Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Monday, 9 June 2014

hatches...........what to do?

The problems of my hatches on Arwen are keeping me awake so to speak.
Here is my problem.......
  1. the plans I had for Arwen were, I think, first generation ones and showed the hatch to the forward 'under the deck' locker behind the forward bulkhead as being central on the bulkhead
  2. I followed the plans because I was new to boat building........................
  3. and so I didn't spot the problem..................................
  4. which is that the mast is right in front of this hatch and it limits a) hatch removal - making it fiddly and b) it limits what can be put either side of the mast into the hatch size wise
  5. I want to make a new 'more accessible' hatch to one side of the mast so that I can use the under the deck storage locker.......
  6. ....which leaves me wondering a) how to seal up the old hatch  b) how to cut out and install a new hatch   c) whether this will weaken the bulkhead and therefore should be avoided altogether?
To add to my little woes, I have the continued dilemma of the front thwart hatches. These are two round 8" diameter inspection hatches in the vertical bulkhead that forms the front wall of the thwart. They have a tendency to leak....albeit slowly, when the boat is stored on my sloping drive and rainwater manages to permeate the tarpaulins. So I assume that in a capsize and a cockpit full of water, similar leakage through the hatches will take place whilst I am bailing out!  So............
  1. can I seal these up in someway by removing the circular plastic hatches and putting ply covers over the holes and epoxying them sealed; followed by repainting?
  2. could I put new better quality 8" round hatches in the seat tops so I can access the storage locker from above
  3. is it worth doing all this fiddling around or should I just leave them as they are.......slow leakers and the locker space filled with 2 litre coke bottles to displace any water that may leak in?
I have managed thus far....but I was just conscious that there was a lot of stuff in Arwen's cockpit that had to be stored and tied down on our recent trip up the river Tamar; 'stuff' that could have usefully been stored away in the lockers available but that inaccessible for above mentioned reasons.............

Problems, problems, problems.....what to do?

Suggestions in a comment box deeply appreciated!


Joel Bergen said...

Hi Steve,
Drylocker hatch: I use my drylocker every time we go camp cruising. It holds all of our camping gear for two and it's invaluable. The hatch openings need to be as large as possible IMO. Big enough to get a rolled-up sleeping bag through. I would cut the opening larger and make a new hatch cover out of plywood. Make the cover larger than the opening by about 40mm all around. Add a strip of neoprene weather stripping around the hatch and attach it with the Glue-On Studs and Fluted Knobs that Duckworks sells or something similar. No worries about bulkhead strength unless you plan on jumping up and down on the foredeck. The loads from the mast are from side-to-side.
Curcular hatches: Do you know if the hatches are leaking through the covers or between the frame and bulkhead? If it's the frame, remove the hatches and re-install them with 5200 sealant. If it's the cover, check the o-ring seals.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

If you don't make the boat of it you have in your mind it will forever be an irritation! :-)

steve said...

Hi steve.....yup you are right and its right royally bugging me at the moment!

Joel, how you doing?
You are right, as always, great tips my friend, thanks. I figure if I extend the hatch width wise, equally either side of the centre line......then this will give me the clearance


Joel Bergen said...

Doing great Steve. Noticed some areas where Ellie's varnish was peeling so I've stripped her shearstrakes, transom, rudder and tiller down to bare wood and am re-varnishing. Will do the masts too, later. Gotta get her looking good for Port Townsend this September! Lesson learned: varnish on bare wood is better than varnish over epoxy.

Careful extending the hatch equally on both sides - that may not work. Remember the hatch has to be removed and installed behind the mast. If it's too wide you won't be able to get it in and out of there. You'll probably have to widen it to one side as wide as possible. I'd start by making a cardboard hatch template. Make sure it fits and is accessable. Then trace around it on your bulkhead and cut the opening 40mm smaller all around.

steve said...

And that's why you are an engineer and I just teach! Good point Joel. Thank you.
I always think Ellie looks amazing