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13 April 2015

Pilothouse Windows

Pilothouse sides, windows roughed in

Pilothouse Windows

Slightly warmer temps have us back at outdoor work.

One of our favorite parts of boatbuilding is getting to the window cutouts. They transform a valley into a vista with a puff of sawdust. Our imaginations are taxed at a lower bracket, and we can practically see beyond our shed walls and across water.

After the sides were installed and framed, we cut the corners with a 3in hole saw. Then, with a flush cut router bit, cut the perimeters.

Note the hole cut is a skosh offset from framing
to avoid damage.
This is what results. If we were real router jockeys, we might cut all the way to the tangents, right through that little pointy bit.

But we're not. It's durn hard to see what we're doing for fine starts and stops, so we bail a bit short and clean up by hand.

With a sharp knife, trim each edge to fair, then bring the middle flush. Takes about a minute per.

BTW, this is a Mora knife. I prefer their laminated blades, but they're no longer dirt cheap. Their non-laminated, stainless blades are still great and can be found for under $10!

Here's the completed curve, shaved fair.

Once all are complete, it's ready to sand and finish before the plexi-glass gets installed.

These will be sliding windows, maybe with a double-glazed panels. Down in the forward cabins, they'll be double paned and fixed.


Growing up, Anke was never allowed to sit on the family's kitchen counters. So naturally, sitting on the counters is an integral part of our pilothouse/galley view.

From here, we get a 360deg view and a vantage forward, over the mid-deck. We'll be installing the primitive, remote steering system from SLACKTIDE. It works well enough that we only have to leave shelter if setting or reefing sail. Mostly, we hope she sails herself.

Meanwhile, we sit on our counters, looking out our windows, the green world flowing by...


  1. Sliding windows? You got me interested Dave. I am thinking sliding windows for our boat but can't think how to make them water/air tight? What is your thinking on that score? Also how are they going to slide? I also use the quick and dirty method of using a knife! I also like to round corners whenever possible. Better hit my head on a round corner than on a sharp one! Besides, round corners hold their paint better than sharp ones.

    1. Hi Joel,

      RE Sliding Windows... method once common in the Alaskan trolling fleet. Not airtight, but very water resistant, especially from forward.

      We've used a pair of panes mounted on hardwood frame/runners (U-channel). The forward pane is fixed and bedded on the outboard face of the framing, along its top, fwd and bottom edges. The inboard pane runs in a groove along top and bottom runners with drain holes drilled along its lower run. A removable frame may be mounted along the aft edge, to prevent rain blowing from aft. An oily hardwood that doesn't need paint works well for this.

      When closed, the inboard pane is all the way aft (butted up against the aft frame, if present... otherwise, a removable wooden handle on its aft inside face works as a stop against the window cutout). About 3+in (75+mm) overlap between panes keeps most weather out. Felted weather stripping can complete the lockout.

      When open, the inbrd pane runs fwd, behind the outbrd pane, until it butts against the fwd frame.

      There's a small gap between panes - as little as 1/8in (3mm) or so - which does 'breathe' some air. We consider it part of our ventilation scheme. In fact, we also arrange the hatch so it cannot be fully closed. Don't want our heater competing with our red blood cells!

      If we really wanted to shut them down, though, a clear vinyl cover, inbrd, would provide a nearly dead-airspace... if we don't go double-glazed on these, we'll likely use covers in very cold weather. Still, that's when we want adequate air the most (fire's ablaze). Single panes don't seem to radiate excessive heat, though doubles make a noticable improvement.

      RE Knife Trimming... Took us a lot of rasping and sanding before we twigged to the easy way!

      RE Rounded Corners Holding Paint... Great point! Even a little rounding goes a long way in that respect.

      RE Hitting Ones Head... Yessiree! Sharp corners on boats are positively dangerous. One friend had the great idea of mounting rounded fake rock grips (used in climbing walls) for his hand grips around the boat. Gave a unique look and very easy on the head (many of us tried out one or two, eventually).

      Hope spring is springing your way, and helping your build along!

      Dave Z

  2. This question is about the marks at the plywood joints on the hull that show in the picture. I assume that it is a tape and glue joint? If so; are they done both sides or only the outside after assembly? Any details would be appreciated. So far my T-Boat progress has been even slower than yours, as I was laid off from one job and found another, but at a farther commute. I will be be going to a friends place in Montana soon to pick up boat bits I have shipped to them, including a Hobbit wood stove with outside air intake. This allowed me to finalize the kitchen design around it's dimensions.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      I think the marks you're referring to are taped butt seams, where ply sheets come together. They are glued and nailed to an inboard buttstrap (2 layers of 3/4 ply internal to the ply-foam-ply walls). To weatherproof, it's been taped with strips of acrylic cloth set in TiteBond III (the deck will be similar).

      An altrenative would have been to sheath the walls above the doubler plate with acrylic, rather than just the seams. A better alternative, but, due to fabric widths, got spendy.

      One step at a time... 8)

      That Hobbit Stove ( looks great! Hadn't run across that, before, but looks like a great, small space option. Thanks for mentioning it!

      Dave Z

  3. I should have mentioned the fact that the Hobbit's US distributor is Alaska Masonry Heat, from Ashland OR. I purchased the galley rail, coal bar and outside air options. I plan to run an outside air intake co-axial to the exhaust (pipe with in a pipe) up to a dorade and have the chimney exit the top of the dorade. Sounds great in theory, only time will tell.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Sounds like a clever solution. I'm assuming you mean to run the exhaust inside the intake?

      You've likely thought of this, but the DIFFERENCE of sectional area between the two pipes has to maintain their original area. Not a problem with too much intake (too little, yes), but too little exhaust can produce back-pressure, venting potentially lethal gasses into the interior.

      Sounds good!

      Dave Z

  4. Yes, I did the math, 4" pipe has 12.5 square inches, 6 inch pipe has 28 square inches, so a 4 inch exhaust inside a 6 inch intake is the plan

  5. Also, yes the exhaust is inside the intake, I loose some heat but this way the pipe where it goes through the wood is cool

    1. Hi Dennis,

      I've heard that pre-heating the intake air improves the efficiency of the burn to a considerable degree.

      In any case, the heat lost to intake air will be drawn back into the interior, which will help recycle it. Otherwise, at least the portion above deck would be lost anyway.

      Even drawing down smoke for reburning can be a benefit... up to 50% of wood energy, I hear, goes up in smoke absent clever design.

      So sounds like a good plan!


    2. Hi Dave, here is another stove option It is made in Canada out of welded metal, one quarter the weight of the cast iron Hobbit and one third the price. I found it after I had already bought the Hobbit, or else this is the one I probably would have bought.


About Me

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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, our T32x8 ketch. We sail by wind, tide and muscle in the waters of mid- to northern Southeast Alaska. We try to maximize the joys of life, and minimize the chores. ........ We live between the communities of SE Alaska, but drop in to visit with friends. Lately, we've worked, every other winter, care-taking Baranof Wilderness Lodge in Warmsprings Bay. This has given us a window on Web. ........ We're working toward a subsistence lifestyle, somewhat impeded by addictions to coffee, chocolate and cheese. ........ We think TEOTWAWKI is looming, and while we won't be ready, we'd at least like comfortable seats.