This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Chapter 5: Hatches

The area between bulkheads 1 and 2 is a dry locker, accessible through two removable hatches located in bulkhead 2 right above the front seat. This dry locker also doubles as an air chamber for flotation, so the hatches need to be as watertight as possible. My goal was to make the hatch covers as large as possible and to develop a latch that would secure the hatch covers tightly but still enable them to be removed easily. This is what I came up with:
The hatch openings each measure 420 x 265, which is big enough to stick your head and an arm through.
The hatch covers were made from the pieces cut out to make the access hole, with a 40mm frame piece glued on. The forward face of this frame will have a rubber seal made of weatherstripping applied.

The latch handles were made from scraps of mahogany with a bolt imbedded. The latch is made of pieces of oak with the center tapped for the bolt. Screwing the handles clockwise latches and tightens down the hatch cover for a watertight seal. Screwing them counterclockwise until they completely loosen allows removal of the hatch cover. Stop blocks attached to the bulkhead control when the latches stop. The latches remain attached to the hatch cover and they can be easily replaced when worn out.


  1. Hi Joel,

    Firstly awesome stuff. You've demystified so much with your comprehensive blog. I've got a few dumb questions about your rigging choices, if I may:

    Firstly, what pushed you to the yawl setup? I've only sailed sloops, and I fear the extra mizzen sail, with its additional lines and halyard would confuse the hell out of me. Do you find a yawl rig significantly harder to sail than a sloop?

    Next, I see you've got a hollow mast, but it appears you don't run the halyard up the inside. If you were doing it over, would you do this? Also, I see you lace the luff to the mast rather than run it up a channel (or use slugs). What are your thoughts on pros and cons of the different methods of sail attachment. Is a channel even doable with a wooden mast?

    1. Those are very good questions. Like you, I had only sailed sloops. The yawl rig looked like it would be fun, interesting and challenging to learn something new. Now that I've used it, I really like it. Three small sails are easier to manage than one or two large sails. The masts are shorter and lighter making them easy to step. Two masts make for a wide open cockpit rather than having a mast in the middle getting in the way. Yawls can self-steer. The sails are lower and spread out more horizontal so the boat does not heel over nearly as much as a sloop. It can carry more sail area in higher winds than a sloop making it faster than a sloop in windy conditions. The only disadvantage is it's slightly less efficient pointing upwind than a sloop but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Sailing a yawl is not much different than a sloop. The mizzen usually does the same thing the main does. I do not like internal halyards at all. I like them exposed where I can see what's going on with them at all times. I don't like sail tracks either. I've had them before and had problems with them sticking. I like to keep things as simple as possible. Fewer things can go wrong that way.