July 2012 Issue
Companionway Hatch Fix
Forget the adhesive and replace the glazing.
While rigging my boat, the boom came crashing down on the companionway hatch cover. The crash resulted in a crack in the cover: What was once a single rectangular plastic cover was in two pieces.
I did some research on gluing plastics and came away more confused than when I started. My research revealed that some plastics cannot be glued, while others can be, as long as the right glue is utilized. I don’t even know what the smoke-colored, half-inch-thick hatch cover material is: acrylic, poly-carbonate, Lexan? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
When using an adhesive, it’s best to know what the materials are that you’ll be gluing—not all adhesives are appropriate for all materials. For example: You should never use a polyurethane sealant or caulk on polycarbonate (Lexan) or acrylic (Plexiglass). Our August 2010 report on adhesives, caulks, and sealants offers more details on selecting the best one for the job. There are glues that work on Lexan or acrylic, but we have not tested them in the way you’d be using them. We’d be interested in hearing from readers who have had success here.
In your case, we’d recommend replacement. The material itself and DIY installation is not too expensive. You can use acrylic or a polycarbonate. Acrylic is less vulnerable to scratching, but polycarbonate is stronger.
Look for a local glazier or acrylic fabricator who can cut you a new hatch slide cover. If you can’t locate one in your area, check out Maritime Plastics in Annapolis, Md. (410/263-4424, www.maritimeplastics.com) or Select Plastics in East Norwalk, Conn. (203/866-3767, www.selectplastics.com). Both are PS reader-recommended for companionway hatch/dropboard replacements. Depending on the job specifics, prices range from $300-$800.
If you decide to install the new cover yourself, you’ll find a good how-to in Don Casey’s “This Old Boat.” He recommends GE SilPruf SCS2000 or Dow Corning 795 Silicone Building Sealant; both are silicone adhesives designed for structural glazing. You can find the book in PS’s online bookstore at www.practical-sailor.com.
Monocular vs. Binocular
I was re-reading “The Compleat Cruiser,” and author Francis Hereshoff made a case for using a monocular onboard small boats instead of binoculars. He asserts that monoculars are lighter, more compact, simpler in operation, and that the binoculars’ depth perception is largely irrelevant to the small-boat skipper who is primarily just trying to identify navigation aids, etc. These arguments appeal to me especially, since I do not have stereoscopic vision. (One eye is much more near-sighted.) What’s your opinion?
Two eyes are better than one, so binoculars trump a monocular. That being said, a high optical quality 7x50 monocular is better than a 10x28 pair of binoculars, which offer too much magnification and too small a field of view. Two obvious benefits to 7x50 marine binoculars over a monocular are that they collect light better and offer a large field of view. The former means binos will have the advantage at dawn or dusk and in other low-light settings. And the latter is a definite plus when scanning the horizon.
Humans with binocular vision do not easily, nor efficiently, shift to telescope viewing. Many immediately close one eye, a strain that complicates long-term viewing because it’s a deviation in sensory input through the optical pathways to the brain.
Those with significant dominance in one eye may be good candidates for a monocular, but another option worth considering is a marine binocular with individually focusing eye pieces. In high-quality binoculars, the diopter adjustment is accurate enough to be set to an eyeglass wearer’s prescription.
The bottom line lies in binoculars for the dual-sighted and a monocular for those who are single-sighted or very dominant eye biased. We’d choose waterproof 7x50 binos with a compass, preferably image stabilized. Good choices include the Fujinon FMTRC-SX or Steiner Commander V.