Replacing a Hatch

Author:
Updated:
Original:

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

m123728_13_01_171012_PMA_02901_9999

Alicante Announced as an Ocean Race Europe Stop

The Ocean Race Europe, a new event in offshore sailing, will include Alicante as one of four stopover cities. This European offshoot of the former Volvo Ocean Race will include the biggest change to the racing rules under the new title—fully crewed IMOCA 60s will join the ...read more

01-LEAD-doublehanded2

Preparing for a Doublehanded Race

A few months ago we took a look at the development and attraction of doublehanded racing (Two to Tango, June/July 2020). Hopefully, that served to whet your appetite. If so, the question becomes: “How do I get started? The good news, as we explained in Part 1, is that if you are ...read more

01-LEAD-Day-three---dolphins.-300-dpi

A Key Approach to Passagemaking

How you approach offshore sailing is key to the success of each passage. In addition, some of the most valuable, even crucial attitudes and skills may not be either learned or valued in everyday life on shore and may even fly in the face of talents that are greatly admired and ...read more

OceanVoyagesInstitute-2048

Point of SAIL: Mary Crowley of the Ocean Voyages Institute

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of the Ocean Voyages Institute, a not-for-profit based in California that has been both educating sailors and working to preserve the health of the world’s ocean ...read more

01-Ocean-Voyages-Institute_PHOTO-READY_1_pg

Tracking and Catching Plastic Waste

Plastic waste—in the form of everything from plastic soda bottles to abandoned fishing nets—constitutes a major threat to the health of the world’s oceans. Giving the immense size of an ocean, though, actually finding all the plastic floating around out there in a time-efficient ...read more

Dreramcatcher -Cate Brown

Marblehead to Halifax Canceled; Alternative Races Planned

The Marblehead to Halifax race that was scheduled for this summer has been canceled due to continuing Covid concerns. Organizers at the Boston Yacht Club and Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron who co-sponsor the event have made the decision because of uncertainty about when the ...read more

SailGP-Team

SailGP Announces Roster and Coach Additions

Athletes Daniela Moroz, CJ Perez and Paul Campbell-James have been added to The United States’ SailGP lineup. Also joining the team will be head coach Philippe Presti. Moroz is a four-time Formula Kite World Champion and two-time U.S. Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman-of-the-Year. ...read more

NEW-westcoastmultihullsmob

Chartering the West Coast

Although two-thirds of the U.S. boating population lives along the Eastern Seaboard, there are many hardy and enthusiastic cruising sailors on the “left coast” as well. Better still, if you’re looking to charter on the Pacific side, there’s plenty of great sailing and many clubs ...read more