Companionway Hatch Fix

Forget the adhesive and replace the glazing.

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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.

Anton Piotroski

Pearson 27

When using an adhesive, its best to know what the materials are that youll 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 youd be using them. Wed be interested in hearing from readers who have had success here.

In your case, wed 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, youll find a good how-to in Don Caseys 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 PSs 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.) Whats your opinion?

Ed Aasvik

Boise, Idaho

Two eyes are better than one, so binoculars trump a monocular. That being said, a high optical quality 7×50 monocular is better than a 10×28 pair of binoculars, which offer too much magnification and too small a field of view. Two obvious benefits to 7×50 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 its 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 wearers 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. Wed choose waterproof 7×50 binos with a compass, preferably image stabilized. Good choices include the Fujinon FMTRC-SX or Steiner Commander V.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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