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Old 06-01-2009, 19:45   #1
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Structural Integrity of Deck Salon Boats

I'm curious as to what if any compromise in structural integrity the deck salon boats with large windows (e.g., Tartan 4400, some of the Farr pilots, Oysters, Wauquiez's, etc.) have made versus a vessel without. Are these vessels at more risk in the event heavy seas?
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Old 12-01-2009, 06:36   #2
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In one word--yes...in my opinion the larger windows tend to disqualify these boats for circumnavigations. Not only do they compromise structural integrity and make the boat more vulnerable loss of a window, their greenhouse effect makes the cabin hotter in the tropics.

OTOH, if you plan to mainly coastal or Med sailing, they do look sexier.
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Old 12-01-2009, 08:48   #3
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They look lovely and are great in harbor. A manufacturer told me they fire 2/4s at them like hurricane testing but what sinks them is falling off the a wave and collapsing the side windows and coach roof.

Its like sailing in a greenhouse.
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:12   #4
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Intuitively,there would seem to be more risk in a boat with larger windows such as deck salons, however, the reality may be somewhat different. It depends almost entirely on angle and structural issues moreso than the simple generality that all deck salons are dangerous in a seaway. Although subjective, my recollection having sailed across the Pacific is that there are a large number of these design boats safely traveling the world, many of them through severe storms without damage (to the windows). Conversely, I do recall seeing a few boats with more traditional windows stove-in as a result of breakers on deck so it seems to me, from my limited experience, it is possible regardless.
There are those who would believe sailing offshore is dangerous unless it is in a canoe- stern, full keel, keel-stepped mast, steel-hulled wallower. It all depends on your frame of reference.
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:57   #5
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We've talked about this in the past....
I think there are so many variables from build quality to the skill of the skipper.
There are lots and lots of boats with what I consider large window that have survived for many years, plying the world’s oceans.
I think generalizations around this single design feature may be inaccurate at best.
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Old 12-01-2009, 11:04   #6
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I agree it's is all about the structural engineering.

If you look at the heavily built deck salons like the Oyster, you see very substantial beams and supports for that roof hidden behind all that fancy interior woodwork. I have never heard of an Oyster's roof giving way and there are hundreds of these boats out there - not just in the trades but high latitudes. At one point, the glass and frames were supplied by the same folks who supply the RNLI (british life boat service). These lifeboats have larger glass areas than a deck salon sailboat.

Heat is an issue, but a white gelcoat roof and well tinted glass is probably cooler than teak decks. At anchor opening front windows make the salon much cooler than any number of open deck hatches.

A lightly built deck salon (of which you see some) would certainly be worrisome at sea.

Before I'd worry about the salon roof, I'd worry about two other areas:

Companionway: I'm often struck by the wide range of quality I see in companionway hatches and washboards. Some turtles can't be safely walked on. Some hatches look like much more attention was paid to easy sliding than keeping them in place when hit by a boarding wave.

Ports in the topsides: I don't know how people go to sea with 1/4" acrylic portlights held shut by plastic latches arranged up and down their topsides. I am quite confident that a 10 year old could kick one of these open.These are completely exposed whether the boat is dropped onto it's side (in which case the broken hatch is conveniently several feet under water) or hit by a breaking beam wave. It would only take one giving way to sink a boat.

Carl
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Old 12-01-2009, 12:10   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
In one word--yes...in my opinion the larger windows tend to disqualify these boats for circumnavigations. Not only do they compromise structural integrity and make the boat more vulnerable loss of a window, their greenhouse effect makes the cabin hotter in the tropics.

OTOH, if you plan to mainly coastal or Med sailing, they do look sexier.
What a lot of BS!!, I'd take my Nauticat anywhere, I get tired of supposed old Sea salts standing on the wharf ruminating on the size of our windows and there sea worthiness when most of them have been too scared to leave the marina, we just did a three year lap around the Tasman sea including a circunavigation of Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand including Stewart Island at the bottom returning to Australia via Vanuatu and New Caledonia, two Handed in comfort and never once felt like my windows where a t risk
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Old 12-01-2009, 13:58   #8
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Read K Adlard Cole's early editions of 'Heavy Weather Sailing'...You are right until you fall off a 30 ft wave and land on your side... which you may never do, but if you do then the windows will cave in and your boat will sink.

Its all a matter of luck.
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Old 12-01-2009, 16:21   #9
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unless you have done that how do you know that, and if you fall of a 30 ft wave i doubt the windows is all you have to worry about. what are you doin there any way. i am not a engineer so i dont know but i would have to asume oyster only makes them that way and i would have to think they know what there doin. but i bet if you fall off a 50 ft wave the boat might break in half and a 75 ft wave well gosh i dont know........
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Old 13-01-2009, 05:10   #10
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These type questions always turn into the ultimate condition thing where people always start aguring for the sailing tank. Turn the question around and it becomes "how many deck salons have you seen the decks caved-in on". If you can not say a big number you probably should accept there is a low chance of it.
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Old 13-01-2009, 05:58   #11
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What a lot of BS!!, I'd take my Nauticat anywhere, I get tired of supposed old Sea salts standing on the wharf ruminating on the size of our windows
Amen, Brother! C'mon guys, think before you post, and stick with what you know! Pilothouse and deck salons no good for circumnavigation? Tell that to the THOUSANDS who've already done it. Oh yeah, and all the catamarans out there too. How 'bout learning proper route and weather planning first instead. I, for one, have heard several reports of stove in salon windows...they usually start like this; A yacht was damaged today while on a delivery in the North Atlantic during mid winter...
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Old 13-01-2009, 07:01   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
In one word--yes...in my opinion the larger windows tend to disqualify these boats for circumnavigations. Not only do they compromise structural integrity and make the boat more vulnerable loss of a window, their greenhouse effect makes the cabin hotter in the tropics.

OTOH, if you plan to mainly coastal or Med sailing, they do look sexier.
In two words - er, no...........

Most designers will ensure the glazing and fixings are at least as strong as the materials around such windows.
Go look at any UK lifeboat - they have much bigger windows than an Oyster or Farr or indeed any other well known pilot house designs - and it obviously works for the RNLI.

JOHN
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Old 13-01-2009, 07:10   #13
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Sticking with what I know:

I know a few things about structures from my engineering degrees--it may be possible to make big windowed structures as strong as small windowed structures, but its an engineering challenge that will require extra structure and money. Given the variety and uncertainty in structural loading a boat experiences in heavy weather, and the fact that naval architects don't do very sophisticated design work,my short answer still stands--bigger windows compromise structural integrity.

Its interesting to see the latest generation of offshore racing boats, where more design money is spent to keep the strength to weight ratios up--you won't see ANY windows on these boats, and you need a flashlight down below in the daytime.

During a transatlantic delivery on a boat with big windows we sweltered in the salon during the day. I was not concerned about the structural integrity issues on this boat (one-inch lexan plates were bolted over the windows and we were doing a westward passage in mostly tradewind conditions), but I have spent 15 years in the tropics on a boat, and the salon in this boat was about 10 degrees F warmer than my boat due to the greenhouse effect. (For those of you without engineering degrees, the greenhouse effect is due to the fact that the transmissivity of glass or clear plastic is much higher for visible light frequencies than for infrared, allowing the energy of the sun to penetrate, but not allowing the warmth of the cabin to escape.)

I'm also not a big fan of portlights in the hull.
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Old 13-01-2009, 07:12   #14
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Oh, forgot to mention that the bigger windows are much more likely to leak, due to more differential expansion as things heat up and cool down. The owner of the boat I delivered had spent thousands on reglazing and his windows still leaked.
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Old 13-01-2009, 08:45   #15
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I guess that the windows on the boat that you did a delivery on did not have tinted windows..........there are window treatments that will greatly reduce the heat transmissivity of windows.
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