Thursday, 20 February 2014

A New Hatch for a Westerly Nomad

Have been working in the warm whenever possible recently –outside is gale lashed and very wet – better
than the UK however, most of that seems to be under water. So, at last attention has been turned to the boat hatches. The main hatch into the cabin was made of Iroko and marine ply. The Iroko frame is in reasonable condition but the marine ply cover is delaminated and soft in places. I turned to a good friend Alain Hughes a boat-builder, engineer and an outstanding seaman. His solution was to strip away the ply and replace it with two sheets of 6mm ply glued and screwed together. Why two sheets? Because the curve was too pronounced to bend a single 12mm sheet. Around the frame Even with 6mm he had to use a router to create a few grooves on the underside to enable the wood to flex enough.

For purely aesthetic reasons he then added strips of a teak look-alike wood so that from the outside at least she looks planked. The fore-hatch is an ugly old GRP box and so Alain is going to use the left-over wood strips to produce a planked effect on that too. The wooden hatch is a really solid job and if the boat ever gets holed I know which bit of the boat I’ll be clinging on to.

While this has been going on I have started to paint wood taken from the inside of the cabin. The half bulkheads either side of the companion way. They had been varnished but I decided to use paint

because I want to create a sense of space within the cabin. Ideally, a mat white finish with strips of light varnished wood around the edges. I could have used the standard one pot international marine yacht paint but I didn't want a high gloss finish and anyway it was expensive. So I read that for cabin interiors a bathroom paint or an exterior paint is quite acceptable, because both can cope with humidity and contain anti-fungal additives. I opted for a Dulux exterior white ‘One Coat’ but it hasn’t worked I sanded off all the old varnish but so far I have applied four coats of the ‘one coat’ and it still hasn’t produced a solid even coat, and what’s worse it looks like plastic. Back to the drawing board with this I think.

Actually, having seen the fantastic effect of strip wood on the hatch, I’m seriously tempted to do something similar here – using some light oak panels. It adds weight but when you’re working on a Westerly Nomad (built like a tank, sails like a tank) – who cares!