Updated:
Original:

Replacing a Hatch

The forward deck hatch on our project boat, Keywaydin, a 1967 Allied Seabreeze, did not let much light into our dark and dingy forepeak. There was no mechanism to hold the molded fiberglass hatch open, and it was hard to adequately secure from the inside. We decided to replace it with a new waterproof hatch.

The Vetus hatch we chose was slightly larger than the original hatch, which meant we needed to rework the opening in the deck to accommodate it. To accomplish this we decided to remove the original interior wooden hatch frame and build a new mahogany frame that would fit on top of the opening’s fiberglass lip and form a base on which we could mount the new hatch.

To create the new frame, I first made templates of each side of the frame out of poster board. Once I was happy with the fit, I cut out the four pieces slightly oversize. The next step was to figure out at what angle each piece joined the other. While the joints were simply end-grain to face-grain, the corners were not square and the flange was out of plumb, creating a compound miter. I made a few different corner joints out of scrap wood before I was satisfied with the fit. Once the correct angles were cut on the final boards, I used dowels and West System epoxy to secure the joints.

One of the biggest issues was the fact that the hatch opening was curved in its vertical plane so as to follow the camber of the cabin coachroof. The new hatch, however, was flat. To accommodate it, I made the new hatch frame deep enough so that it could sit flush with the highest point of the cambered raised flange on the coachroof while still following the curve on the interior. This created a gap the width of the fiberglass laminate and about 3/4 in high at the corners.

In hindsight, it would have been much easier to borrow a reciprocating saw and trim the original flange flat. Instead, I made filler blocks, planed these to fit the curve, and trimmed the whole top edge with 3/8 in x 1 3/8 in wide strips to create a flat surface. This was then routed out to create a rabbet for the hatch to sit in.

The original hatch frame removed. Once it was out, we discovered a substantial void between the layers of fiberglass that needed to be filled in order to provide a solid surface for gluing and fastening the new frame in place.

 

The four filler blocks glued in place. This was probably the most frustrating part of the project since nothing on a 40-year-old boat is square, even or plumb. The four pieces were planed to 3/8 in and cut to a rough curve. Each piece was then carefully shaped to fit with a block plane and drum sander. Once we had filled the voids sufficiently and the filler blocks fit flush against the fiberglass, they were epoxied in place.

 The new mahogany hatch frame in place. I planed each exterior side of the frame (the sides that would be mated to the filler blocks) to get a good fit.

Top trim pieces in place and routed out. I played with the idea of making these four solid pieces each with a complex curved rabbet in them so they would sit properly. Instead, I decided to cut four straight pieces and fill the curved voids with filler blocks and glue these all together.

 

The trim pieces installed in the forepeak. Because of the complex geometry of the hatch opening, there was inevitably an unsightly gap along the interior base. I cut four pieces of wood to a width that matched the rest of the trim in the boat and hand-planed them down to a thickness that could follow the profile of the cabin top. Finally, I rounded the edges with a spokeshave and sanding block.

 

Our new hatch installed. Before mounting it permanently, we took the hatch to Select Plastics and had them rout out a hole in the lens to receive a Nicro Day/Night Solar Vent. We had a similar vent in the old hatch and found it made a huge difference to have good ventilation when the boat is not being used. We used stainless steel screws to fasten the hatch in place and bedded it on a thick bead of silicone adhesive. All that remains is to remove the old hatch’s exterior hardware, sand the excess epoxy and apply paint and varnish. We’re happy with the increased light in the forepeak and have peace of mind knowing our new hatch is weather-tight and secure.

Resources

Vetus

Select Plastics

Related

01-LEAD-IMG_1002

Cyclone Season in Polynesia

Thinking of spending cyclone season in the South Pacific? Plenty of sailors take the chance every year, with the recent travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic making this an especially popular option in 2020. Cyclone season in this part of the world runs from November to ...read more

01b-LEAD-INSET-Kirby-IMG_0077

Eight Bells: Bruce Kirby, Creator of the Laser

With 2021 drawing to a close, Laser sailors find themselves reflecting on both their class’s 50th anniversary and the passing of the man who made it all possible: Canadian designer, sailor and sailing journalist, Bruce Kirby. Kirby, who died this past July at the age of 92, ...read more

2021ROLEXIC_DF_0061

Southern Yacht Club Wins Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup

Newport, R.I. -- The 7th Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup wrapped up on Saturday after five days of highly competitive racing in an international fleet that saw the Southern Yacht Club (SYC) of New Orleans best a fleet of 19 teams from Europe, Canada, Bermuda and ...read more

DUFOUR-530_NAVIGATION_009

Boat Review: Dufour 530

Dufour Yachts seems to have shifted its strategy with the introduction of the new 530. Previously, the French builder maintained two lines: Performance and Grand Large, with the latter targeted at the cruising crowd. With the Dufour 530, however, Dufour decided to combine the ...read more

210913-11HRT-SKIPPER-PORTRAITS-VC-122

11th Hour Christens Two IMOCAs, Hits a Snag

This week has been a big one for the American-founded, sustainability-centric ocean racing team 11th Hour Racing. In addition to christening their two new boats, the team also took them out for a quick test ride—against some of the most intense IMOCA 60 skippers in the world. ...read more

01-LEAD-DSCF3091

Clewless in the Pacific

Squalls are well known to sailors who cruise the middle Latitudes. Eventually, you become complacent to their bluster. But squalls vary in magnitude, and while crossing from Tahiti to Oahu, our 47ft Custom Stevens sloop paid the price for carrying too much canvass as we were ...read more

Nigel

SAIL’s Nigel Calder Talks Electrical Systems at Trawlerfest Baltimore

At the upcoming Trawlerfest Baltimore, set for Sept. 29-Oct. 3, SAIL magazine regular contributor Nigel Calder will give the low down on electrical systems as part of the show’s seminar series.  The talk will be Saturday, October 2 at 9am. Electrical systems are now the number ...read more

5ae5b8ce-3113-4236-927b-f795be4ae091

Bitter End Yacht Club Announces Reopening

Four years after being decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Bitter End Yacht Club is set to reopen for the Winter 2022 season. Hailed as one of the best anchorages in the Caribbean and built by sailors, for sailors, this island outpost in the BVI has been a favorite with ...read more