Things that Work: Bimini Hatch Flaps

When I bought my aft-cockpit ketch, Silverheels, she had no bimini top at all. While I attended to other upgrades in preparation for tropical cruising, I pondered how I might have full-time shade in the cockpit and still get at the mizzen sail to furl and reef it.
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When the boom overlaps the bimini top, here’s a simple way to gain instant access to it from the cockpit

Zippered flaps provide full-time shade and easy access to the mizzen sail

Zippered flaps provide full-time shade and easy access to the mizzen sail

When I bought my aft-cockpit ketch, Silverheels, she had no bimini top at all. While I attended to other upgrades in preparation for tropical cruising, I pondered how I might have full-time shade in the cockpit and still get at the mizzen sail to furl and reef it. Eventually I conceived zippered flaps, four Sunbrella “hatches” in the bimini top, to provide instant access to the mizzen sail and boom when needed, and cockpit shade the rest of the day. I also roll the flaps open in cool weather to let in sunlight, and at night for star-gazing.

These flap hatches have worked out so well I thought I’d share the invention here. I say “invention,” because I have never yet seen any other bimini-topped aft-cockpit ketch with any sort of access to the mizzen. I wonder if they ever use the sail at all, and if so, how.

While zippered bimini top hatch flaps are of particular value aboard aft-cockpit split-rigged sailboats—ketches, yawls and schooners—they may also be useful aboard single-mast and center-cockpit vessels whose main boom overlaps the cockpit.

Got your own tips? Send them to us at sailmail@sailmagazine.com

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