Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Tale of 20 Beds

Battery Ho!
Battery Ho!
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
In all my complaining, I'm surprised I've forgotten to mention that DrC and I haven't had a good night's sleep in close to seven months. While the possibility of frozen extremities, drowning in spit, or the sounds of the diesel heater taking off might possibly come to mind as causal, the real culprit has been the bed.

Or perhaps it is more accurate to say beds, because DrC and I have cycled through a startlingly broad range and bewildering variety of bedding in a vain attempt to find the perfect comfort mattress. We've tried Frolies and we've tried Ikea. We added foam padding, bubble wrap, and space age stuffing. We even tried $2.50 swim floats from Walgren's. Thus far, the search for a comfortable night's sleep has been fruitless. Each morning we awake to the same ritual.

Toast yawns, “Okay, that sucked for me. How 'bout you?”

DrC tentatively stretches and clenches up half way to a full reach, “No.”

“No, it didn't suck? or No, it sucked and I hurt like hell.”

DrC creaks as he sits up and edges to the end of the bunk, “We need to try something else.”

There are two possible interpretations of this quest. First – and the theory I personally favor – boat bedding is a considerable challenge. Alternatively, DrC and I are over 40 and getting old. I'm not going to even dignify the second theory with additional clarification. Either you, my dear reader, are old enough that back problems are something you reject on principle in the same way you pull gray out of your scalp each morning, or you are a young whipper snapper, and you need to shut up and listen to your elders.

Going with the first theory, I offer the following supporting arguments:
Thing 1) Boat beds can not have box springs.
Thing 2) Boat beds frequently do not fit standard shapes and so rule out conventional solutions such as popping down to the nearest Mattress Outlet and getting something on sale. And finally....
Thing 3) Boat beds almost inevitably must fold in half or break into pieces because some crucial, must-get-to-it-in-less-than-30-seconds-or-the-boat-sinks bit of equipment is installed beneath it.

It's that last one that screws the pouch on Don Quixote. Real Sailors™ will undoubtedly either sneer or boggle, but the Lagoon's are outfitted with bunks that come in standard, commercial bed sizes. The aft cabins are both queens, the port forward cabin is a twin with wings. This makes sheets easy. It should have made a mattress easy. The problem is that our battery bank and the single most usable locker for stowing books, spare clothes, and parts is under that bed. With DrC's wonderful shelving addition, it is just not possible to put in a standard queen size mattress.

We started with the cushions that come with the boat. Those suck. If you are ever offered an opportunity to provision a brand new boat, just say no to the factory bunk cushions. Say it loudly. Say it really really really loudly. In addition to being wildly uncomfortable, for some damn reason it does not matter which orientation you put them in, they slide everything to the middle. This is great until your husband arrives in the middle of the night in a comatose, massive lump on top of your right hip.

Our Cabin with Air Mattress
Our Cabin with Air Mattress
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Cushions on Frolies meant we slid into each other during the early evening instead of waiting till the middle of the night. Putting the Ikea mattress pad on top made the sliding less noticeable, but DrC's head hit the ceiling when he went to pee in the middle of the night. Removing the cushions dropped us down six inches at the cost of my man's tender hips. Adding egg shell foam from WalMart made his hips hurt less but resulted in a nasty sponging effect that felt like sleeping on the edge of a kitchen sink complete with skanky sponge smell. Covering the egg shell with a super padded mattress pad from Target worked for a few months. However, reluctantly we realized that we'd eliminated the pressure points, but now had no give for the curve of our spines resulting in crippling pain every morning.

Tonight we installed a $25 queen size air bed from Target underneath the Ikea mattress pad. It's possible this will work. As I sit and type, my butt does not hurt. My hair is brushing the ceiling, but at this point, I'd put up with halving the air space in this cabin if I could just get a full night's sleep without waking up feeling like I'd been in traction all night.

I'm no longer hopeful, however. Hope is for young people.


Jody said...

Oh good God is this not true.

We finally went for a memory foam mattress with a deluxe, extra thick pad on top...and very nice sheets to make us forget how bad it all feels.

Vicki said...

I just came to here to recommend a memory foam mattress, but Jody beat me to it. For $200 wal-mart has a queen size memory foam mattress. It's firm, yet soft. It could be made more cloud like with an additional memory topper, but we like it as is. We never wake up with aches anymore, and just could not be happier. Our major storage is also under our bed, and the mattress lifts easily and can be tweaked in any direction, depending on which area we need to get to. It's also cuttable so if you need to do some trimming to fit your space, it should be easy enough.

With the good deal on the mattress, I also went for extra nice sheets. We've never slept better. :)

Meg_L said...

Our spare room has a queen sized - double thick - foam cored futon on it.

It's delightful to sleep on and when not is use as a bed folds up nicely into a couch (the room doubles as our library)

Would it satisfy your space/foldability issues?

BTW, Have a good trip!

Anonymous said...

I occasionally sleep on the floor on a Coleman queen air mattress and a queen sleeping bag with velcro-attached sheets (from CampingWorld).

At first my back hurt until I found that I needed to fill the mattress very full of air. From then on I got some of the best nights sleep I had ever had.


Chris said...


I've been enjoying your blog for some months now. It's hard to believe that the big day of departure is finally here.

Good luck, God bless, and HAVE FUN!! And, please please please try to find a signal along the way to keep us up to date.


Cap'n Franko said...

I've hesitated to comment cuz I'm really on the horns of dilemma for this one.

Lemma one: I completely sympathize. I'm 60, not 40, and a good night's sleep is great nature's balm, chief nourisher in life's feast, etc.; and boat berths are typically not exquisite. So I truly sympathize.

Lemma two: I've spent all my time aboard boats in monohulls, mostly in the forward V-berth. Those may approach queen width at the shoulder but narrow to approximately an arrowhead at the foot. Even with a custom mattress, this is not the lap of luxury. So from this perspective, I wanna shout, "Suck it up! You're spoiled!"

But I'll go mostly with lemma one and wish you success in finding the right padding and wish I were spoiled! (wink and a grin)

I know a lotta people who've spent more than a boatbuck for custom V-berth mattresses which didn't really do anything to improve the sleeping experience, IMO.

See ya,


Anonymous said...

this may sound a little nutty .. but we have a '73 airstream. the thick foam mattresses are original to the trailer. my 6'1" 250-lb husband finds these 35yo mattresses to be the most comfortable he's ever slept on, bar none. they are about skinny twin size.

people part out airstreams all the time, and you might be able to find them fairly easily and give it a shot. try if you are interested, and good luck finding a comfy bed!