View Full Version : Removable cockpit sole

07-24-1999, 04:12 PM
I'm in the process of installing the 9 hp Yanmar diesel in my 20' gaff rigged cutter. There is a space just aft of the engine, under the cockpit sole of about 8 cubic feet which will be inaccessible after the cockpit is completed. However this area might be an excellent location for the exhaust water trap, battery, fuel tank, filters, what not, if there is a feasible way to make the sole removable. The cockpit is to be self draining.

Your thoughts and suggestions (prayers http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif as to whether or not and how to pull this off would be appreciated.


Bob Cleek
07-25-1999, 01:25 PM
The way I did mine was to put a lipped hatch in the bottom of the cockpit. The cockpit of expoxied plywood (YES!) and has a hole as big as I could manage with about a three inch lip all around. The cockpit scuppers are outside this lip and there is about a two inch trough all around it, except forward where it is about four inches, to accommodate the scuppers. Then I have a teak faced hatch cover which fits over the lipped hole and becomes the cockpit sole. It has rubber weatherstripping on the edge for a seal, but otherwise is just held down with gravity. (I'll rig a latch one of these days.) The rain, etc, just flows off the top of the cover and down the sides into the trough and out the scuppers. I'm happy with how it works. It isn't completely watertight and if you filled up the cockpit so fast that the scuppers couldn't keep up, it would leak some, but that isn't a problem with rainfall and hosing off the boat, so it works fine. I would devise a way to latch the hatch down if I was doing a lot of offshore work, however, so it wouldn't be likely to float off if a wave pooped the cockpit, or (God forbid!) there was a roll over.

By the way, it is mandatory that you devise some way of making this area accessible in any event. You should never have anywhere on a boat you can't get to, since that is always where trouble starts first! You will have to provide pretty easy access to your stern bearing so you can adjust it as needed. Don't seal up that area whatever you do!

[This message has been edited by Bob Cleek (edited 07-25-99).]

07-26-1999, 09:26 AM
Oh, man, Bob, you've made my day. Your message turned on the light. Thank you.


Scott D. Rosen
07-26-1999, 12:26 PM
Installing a hatch in my cockpit sole was one of my projects this past winter. Believe it or not, there was no direct access to my stuffing box. For years, I had to crawl over and around the engine like a contortionist just to reach it, never mind having room to work or light to see.

My cockpit sole is teak over ply. I cut out a rectangular section large enough for me to fit into, used oak for framing around the hole, and fastened a teak strip around the edges of the newly cut wood. For the hatch cover, I simply used the rectangular piece that I cut out to make the hole. This way, the teak planking on the cover matched the teak on the sole. I used bronze flashing to make a flange around the cover to hold the cover in place and used thin plastic weatherstripping on the underside of the flange to make it watertight. I debated how to fasten the cover--quick removal would have been nice, but my ultimate goal was to have it watertight and secure under any conditions. I drilled holes in the flashing and used bronze screws to attach the cover to the sole. The downside, of course, is that I need a screwdriver and a few minutes to remove the cover. This is acceptable because I rarely need access here, at most once or twice a season. When and if the screholes get stripped, I'll install threaded inserts and substitute machine screws for the woodscrews that I'm using now.

Works like a charm and looks great.

07-27-1999, 01:30 PM
Yes! I think I like the idea of a flush hatch cover but we'll see what "zen" does with the ideas over the next few days (I wish) er, weeks.

Thanks. --Norm

Ed Harrow
07-27-1999, 03:24 PM
Norm, I've been looking at a few boats of late, and two of them had a circular, bronze "person"-hole cover on the cockpit sole. The cover sat upon an O-ring, and had four fasteners which turned to lock the cover down.

I don't know the source of such an item.

Ed Harrow
07-27-1999, 03:24 PM
Norm, I've been looking at a few boats of late, and two of them had a circular, bronze "person"-hole cover on the cockpit sole. The cover sat upon an O-ring, and had four fasteners which turned to lock the cover down.

I don't know the source of such an item, however.

Also don't know how I've managed to open up another bit, but I guess I'm not the first klutz on this forum!

[This message has been edited by Ed Harrow (edited 07-27-99).]

Ian McColgin
07-27-1999, 03:35 PM
Check the National Fisherman for sourses of commercial manufactored access hatches - more commonly aluminum and sometimes steel. Bronze would be from a vintage quality yacht and the yard probably made the patterns and contracted with a foundry. But aluminum's good. Hide it under the teak grate you're gonna make.

I like the solution the former owner of Granuaile left for me. The Marco Polo has a very small cockpit (foot-well only about 3'x3') and the hatch is almost the whole cockpit sole - raised on a lip about 2" and leaves about 3"-4" all the way around the hatch. So you always stand on the hatch and the surrounding area is nice to lay out various sheets without tangling them together or tripping over them. The perimiter around the hatch is also the spillway to the drains.

Scott D. Rosen
07-27-1999, 05:27 PM
Oh my, I looked for seven years to find a "yacht quality" bronze access hatch for my cockpit. I tried every bronze source I could find and scrounged every nautical flea market and salvage shop I saw. I even called a few builders to see if they could help. For a brief moment I considered borrowing one off a local Herreshoff, but chickened out. I never found one. I debated having a new one cast and machined, but the high cost persuaded me to do the work I described above.

If you find a source, please let me know.

07-27-1999, 11:55 PM
I don't know how much help this might be, but our 1961 sloop has such a hatch, although it's oval in shape, 32"x18" and has 6 camlock hold downs. The boat was built in Canada, and I can't recall the manufacturers name cast in it, but I will check, and get back to you with it. And NO, you can't have mine!

Bob Cleek
07-28-1999, 12:27 AM
I'd take a shot at Lunenberg Foundry for those bronze manhole covers. However, although Herreshoff Mfg. Co. installed them as stock items, they only did so on pretty big boats. At least that's the only place I've seen them. On fifty footers and up. Problem is, those bronze hatches and the attendant hardware are awfully heavy. The last place you want to put weight is in the ass end of a boat anyway. I'd opt for the lipped hatch like Ian and I have. It is relatively lightweight and easy to handle. If you build it with an overhang, you can have the equivalent of a flush cockpit sole with just a little opening along the edges.

The problem with flush hatches, which I had and replaced, is that the crud that finds its way to the bottom of the cockpit ends up in the crevices. I had a bronze lip with tapped holes for machine screws, something like twenty of them! I had a piece of plexiglas screwed down with a gasket and a teak grating over it all. Looked great, but the dust and dirt really filled it up and was impossible to clean unless you got down there with a toothbrush. When the screws came out, the crud would inevitably fall into the holes and gall the threads when you tried to screw the hatch down again. I suppose life can inflict bigger problems, but I solved this one with the lipped cover/sole.

07-28-1999, 11:02 PM
Bob's right, that puppy is heavy. Mine weighs about 30 pounds, and the frame is, at a guess, about the same, but it looks way cool, and my boat displaces 7.34 tons,, and after tossing my engine over the side, I doubt that it affects my trim much. Plus, the weight is low, and I've sailed my boat light, and she needs to be on her lines.

07-17-2001, 08:08 PM
I owe this bunch a round of thanks. My cockpit sole was pretty ravelled out, mahogany that was nice once - but somebody put in a die cast aluminum whale bilge pump flush mounted, and it rotted all around it. Had to get the deck tight, and decided to put in a hatch while I was at it. Cost me one transverse stringer to put in a 16 x 22 hatch. There was never any decent access back there -- engine mounted backwards to run a v drive, so you have to be a boa constrictor snake to get in there to change the oil filter or water pump impeller or tighten the belts. Boy was the hatch a good idea. I was sitting around feeling pretty smug about the finished job, and I found my old printout of this discussion -- and found out that there was nary an idea I hadn't stolen off one of you or another.

Winter project: build a proper hatch cover. Any suggestions on the profile of the overhang so it will drip water on the deck instead of run it up and into the hatch?

07-18-2001, 05:58 AM
The watertight doors for my B.O.C. Boat were made by Pacific Coast Marine Industries, Inc., Lynnwood Washington 98037. (206) 743-9550.
This phone number and address may be outdated as I understand thast they have moved, but they are still in the same general area.
Mine were set uo with a winch handle hole in the miidle, turning an 8 inch offset diameter disc on the far side, which had four arms set at 4 places on the rim. As the winch handle rotated the arms would retract from angled slots at the underside rim (bulkhead) of the hatch frame. The arms had guides near the doors edge. Can send a drawing if it helps. I have made some very small versions of this for Tana Mari for use on the foredeck to hide collapsible anchors mounted in large PVC tubes in the chain locker.

Adam C
07-18-2001, 01:25 PM
The hatches you want are made by FREEMAN, the original deck hatch company. While I haven't seen them in bronze, they do come in brushed aluminum and are nice. These are industrial quality watertight hatches that are used on ships. Real nice, in all shapes and sizes. try www.freemanmarine.com (http://www.freemanmarine.com)

BOMAR makes knockoffs in aluminum and plastic. www.pompanette.com/bomar (http://www.pompanette.com/bomar)

Hope this helps

07-18-2001, 08:13 PM
Somebody used to cast some nice bronze ones -- a 42' sloop built by Norm Blanchard in '47 has one in the fantail, probably 18" dia, with the boat's name cast in the rim -- pretty classy, and pilfer proof i daresay.