Although flush-deck sliding foredeck hatches are great for quickly launching and retrieving kites, they have typically been prone to leak because of the difficulty in creating proper seals around them—until now. Among the many innovative features aboard the new McConaghy 38 one-design sloop is a pneumatic seal for the offset (port side) sliding hatch that has an inflatable “bladder” encircling the hatch aperture to keep the wet out.
When the hatch is closed, the helmsman simply pumps a handle (think of a miniature backstay adjuster) situated on the port side of the cockpit wall to inflate the bladder, thus creating a waterproof pneumatic seal (an important feature, as the McConaghy 38 is capable of 25 knot-plus joy rides). To release the seal, the headsail trimmer simply presses a button (also situated on the port side of the cockpit wall, directly abaft the companionway bulkhead) to discharge the air pressure, allowing the hatch to be slid open. The procedure requires some crew work choreography, but it’s an elegant solution to a long-standing problem.
The hatch also features a beautifully crafted and perfectly fair carbon-fiber feeder tube below deck that helps the pitman launch and retrieve delicate A-sails. Slick!