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  #1  
Old 01-05-2011
rdw rdw is offline
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cockpit enclosure

I am not a liveaboard but I figure that this forum is where the experience is. I am planning to make an attachment to my bimini that would enclose my cockpit for bad weather. I am thinking that I will not have it up much at all, maybe 5-10% of the time. The rest of the time it would be stored below.

Questions: which is better

high percentage of plastic glass for light and visibility or lower percentage

fixed windows or zip out windows

cloth coverings to block sun and be a little warmer for windows or none

Not a very important topic but I would be interested in a few replies from experienced sailors.

Toss in any other ideas or suggestions if you are inclined. This is a DIY job for the winter.

RDW
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  #2  
Old 01-05-2011
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We were liveaboards and found that having a full enclosure was indispensable. To specifically answer your questions:

1) Go with a lot of glass - it's not just light and visibility, but also solar/thermal performance.

2) Our winds are all fixed. While I've thought it would be nice to have zip out windows with screens, I can't imagine keeping track of all of the pieces.

3) We don't have cloth coverings and can't say that we have ever really felt the need

Just make sure you consider winch handle clearance, running rigging clearance, rail mounted items such as BBQ's, backstay or transom access, etc. when building a full enclosure. Our enclosure is comprised of the following sections:

1) Bimini (top)
2) Bimini (right side, left side, and two rear panels)
3) Dodger
4) Connector between Bimini and Dodger
5) "Zip up doors" on left and right of connector to allow cockpit access.

All pieces except for the dodger top and the bimini top are mostly glass with fabric edging. If you zoom into the picture below you can see it better.

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Old 01-05-2011
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We have complete enclosures around the entire cockpit. They are made in sections that zip together and are all clear plastic. Its nice to have sections, because I can install as many or few as I like. If raining, I often put the first section in behind the dodger so that passengers can all stay out of the rain. The dodger and bimini do have an overhead attachment that is solid canvas, so with that first side section, its pretty dry. Also, with sections, we can unzip the side but not the top and roll it up to allow for entry/exit without full removal.

It really extends the usefulness of the boat in the northeast as the sun really warms the cockpit with all the panels in. Sometimes too much. When it actually becomes warm outside, it will begin to encourage mildew. We don't use the panel during the height of the summer other than for rain.

As a real treat, we actually have a few panels that are made with vinyl screens that we can trade for the clear plastic. Seems like a great solution to bug problems, but we've never gone through the effort.
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Old 01-05-2011
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Just chiming in, under a post regarding cheap diy projects, someone purchased a netting enclosure/bug screen for the EZup 10'x10' canopy found at Walmart for $29.99 and modified it to fit their enclosure for when the sides/front are out. pretty cheap solution with some zip ties lol.
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Old 01-06-2011
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I sail a lot on Gemini 105Mc catamarans that have a full cockpit enclosure and they ROCK!!!!!. Last winter, in a just before Christmas delivery leg, we were in the cockpit and wearing just fleece shirts while motoring down the ICW in 20˚ weather. The cabin heat was roaring away and the companionway door was open...

I'd second all of Labatt's recommendations and say that the screen panels are usually more of a PITA than they're worth.

I'd also HIGHLY recommend using boltrope and track for attaching the enclosure to the boat where ever possible, as that gives you a much better and more secure attachment system than using the studs or snaps, and leaves the material far more evenly tensioned. Make sure the zippers have flaps that cover them and protect them from UV as well as water intrusion.
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Old 01-06-2011
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Thanks to all for the opinions. Right now I am leaning toward much more window space than I originally was thinking of.
RDW
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Old 01-06-2011
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rdw, you don't mention where you are, but if you're in a tropical climate, be aware that a lot of clear panels can heat up the cockpit pretty quickly. What you want is protection from the sun. I have solid sunbrella panels that close the 3 sides of the cockpit (and a hard dodger). I use the panels to keep dry in the cockpit during squals and, more importantly, I put up one of the side or back panels to keep the sun out of the cockpit at anchor or when sailing. I zip them in and move them about depending on the angle of the sun. If you're in a colder climate, disregard the above ....
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Old 01-06-2011
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Some pictures of the enclosure I had on my last boat. All lines passed through and sailable when all buttoned up with the cabin propane heater blasting. I never used the boat at 20 degrees as the Dog mentioned but in early spring on NGBay when the very few others out were dressed like the Michelin Man I was comfy with a light jacket -




Two panels on the side and three in the back for the walk thru -

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Old 01-06-2011
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SD - regarding the use of boltropes and tracks I would tend to disagree. While I agree that they will tension better and be more secure, we sometimes need quick access to a small section on the other side of the enclosure. We use studs and can just undo one stud. If we had boltropes and tracks we'd have to take apart one or more pieces of the enclosure in order to get to the other side. We carry several spare studs with us to replace broken ones, but we've only broken a couple in the several years we've had Pelican. Just my two cents.

Copa is right - when the sun is up it can get really warm and humid inside the enclosure. Make sure there is some sort of airflow inside. I guess if I was predominantly in the tropics I'd get the screen inserts. When we were in the tropics, we'd mostly use our enclosure when it was raining out, though, and obviously screens won't do too much to keep the rain out. Like SD, we've also been out when it was 20 degrees but sunny and been toasty warm inside the enclosure. It doesn't get too terrible inside our enclosure until the temps are up in the low eighties.
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Old 01-06-2011
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If you've got a small section only...then the studs probably make more sense, but for the larger panels, the tracks are really the way to go. Another option is to add a zipper to the panel to make access panels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by labatt View Post
SD - regarding the use of boltropes and tracks I would tend to disagree. While I agree that they will tension better and be more secure, we sometimes need quick access to a small section on the other side of the enclosure. We use studs and can just undo one stud. If we had boltropes and tracks we'd have to take apart one or more pieces of the enclosure in order to get to the other side. We carry several spare studs with us to replace broken ones, but we've only broken a couple in the several years we've had Pelican. Just my two cents.

Copa is right - when the sun is up it can get really warm and humid inside the enclosure. Make sure there is some sort of airflow inside. I guess if I was predominantly in the tropics I'd get the screen inserts. When we were in the tropics, we'd mostly use our enclosure when it was raining out, though, and obviously screens won't do too much to keep the rain out. Like SD, we've also been out when it was 20 degrees but sunny and been toasty warm inside the enclosure. It doesn't get too terrible inside our enclosure until the temps are up in the low eighties.
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