Cockpit Enclosure Design Requirements ~ September 2015

You can see from the picture that the cockpit enclosure on Rua Fiola was very standard. It was 2-level with a type of windshield to look through while at the helm. We have seen this layout on lots of boats so it must be OK. In practice my head always connected with the lower hoop whenever I went below. Apparently I am untrainable as I never learned, but then I noticed everyone else of height greater that 5'-4" was doing the same thing. This is a serious problem that in rough weather could cause a concussion and leave the boat shorthanded and exposed.

The canvas and screens still had at least 5+ years of life in them, so it was a problem. First thing we did was to remove the canvas, screens and then the front hoops. The remaining hoop was a large 1-1/2" diameter rear hoop with to half moon cut-outs presumably for crew to hold onto will at sail in a strong wind. This hoop we have seen on a number of Vagabonds so we presume it was orgional.

Wth all this done the boat was totally different, it was spacious, non-confining and very easy to manouver around. So the decision was made, if we could build a better enclosure that gave ...

... then we would go ahead with a new design and its fabrication. We knew this would be expensive, as just to replace the canvas and side screens of similar design and size was recently quoted at $6,000. The first step was detailed measurement of the cockpit and origonal rear hoop, then off into the CAD system. I an good with 2D but I wish I was young enough to have been brought up in 3D CAD. Neverless a design emerged, which looked reasonable enough to talk to a steel fabricator about construction.

Steel Fabrication - Diversified Fabricators ~ January 2016

We live in Coastal Georgia which is bereft of most services that boatowners look for. Diversified Fabricators and Erectors Inc in Brunswick is a first class shop with about 200 employees and equipment to do almost any kind of work - Shears, Brakes and very large Plasma cutters (20') and a skilled workforce to do good work. Josh Kirkland the owner looked at the CAD files and said, change this and that and we can do the job. I made the changes and re-submitted, he gave a price and I said lets go. What I did not expect was a phone call from the metal worker himself saying "come on down to the shop to check everything out". This I did on the layout table, stayed for the bending of the two vertical hoops. I came back for the horizontal frame and we took it and the mounting brackets to the boat for assembly. The fit was perfect and the 4 final welds that tied the perimater frame to the vertical hoops were completed. All that was required was to put in roof stringers and forward and rear struts that define fron and rear windshields Total price for steel $3,600.

Roof Installation ~ Complete January 2016

Two additional things that the designneeded to accomplish were the interior of the cockpit roof was to be polished Wood and the center strip was clear acrylic so that the sail shape could be easily seen from the Helm. We chose Cedar for the roof both for its beauty and it being almost impervious to sea air. I fabricated the roof panels at home and then put them on the steel frame. The last step was to cut 1/88" thick white and clear acrylic sheet as the outer weather surface. Acrylic is chosen because it does not yellow when exposed to UV.

We had a suprise when we took the boat to florida in late March. By May the high temperature were expanding the acrylic to the point that it was buckling at the seams and letting LOTS of water into the cockpit. We resolved this problem by using 1" wide stainless rub raillayed over the seam with soft non-curing black butyl to make the seam watertight. It has worked well and we see no reason to take further steps.

Isinglass Side Screens ~ Complete February 2016

The final step was to get the side screens made. We worked with Topstitch Canvas in Fernandina Beach FL. The design I had layed out was a single panel between each of the Vertical Hoop risers and the Front and rear strut sets, 8 panels in total with no compound curves. Instead of snaps or 1/4 turn buckles the top of each screen slides into a circular track, all of the vertical edges zip together in line with the steel supports and the bottoms along the coaming trim teak use 1/4 turn clips. The photo below was taken during the Mast removal in Ft Pierce FL. It looks a bit sparce now but when the mast rigging and sails are back on she will look more balanced.

.