Hatches

The forward hatch was cracked, leaking, and had become clouded with small fractures. The companionway hatch was wearing thin where it slides. Since I had the boat apart it was a good time to address these issues and it gave me something I could do over the winter (besides skiing). These were reletively easy and simple projects that didn't take a lot of time.

Companionway Hatch

This shows the wear where it slides on the rails. I am surprised the wood did not wear more than the fiberglass.

Worn companionway hatch
 

I think most of the loss is the gel coat which is probably pretty soft. To prepare the surface I sanded it down with 80 grit to roughen the surface. I also sanded the edge between the worn area and the good area so as to provide a tapered interface. Hopefully this will prevent the epoxy from cracking at that point.

Gel coat worn through as well as some of the fiberglass
 

I used a 3M filler epoxy just because I had some. It's pretty dense stuff so I think it will hold up well. I sanded this down to get a smoother surface.

First coat of epoxy
 

Next, I skimmed on some gel coat repair stuff and spread it as smooth as I could. A little bit of sanding was required afterward.

New gel coat over epoxy
 

The second coat of gel coat went on smooth and did not require sanding. Looks almost as good as new!

Sanded and second coat of gelcoat
Forward Hatch

When I ordered my new windows for the portlights I also ordered a new acrylic hatch. I gave them the old one to use as a template. Here you can see the difference between the old and new. Note how the old one is still transparent where the vent and hinges were.

New vs. old forward hatch
 

Funny how I never needed a tapping set until I bought a boat. I have used it a few times and it comes in handy (i.e. saves my butt when I make a mistake). Here I am tapping the screw holes for the vent.

Tapping screw holes for vent in new forward hatch
 

The edges of the acrylic were pretty sharp and I can imagine being barefoot and slicing a toe open (OK, I'm more worried about getting blood on the boat than the damage to the toe). I practiced on the old hatch with sandpaper but it scratched the top and side too much. I tried a file but it made quite a mess and was not even. I had this old, funny looking stone I had found on a canoe trip and just rubbed it along the edge. It worked great and rounding the sharpness and not scratching anything. That leads to a Mobyism:

Never throw anything out, you never know when it will come in handy.

Stone used to remove rough edges on new forward hatch (found this on a St. John river canoe trip)
 

I replaced all the rubber washers and o-rings. It was really hard finding o-rings that were just the right size. I carried them with me where ever I went and would check every hardware or marine store I visited. I was ready to give up until I stopped in this little hoe-dunk town at the little hardware store that was the town gathering spot. They had the best collection of o-rings I ever saw. Who would think one could get excited about o-rings. The way I got excited people must have thought I found gold.

New hatch ready for installation
 

Now that I had a new hatch the frame was looking pretty sad.

Forward hatch hinge
 

On one of those rare sunny days this spring I gave the frame a paint job. I was very carefull to protect against overspray.

Forward hatch frame painted with three coats of black enamel
 

This was an easy job that gave very satisfying results (my kind of job). Everytime I sit in the v-berth now I look out this hatch and smile.

New hatch installed and looking great!