Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

The never-ending project to fill my hole in the ocean while bailing it out

Preparing for Sailing Season '06
The Forward Hatch Project

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Chip Ahoy has never had a forward hatch, something I've sorely missed from time to time for a few reasons.  The first is ventilation, of course:  without a forward hatch, the only ventilation comes from the Nicro solar-powered vent I added toward the bow, and the louvered vent I later added to the cribboards, minimum at best.  I've never been satisfied with air circulation, especially during warm nights or hot days aboard.   The second is the sometimes feeling of claustrophobia in the cabin, with only the companionway hatch open   Before I got the roller-furler system, it would have been handy for passing out the headsails from below, and there's always the safety factor of having a second escape route if necessary.  (Jan. 10, 2006)

So for one of my 2006 projects, I've decided to install one.  Of course the first order of business in this project was to get my hands on a hatch, preferably off another Catalina 22 of the same vintage.  Dennis Slaton ("Tar Baby")  came through via the discussion group with one from his spare parts inventory which arrived recently, for just the cost of shipping from Georgia.

Dennis's hatch appears to be in great shape and complete including the deck frame flange, exactly what I was hoping for.  I'll be able to use the flange as a perfect template to cut out the hole in the deck.

The next step in my plan is to cut a hole in the hatch cover itself and replace the fiberglass with a piece of Lexan to allow light into the cabin when the hatch is closed and dogged.

Everything I'll need seems to be there:  hatch, flange, gaskets, spring, latch, and hinges.

The hinges are there, but rusty.  I'll replace those easily enough.  (Jan. 10, 2006)

With the winches project completed and behind me, I'm moving on next with installing the forward hatch. I removed the old Danforth anchor chocks and filled their holes last weekend.  Today, after lots of measuring and comparing "Chip Ahoy" with the forward hatch on Wally Riddle's 1980 "Carpe Diem" (how fortunate that it's alongside in my yard), I used my hatch frame flange insert as a template on the deck to mark where the hole will be cut.  This is still intimidating:  I'm about to cut into a perfectly good deck.  For the occasion, I  bought a new narrow scrolling blade for my saber saw, so I can round those corners cleanly.  (Apr. 20, 2006)

Picking up where I left off (above), today was the day to do the deed, cut the hole in fhe perfectly good deck.  Having received good advice from the discussion group and having accumulated the necessary tools (like the Dremel tool in the photo) and parts -- and with two to three days of good weather forecast, I set out this morning on the task.  (Apr. 26, 2006)

After re-measuring about a dozen times, I finally gritted my teeth, held my breath, and scored the hole using the Dremel tool (to keep the deck fiberglass and gelcoat from chipping or splintering).  Then I went at the hole, the plywood core beneath, with my saber saw and its the new scrolling blade.  I duct-taped the straight cuts from below as I went along, so the cut-out piece of the deck didn't come crashing in, ripping cabin fiberglass on the final straight cut.

With the cutout piece from the deck cleanly removed, next I sanded the edges of the hole with a hand-sander to get them as smooth as possible; used the Dremel tool's grinding wheel to get the curved corners to fit the frame near-perfectly.

Finally, I soaked the raw edges with West System epoxy, to keep that perfect deck perfectly watertight in the days ahead after the project was complete.

The cutout piece of deck, removed -- a half-inch plywood core.  I was gratified to find that the deck's plywood core was still in excellent condition.

Just to be safe, I covered the bow and deck with my "pup tent" tarp while the epoxy cured and until I can get back to the job tomorrow.

Next  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5
Moving on with Season 2006 improvements
It's never-ending ... but spring is coming and Sailing Season '06 is ahead

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