Yacht Charter Extreme Makeover: How to Refurbish a Boat Interior and Exterior for Chartering
You followed our advice about how to buy a boat that will be a successful charter yacht, and now its time to get to work refurbishing the boats interior and exterior to bring it up to the standards of the charter yacht industry. Using the catamaran Island R&R as an example, we will lead you through some of the important aesthetic changes we made to upgrade her overall appearance.

Main Salon

Island R&R’s main salon needed just a few updates to heighten its appeal for potential charter guests. The Leopard 46 catamarans typically feature a large table in the main salon, but it is rarely used on charter as guests tend to sit outside in the cockpit for all of their meals. Removing the table and replacing it with a small storage/coffee table was easily accomplished. This immediately created a sense of spaciousness in the first area guests enter on board and a positive first impression.

Because the interior fabric of the main salon settees was in decent shape and a good neutral shade, we only needed to do a bit of steam cleaning to bring it up to charter yacht standard. When you are refurbishing a boat’s interior and exterior, it is great to find ways to get a big impact with minimum expense or effort. Just adding some appealing decorative pillows, a throw blanket, and a rug, we were able to update Island R&R’s salon with a new modern look.

Cost of Refurbishing the Salon:

Coffee Table: $221
Steam Cleaning: $80
Pillows, Throw and Rug:$151

Total: $452

The Cabins

Below deck, the cabins on Island R&R were in great shape and just needed some new bedding and throw pillows to make her charter ready. When shopping for bedding combinations look for neutral sheets and pillowcase sets that can be dressed up with fun throw pillows and quilts. A neutral, soft shade will make the cabin look bigger. When you formulate your master plan for refurbishing your boat’s interior and exterior stick with a theme that you can build upon. On Island R&R we used the same bedding colors in each cabin but changed them up slightly with different combinations of decorative pillows. On the doors of each cabin, a small chalkboard sign was added. The crew used a different BVI island name for each cabin.

Cost of Refurbishing the Cabins:

Bed Linens:
Decorative Pillows and Shams:
Area Rug:

The Heads

Usually, when you start your task list for refurbishing a boat’s interior and exterior, the heads need some attention. If the heads are old, manual flush heads they should be converted to electric as that is the norm these days for charter yachts. Also, the stainless-steel bathroom fixtures may need replacing if they are pitted and the mirrors also may show signs of silvering around the edges. Island R&R’s heads only need a good, professional deep cleaning, so we were spared a bit of expense there.

Cost of Refurbishing the Heads:

Soap dispensers:

The Cockpit

A big expense when you first tackle refurbishing your boat’s interior and exterior can be replacing the cockpit cushions. Upholstery with marine grade foam is very costly, so it is good news if you can get away with just steam cleaning what is already on board. Aboard Island R&R, the striped fabric was not the most optimum look for a charter yacht where bright yellow, red or turquoise cushions are more popular.

However, the cushions were all in good shape with no big stains or tears, so it was not necessary to replace them. Finding decorative pillows that didn’t clash with the stripes was a challenge, but we managed to find some that really enhanced the overall look of the cockpit, creating a welcoming, fun space for guests.

Tableware was purchased: dishes, chargers, placemats and napkins to create a fancy table setting. This will generally be used for dinners with breakfast and lunches served with less formal ware such as wicker baskets.

Cost of Refurbishing the Cockpit

Steam cleaning:
Decorative Pillows:
Table setting for 8:


The state of the decks, the stainless steel, grout, windows, and teak railings and the trampoline must also be assessed when planning your refurbishment to do list. A good cleaning should help most decks, but where stains or severe wear is noticed the boat may have to be repainted. This is expensive, so, again, seeing where good cleaning and brightening will work is the best course of action – especially for the boat’s first year of chartering. Once there is revenue in the bank…costlier cosmetic make-overs can be planned such as re-spraying the boat’s gel coat.

Any stanchions or stainless that is damaged must be replaced and all of it given a good shine. The same goes for any teak hand rails or benches. The Caribbean sun takes its toll on teak varnish. The graying look is fine as long as it is bleached and oiled regularly. But peeling varnish must be refinished.

On Island R&R the topsides were in great shape. The trampoline also looked fairly new and would not need replacing. Some cushions were purchased for the trampoline to create another outdoor lounging space for guests.

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