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Old 07-05-2016, 11:00   #16
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

I had wooden hinged doors made for my companionway, which is quite similar to yours. In fact, smaller, I'd say. The boat came with a one piece, heavy Plexiglas insert for the companionway that serves as a hatchboard. It drops into the metal tracks on each side of the companionway, like the wooden hinged doors in the photograph. Click on the photo to enlarge it and you can see the metal tracks on each side of the companionway. Each door has both a screen panel allowing ventilation when closed and a removable Plexiglas insert that stops flow when it is cold out. You can see the little swivel stops that hold the Plexiglas in against the screens. The hinged doors do not intrude into the backside of the cockpit seats. The doors are each a single piece and once dropped into the slot, they are secured at the bottom by a threshold that is held by the chrome pin at the bottom center. The wood on top is the sliding companionway hatch which slides horizontally forward and aft over the companionway, independent of the doors. IT is clear Plexiglas with that wood at the aft end. When we leave the boat or the weather and seas are really bad, we remove the wooden doors and drop the large Plexiglas one back in. In warm weather, the screens in the wooden doors allow the air to circulate.
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Old 07-05-2016, 11:19   #17
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

The Zarcor setup seems to be a good choice for coastal/recreational sailors, but I'm having something a little more robust made, like Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger did:
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Old 07-05-2016, 11:25   #18
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

I've gone through several variations on different sailboats over the years.

Assuming the existing hatch boards are adequate for, and are secured in place when used while at sea, we won't say any more about those.

My goals when not at sea were like yours; what can I temporarily replace the seaworthy hatch boards with that is more convenient for life at anchor/dock.

The solution always has several requirements: [some depend upon the climate(s) you will be boating in...]
  • simplified ingress and egress from either side of companionway
  • screened ventilation when needed
  • clear to let light in when desired [but not air...]
  • shaded/tinted when privacy, solar gain, or light are not desired
  • possibly securable while onboard when needed [not everything will be...]

On a couple of boats I had, the solution was simply a light weight, strong, one piece hatch made from thin [e.g., 1/8 inch] acrylic that was light enough to easily manage one handed. Lift slightly, rotate or remove, pass by, replace.

Likewise for a light, one piece framed screen.

There are many variations of the above. e.g., If you have a taller companionway opening, and can easily step over 1 or 2 of the existing hatch boards, then perhaps just replace the upper hatch boards with the clear thin acrylic and/or screen.

I have also had cafe style doors on a couple of boats [including our current one.] Those are my preference when done right.

There are a few requirements I decided upon over time with cafe doors:
  • Make them easily removable [e.g., stout, lift-off hinges that can be secured when the doors are in use i.e., prevent removing the doors accidentally...]
  • Design them so they stow easily [i.e., don't have large raised attachments that prevent them stowing relatively flat.]
  • When possible, mount the hinges inside [forward in your case per your photos] of the slot used to hold the hatch boards
  • Can be left open without being in the way and without blocking access to anything critical [e.g., fire extinguisher, engine controls, electrical panel, etc.]. I prefer they swing open toward the inside of the vessel. That way the doors can be left open without interfering with when not needed or when a framed screen is put into the hatch board slot.
  • A variation is to swing outward [into the cockpit] but only if they will swing far enough to be flush with the companionway bulkhead. [i.e., not stopped part way by cockpit seating, etc. Again, completely out of the way when open...]
  • Securable [It doesn't have to be industrial strength; little holds up to heavy blows... just slow down easy passage by the uninvited, or at least force them to make noise...]

For security while on board, one could either put the seaworthy hatch boards in place or, if the cafe doors are sturdy enough [ours are ~5/8 inch thick acrylic with a simple rabbet joint where they overlap when closed] a simple cross bar [wood, thick acrylic, metal, etc.] will block the swing doors from opening [if they open to the inside of the vessel...] Either of the above combined with however you lock your sliding hatch, and your entrance is 'secure' if/when needed while onboard [or away if the cafe doors are strong enough...]

I hope this provides you some additional proven concepts to ponder.

Best wishes with your project. I try to start with small proof-of-concept experiments to find what works best for me... Cardboard is cheap...

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 07-05-2016, 12:05   #19
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

DD--with your lines led aft, the way they are, about your only option would be to have the double doors swing inward, if there is room to park them alongside the companionway.
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Old 07-05-2016, 19:29   #20
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

In order to ward off pesky waves at sea that might want to pay an unwanted visit to our saloon, we cut a single piece of starboard to about the size of your lower three boards. The top of our board is in line with the top of our cockpit coaming. We hold it in place with a brass barrel bolt on each side.

We fit it whenever we are offshore or out in frisky weather.

I am going to take it to the glass shop this spring and fit it with a deadlight to facilitate a view of the cockpit from the saloon
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Old 07-05-2016, 19:53   #21
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

Why not simply make it from clear Lexan?
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Old 07-05-2016, 20:39   #22
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

Heaps of options. None of them are perfect.

I put in a one piece door. It blocked one side of the dodger when it was open. It was easy to remove in good weather and drop it on the quarter berth. But to be honest mostly I left it in place unless I took a crowd out sailing. If the weather was bad enough that a wanted to sit under the dodger on the side the door blocked I closed the door.

It was excellent at sea, and provided much more warmth, security and safety than dropboards. And it was excellant in port, quickly giving me privacy and security. I would never go back to washboards.

Other ideas are some kind of split door like Evans and Beth had on Hawk. More complex, but less space taken out of the cockpit.

Another solution is a fold down door that hinges in one or two parts down into the cockpit. Or the neat solution of sliding them down as seen on a few production boats these days.

I have seen people make a one piece dropboard that fills the whole companionway, then they cut out a smaller shape for a door, or pair of doors that can open fully. I prefer a single door as its easy to control one door, but hard to manage two in a rough sea.

Big heavy doors have there own risks to fingers. Ive seen a couple of fingers nearly severed when a steel watertight door caught them. Shouldn't be an issue with a small yacht door, but worth considering.

Putting a window or two in any door is a good idea, as is leaving the old dropboard slot so in severe weather you can reinforce it if need be, or in case of damage.

One of the best systems I have seen are on Brent Swains boats

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Old 07-05-2016, 20:55   #23
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

All these options fit into an insert that can either slot into the dropboard slot (probably not enough room under your dodger) or can be attached of hinged over the opening either as a semi permenant board or as a lighter easily removed panel.

Its even possible to hinge the whole insert into a door as I show on drawing 3. This will obscure the port side if the cockpit, but makes access below very easy. Put it on lift off hinges and its easy to remove and stow below.

No 2 and no3 are my favorite solutions, both significantly reduce the size of the companionway which is good offshore and in cold weather. Both can easily be built from 12 mm or 14mm plywood, and have less moving parts to secure and mess about with.
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Old 07-05-2016, 21:38   #24
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

Another idea that can work is inward folding doors. Not as strong, or watertight as outward folding doors but on some boats they can work nicely depending on the interior layout. There are also a few Bifold door ideas that can work well to reduce the side of the folded door.

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Old 07-05-2016, 21:38   #25
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

Just got off of an Amel Maramu. Brilliant companionway alternative. One board, slides straight down into a slot on the inside of the companionway. No boards to remove, store, scratch. You can pull it up to expose different amounts of area.
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Old 07-05-2016, 21:50   #26
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

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Originally Posted by JD-MDR View Post
I also got tired of the drop in boards especially at anchor because I get up so often to check or to pee. I made raised panel teak, take apart hinged doors. It cost way too much for the type of boat I have but I love them. When the sliding hatch is bolted the hinged doors are as strong as necessary. I spent about $1000 and I haven't put a vent or louvers in yet. Also when I run the engine the latch hooks that hold them open vibrate and make a lot of noise.
Shrink some shrink tubing over the hooks.
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Old 08-05-2016, 01:57   #27
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

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Just got off of an Amel Maramu. Brilliant companionway alternative. One board, slides straight down into a slot on the inside of the companionway. No boards to remove, store, scratch. You can pull it up to expose different amounts of area.
This works well and if you need to counterbalance the weight gas struts will do it.

My companionway door is 1" thick timber over ply with 2" x 3/16" alloy straps across the full width top and bottom onto which heavy strap hinges are bolted. Top and bottom 1"x 3/16" bolts are covered by the straps and they slide into slots in heavy alloy angle pieces bolted into a steel jamb let into the wooden trim over the steel. The door swings back against a bulkhead and is held there with an ocky strap.

This is not paranoia, whatever you use it needs to be fairly solid, there are a lot of square inches in a companionway entry onto which a breaking wave can crash thereby generating a lot of loading.
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Old 08-05-2016, 03:29   #28
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

On my previous boat I had something like Jim tC. described, a large 'flap' of sunbrella fabric. I had sewn in 2 pouches to slide in some PVC batten-like strips. That sufficed 90% of the time except for frisky weather sailing when I installed the washboard(s).

Here is a link to some more ideas:
Sailboat Companionway Design | Cruising World

Like 'Duefocena' described, the Amel solution is quite a nifty one, one I favour, although it is not super-strong as some of the other solutions, but then again it is a centre cockpit boat (Mango, Maramu, Santorin or Super Maramu)

One better than that, in my opinion, is a similar solution, built more like an aluminum roller door that goes down and can be locked in place at any height, like I have seen on the Dutch built Atlantic yachts, hmmm can't find a picture of that.
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Old 08-05-2016, 05:59   #29
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

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Yeah in the marina I use my patented "towel door" system, where I use one of the four planks rested on top of the companionway sliding glass to hold a towel draped over the door. Keeps A/C in somewhat, and makes for easy entry. I do this underway in rain as well.

Cheechako, I think your idea of having 2 boards instead of 4 might be this best option as of now :/
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I think you might be violating my patent by infringement... Mine utilizes a luxurious full bath turkish towel, and teak plank weighting... Not those super cheap tourist towels that you get at the beach store... Please forward pictures and details on duration of use so that we may discuss royalty compensation...


Quote:
Originally Posted by duefocena View Post
Just got off of an Amel Maramu. Brilliant companionway alternative. One board, slides straight down into a slot on the inside of the companionway. No boards to remove, store, scratch. You can pull it up to expose different amounts of area.
Brilliant is right... Investigating... Thanks duefocena
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Old 08-05-2016, 06:39   #30
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Re: Companionway Door Brainstorming Session

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We upgraded our J42 3/8" stock Lexan dropboards to 1/2" and added a reinforcing member to the top of the lower board. Made Starboard brackets to store the boards right below the companionway with their safety tethers always secured. The brackets are arranged so the tops of the stored boards form a nice bench with the companionway sill. We sail offshore with the lower board barrelbolted in place, which prevents downflooding even if the cockpit is filled to the winch islands. Boards cannot wash overboard.

Your companionway sill is lower, but you might make brackets for the 4 boards below the sill.
Very nice. That with Jim Cate's curtains looks like a good solution to me
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