Lake Union Swift: Hatches, storage, flotation

I'm planning on starting a Lake Union Swift build later this year, once I finish some other projects.  For now, I'm contemplating some minor customizations, and the one I'm not sure about is how to make best use of the potential storage beneath the bench seats.

I'll mostly use the boat as a daysailer, but absolutely intend to do occasional one or two night camp cruises.  For the latter I'd like to stow cooking and sleeping gear.  At the same, I want to keep adequate reserve buoyancy to ease capsize recoveries.

I'm assuming it's best to keep any added gear weight amidships, close to the center of gravity, to minimize pitching inertia.  So I'm thinking of making hatches somewhere near the middle of the benches, maybe between frames 2 and 4.

I'd like recommendations on how to go about this.  My concerns are:

  • Maintaining a good seal on the hatches to keep water out, even in the event of a capsize.
  • Not compromizing the rigidity or strength of the structure.  E.g. there's a reinforcing stringer under the seats, and I'm guessing I probably want to keep those intact for their whole length.
  • Allowing easy, ample access: openings big enough to pass a tent, sleeping bags, etc.  I don't envision needing regular access while under sail or oar.
  • How best to seal the forward and aft ends of the storage area from the adjacent flotation areas.  There are holes in the frames--should I just cover them with thin plywood?
  • Minimal external hardware.  Any hinges, clasps, latches, etc. will, based on past sailing experiences, probably both bruise me and at some inopportune moment snag a sheet or other control line.
  • Not adding a lot of weight or complexity to the build.

Right now, the best solution I'm seeing is doing the "hidden hatch" method whereby a cutout in the seat would be fully removable, and held in place with bungies that go around internal hooks.   But maybe there are other options to consider?

Any thoughts on this will be welcome!

3 replies:

« Previous Post       List of Posts       Next Post »

RE: Lake Union Swift: Hatches, storage, flotation

I'm following up on my own post from almost a year ago.  I just ordered the Lake Union Swift kit with the balanced lug rig.  Don't yet know when it will arrive, and my garage is too cold for epoxy at the moment, but I can't wait to get started.

Still wondering about hatches and flotation.  I ordered one of the Sea-Lect triple latch hatches to try out.   If I like it, I may put one each port and starboard on the vertical plywood tanks.  That way I shouldn't compromise the integrity or comfort of the seats (much).  I may put a third hartch on the horizontal surface forward of the mast.

I don't intend to use all the watertight spaces for storage, though.  The design has you filling all these spaces with closed cell foam insulation for postive buoyancy.  I won't ever put an outboard on this boat and I only intend to sail on inland lakes, so I'm wondering how unwise it would be to skip the foam entirely?  It looks like a fair amount of work, and while the stuff is light, it will still add some weight.

In addition to the extra work, I'm a little worried about water getting into these sealed compartments through a tiny pinhole or such.  While I don't plan on having inspection ports to be able to visually inspect all the internals, I like the idea of at least having airflow, and the option to add an inspection port if I suspect a problem.  And I realize that, without the foam, I'll need to make sure all this internal space is vented to accommodate changes in air pressure.  Not sure I want to leave the hatches open while the boat is sitting, though, so I may be looking at intentional pin holes in the hatches.

On the other hand, having the foam does add a safety factor if I ever suffer a catastrophic collision.

What do ye sages think?


RE: Lake Union Swift: Hatches, storage, flotation

Answering based on what CLC did with my Faering Cruiser:

First off, you can see that they did what you were planning to possibly do, and it has worked well. The hatch covers are strong enough to sit on, though uncomfortable. They are not truly watertight but leak slowly enough that even in a prolonged capsize event only a few ounces of water would get in. I store the boat outdoors under a breathable custom cover with the hatches open for ventilation. I've only had water get into the storage compartments after a very heavy rain that formed a depression in the cover that filled with water and percolated through onto the seat top. I make a point of visiting the boat every couple of weeks to get rid of the water, if any.

The boat has no buoyancy foam. Remember, these are wooden boats and they will float when completely full of water unless you're carrying a V8 or something like that. Keep the hatches shut and you'll have plenty of reserve buoyancy without foam in case you swamp.

Catastrophic collisions are overrated in my opinion. Face it, even though this is a performance sailboat, the theoretical hull speed is about 4 kts, a fast walk. Even if you manage to get it surfing I'd be surprised if you got close to a fast run. So I don't think you'll be getting into any catastrophic collisions unless there's a powerboat involved. And that's pretty unlikely if you're on the water in good weather with a sail up on a 10-ft plus mast.

I think that the most likely thing you should plan for is a capsize or being swamped by an inconsiderate wake. Both of those are easily handled by empty air tanks, no foam needed.



RE: Lake Union Swift: Hatches, storage, flotation

Thanks Laszlo!  That's all the reassurance I need to skip the extra steps of fitting a bunch of foam insulation.  I appreciate your insights here, and on so many other threads.



« Previous Post     List of Posts     Next Post »

Please login or register to post a reply.