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  #1  
Old 03-18-2011
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Large Cabin Windows - What would you do with them?

My boat, a Downeaster 38, has 4 very windows in the cabin and I am at a loss on what to do with them. I removed the old windows and frames which were very cheap plastic, not through bolted, and the glass was cracked/crazed. A slight breeze would probably have collapsed them if it hit at the right angle. They are approximately 13" x 44".

I want to upgrade the windows to give better structural support for the deck, provide better safety for offshore sailing and protection against boarding waves, and possibly enhance the looks & ventilation (if I go with opening ports) of the boat.

So far I am contemplating the following options, in order of my current preference:

1. Glass in the large holes in a similar method as described here. Then replacing them with smaller fixed or even smaller opening ports (replacing all of the small ones with opening ports already).

2. Buy stronger replacement windows from a place like Bomon, as a Downeaster 45 did as described here. They seem strong and look good, but I would still be worried about such large windows and possible boarding waves.

3. Build some sort of supporting frame as discussed here. However, this is way out of my carpentry skill range and I would need to spend some time learning how to do it. Not that it is a bad thing, but I am learning how to rebuild this boat one step at a time and this might derail me for a while.

Other options people have mentioned are to just bolt on some lexan, make an interior trim ring and call it a day. I've also read I could use storm panels, but I haven't looked into how those work yet. Doesn't seem like you could easily throw up storm panels at sea while you need to worry about battening down everything else, reefing, etc.

If you were me and had this boat completely stripped to rebuild, what would you do? Things to keep in mind:

-I'm on a budget, but will not sacrifice safety and quality to save a buck
-I am doing all the work myself. I don't know what I'm doing, but am learning as I go
-I plan on sailing the boat far and wide, but mostly in the tropics. I wan't to cross oceans, so this isn't a coastal cruiser.

I don't have many pictures of them before I took them out, but here are a few so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about:











This is one of the smaller windows, but it represents what the frames were like for all of them:

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Old 03-18-2011
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If you opt for reducing the size of the windos - have a look at this site
Replace Leaking Boat Windows with Opening Ports
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Old 03-18-2011
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One of the benefits of that style of boat is the abundance of light, and a good view while down below, compared to many sailboats that are often dark teak lined caves with little light.

So from that perspective going to smaller opening ports, while safer, perhaps, may not be ideal. You will gain ventilation, but lose the view and the bright.

If your intention is to cross oceans then your concerns are valid. I think my choice would be to build as strong a port (custom made ones are available, but pricey) to maintain your current levels of visiblility. Then engineer a method of covering them when necessary with heavier lexan or even wood storm covers. I've seen 'semi permanent' storm covers that were clear lexan bolted to standoffs, to protect the inner lenses from direct impact but not seriously impeding the view and the light. They also allowed you to hose the salt off the inner ports without removing the covers.
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Old 03-18-2011
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Love the boat. Please take many pics and share them with us. Thanks.
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Old 03-18-2011
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I'm with Faster on this. I think you should try very hard to keep the amount of light those big windows give you. I'd replace them with some kind of polycarbonate (lexan) or a laminate made with lexan (bulletproof glass; this gives the advantage of glass inside and out, which is easier to clean and see through, but still strong as heck). You might want to upgrade the frames though. I'd probably get something custom if I was in your position. My boat also has nice big windows like that, but since I'm only sailing coastally, I don't give it much of a thought.
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Old 03-18-2011
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Well...If you just bolted something over them, you'd still have an ugly hole to hide in the hull from the "other side".

So I'm thinking, a fair compromise might be to make up new pieces of plexi or lexan (your choice, Lexan MR-10 uv and scratch resistant will be about 10x more epxensive and 100x stronger than plexi) that fit into the existing holes, flush. Allowing proper room for expansion and gasketing them, and then adding trim rings throughbolted inside and outside, to overlap the edges and secure them. The trim rings would have to be fabricated, preferably from something like 1/4" metal plate, polished and finished. A local machine shop could do that, or you could try CNC Machine Shop | Custom Waterjet, Plasma, Laser Cutting | eMachineShop.com for a vendor who will let you download free CAD software, and send the files back to them to "just" cut the parts for you. Won't be cheap, but I suspect it will be a reasonably strong and clean solution.

Or or course there's the traditional fix, maybe more labor intensive but certainly a good way to go: Find two fixed or opening ports that are as large as you are comfortable with, and then build up (close off) the existing holes, to fit the new ports. Treat it the same way you'd repair any other hole in the hull, and the results will be just as strong as the hull.

You certainly could clean up the holes and then bolt 1/4" plexi strip inside and out to hide it quickly, but given the size of the holes and the amount of movement you'd get in the plexi, I can't see that working out well in the long run. You could use 3M's "VBT" glazing mounting tape instead of making holes in the hull. I think it is called VBT, special for glazing, this is a double-stick black tape that literally holds windows into skyscrapers, holds and gaskets all in one. Still...I'd call that a kludge job with holes that big.
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Old 03-18-2011
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I am not an expert on this, but there is a company called new found metals that has some large but very sturdy opening ports. I have talked to the owner at a local show and he seems very helpfull. I doubt they have an exact fit, but a call to them might be worthwhile, esp to ask if they do any custom work,

New Found Metals - Marine Hardware and Stainless Portlights

mainsail who contributes to this site has an excellent slideshow/blog on the same ports, perhaps he will weigh in.
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Here's the not-so-low budget option.. these guys make completely custom sizes and look great once installed. Tempered glass is an option.

Marine windows Bomon Replacement Boat windows , doors,hatches,airintake ISO12216 ABYC Products and Enclosures
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Old 03-18-2011
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Some good thick Lexan windows, overlapping outside the openings and thru-bolted, should be as strong or stronger than the surrounding fiberglass. A bit of trim around the edges to hide the bolts and they'll look like they belong there.
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Old 03-18-2011
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Lightbulb Here's an idea

Replace Leaking Boat Windows with Opening Ports

IF you are a patient and thoughtful restorer like Wally, I can certify that I have seen his boat and the overall effect was quite attractive.
I might not duplicate it on another boat like the one that started this thread, but then again, I might...

He ended up with opening ports, albeit smaller than the factory fixed lenses.

...Food for thought... as the saying goes...


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