Hatches and Hardware

When we took over the stewardship of our Friendship sloop the forward hatch was a problem. First and foremost it was not watertight. If a sea came over the bow the hatch let the water run into the forepeak, it did slow the water down a bit, but basically it was only good for keeping the rain out. Secondly it was made of wood with no form of deadlight or port, which meant that the forepeak was a dark cave.

When we redesigned the interior of the boat we put two bunks up in the forepeak and wanted that space to be well lit. The solution we came up with was to build a new hatch that was watertight when closed and dogged down and let in light as well.

We cannibalized an old hatch that we were not going to use and took the large sheet of lexan from the old hatch for the top surface of the new forward hatch.

The first hatch we made


This solution worked well but despite that I was never really happy with it. The lexan that we recycled was already old and pretty scratched but I think what really irked me was that the new hatch while functional, looked really out of place on a traditional boat, sort of like putting a gun-rack in a Prius.


Anyway, a few years ago I decided to build a new hatch that was both functional and more in keeping with the rest of the sloop. I wanted to create a round deadlight in the hatch to let in light but I also wanted the deadlight to be fairly large so that we kept the same sense of light in the forepeak. I ended up with a design that I thought fit the boat aesthetically and allowed plenty of light; I even bought brand new lexan. The problem I ran into was that I could not find a trim ring to fit the size deadlight we had built. For several seasons we used the hatch without a trim ring but it looked unfinished and occasionally the seal between the lexan and the wood part of the hatch would get broken if someone tried to open the hatch from below by pushing up on the lexan.


We had discovered a company called Classic Boat Supplies when we were looking for small oval hawsepipes for our Penny Fee tender. We had tried to find what we needed in the states, but could not. I contacted two of the very few foundries in the states that custom cast bronze but the prices were ridiculous and there would be a six to eight month wait time. I was not going to pay almost $300 plus shipping and wait eight months for a 1inch hawsepipe.

Then I discovered that Classic boat Supplies had a stock pipe that was exactly what we were looking for that cost less than $100 dollars. The drawback was that Classic Boat Supplies is in Australia. To our surprise, they shipped fast and economically provided excellent service. They also seemed to have hardware that we could not find anywhere else. That was certainly the case with the hawsepipes for our tender.

The bow of our Penny Fee showing one of the hawsepipes


I looked through their website for trim rings hoping that they might carry a stock size that matched our new deadlight.

They didn’t.


Then I noticed in the description of the trim rings that they do carry fine print that said they also will cast trim rings to your specifications. While I figured that it would be way to expensive to have them custom produce what we needed and take too long, I still thought it was worth a shot to contact them. To my surprise, the price was very reasonable and to make a long story short, we had the new custom cast ring within a month of placing the order. I was, and still am, very impressed.

The new hatch with trim ring


The new hatch opened

Our new forward hatch is a better fit all the way around for a traditional boat and once again I was very impressed with the service and quality provided by Classic Boat Supplies, I just wish I did not have to go halfway around the world to find what we needed.


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