Restoring an old companionway: the sea hood

The sea hood is a curious feature on the deck of a sailboat. You can picture it as the shell of  a turtle and the sliding hatch as its head, coming in and out. When open the hatch slides underneath the sea hood, when closed it comes all the way out.

The sea hood covers and protects the opening between the cabin top and the hatch deflecting waves that otherwise will put the hatch under siege making it a very good feature for a blue water boat. Water is so good in finding its way into things that trying to stop it requires the help of multiple agents, and here the sea hood comes into the game.

On Tranquility, our 50 years old Columbia 29 mki, the sea hood is built in solid teak, like the rest of the companionway. Functioning as partial beams the longitudinal elements of the structure strengthen the deck, which on Tranquility is fiberglass laminate with no core, and so it’s a bit springy. Beside being bulky heavy and complex, a fully restored watertight seahood contributes to the sturdiness of a boat.

The project steps are very similar to the ones I described in the sliding hatch post, with the difference that I had to work on the deck instead this time.

image
The old teak of the companionway

At first I worked caulking all the gaps around the sea hood, using Teak Decking Systems product. The effort has the objective to avoid that water running on deck would sip underneath the wood.

image
The frame of the sea hood re caulked

After that I proceeded rebuilding the plywood support. Again, I used 1/4 inch plywood because the sea hood has a curve and thicker plywood won’t allow to bend as easily. To reach the desired thickness and strenght I laminated two pieces one on top of the other.

image
First plywood board installed and ready for laminating. This time I had to use small screws to set the plywood to the frame as there was no way to use clamps. The second plywood board goes on top of it and it’s coated with at least two coats of clear epoxy resin.

image

Teak strips routed
Teak strips routed

To save some expensive caulking and to make the job easier I routed 1/8 inch slot into the teak strips with a table router I borrowed from Fernando. Fernando is a good friend of mine and a talented guitar maker, check out his work on his website.

Teak strips dry-fit
Teak strips dry-fit

I had to shuffle around the teak strips to find the best match. For how hard I tried to get the most precise fit, the curved surface put some challenges to this job.

image
New Teak installed and set in place with epoxy resin and thickener

Such an asymmetrical shape required custom ideas to cajole the pieces into shape. In this case some hevy weight and flexible plywood strips did the job.

image
Caulking operations underway

I proceeded filling the slots using the same caulk product. After taping the wood to make an easier clean-up, I used a cheap caulking gun (still on a budget…) to fill the slots. Following with a spatula I pressed the caulk hard down into the slots working two strips at the time and removing the tape along with the progress.

image
The finished Sea Hood

A final sanding to remove excess caulk left a smooth surface. I then washed the teak thoroughly with a solution of water (75%) and bleach (25%) plus a couple of tablespoon of Sodium Triphosphate and finally applied three coats of Semco Teck Sealer.

I am glad another piece of the companionway is completed. It’s amazing how complicated it is. With components sliding into each others and pieces that have to be reinstalled in the correct sequence it resembles a puzzle game and I am very glad there are less and less pieces to get to the final picture.

22 thoughts on “Restoring an old companionway: the sea hood”

  1. Fabio
    The work you have done so far looks great!! Don C told me to check out your site and said you were doing a bunch of great things to your 29 . I’m a new owner of a great little 63 mk1 and will be sailing my boat home in less then a week . I look forward to seeing your progress and I would be more then happy to exchange any info I could offer as I dig into her .

    Cheers
    Jimmy
    SV Gull
    63 Columbia 29 Mk1

  2. Fabio
    The work you have done so far looks great!! Don C told me to check out your site and said you were doing a bunch of great things to your 29 . I’m a new owner of a great little 63 mk1 and will be sailing my boat home in less then a week . I look forward to seeing your progress and I would be more then happy to exchange any info I could offer as I dig into her .

    Cheers
    Jimmy
    SV Gull
    63 Columbia 29 Mk1

  3. Hi Jimmy, thanks for commenting.

    Don C told me you bought a C29 built in Portsmouth, VA and I am very curious to see what are the differences between East and West coast models. Tranquility has been heavily modified by previous owners and now by myself, so I am curious to understand what came from factory and what didn’t.

    Have a great trip sailing home!

  4. Hi Jimmy, thanks for commenting.

    Don C told me you bought a C29 built in Portsmouth, VA and I am very curious to see what are the differences between East and West coast models. Tranquility has been heavily modified by previous owners and now by myself, so I am curious to understand what came from factory and what didn’t.

    Have a great trip sailing home!

  5. Hey Fabio!
    Looking good man!
    I can’t imagine the amount of time this and the cockpit locker re-channeling took…They both look like incredibly tedious tasks but necessary…I know when I was fixing my companionway hatch and making it water tight it took a lot of thought, time, ingenuity, and effort but the end result is a 10 times stronger area and water tight fix that will last for years to come better than the original design that was always due to fail. My Nova Luna sadly sits in Bayline Boatyard with very little work from me lately and missing this season in the water…The cabin has no finished floor as I removed the original cork flooring for replacement with something better and the lockers have been taken apart for re-painting and re-bedding of deck hardware…I need to take care of a couple more water leaks, paint the lockers, cut and place new plastic locker ceilings with openings for easier future access, put down new flooring, take care of a soft soft in the cabin top coring, paint the decks, polish the topsides again, sand and finish the teak toe rail/coaming/companionway again, repaint the waterline stripe, glass work to damaged centerboard and cb trunk area, replace prop shaft & cutlass bearing, install depth sounder, install used roller furling I bought for it recently, install used fresh water cooling system to Atomic 4, etc etc etc…The hopes are that I will get to her sooner or later and get her in the water again in 2016!

    1. Wow Freddy, looks like a war bulletin!
      I really hope you can put some time on her this winter. I bet you will tackle some of the less enabling projects and sail her in the summer, to repeat next winter and so on.I now am counting the time I spent repairing the boat and it’s close to two and a half years, with 5 months of sailing only. Well, the hope is that very soon there will be little but sailing involved. You should keep a blog, or a private log of the works but more important take a lot of pictures. It helps me so much going through them and going through the succession of jobs.

  6. Hey Fabio!
    Looking good man!
    I can’t imagine the amount of time this and the cockpit locker re-channeling took…They both look like incredibly tedious tasks but necessary…I know when I was fixing my companionway hatch and making it water tight it took a lot of thought, time, ingenuity, and effort but the end result is a 10 times stronger area and water tight fix that will last for years to come better than the original design that was always due to fail. My Nova Luna sadly sits in Bayline Boatyard with very little work from me lately and missing this season in the water…The cabin has no finished floor as I removed the original cork flooring for replacement with something better and the lockers have been taken apart for re-painting and re-bedding of deck hardware…I need to take care of a couple more water leaks, paint the lockers, cut and place new plastic locker ceilings with openings for easier future access, put down new flooring, take care of a soft soft in the cabin top coring, paint the decks, polish the topsides again, sand and finish the teak toe rail/coaming/companionway again, repaint the waterline stripe, glass work to damaged centerboard and cb trunk area, replace prop shaft & cutlass bearing, install depth sounder, install used roller furling I bought for it recently, install used fresh water cooling system to Atomic 4, etc etc etc…The hopes are that I will get to her sooner or later and get her in the water again in 2016!

    1. Wow Freddy, looks like a war bulletin!
      I really hope you can put some time on her this winter. I bet you will tackle some of the less enabling projects and sail her in the summer, to repeat next winter and so on.I now am counting the time I spent repairing the boat and it’s close to two and a half years, with 5 months of sailing only. Well, the hope is that very soon there will be little but sailing involved. You should keep a blog, or a private log of the works but more important take a lot of pictures. It helps me so much going through them and going through the succession of jobs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *