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Thread: Off-center companionways

  1. #1
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    Default Off-center companionways

    Wow... while looking at a photo on Gavin Atkin's site (see link below), I suddenly realized why so many old boats had their companionway hatches off-center.

    http://intheboatshed.net/2010/12/20/...-to-her-cabin/

    So you could get out without clunking your head on the boom. What a great idea.

    Yes, I know, I'm thick...

    -- John
    Last edited by jalmberg; 12-21-2010 at 04:53 PM. Reason: Don't post photos without permission. Doh!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    A disadvantage is easier swamping of the boat in the event of a knockdown on that side.
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    How about that cockpit, if that's what it is. Another reason for the offset companionway. Pretty cool boat though - any other photos of it?
    Last edited by Don Kurylko; 12-20-2010 at 03:36 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    One wants the companionway close to the centerline to minimize the chance of flooding in a knockdown.

    On the other hand there is no reason that the boom crotch has to be on the centerline, and a number of good reasons for it not to be. Not bonking ones head coming up the companionway is one, and having standing headroom everywhere in the cockpit well is another.

    If you have a self tending jib on a boom, it is good to have it stow well off to one side to keep the foredeck clear for anchor work etc. No crotch required, just a length of line seized to a shroud with a snap hook on the free end.

    Allan

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Found the links on your blog, thanks.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    A big greenie coming aboard may take that hatch cover with it. No sea hood or deflection rails.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    What always amazes me about these old photos is how the men are NEVER seen without their neckties! When I was a kid, the old man who lived next door was like that. He would even wear a necktie while changing the oil on his old Chevy or working in his garden - and he never seemed to get dirty. Me, you could dress me up in a tuxedo and in 5 minutes I would look like I just climbed off the back step of a garbage truck!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    The off-center companionway might also allow for a more usefulf accommodation plan belowdecks. Since the bulkhead isn't bisected, you could, for example place the galley or a sette athwartships beside the companionway. Just noodlin' the idea, you understand.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Terrible things, dangerous they are, should be banned, someone should start a petition.

    In the meantime , its best just to wipe out on the away side.



    or stay at home I guess...

    Last edited by John B; 12-20-2010 at 08:01 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Someone once commented on how heavily I had built the deck and hatches on my boat, I think my remark that I built it that way just in case the top became the bottom. Somewhere between Iceland and the Faeroe Islands I had 600 feet of line and a drogue dangling from the bow cleats and a bridle, and a warp astern with freezing water coming across the decks.....
    I was below, snug and warm, thermos of hot tea and soup, snuggled in my flannel jeans and the survival suit. Slept pretty good on and off for three days with an occasional run on deck to check for chafe.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    The off-center companionway might also allow for a more usefulf accommodation plan belowdecks. Since the bulkhead isn't bisected, you could, for example place the galley or a sette athwartships beside the companionway. Just noodlin' the idea, you understand.

    Kevin

    A little off center is fine, pending calculation of water level when on beam ends etc.

    Symmetry is way overrated, especially when it comes to accomodation plans. Yes the galley will take more room then the nav station, if you have room for both, or the head if you don't. If you move the companionway 6" to port, and the boom crotch a foot to starboard, all may be well.

    But the most important thing is keeping the water on the outside of the boat, no matter what.

    Allan

  12. #12

    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Quote Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
    What always amazes me about these old photos is how the men are NEVER seen without their neckties! When I was a kid, the old man who lived next door was like that. He would even wear a necktie while changing the oil on his old Chevy or working in his garden - and he never seemed to get dirty. Me, you could dress me up in a tuxedo and in 5 minutes I would look like I just climbed off the back step of a garbage truck!
    Boat Designer

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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    I can see a huge advantage of an offset companionway in a small centreboard boat, but then again I wouldn't take such a boat anywhere I expect a knock-down. As for the head bumping, I might rig a preventer to go with the topping lift and get the boom out of the way.

    But I would love to some day get a chance to build a boat as Chuck describes.
    1947 Nordic Folkboat "Nina"

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Goblin's (43' Alden schooner) main companion was off-set to starboard just it's width - the port side of the companion was right on center. This was very normal for Alden. The companion was above the water line for any angle of heel from which she'd recover. Like most schooner yachts of the era, she could take a knock-down but was not really designed to survive a roll-over. For example, she had a butterfly skylight. Even if you can dog such a unit, you can't expect it to withstand inversion. Like a lot of boats of the era, she might be expected to cross the Atlantic but not in winter. We sailed a few thrilling Storm conditions (Force 10, wind about 50 kts) but sailed carefully so while the water occasionally got over the rail and up to the coach sides, it never got to the coach roof then. In generally milder weather we got one windshift gust that gave us a real knock-down, water just touching the grab rail on the coach roof and pouring over the combing into the cockpit but we were quickly up and all hatches were dogged. that time I could feel the reduction in form stability once the rail was under. But we were spilling air enough.

    Granuaile (LFH Marco Polo) had the companion right on center, which was not really necessary in that getting her rail under and past 45 degrees was nigh on to impossible.

    A lot of Alden, LFH, S&S and other boats have an off-set companion or hatches in the side of the house a bit further forward. They are quite suitable for ocean travel in normal weather and can stand up to the usual storms one finds in season in the better traveled waters. You might want something else if you spend time off the stormy capes at high souther latitudes or if you cross to Ireland in December.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    All boat design is compromise. I don't worry about my offset companionway.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Kelpie's companionway is not only offset, but also opens athwartships. She's big enough that green water was never a problem.



    The offset hatch works very nicely with the interior layout.

    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Quote Originally Posted by SchoonerRat View Post
    Kelpie's companionway is not only offset, but also opens athwartships. She's big enough that green water was never a problem.
    What I'd do for a boat like that...

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    A well designed offset hatch on a husky boat shouldn’t be a big cause for concern. Poorly designed, or absent washboards, should be. Scoter is pretty husky and she is also a centre-boarder, which probably explains the off-centre hatch. She was also built in 1894 and seems to have survived everything except the neglect of recent owners.




  19. #19
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Holy $@!& that's beautiful!

    Quote Originally Posted by SchoonerRat View Post
    Kelpie's companionway is not only offset, but also opens athwartships. She's big enough that green water was never a problem.



    The offset hatch works very nicely with the interior layout.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Quote Originally Posted by jalmberg View Post
    What I'd do for a boat like that...
    I had the same though exactly, but mine was preceded by a few choice oaths first.
    - Bill T.

    "How many politically-correct people does it take to screw in a light-bulb?"

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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    When the 42 ft boat I posted a photo of up a bit did actually get a starboard smackdown owing to the 30 knot gust which flipped its stupid inflatable dinghy and mmmmmphhh har har har paravaned it down under the boat 6 or 8 ft and held the boat stuck with its stern up to the wind so the next gust layed her flat( oh dear wipe a tear of joy from my eye),
    her offset companionway did not prove to be a problem. The outboard mounted on the inside of the pulpit was under water though ar har har.



    We'll be sailing up the coast in company in a couple of days no doubt.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Quote Originally Posted by jalmberg View Post
    What I'd do for a boat like that...
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Mercer View Post
    Holy $@!& that's beautiful!
    Kelpie is a real sweetheart! Of all the boats that I've had the honor of skippering, Kelpie is "The One". She was re-decked in the early '80s, and re-planked in the late '80s or early '90s. Along with the re-planking, she got a new interior. I sailed her out of notoriously light winded Dana Point, right between the two rebuilds. I didn't get a chance to REALLY sail her very often, but when the wind did blow...

    She is now for sale up in the San Francisco. Anybody want to buy her and take her back down to So Cal. I know where you could find a captain!
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Quote Originally Posted by SchoonerRat View Post
    Kelpie is a real sweetheart! Of all the boats that I've had the honor of skippering, Kelpie is "The One". She was re-decked in the early '80s, and re-planked in the late '80s or early '90s. Along with the re-planking, she got a new interior. I sailed her out of notoriously light winded Dana Point, right between the two rebuilds. I didn't get a chance to REALLY sail her very often, but when the wind did blow...

    She is now for sale up in the San Francisco. Anybody want to buy her and take her back down to So Cal. I know where you could find a captain!
    The price isn't bad... Wonder if I can talk Helena into selling the house :-)

    http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1928.../United-States

    -- John

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    SchoonerRat,
    Have you any more images of Kelpie's companionway hatch? From different angles maybe? I love that hatch. Would like to see more of it. It's very unique and distinctive looking with the half butterfly/companionway/double hatch aspect to it.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    SchoonerRat,
    Have you any more images of Kelpie's companionway hatch? From different angles maybe? I love that hatch. Would like to see more of it. It's very unique and distinctive looking with the half butterfly/companionway/double hatch aspect to it.
    Another zombie thread resurrected.

    I'll have to do some digging to see if I have any more pics of the hatch. Back then it was my job to have my picture taken, not to take pictures. That hatch was replaced with a more traditional centered hatch during her most recent re-fit. I say good riddance to the spiral staircase.
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    I've been Googleing images for design ideas and it came up, sorry to resurrect it but that hatch is beautiful. What's below is less of interest to me at this point. Thanks in advance if you can find something.
    Cheers,
    Daniel
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    I like the idea of two companionways, one with a full ladder, the other perhaps with only a few steps as part of the boat cabinetry. Another option is a very wide companionway. Francis Kinney designed his own cruising yawl so that Rod Stephens could descend easily while playing his accordion! No slouches they!
    "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

    -Mark Twain

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Interesting, have you an image or sketch of what you're thinking of with two companionways?
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Hmm, No sketches or photos I can find online. Two options for two companionways that I've seen:

    1. On a beamy catboat, one each side of the centerboard box. To port where the galley was, there was one step onto a countertop's teak pad and then to the cook's folding seat on the cb box. The wide hatch slide allowed the cook to have plenty of fresh air and more relaxed headroom. The long heavy boom remained on centerline. To starboard a normal companionway stair that swung up or off for engine access. Similar width of the openings and headroom availability as to port.

    Another version was on the Phil Rhodes yacht THUNDERHEAD. A large, rectangular, removable, tempered glass slide allowed access down to a u-shaped settee around a folding dining table. It opened up the cabin to the cockpit very nicely (optional screen for bugs) and acted as an emergency hatch aft as well. The primary companionway was offset to starboard atop the cabin midships to a curved staircase below which lead to the nav station and galley.

    Both options were kind of special to the types of boats and their uses, but it was useful to see how the designers made some other-than-common choices.
    "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Off-center companionways

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    I've been Googleing images for design ideas and it came up, sorry to resurrect it but that hatch is beautiful. What's below is less of interest to me at this point. Thanks in advance if you can find something.
    Cheers,
    Daniel
    No need to apologize for the thread resurrection. I just commented because there seems to be a lot of that happening these days.

    I haven't found any pics that show additional details of Kelpie's companionway. I'm sure that many exist. I was constantly posing for photogs who were standing forward and shooting me at her helm. Views of the hatch would show in any such pic. I don't even have a pic of me at Kelpie's helm.
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

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