People are funny. Why is it one of their first questions once they’ve discovered we own a boat is, “How many does it sleep?” So we stammer and stutter and choke out “six” when what we really want to say is “it depends on how well you can stack ‘em.” Have you ever noticed that as we graduate to bigger boats, the number of actual berths is still “six?”
By the time that 24-foot sardine can becomes a 45-foot dreamboat, it gets downright embarrassing to deflate that wide-eyed expectancy of the asker with the answer, “six.” Six? How can we explain to non-boaters the difference between a comfortable six and a crowded one? That we consider ourselves lucky to be sleeping without someone’s feet up our noses, or in a berth in which we can actually both straighten and bend our legs. We can’t.
My solution is to pick a large number, any number that strikes your fancy, and deliver it with a confident smile--“twenty,” say. Sure, almost anyone can jam in twenty sleepers on a boat if they are creative enough. Shoulders take space so alternate heads and feet to tuck more bodies into a berth. Kids and short people can usually wedge themselves sideways in a double berth--you can probably stack four or more of them across.
Don’t neglect floor space. Any flat surface can be a sleeping area when covered with an extra cushion or a fluffy sleeping bag. And what about all that wonderful deck space. The cockpit is always good for accommodating two or three folks, and the bow makes a great twin berth. Encourage unmarried couple to share space, they won’t mind squeezing close together--then sneak one of the kids in between them.
Are we at twenty yet? Opps, we forgot about the dinghy. Pump out all the water, remove the seat or place cushions over it, and there you have a cozy waterbed for two or more. If it’s rainy or cold, erect a canvas or heavy-duty plastic tarp over these areas and guiltlessly slink off to your berth. You know the one you have shamelessly saved for yourself and don’t plan to share.
So, you see, you can honestly answer, “How many does your boat sleep?” with any number you choose because somehow, someway, you will always find space for however many people you are entertaining overnight. And don’t worry, your secret will be safe, because few think to ask, “How many does your boat sleep comfortably?”