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Date: 14 June 2015. Hatch Cover How-To (Sunbrella and Tenara too)


The forward hatch on Seaweed has glass. That is wonderful during the wintertime when it acts somewhat like a greenhouse in letting in the sunshine and warmth. Plus too it is fun to watch the moon when at anchor. I can see the stars as they track across the sky. Generally speaking, I do like the glass. Summer is the exception.

This time of the year that glass has one not so pleasant consequence. The sun shines in and it turns my cabin into an oven. That is definitely unwanted. I fixed it though, and for just a couple of dollars.

Now my new hatch cover is not perfect by any means, however it is good enough. And you can do it too. As detailed in the
Screening My Hatch (eBay advice) article a screen allows me to keep the hatch open and let in breezes. The sunshine though? Well, it negated the cooling effect of the winds. I needed a new solution.

Sunbrella stuff


Of course buying a specially made hatch-cover was an option. Made with *Sunbrella fabric it would be expensive. That choice did not meet my needs for time nor cash.

*Sunbrella is a woven fabric with good UV (sunlight) protection that lasts well in a marine environment. In the picture below the bimini and window shades are made from sunbrella. This brand is popular on boats because it holds up well.


Colin and Jean stand on the bow of Lily Maria, their Thompson44:

The bimini and window covers on Lily Maria are made with Sunbrella fabric.


Usually what fails on boat canvas is the thread sewing the panels together. There is a solution. Specify Tenara brand Thread for your project.

Tenara is Very Expensive, and worth every penny of the additional cost.

If you want your outdoor fabric items to last, that brand thread is what you should choose. The better canvas companies all have it, and generally recommend same.

Tenara Thread in clear

Black or White


Of course there are other options for hatches. I wanted something to cover the glass, and figured it only had to last for the summer months. In the winter I like watching the stars.

The local thrift store had a pillow sham that from a distance I knew would look off-white. Up close it has flowers. Hey, I may live in a man's world however my little piece is definitely feminine. Also the sun will fade the flowers sooner rather than later.

Quite frankly, spending a lot for a temporary fix that will be used for just a few months seemed a needless waste of resources. This pillow sham will not last years. By the time it falls apart, summer will be over.


The forward hatch above my bunk has teak trim and bronze bars running fore and aft. You can see the shadows in the above photograph. It's the same hatch as those found on larger *Schuckers.

*Seaweed is a Schucker, made by the Schucker boat company in Florida back in 1983.

How to make a Hatch Cover in fifteen minutes:

List of Items required:

1. A pillow sham. This was chosen because the layers of fabric would prevent sunlight from coming through a single-layer fabric item.

2. Small Stuff. That is what Daddy called thin line. This project is utilizing an old flag halyard (string) from a sailboat burgee. Braided, it is 1/8" in diameter.


Lay pillow sham over hatch, tucking in edges so it is even. Then run the line under the bronze bars, and simply tie it on top. Up close you can see the lines. From a distance? No.





Should your hatch not have bars on the outside, this is what you do:


Now if you do not have those snazzy bars like I do, this is going to be a bit more complicated. And you will need a couple of hooks in addition to the Small Stuff. The snaps on a dog's leash work well.

You want to attach the line to the forward edge of your fabric. Sewing back and forth over the line works well for this. I did mine about an inch in from the corners.

Before I went to the bars method, I attached my hatch cover this way. This worked well on Seaweed for a few summers.

Next tie the hooks/snaps to the ends. How long you may wonder... Well, inside my hatch into the teak framing I had screwed a couple of eyebolts for another project. My line was tied so the snaps reached the eyes. Attaching was easy too. Snap. Done.

In this picture you can see a small portion of one eye-bolt just above the portlight on the left. It is to the right of the bell.


The two lines at the forward end kept my old cover in place quite well. Now the back end was easier. There are two hinges at the aft end of my hatch. I simply attached the Small Stuff at 1/3 and 2/3 of the distance between edges.

Then a simple bow just like we used to tie our sneakers held it on at the back end. To remove for washing was a matter of unsnapping and untying the bow. Easy works for me and the snaps were, well, a snap.


The Problem: When it rained water would wick down the lines at the forward end of the hatch cover. The way I solved that was I'd unsnap the hooks and slide a large heavy nut on the line. Then I'd tuck that weighted line between the hatch and the raised lip. (See next photo.)

No water would come in.


I admit to liking my newest boat gear acquisition. The pillow sham was $2 at the thrift store and should last me throughout the summer. Then I will wash it once. If it becomes disreputable I will chop it into work rags and use it one last time before disposal. In the meantime, my cabin is shaded and cooler too.

Life is good afloat, and it's a bit cooler now too.

Do you have shades up over your windows?
What do you do in the heat of summer to stay cool?

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