Rebuilding the Companionway

While I’ve been waiting for parts to complete rebuilding the engine, I decided to start another project. One of the things that has bothered me most about Watari since I got her is an ill-advised modification the previous owner made which has caused a disastrous chain of events.

Here are a couple of photos of Watari from when she was first launched. Notice how the companionway consists of a hatch only, there’s no cutaway into the cockpit. Access to the cabin was via this hatch and a stepladder:

The previous owner cut away the bulkhead into the cockpit to make step through access and replaced the bulkhead with drop boards. I suppose this was done to make access to the cabin easier, and perhaps to improve ventilation, but it caused a lot of problems. The mainsheet traveler had to be repositioned from the cut away bulkhead to the cockpit, reducing usable cockpit space. And the removal of the bulkhead meant that the hatch wouldn’t close properly, causing leaks which have been allowing water intrusion and damaging the interior for years.

I plan to rebuild this bulkhead and ladder to how it was originally. I’ll add a few modifications, such as moving the engine start panel to this bulkhead, and possibly a ventilation fan/porthole. This will be much stronger, and will keep water out of the cabin even in the event of a knockdown or being swamped by a major wave.

First I had to cut away the drop board slots and all the rotten old wood.

For now she’s just covered with plastic until the engine top end rebuild is finished and I can sand, clean and fiberglass the new bulkhead and traveler support in.

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