|Looks like this when put together.|
Most real sailors advise not to go barefoot. HA. Muh dawgs cain't breath! If it's warm and sunny, the clothes come off; and that means gumboots, too.
But I do hate stubbin' my toe, or worse, turning an ankle. And Anke and I love to sleep on deck, of a starry night. Hatches in the cockpit, mounted proud, are rain on our parade.
So, one day I was envying fiberglass and metal boat flush hatches out loud when it came to me! A plywood sub-deck is the key. Or at least a key.
Considerations include the following:
- The cantilevered trough/coaming structure is inherently weak... it needs considerable beef.
- The trough has to be wide enough for easy (and frequent) cleaning.
- The trough has to be deep enough to keep water from spilling over the coamings.
- A gap under the hatch lips allows debris to drain without binding.
- The hatch has to have enough room to be raised - angling up, over and leaned back along one edge.
In SLACKTIDE, we built a set, and - despite beginners' mistakes - they work very well, despite needing work on the first four points.
Downside is that these are relatively complex, especially with ply/foam/ply decks. They add considerable building time and material. But, given that we dislike footwells and want a big hatch for access to the main hold, the results are worth it to us.
|Shows the two main components; |
Deck and Transom with on-edge framing, and the SubDeck Assembly
The larger opening is about 3ft6in square.
The on-edge framing provides most of the stiffness. The flat, SubDeck framing should be strongly joined (glued and fastened) into it, and it, in turn should be strongly joined to any structure available. A large hatch will need a bulkhead, mid-span, to add further support. We'll put ours under the gap between hatches.
Joinery is a matter of preference... hatch lips and coamings could be ship-lapped or dove-tailed, for example. We tend to just use simple overlaps, edge gluing and nailing. Fast, has never leaked, and if something bad happens to it, it's easy to repair. We'll fillet inside corners, in some cases, but not often.
Main thing to remember is that when two pieces meet, the uphill one should overlap the downhill one. Water is thus encouraged to flow by the joint. If ship-lapping, the lowest laps follow this rule.
To tell the truth, that 1/4in ply SubDeck is mainly a contiguous membrane to cover our lazy joinery at the bottom of the trough. If you're a real boatwright, you can approach the trough/coamings in a number of more elegant ways.
One bit not shown... the end of the trough tends to dribble down the transom, meaning we have to 'wipe our beehinds' often. We've been meaning to fit some copper (flashing) to form a small spout out clear of the transom.
This aft draining hatch isn't totally necessary - the usual thing is to use a drain hose. But they are a pain when they clog. If you do use one, consider a straight shot of tubing that can be poked clear with a rod (1/4in all-thread works as well as anything's going to... the threads help grab obstructions).
If built right, you probably won't need a gasket for inshore sailing. But it doesn't hurt. We like to mount them on the underside of the Hatch itself, so that it will press down on the coamings. Neoprene works best, but closed-cell weather stripping is cheap and easily replaced. If you can find an old wetsuit, they work great.
So there ya have it... if you end up sleeping out on one of these... sweet dreams!