Previously, I had plugged-up the old holes on the cabin sides left by the removal of the previous portlights, with foam and fiberglass filler placed between the exterior and ceiling liner. All together, I will be installing 8 opening Lewmar portlights, which in combination with the new opening hatch in the head and the two existing ceiling hatches, will ensure maximum boat interior ventilation.
I had faired and sanded the exterior but I hadn't paid much attention to the interior of the cabin-sides, largely because I hadn't decided on the decor. There are a bunch of options: wooden panels, vinyl, bare fiberglass, or laminate veneers, or a combination of each. I mentally played around with a variety of ideas before settling back on my original plan.
Bare fiberglass would make the interior look too plastic-y, even if I added some texture and color to the surface (with a coating of Kiwi Grip applied with a low-abrasive texture pattern). That would have been the easiest route of course. Stencils etc were also an option to make it look less like the inside of a Clorox bottle.
Another option is to put a wooden panel up against the interior cabin sides either with glue or heavy-duty velcro (the installed portlights would hold the panel too) maybe even with an insulating backing, then finishing the front-face of the panel with several layers of glossy varnish to bring out the texture of the wood, maybe using a veneer laminates with an exotic woods, add some trim... etc etc.
However I really didn't see the point of trying to simulate
the interior of a wooden sailboat. My decor philosophy is to create an open,
bright, functional space. Keeping the panel uncluttered was a priority,
except for the addition of unobstrusive courtesy wall lights that will go in between
the portlights, and shoulder-level teak grab rails.
There's also the complication of the curve where the cabin sides meet the deck. Any paneling would have to account for that shape.
So, back to the original plan: vinyl, but attached very securely with contact adhesive to make sure there would be no future sagging, and kept in place with wood trim. The vinyl will provide a nice clear surface, some texture, as well as insulation (but I'll mainly rely on the air-gap behind the ceiling liner for that.)
I had decided a while ago to go with vinyl and I had already bought a bolt of very high-quality vinyl from France, with felt backing (not the cheap foam that crumbles into dust). I wanted to go with white vinyl because it is easy to maintain, waterproof, and if I ever decide to on something else I could just tear off the vinyl.
But, before any of that can happen, I have to sand and fair the cabin-sides because any bumps or irregularities would show-up on the white vinyl. This required taking some dust-control measures including an 8-inch blower with with aluminum venting stuck down the cabin hatch, plus my shop-vac connected to my random orbital sander, and of course the whole place was more or less covered with plastic drop-cloth -- much to the amusement of the cats -- but lets face it, fiberglass dust gets everywhere no matter what and so I'm going to have to vacuum the place well later anyway, For now, I mainly just wanted to keep the dust out of the v-berth where we sleep with the cats, but the rest of the boat interior is bare and empty anyway.
The cats, by the way, are now going outdoors regularly and are quite well-adjusted to the boatyard life. No more litter to manage! Pasha even brought home a dead bird once so I think they're happy.