Cockpit Structural Repairs (Page 3)
This page was last updated on January 30, 2002.

Final Sanding  |  Building a Lazarette Locker  |  Installing an Access Hatch in the Cockpit

Cockpit Lockers and Hinges

Cockpit, Part 1  |  Cockpit, Part 2


Originally, I thought of installing a drop-in propane locker in the generally unutilized space aft of the cockpit.  However, upon closer inspection and consideration, I decided that this might not be the best use for the space.  Plus, there were many complications involved with installing propane tanks here:  the space is severely limited by the angle of the transom and the backstay chainplate knee, and allowing access to the remainder of the space, propane locker drain system and engine exhaust would have been complicated.  I will find another solution for the propane tank(s), perhaps a nice varnished mahogany deck box near the mast or just forward of the cabin trunk on the foredeck.

UPDATE:  I installed the LPG tank on deck just forward of the doghouse bump, aft of the mast.  Read about it here.

The first step, after determining the size of the opening necessary, was to cut a large hole in the deck, which will allow access to the area beneath.  I determined a suitable size, and then cut the opening with a jig saw.  The deck is very thin in this area, with only some glassed-in plywood supports.  I will have to add some reinforcement beneath around the new opening.



To reinforce the opening, I epoxied and screwed two hardwood supports athwartships on either side of the opening.  With these glassed in place, the area is already much stiffer, but I intend to add some vertical supports at the ends to really help beef up the poop deck.





I constructed a mahogany hatch lid with solid mahogany sides and a 1/2" mahogany plywood top, much the same way I constructed the sea hood for the companionway.  It is a simple box structure, with the side pieces let into a rabbet on the end pieces to hide most of the end grain and provide additional strength.  The plywood top is set flush in a rabbet along the top edge.  I glued the pieces together with slightly thickened epoxy, clamped it securely and let it set overnight.  The next morning, I unclamped it and sanded the edges flush with the plywood top, rounded all the corners, and sanded everything to 220 grit.  Then, I applied the first of 10 coats of varnish.  

The opening in the deck requires a lip to help support the lid, and to keep the lazarette more or less watertight.  To that end, I installed a mahogany inner liner of sorts, epoxying and screwing four pieces to the inside of the opening, leaving about 2-1/4" projecting above deck level. (The inside of the hatch is 2-1/2".)  Then, I installed some weather-stripping, and test fit the hatch.  I had to sand the front edge of the inside "liner" in order for the hatch to slide over it, which made a mess...but the end result was achieved.

Better photos will be on their way sometime, when I remember!


The boat originally had a small round bronze deckplate towards the forward end, which provided limited access to the stuffing box.  It was far too small to be of any real value, so it was removed early on in the reconstruction process.  Accessibility of all things mechanical is a priority for me, so I spent some energy searching for the perfect deck hatch.  It needed to be large, strong, attractive and, hopefully, inexpensive.

Of course, you can't have all these things at once!  Choose any three.  There are some great aluminum commercial hatches available, but they are prohibitively expensive and not particularly attractive.  Hamilton Marine had an aluminum Bomar hatch that had potential, with a white-painted finish, but it was just too expensive at nearly $400.  The plastic Bomar hatches you see everywhere are really flimsy underfoot, although they are inexpensive.  A certain amount of sturdiness is key, since the hatch will be located in the area of the cockpit where there is a lot of traffic.

I finally settled on a Tempress 13" x 23" plastic hatch from West Marine.  The price was fair, at around $80, and the hatch is much sturdier than the similar Bomar hatches.  It's supposed to be reinforced and is intended to be used in heavy traffic areas, unlike the Bomar, which is really a bulkhead or storage hatch not meant to be trod upon with any regularity.

The hatch came with a template in order to cut out the hole, which made it pretty easy.  The effort was complicated only by the fact that some new blades I had bought for my saw were the wrong type, and incompatible with my saw.  I used the blades I had on hand, which either broke easily (small, thin scrolling blades) or cut slowly and created a lot of heat (some down-cutting blades designed for cutting Melamine or similar laminate products).  I went through about 6 or 7 blades (yikes!), which was all I had, but finally got the hole cut out.  I was cutting through two layers of fiberglass, a balsa core, and the glassed-in plywood stiffeners beneath.

With the hole cut, I removed the core from the immediate area, scraping back about 1/2".  After cleaning, I filled this gap with thickened epoxy.  The hatch is installed temporarily at this point; I won't be doing any more permanent installation on the hatch until the deck painting is complete, so that I won't have to paint around it.  When the time comes, the hatch will be installed with stainless bolts and silicone caulk.  In the meantime, it will give me better access and light to the rear of the engine room, stuffing box, and fuel tank while I work on those areas.

I installed the hatch permanently with screws and silicone sealant.  There are 12 screws around the edge (hidden by the lid) which are driven into the solid epoxy that surrounds the hatch opening.  With plastic hatches like this, using polysulfide will actually react with and damage the plastic, so only silicone may be used.  I laid on a heavy bead of silicone and screwed the hatch down, after taking the time to install masking tape around the perimeter to protect the deck from excess silicone.  When the silicone cured, I ran a utility knife around to release the excess bead and peeled it and the tape off.

UPDATE:  The hatch leaks somewhat, as the slight crown to the cockpit sole prevents the cover from fitting securely into the gasket and channel.  For the cruising we're doing now, this is only an annoyance, but should se decide to head more offshore, I will either reinstall this hatch, or, more likely, replace it with a really nice, strong aluminum one.


I installed the original cockpit locker hatches with the original full-length piano hinges.  I used silicone caulk and stainless steel screws.  Later, I'll install some latching hardware.





Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

We recommend viewing this site with your screen resolution set to 1024 x 768 or larger.  Problems?  Email the webmaster.

1999-2014 by Timothy C. Lackey.  All rights reserved.  No duplication of any portion of this website allowed without express permission.  Permission may be obtained by emailing the webmaster.