About the first thing we replaced when we bought Lottie were her old hatch boards which were sound but not pretty. We used plywood sold as “Marine Ply – not suitable for boat building” as it was cheap and hatchboards are not exactly structural. The description of this plywood proved to be no exaggeration. We had made hatchboards before for Eleanor, our old Trident. The proper marine ply we used then survived well, despite their decaying varnish, as the photograph of her 20 year-old hatchboards shows. This was taken in 2004 when she was in Brighton Marina. [Click small photos for larger images]
Even by the end of the first year Lottie‘s new hatchboards were showing signs of deterioration, in spite of several coats of International Yacht Varnish. This may have been due to:
- water wicking up the exposed end grain at the bottom of the lower board despite the varnish applied there
- the effects of ultra-violet light from the sun on the varnish
After about 4 years there were signs of the ply delaminating and water penetration round the sides of the boards. In 2010 we replaced them with teak-faced boards treated with Sikkens Cetol Marine Wood Oil Varnish. To deter wicking of moisture up from the bottom, a strip of teak lipping was epoxied to the bottom edge.
At the same time a simple acrylic canvas cover was fitted to protect the boards and hatchway from rain and sunlight when we are not aboard (that is, most of the time). This is easily rigged and removed as it is simply held in place by four press studs.
A window could be cut in the central board to provide more light below when hatch boards have to be rigged in bad weather. Applying the perpex inside (as with the first set of Lottie‘s boards) rather than outside (as on Eleanor) is arguably neater. But it exposes more cut plywood edges to moisture ingress.
An alternative would be a duplicate board made of perspex for use in harbour. Or a flexible window in the canvas cover so it can be rigged – without the hatchboards – when below in bad weather.
The old boards will be refurbished and painted for use over winter so the ‘best’ boards can be preserved in the dry at home while Lottie is laid up.