Larger Than Life

When this couple refit their Hylas 54, the boat's systems weren't their only concern. They also wanted to choose the right interior colors to make the tight spaces seem bigger. From "Makeovers and Refits" in our September 2008 issue

Weselin 368

The main saloon of Romany Life, a Hylas 54, is tastefully decorated and functional, in sharp contrast to what it looked like during the refit.

Dietmar Weselin loves to figure out how things work, and he's spent lots of time doing just that. Professionally, he brought his training as a design engineer to bear as chief executive officer of Walter Grinders Inc., a Virginia-based company that makes tool and cutter grinding machines plus scissors, knives, saws, and other products. When Dietmar retired, he and his wife, Mary Lou, who owned and operated an interior-design firm, combined their skills to bring Romany Life, a 1998 Hylas 54, back to pristine condition. The boat had seen hard use before they purchased it in July 2004, and it needed sprucing up. The Weselins had to refit almost every aspect of the boat.

Ultimately, their labor of love educated them about the boat and drew them closer to it. Project by project, Dietmar came to appreciate how strongly the boat was built and how well it performed. Mary Lou was charmed by the interior and by living aboard.

Since the refit, they've taken Romany Life-"Ro-many" is a synonym for Gypsy or the language of the Gypsies-all over the Chesapeake and to the Caribbean. They've cruised in the British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Sint Maarten, and St. Barts. This year the boat will go farther south, with Dietmar as the skipper on the passage and Mary Lou joining the boat when it reaches port. When it comes to sailing and cruising, Dietmar enjoys the getting there; Mary Lou enjoys the being there, the people, and entertaining friends and family aboard.

And she definitely likes everything in its place. In the master stateroom and in the forward V-berth, bed linens are hidden within pillow covers made just for that purpose. At bedtime, it's easy to remove the bedding. She also stayed faithful to the blue color scheme to create a cohesiveness and larger feeling in the saloon. In a confined space, contrasting colors make a cabin look smaller; mon-chromatic colors can make the cabin seem larger. The end result of the refit is an elegant home away from home representing ample portions of hard work and exquisite taste.

Bernadette and Douglas Bernon spent six years cruising the western Caribbean aboard their Shearwater 39, Ithaka. They currently live ashore in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Read the log of their trip at the BoatU.S. website (