetic and embarrassing when one thinks of how "luxurious" they sell the brand. The decision was made the original cushions were crap, the first passages sailing to and back from Gibraltar to clear out the VAT and complete the purchase and reflagging process confirmed the lack of comfort.

The shakedown season in 2017, allowed us to research and design how we wanted the new cushions to be and by the end of that season when we returned to Cascais/Lisbon we commissioned North Sails Cascais to produce them. The price agreed and 50% deposit made the result 3 months later was literally nothing done with the exception of the purchase of the fabric. Off course it wasn’t just the cushions, all commissioned jobs were of poor quality and incomplete.

With a big disappointment and a feeling of having been robbed on all items we departed without cushions to start the 2018 season (The Dream needed to clear from the EU VAT zone within days to avoid being due for VAT - 23% of its purchase value), fabric stored in one of the cabins and a lot of discussion of how and when would we pull the cushions off without another big assault on our pockets.


The bitter lesson was learned, trust no one especially North Sails.

Never again we will enter one of their shops nor recommend them for any works of any sort.

The 2018 season finished and we were now at our stop of the winter season in Tunisia. We had heard labour was quite cheap but with great quality, so we decided to engage the local sails repair loft on our cushions project. With a price discussed and the fabric handed for them to work on we decided that we would treat this project exactly like when we were working in the Casino design and construction industry, this project would not slip again trusting the professionals would do what we expected of them.

The following day Mouse (the sail repair guy nickname) was back with some foam samples for discussion a bit lost because we didn’t just want simple cushions. After some discussion and showing of photos and sketches Mouse was getting an idea of the challenge we were putting in front of him and as a good professional he took it

We decided on the foam samples and thickness and requested if he could bring the pieces of foam so we could do the shaping on site the next day, together.

With the pieces of foam in place on the starboard seat, Mouse, a colleague of his and us, sketched on cardboard the shape of the back, discussed how it could be achieved, marked on the foam and let them go back to their shop to work on getting the shape done for testing.

Later the same day they returned with the back cushion done for final adjusting, the angle of the bottom where it would sit on top of the bottom cushion and the area near the winch still needed to be confirmed, with that done they left. We thought we wouldn’t see them for a few days but the following morning to our surprise they were back with the covers already done for the back and bottom cushion, only missing a couple of Velcro’s that they hadn’t understood we wanted full length instead of small tabs. Not a big problem they said, they could just stitch it.

Two days later the port side cushions were completed, we were only missing the armrest for both sides, the thinner piece for the sides of the companionway, the sunbed and the seat on top of the BBQ unit.

In one week the entire job was completed, with quality, no fuss and just as we had designed!

For the service and the foam purchase, we paid 650€, a fraction of what had been agreed in the first attempt with North Sails Cascais.

Our new cushions would soon inspire some of our neighbours to upgrade theirs, as for us we were just delighted to know our seats now feel like a nice sofa, super comfortable while at anchor, in the marina and most specifically while sailing.

We can now sleep more comfortably in the cockpit in between watch shifts and that was the most important thing to us because we usually don’t go below decks to rest while sailing unless the sea state is super calm.


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