2019 Boat Project #3 Hatches and Ports

Fixed “eyebrow” port light & opening port hatch

What is a hatch?

Hatch is another fancy boat term for “window”. Actually, port is the technical term for side windows, while hatches would be the term for overhead, opening windows. All of the plexiglass (or cast acrylic) hatches on our PDQ were crazed in some form when we purchased the boat. The crazing was external and cosmetic, (to run your fingernail across it, you can’t feel it) caused by UV damage and cleansers like Windex and deck cleaner. We used hatch covers and pfifertex covers to limit more damage. They didn’t leak, so it slowly moved down the to-do list. During our first hurricane season in Brunswick, GA (Life at the Marina in Brunswick) a friend mentioned he bought the acrylic and cut it himself, but we lacked the tools and space for that. Friends in the Caribbean said they had taken the hatches out and had someone cut the acrylic locally. With 16 hatches/ports of varying sizes plus 6 fix eyebrow ports, no car and the frequency of rain (daily) that didn’t sound plausible.

This season, The Captain discovered a company that would cut them to fit, with the added bonus of FAST turnaround and shipping. Being in the marina, this sounded promising. Enter Tap Plastics: https://www.tapplastics.com

BEFORE Port hatch crazing

Changing the Port Hatches

In our boat, four of the large portlights are actually Lewmar Coastline hatches:

  • Measured hatch thickness, size and corner radius. Picked tint (we went with the lighter tint which matched what was already installed perfectly).
  • Ordered from Tap Plastic ($174, see screenshot of the order at the end of this blog post)
  • Arrived in 7 days
  • Removed latches and tilting arm
  • Removed sealant
  • Removed old hatch glass

  • Drilled holes
  • Installed new hatch glass

  • Sealant (Dow 795) allowed to set/bake in 80F sun
  • Reinstalled hatches and tilting arms
  • Done in two days—two one day, and two the next day
AFTER Port hatch. Note the level of tint is darker than you’d think at first glance.
BEFORE Port eyebrow

Changing the Eyebrow Portlights

  • Measured hatch thickness, size and corner radius. Picked tint (again, we went with the lighter & it matched what was installed on the boat, but if I did it again, I might go with these in the darker tint).
  • Ordered from Tap Plastics & arrived in about 7 days ($279).
  • Unscrewed from fiberglass (wood on the inside is decorative) & discovered they are beveled

  • Removed sealant (much more difficult than the side hatches)
This is going to get messy so think ahead.

  • Glass itself is also much more difficult to remove. Ideally, you would remove in one piece so it can be used as a template for drilling holes.
Beveling eyebrows with a sander & 36 grit paper
  • Beveled new acrylic
  • Drilled holes
    • Installed glass
    • Sealed in place. Bake in 80F sun.
    • Added screws (according to the Hatchmasters website, you shouldn’t need screws at all, so we used half as many)
    • Two completed per day.
    “Hey Grandpa, what’s for supper?” (A Hee Haw reference for the young ‘uns…look it up on YouTube.)

    Summary

    Partial hatch replacement project cost $522 (4 tubes of sealant x $15).

    We recommend Outland Hatch Covers to protect your investment. They have excellent customer service. They keep it cooler inside, are easy to remove and are added protection from dropped tools (someone posted on a cruiser forum that a hatch survived a hammer dropped while up the mast!) and flying debris during hurricanes (Outland actually recommends taking them off during hurricane season but ours survived Hurricane Maria with only minor warping). We also recommend the eyebrow pfifertex covers on the outside. You still have good visibility, but it helps reduce heat inside the boat. We’ve used the roll insulation (Reflectix) on the inside of the hatches for comfort on hot days, but it is holding heat against your glass which is bad for it in the long run (ie. hurricane storage). This is also a popular technique with airplanes & RV’s–while it may prolong the life of your dash, it’s bad for the glass.

    Don’t trust our measurements, but if you want to compare answers…

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