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  #1  
Old 11-05-2008
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Designing a Companionway hatch

I bought my Westerly Pageant as a real project, a bare hull. One of the last projects is making a new slider hatch and companionway entry.

The boat currently has a make shift slider and barn doors. I really like the barn doors and want to keep them. (I live aboard, this makes getting in/out a snap) I'd like to create barn doors with the option for drop boards too. The slider however needs some real work. The fiberglass that the slider should sit on is trashed. I'll need to do some fiberglass work there. There are no metal runners.

Here is a link to my photo page.
Boat - a set on Flickr

I've got several pics of my hatch and many that I've come across that show ideas I like.

I have a "skylight" forward of my hatch and I'd like to keep that. I was thinking the sliding hatch should slide into that area, thus when the hatch is open, as in you're coming in/out, it would block the light from above. There is an example of this in the photo page, minus the glass. During the rainy season, or when I want privacy, I can make a canvas cover for the glass area.

I'd love to hear any opinions or thoughts on this project. I'm not 100% sure just how to create the slider. Right now the temporary slider just sits there. There is nothing to keep it from falling off it the boat was to roll. Any detailed pictures or sketches of how the hatch stays in place would be nice. I'm hoping to get a local broker to let me inspect boats and take photos this weekend.

Thanks for the help, thanks for looking! I'm coming up empty handed online.

Justin
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Old 11-05-2008
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Justin,

Interesting project. I like the "barn doors" too, but I think if you expect to get into any rough stuff you'd be wise to follow through with some drop-in boards. The barn doors would probably be fine if you're only doing small lake sailing, though.

As for the sliding hatch, I have a strong preference for boats that use "sea-hoods". Sea-hoods are the low-profile garage that the hatch slides into when open, as can be seen in your photo labelled "lone3". I don't know whether it's possible to incorporate a sea-hood on your boat, but I would encourage you to try. They really help to create a truly waterproof hatch system, as opposed to the standard sliding hatch on rails that have a tendency to leak if hit by enough water.

Good luck with the project!
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Old 11-05-2008
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The problem with making a skylight out of the sea hood is that basically compromises the integrity of the seahood... and also could significantly weaken the cabin top, since you'd effectively be cutting away a section just forward of the companionway to let the light through.

IMHO, you're much better off making the sliding hatch with a skylight in it, rather than weakening the cabintop structure any further.

Also, as JRP has pointed out, the seahood are almost a necessity to keep water from getting in via the sliding hatch on most boats, especially if you plan on taking this boat out on the open ocean.

Drop boards are also going to be a necessity. What I'd recommend is a companionway design that allows you to have dropboards behind the "barndoors" so that the two work together in the case of a really nasty storm. Also recommend that the bottom two inches or so of the barn doors overlap the companionway coaming or lip... to help prevent water entering via the companionway.
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Old 11-05-2008
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as you can see in this photo the "skylight is there all ready.


I've been drawing, and the areas that stump me are the points that secure the slider to the runners. I'm thinking of routering a upsided down T into the rail (attached to the boat) and then using a flat stock piece of metal attatched to the slider hatch to keep it in place.

Then I have the problem of how does one keep water from coming in from the area where the slider goes into the seahood? I can make that a close fit, maybe adding a rubber seal?

FYI, the boat is a Westerly Pageant, a very dry cockpit. I can head out in 5 foot seas and stay dry. I've yet to get any water inside the boat. But even still I want hatch boards, this is a must.

Any points or tips would be great. I'm working on posting all my boat projects and would love to share the finished project here.

EDIT:
Here is a rough outline. I think if I used a wide piece of wood to fill the area between the slider and seahood, and make the slider a little long, so there is an overlap, that should help keep water out. putting a bit of an angle on might be a good idea too.
I would make a face to the slider as well that when closed matches up with the face frame for the barn doors, yet overhangs the doors a hair, and the hatch boards completely.
Allthough the drawing shows the runners ending near the seahood, they would really extend to the end.

I'm going to make a mock up to test the design. But I'd love to hear any flaws anyone might see.

Last edited by WesterlyPageant; 11-05-2008 at 04:44 PM.
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May I suggest as an option to "barn doors" that you have "Dutch doors" that are doggable and gasketed?

Here's a picture of what one looks like as a full-sized door:



but you could have a shorter version that allowed you to close the bottom half and leave the top latched open, allow light, air and communication to the cabin. Conversely, you could have a small portlight in the top half (opening or not), giving you a "heavy weather" option that will keep dry in all but stern pooping conditions.

Make them out of 1/4" aluminum and they will be stronger than any drop boards, and more securely integrated into making the boat watertight from downflooding in event of capsize or a roll.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
May I suggest as an option to "barn doors" that you have "Dutch doors" that are doggable and gasketed?
Thanks! A good idea, but I don't think it would work in the space I have.
The barn doors, when opened take up over 3/4 of the doghouse bulkhead, so a full width door would not be able to sit flush when fully opened.

I will be sure to make a sill in the bottom of the companionway to keep water from flooding in. I'll also create interlocking hatch boards for extra water resistance.
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Tour design looks workable, but may trap dirt and water, if you could flip it over, put the T extrusion on the bottom and the slot on top, it would be self cleaning/draining.

Many boats use a C channel mounted to the hatch cover that rides along a groove in the runners.

Ken.
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[QUOTE=merc2dogs;397055]Tour design looks workable, but may trap dirt and water, if you could flip it over, put the T extrusion on the bottom and the slot on top, it would be self cleaning/draining.QUOTE]

Thanks! That makes perfect sence.
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Old 11-12-2008
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Just a quick FYI, the "barn-door" hinges can be purchased that just slide on to pins making the doors removeable when the going gets rough. Just a thought.
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Old 11-12-2008
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A caution with salon ("barn") doors. They should have a means of being fixed in place (and not just to each other), as with any companionway hatch. If you broach or are knocked down a pinned hinge could allow them to fall away or overboard.

We've had two boats with salon doors and the worst thing I felt was the tendency to bang on every tack unless there was a hold-back fastener. And then you lose the two best backrests in the cockpit - the cabin sides at the companionway.
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