On my Lyle Hess, Bristol Channel Cutter, I built what I called a "sea hood" over the main sliding hatch.

Using that same principal I am building a sea hood for this boat with one major difference; the sea hood covers most of the main cabin roof and incorporates a pilot house as well as two "butterfly" type hatches.
Everything we might need when on deck is stored in one of the lockers in the sea hood. Dock lines, fenders, roll stabilizers, sail covers, awning and much more.
This page will also include the construction of the pilot-house/hard dodger. It's a bit lengthy thou.


Our original soft dodger is at the bottom of this page.

Click on any image for a larger view..  use your back button to return here..


This photo shows the roughed-in frames that will make up the final shape of the sea-hood.

Here, I am starting to layout the front of the pilot house.



Here I have setup the front panels for the pilot house and the starboard butterfly hatch is glassed in place.

The design of the hatch will include a dorade box just inboard of the hatch. The cowl vent will funnel air into the dorade portion and thru the side of the hatch wall.

When the cowl vents are removed they will store inside the top portion of the hatch









 I have tried to make the windows in the pilot house resemble as close as possible, the front of the main cabin.
The two outside windows will be tempered glass and will have windshield wipers. The outside windows will not open. The center window will be 3/8 inch Lexan and will swing open for ventilation. Both port and starboard windows in the sides of the pilot house, will also open.



 Here we can get some idea of what it will be like with the top on. Note the line storage compartments just below the pilot house windows.

These compartments are for the staysail sheets and the mainsail sheets. Winches will be added after the paint work is complete.



 All staysail sheets and the main sheet will be routed thru the face of the pilot house to winches conveniently located. The tails of these sheets will coil and store in the compartments below the windshield.

I have fitted sheets of luan door skin ply to make patterns of the locations of cowl vents, charlie noble and hatches. Once the final laminated top is complete, this pattern will be used to cut out the areas needed.


The top of the sea-hood will be constructed by laminating thinner sheets of marine ply to fit the curvature of the top.

November 7, 2012.....

Slowed down by torrential rains and winds up to 70 kts, work came to a screeching halt for nearly a week.

But that is behind us and I'm back to making giant strides toward finishing the boat.

Below is the latest work on the sea-hood and pilot house.

The first layer of 1/4 inch marine ply was laid down in one day. As the epoxy cured, I managed to get many areas that needed filler taken care of. Now it's ready for the next layer



Yea!! the second layer went down in one day too. Now comes all the sanding and paint prep.
But before that can happen, I need to cut out the cowl vent openings, the smoke stack hatch and the two storage compartments in the forward section.


Finally I get a break! Sheet storage is just under the windows.

If all works out the staysail sheets and the main sheet will lead thru the front of the pilot house to winches mounted inside.


The very next day I framed all the components for the two hatches. Two more days and I'll have them ready to install.
Note the cowl vent and smoke stack.
Under the cowl vents are baffles that make these work exactly like a dorade box. The air can flow in, pass thru the rain baffles and enter the cabin thru openings on the inside of the hatch.

This shows the air inlet from the cowl/dorade vents.
I rainy weather, the hatch is closed and the cowl vent left facing the wind. Air and rain enters the cowl. The rain falls to the bottom of the sea-hood and drains out thru limber holes. The air continues past the rain baffle and enters the opening in the hatch and thus into the cabin.
These entry ports can be closed from inside the cabin if we want to shut off all air from the dorades.



Building the cabin hatches


First coats of clear epoxy. Epoxy is the base for the final AwlGrip clear coats



Hatch still waiting for the stainless grill that covers the Lexan

Pattern for the side panels


First fitting of side panel


Rough beam installed to check fit of all the components.



One of the two new storage lockers in the sea-hood.
My goal with the sea-hood was to have a place
to store everything we use on deck in a safe and convenient location without having a mass of clutter
on deck.
To calculate the sizes of these lockers, we brought every piece of gear used forward of the cockpit
and arranged it all on top of the cabin.
Then we figured out how to make everything
store in these lockers.


The sea-hood was designed to have built-in dorade boxes for the five inch cowl vents as well as the deck plate access for one of the wood burning stoves/heater.

The forward lockers contain the "roll stabilizers (flopper stoppers), two large fenders, all dock lines for use forward of the cockpit, winch handles for the main mast, sail covers when not in use, awning poles, awning for forward section of the boat, anchor windlass handle, miscellaneous lines and chafe gear and still room for a few more items.

They have locking hatch lifts to prevent thieves as much as possible.

NOTE: Everywhere I have cruised in the past I see other boats loaded down with jerry cans, and all sorts of gear just tied to whatever will secure it. My goal is to have an un-cluttered boat. Inside and out. Items will be stored very close to where they are needed so I don't have to search for something when I need it.


  The pic on the left shows two rails running between the cowl vents. This will be a where we tie-down a couple sails that are frequently used.
The center window on the pilot house hinges open and upward, so the tie-down area will be as far forward as possible.

The thought behind this is that if we are sailing in an area of light winds, we'll stow all our light air sails in this area instead of passing then up thru a hatch every time we need to make a change. Same is true for heavier weather sails, etc.


Adding the side panels.. the PVC tubes that are in each corner of the windshield serve two purposes. One is to allow wiring to be routed to the ceiling in the pilot house. This is for the 10 inch nav display and a few other electronics that will "hinge down" from the ceiling in front of the helm.

Two..when these are fiberglassed into place with epoxy and matt, it will add a lot of strength to the entire structure.


With plywood ceiling beams tabbed in place, a pattern is made for the top. The top of the pilot house will match exactly the top of the main cabin. The angle of the windshield and window design is all taken from the original Freeport cabin. This way they will match and hopefully not look too much like an add-on structure.


In this picture I am making the beginnings of a pattern for the sliding doors.

The top will also have a sliding section that when closed will attach to the boom gallows

November 29, 2012

Here is the slider pattern from inside. The doors will slide open and the door window will match up with the removable side windows of the pilot house.
The top slider will close and have a hinged panel that drops down and over the side doors to help keep out the weather and bugs.


When this is all finished the only place we will have any canvas on the enclosure, is across the back of the boom gallows. and over the canvas dodger to the aft cabin.

I have to admit that at this point the pilot house idea has taken on a life of it's own. It's using up a ton of my time. Hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.


Fitting the starboard sliding door. These doors are not for heavy weather sailing. They will be vary vulnerable to damage.
Their purpose is intended for comfort at anchor or in light weather sailing.




I have installed the bows and we are using pattern material from a regular fabric store. Sailrite.com sells a better pattern material that can be saved and used to build a duplicate dodger.

This photo shows somewhat of a view of the dodger installed


A better angle of the dodger,


Another look at the soft dodger. There is also a bimini that zips to the back edge of the dodger and snaps to the underside of the boom gallows.

This shows a view of how the bows were put together.


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