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Old 30-04-2021, 03:45   #1
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Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

Our hatches were getting salt creep so we had the seals replaced and Now they drip water.


I decided that I wanted them sealed permanently and have requested quotes from a few places. One yard responded that the Coast Guard wont certify our boat if we do this job.

I was under the impression that escape hatches were a European requirement.

Thoughts or references?
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Old 30-04-2021, 04:16   #2
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Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

Has the coast guard “certified” your boat now?

Fwiw, I don’t believe the Gemini boats have escape hatches.
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Old 30-04-2021, 04:46   #3
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

Regulation of recreational boats in the US is very limited, with just a check for fire extinguishers, life jackets, and other required equipment if you are boarded by the Coast Guard for other reasons. I gather that there is some regulation on the west coast; I can only speak for the southeast. Escape hatches in Catamarans is way down the list, as it were.

That said, the process of removing, plugging, and reinforcing necessary to replace the hatches will give you bunches more head-banging wallet-shrinking sleep-losing experiences than going back and getting the seals on right. It's tempting to jump to modifying the boat, given the frustrations you've had with stopping the leaks, but do stop and consider just how many frustrations you will have with taking out the hatches.
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Old 30-04-2021, 04:57   #4
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

There is a reason that boats have ESCAPE hatches . . . .
I'm with Tkeithlu, get the correct seals, end of problem . . .
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Old 30-04-2021, 05:46   #5
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

The Coast Guard does not "certify" recreational boats, so whoever told you that does not know what they are talking about.


On the other hand, as mentioned, there is a very real reason why you NEED escape hatches in certain circumstances. Fiberglassing over them would be perfectly legal in the United States, but it would not be smart.
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Old 30-04-2021, 06:15   #6
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

If you plan on selling your Lagoon 440, glassed in escape hatches could limit your potential customers significantly and have downgrade on sale price, no matter how much you try and convince a would be buyer it has stopped the leaks and the boat was "safer" in your opinion and possibly a few regular nay sayers on this forum.
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Old 30-04-2021, 06:20   #7
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

I would try to reseal and "caulk" the hell out of them before I ever glassed over any hatches.At least the former can be reasoonably undone if needed.
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Old 30-04-2021, 06:37   #8
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

This, and if you still want to glass it over, just use a very light cloth which you may be able to break when trying to get out.

You could even do this even just as a super light layup on the inside and add a Kevlar thread around the intented breaking seam.
Pull it hard and it will break your sealing glass skin...
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I would try to reseal and "caulk" the hell out of them before I ever glassed over any hatches.At least the former can be reasoonably undone if needed.
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Old 30-04-2021, 07:51   #9
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

I don't have much to add, the Coast Guard does not "certify" recreational boats but it would be a very foolish thing to glass in an escape hatch.

If you can't fix it yourself, replace it or pay a pro to fix it.
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Old 30-04-2021, 08:45   #10
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

Notwithstanding the danger of glassing over an escape hatch, your insurance company would refuse ANY payments as you had wrongly modified your vessel.
I would not even try to ask the insurance company, it could give a wrong impression as to your competence.
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Old 30-04-2021, 08:46   #11
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Regulation of recreational boats in the US is very limited, with just a check for fire extinguishers, life jackets, and other required equipment if you are boarded by the Coast Guard for other reasons. I gather that there is some regulation on the west coast; I can only speak for the southeast. Escape hatches in Catamarans is way down the list, as it were.

That said, the process of removing, plugging, and reinforcing necessary to replace the hatches will give you bunches more head-banging wallet-shrinking sleep-losing experiences than going back and getting the seals on right. It's tempting to jump to modifying the boat, given the frustrations you've had with stopping the leaks, but do stop and consider just how many frustrations you will have with taking out the hatches.
Ah, but it's not just leaks, is it? It's strongly suspected - and I believe conformed in some 'non-fatal' cases - that failed escape hatches in well-known EU made catamarans have resulted in the loss of the boat.
Should I ever be fortunate enough to own a bluewater cat, it would not have an escape hatch. Period.
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Old 30-04-2021, 09:00   #12
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

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Originally Posted by Nahbrown View Post
..............I was under the impression that escape hatches were a European requirement.
Since a catamaran has two stable positions, right side up and upside down, it is possible for the boat to turn in the inverted position with people inside the hull, European boat manufacturers have required the inclusion of escape hatches which can be used to exit an upside down boat per this article.

Escape Hatches – Recipe For Disaster | Gémeaux

Some guidance on USCG escape requirements but not sure if it specifically applies to catamarans:

https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/M...chapter_H).pdf
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Old 30-04-2021, 09:29   #13
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

USA - Title 33, Federal Code of Regulations covers requirements for pleasurecraft construction and makes no mention of escape hatches.

Canada - Transport Canada, TP1332 covers the requirements for pleasurecraft and does have some specifications for escape hatches.

ABYC H-3 also has requirements.

Your insurance underwriter will almost certainly require ABYC compliance
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Old 30-04-2021, 09:31   #14
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rmlarson1098 View Post
Ah, but it's not just leaks, is it? It's strongly suspected - and I believe conformed in some 'non-fatal' cases - that failed escape hatches in well-known EU made catamarans have resulted in the loss of the boat.
Should I ever be fortunate enough to own a bluewater cat, it would not have an escape hatch. Period.
I'm aware of race mono's that have lost keels, capsized and the crew inside were able to get out without escape hatches... yes you'd have to hold your breath.

Vessels have sunk resulting in loss of life due to escape hatches failing or accidentally being left open. Possibly more lives lost than saved.. who knows?

Removing escape hatches is not illegal in the USA nor do I think it is "foolish" as one can logically conclude they cause more danger than added safety. The OP is not a Fool!

Tkeithlu insinuated that the hull needs reinforcement to glass in the hatch. Not true. Glassing over the hatch doesn't increase the existing loads. It is not very hard to do and if done DIY, probably cheaper than new seals! ok. maybe not.. but it ain't a budget breaker
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Old 30-04-2021, 09:35   #15
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Re: Fiberglassing over escape hatch openings, is this legal in the USA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sail sfbay View Post
Some guidance on USCG escape requirements but not sure if it specifically applies to catamarans:

https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/M...chapter_H).pdf
This refers to commercial vessels only.
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