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Window storm covers could have prevented fatal yacht sinking

  • Katy Stickland
  • October 12, 2021

An investigation by Maritime New Zealand has concluded that window storm covers could have prevented the fatal sinking of the Bavaria 47 Ocean, Essence off North Island

The Essence, a Bavaria 47 Ocean. Window storm covers would have prevented her loss in heavy weather, according to Maritime New Zealand. Credit: Bruce Goodwin

The Essence, a Bavaria 47 Ocean. Window storm covers would have prevented her loss in heavy weather, according to Maritime New Zealand. Credit: Bruce Goodwin

New regulations on window storm covers for yachts have been introduced, following an investigation into the fatal sinking of the Bavaria 47 Ocean, Essence off the coast of New Zealand.

Maritime New Zealand now requires all boats undertaking international voyages to fit storm covers on windows of more than 1853cm², and have updated the Regulations and the Yacht Inspectors’ Manual.

The story of the sinking of Essence , with the loss of the skipper, Stuart Pedersen featured in YM’s Learning Curve Sunk in a storm with no liferaft: lessons learned in our August 2021 issue.

Swimmer descends to the liferaft in breaking waves; two casualties were still in the storm-battered sea after the yacht sunk. Credit: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

The loss of the liferaft meant Essence ‘s crew had to wait for one to be dropped by the emergency services before being rescued. Credit: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

The boat was on passage from Fiji to Tauranga, New Zealand when heavy weather forced the crew to change course towards Opua in the Bay of Islands, a lee shore .

Although the four-strong experienced crew prepared for the storm, window storm covers were not fitted, despite being onboard.

Essence suffered multiple knockdowns in heavy seas before foundering in 60 knot winds off the east coast of Northland, North Island on 14 October 2019; the final knockdown resulted in the starboard windows breaking, and water flooding the saloon.

A chart showing where The Essence sunk

Essence’s original course, and her amended course. Credit: Maxine Heath

The liferaft was washed off the aft deck and the crew had to abandon ship into the sea before eventually being rescued by helicopter; skipper Stuart Pedersen died.

The Maritime New Zealand report into the sinking concludes that whilst there were a number of issues in relation to the sinking, ‘the key finding for the loss of Essence was the failure to have storm coverings secured in heavy seas.’

Continues below…

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It also highlights the high standard of the boat and equipment and that Pedersen ‘was a highly experienced blue water yachtsman who, in the face of testing conditions, adopted a commonly-used strategy of running before heavy seas. It is clear from the evidence of the survivors that he was instrumental in contributing to the survival of his crew throughout the ordeal.’

Essence sank in the south east quadrant of the low pressure system.

‘In the southern hemisphere, mariners should avoid the south east quadrant of intense low pressure systems as more severe conditions are usually generated in this sector,’ noted Maritime New Zealand, which highlighted that the shelving coastline of a lee shore will result in more dangerous seas in heavy weather.

Stuart Pedersen, the owner and skipper, who died after his Bavaria 47 sunk off New Zealand. Credit: Jason Marra

The late Stuart Pedersen, Essences ‘s owner and skipper. Maritime New Zealand said his actions were ‘instrumental in contributing to the survival of his crew’. Credit: Jason Marra

‘If there is a possibility of encountering dangerous seas whilst closing on a lee shore, consideration should always be given to standing out to sea and heaving-to with adequate sea room to allow a low pressure system to pass before heading towards a shore,’ it added.

It also stated that liferafts should be securely fastened on deck or in the cockpit with ‘substantial through-bolted fittings’. The painter must also be secure.

Skippers are also now required to practice and demonstrate knowledge of how their boat performs with a drogue .

Read the full Maritime New Zealand report here

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need for storm covers on window for ocean cruising

Discussion in ' Boat Design ' started by Flash Gordon , Aug 20, 2014 .

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon Junior Member

Hi, one of the minor annoyances with my vandestadt 34 is the pilot house window is a complete wrap around to give the impression of unrestricted forward viewing in the pilothouse. In fact the window cut outs are fairly conservative and the window is massively thick. it was professionally installed with a glueing compound over a fairly large area {no through bolts). I am told it is common to build modern boats using this method but i am nervous about serious storm damage on a glues window. it would be fairly easy to install a moulded ply storm cover with protective pads over the whole window and securing with throughbolted handrails and easy after storm damage to plug the conservative window cutouts with ply. However, if others have had no problem with the window installation method i might reduce the priority of this project? thanks for any input.  

Ad Hoc

Ad Hoc Naval Architect

Flash Gordon said: ↑ However, if others have had no problem with the window installation method i might reduce the priority of this project? thanks for any input. Click to expand...
thanks the surveyor examined thoroughly {i was paranoid} and his conclusions (fully seaworthy) and inquiry with builder suggest it was done to industry standard. But can never be certain! hence the trepidation thanks again very helpful!  

FAST FRED

FAST FRED Senior Member

I would surely carry a plan B , should the sperts be in error.  

PAR

PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

I haven't seen many motorsailors that didn't require some sort of storm light and port covers. The exposed glass is just too big, for serious off shore passage making. I've seen stoved in well fixed lights, busted right out on the best equipped and built yachts, so the cheap insurance, particularly with today's weather forecasting, provided by a good set of covers, just makes way too much sense. Yeah, they'll lay in a locker 99.99% of their lives, but the day you need them, you'll really need them.  
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Storm Covers Thanks, you have convinced me. I suspected I would need a board to cover the large wrap around forward facing pilot window and designed a system, but hoped I could skimp on the side windows (very excessively heavy plexi?? and is well braced and only a little bigger than conventional windows). I will now fit a similar system (wedged plates under strong through bolted handrails) to the side windows. I have only used storm batterns once and forgot how scary the incident was (wont bother you with details). Thanks again.  

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yacht window storm covers

  • Q&A: Safety of Large Pilothouse Windows

Member Tim asks [edited for brevity]: I notice you have not mentioned [in this Online Book ] the integrity of windows during a knockdown and the possibility of storm covers. (I don’t mean something to fix a broken window afterwards.)

Maybe this not a significant issue for many boats but ours is a pilot house/deck saloon design…I worry that should we get knocked down and smash a window, the volume of water that could enter would be colossal.

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More Articles From Online Book: Heavy Weather Tactics:

  • Introduction—We Need A System
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  • Summary And Conclusions For Heavy Weather Book

Marc Dacey

Well, this is a good discussion, because I have a boat with no hull portlights at all, but with large pilothouse windows, or (technically) “deadlights”, which confusingly is not only a fixed portlight, but the storm cover that can go over it. Storm covers/shutters are a necessary thing to carry, I think, but are only part of the solution. We also have the means to seal off the “downstairs” aft cabin and saloon with gasketed storm doors (also a security measure when away) and we are putting in a gasketed engine bay “clamshell” hatch: if we take a wave over the stern, the water should not get far. Lastly, the pilothouse itself has scuppers formed into the hull: if we got two feet of water inside in a worst-case scenario, it would (eventually) drain out, although I would hope that a well-designed set of storm covers and a doggable companionway hatch would keep 99% of the sea out, even in a roll. If the site allows, here’s a recent shot of the pilothouse to show what I’m talking about. The port scupper is just below the long white fender. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vkM8UZxqoMc/VE6ZXDGmkCI/AAAAAAAACUg/bzZs-WdUQu0/s1600/WP_20141025_10_17_30_Smart.jpg

You can’t plan for everything, but I am often surprised at what isn’t planned for: storm shutters mounted on four or six stand-offs, threaded and backed, are really cheap insurance. Many boats seem to suffer when a portlight is stove in and it becomes impossible to keep up with water ingress. Even wooden shutters (although I prefer 1/4″ aluminum as has been suggested) could mitigate a big ‘un hitting the boat squarely.

Tim

Do you have covers that go over the forward pilothouse windows also? I was told by someone in a yard, who was relatively expeirenced, that boards were only really necessary for the p+s windows in the case of a broach / knockdown.

I do not yet have boards for the forward pilothouse windows, two of which are tempered, fixed glass and the center one, which opens up and out. I am considering Lexan boards for the fixed panes, and leaving the center pane to its own devices as it is well-blocked by the pilothouse overhang and by the substantial mast tabernacle.

But it’s definitely a consideration.

Eric Klem

A very worthwhile discussion that you have framed well. I actually have always considered the portholes and large forward hatch on our boat to be the weakest component structurally and am working on a plan to replace them.

A couple of thoughts on the stresses in windows/stormcovers. I suspect that the load on these can be approximated by a pressure. Unfortunately, I don’t know what pressure would be appropriate to use but there are probably people here who already know the answer to this. From there, you can take a given geometry and look at what the stress should be. In general terms, the strength in bending of a material is proportional to the square of its thickness so you would need a material that is 4 times as strong if you are going to halve the thickness. How the material is constrained at the edge makes a huge different in the stresses. Also, the geometry of the area covered is very important. If you look at a cantilevered 2D beam with a constant force per length acting on it, the stress will quadruple if you double the length. This is important because bigger windows will require thicker material or a separate support structure.

I have only ever sailed with stormcovers on once. It was on a boat that was well thought out and had clear covers so we were able to easily put them on while the weather was still nice and then there was no rush to take them off afterwards. It would seem to me that using a clear material would be advantageous as you could put them on well in advance of poor weather.

Trevor Robertson

John, As I understand it (and I am not an engineer), if a window or storm cover is uniformly constrained around its edge, the critical dimension for calculating the stress on it is its minimum dimension. A square window is much weaker than a long, narrow window of the same area. If I have got this right, the most important variable in specifying the strength of a deadlight is its height, assuming the fastenings are stronger than the deadlight. Perhaps an engineer could confirm this?

Given this, and the fact that most windows are rectangular rather than square, a deadlight probably only needs only to be attached along its top and bottom. However if the plate has a strongback attached along its long axis, the strongback effectively divides the deadlight into two pieces. These probably have to be attached at the ends where the strongback laps on the cabin structure. A series of short reinforcing pieces at right angle to the long axis would probably be more effective. Again, perhaps an engineer could comment?

If the deadlight is of aluminium 6061 T4 or T6 (the obvious material to use) and requires reinforcing, it may be sensible to do it with an angle section bolted or riveted in place, not welded, given the considerable loss of local strength that occurs when that alloy is welded.

As you point out John, the amount of water than comes in though a broken window is considerable. It has only happened to me once, in a previous boat off the South Island of New Zealand. I was running before a gale when a wave picked Salvation Jane up and dumped her on her beam ends, breaking the galley window on the lee side. The window was about 60cm x 12cm (2ft x 5 in). It took me about 30 minutes to get a plywood patch in place and by that time the water in the cabin was over the bunks. Salvation Jane did not have an inboard engine so at least the interior was not covered with emulsified oil, which happens quite quickly once an engine is flooded. Even without a layer of oil on everything, getting the patch in place was difficult due to the irregular, violent motion, perhaps caused by the free surface effect of a boatload of water. I baled her out and carried on to Australia, but it was a close run thing for a while.

In addition to deadlights for saloon windows, it is probably a good idea to have a precut aluminium or plywood panel to replace the acrylic section of each deck hatch. These panels are for repair only and not routinely fitted in heavy weather.

Trevor Robertson Iron Bark Stornoway, Scotland

John Harries

A sobering story indeed. Thanks for sharing it and confirming first hand how quickly a boat open to the sea can flood.

Also good points about window geometry and strong backs.

George

Hi John: I faced this same decision when designing a 55 ft aluminun sloop with a i closed pilot light. I decided on 3/8 inch thick tempered glass windows not over 3 sf in area. Glass so they would remain clear. I know that any glass can be broken given the conditions at sea so my solution was to separate the pilot house from the interior. A self draining pilot house floor, additional conpainionway enclosure and port lights to the interior. Happy to report that after 15 years of offshore sailing they have not been needed but I know that they are there. George

CaperAsh

I was looking at this for sale listing recently in which some of these issues seem to have been addressed for a pilothouse in a 2011 William Gardner-designed build done by a ‘professional mariner’ owner. Listing: http://www.popyachts.com/Boat/37303/For-Sale/Oregon/William-Garden/40-Custom-Ketch-Deep-Keel.html

“From the aircraft windshields in the house to the military grade portholes in the stern..”

Images 13-15 show what appears to be a ruggedly constructed double-layered porthole (also a sealed hatch?), and image 38 shows a large part of the large ‘aircraft windshield’ comprising the front part of the pilot-house.

( I find his chart table arrangement in Images 70-71 really nifty.)

Clearly this is a custom-made job, but it appears this builder worked hard to make this a very strong ocean-going vessel. Of course this doesn’t mean he got it right, but presumably he researched this a little and might be able to contribute some specs regarding the aircraft windshield material and ‘military grade portholes’ such that an engineer contributing here might be able to evaluate if he has come up with a good pilothouse window solution.

Wow…look at that price!

RDE

That would make a great Alaska boat. Think of it as a trawler with steadying sails built like a fish boat instead of a yachty toy. Friends who have gone to Alaska for the summer come back with spider’s nests under their sail covers——.

I forwarded the ad to some sailing friends as an example of “a bridge too far” in terms of customization. Those are definitely safe portlights, however…

Marc, I am curious to learn what aspects specifically you found ‘a bridge too far’. I have no attachment to the vessel, particularly, but am generally looking at different boats/designs in order to see different designs and solutions simply in order to learn more about how the many different issues involved are addressed. The main takeaway I got from this one is that it seems more like a working boat than a pleasure yacht, almost military-like. It also seems massively overbuilt compared to most 40′ vessels. And interesting that the hull is wooden. Looks seaworthy, but probably quite slow under sail.

CaperAsh, by “too far”, I suppose I meant “an intensely personal vision fully realized that is not going to be broadly shared”. I can see great care went into this boat structurally and (as far as I can tell) in term of equipment, access and other considerations. But it’s a damned ugly thing, is “needlessly wooden” in the sense that I associate wooden construction with beauty and “showing off that it’s wood in the first place”. Here, there’s a lot of rough lumber showing, aged three-strand for halyards, there’s no gunwhales where I would expect them, and instruments are labelled (and misspelled) with Dymo tape. It looks as if large parts were salvaged from the bins behind Home Depot, and while I suspect it’s quite strong and seaworthy, it bears the emphases of the one guy who built it to his own particular tastes. In this, it resembles a LOT of “modified Roberts homebuilt” designs I’ve seen quietly rusting in yards. *Definitely* safe portlights, though!

DavideZ

In ship building most side portholes have a watertight metal panel used in case of failure of the glass. This system can be found in old Hallberg Rassy too. The extra plate is connected to the main frame porthole. This solution is an extra safety with port hole that can be broken not only from a wave but manly from a jig on dock side when mooring. Other Scandinavian builders used in the past to install the mineral glass hatch ( no “plastic”, Lexan, PMMA…there are various names and quality). This good practice has been cancel from some rule standard, that see the glass to much “rigid” and the PMMA more elastic…and probably cheep. Most of actual standard hatches have thickness of 8-10 or 12mm Pmma. The most nice system is to add a couple of bar/rod under the Pmma to reinforce it. This solution is used on Bomar. The 2 rod can have a secondary (small) extra safety to make difficult enter in the boat if someone breaks the Pmma and would like to visit you… Some ship use a small cover with a small round glass (max 20cm), so you can have light and in case of break you can close the hole with a towel. The boat mentioned by CaperAsh has this solution on many hatches.

Regarding pilothouse glass size I can divide in: Material: The best is glass , so you have double or triple glasses, normally are 6mm glass,4 gap or air and 6mm glass…this will help to prevent condensation…but 6mm are a minimum standard. If you want a extra safety or a scantling for Ice breaker you have to use 12mm or 15mm glass, that is not easy to do, specially clear. (If you think to bullet proof car they are normally dark). This will make a lot of weight that can create problem in installation. So you have to keep your glasses small…but a pilot house with small glasses is not so much pilot house, specially when the boat is under heel, or there are spray on the glasses. One of the main differences from glass and Pmma, is that this one can scratches quite easily. Installing: Some like to glue, and some to screw the glass, some to have the glass on a frame, the only secret is to keep the glass or the PMMA floating on his frame with large (the seal should be scantling too) use of Sika 295 with primer,4200 by 3M .A frame can be added later but is only to protect the seal from the sun. On large planning motor yacht, that have a lot of G acceleration when cruising at 30 to 40Kn are glued, but the risk of a column of water on top of the glass is far away, so a good pilot house is designed to flush away the major part of the water and offer less resistance. A SAR vessel will fight against the water, but a sailboat will probably escape from big waves. Off course a roll-over or a capsize can break the windows, but major part of the water will probably enter from the main entrance, your electronics will go under water if is not water proof. In this case a truck cloth can be the only quick solution to close the hole. For my experience the best is to add an adhesive film when you built you glass, the same of car industry. The glass will break, but will not explode or open a hole. The glass can escape from his frame too, so some screw can help to keep him in position. You need some clearance between the glass and the screw to compensate thermal dilatation. The solution of the extra plate to bolt outside can be done quickly only in easy condition. Imagine to screw or bolt your 4mm plate 50x50cm in the middle of a storm. This is the time you break your glass or you fall overboard. On my record there are more hatches broken by a winch handle or a spinnaker pole badly used, then from waves and close a hatch is possible with a piece of plywood.

George Wall

For the well described consequences of large unprotected Windows and an otherwise thrilling true story read:”OVERBOARD!” BY Michael Tougias.

Brian engle

I wonder, do any hatch and port lite manufacturers offer models with storm shutter bosses/helicoils in their frames? Might make sense. Thank you for another informative article.

I have never seen such a thing, but it’s a good idea.

Pete Worrell

Great discussion John, the proliferation of raised salons and pilothouses in the last ten years is amazing.

In our Hood Pilothouse 51, Ted Hood’s solution to the discussed dilemma was to design the pilothouse to be completely draining through its own cockpit drains, and to have the ingress/egress to the main cabin via a standard watertight sliding companionway hatch with boards. The idea is that if the pilothouse windows were compromised (in our case glass), then you still have a traditional companionway hatch arrangement keeping the water out of the main cabin and engine areas. It frequently seems a little redundant to pass through a companionway hatch from the pilothouse, but it’s simple and effective I think.

Pete & Kareen Worrell S/V PATIENCE

I think the fact that a designer with Ted Hood’s experience and understanding of the sea went the way of a watertight self draining pilothouse confirms that this is the ultimate and best answer.

It is also the only one that provides and defence against the pilothouse structure being breached.

Erik de Jong

To be honest, I do not believe in Stormshutters for pilot house windows. Glass is tremendously strong, and water pressure is a relatively equally distributed load on the glass. Making it any stronger than the surrounding material of deck and cabin top is only adding useless weight.

I think it is much more important to focus on the details of how the glass is mounted and sealed into the pilot house itself.

Glass is horrible when it comes to point loading, so I would be more afraid to hit it with something pointy and hard (a flying halyard with a shackle or a falling winch handle) This kind of damage can easily be prevented by mounting a second layer just a quarter of an inch to an inch off the glass by clear lexan, when that bends under water pressure (and it will) it will touch the real glass and the glass will take the load. When a hard small object hits it, the lexan will absorb the load and prevent damage to the underlaying glass. A structure like this also reduces energy requirements fr heating and cooling, and will therefore make the boat more liveable.

Long story short, I think an offshore boat and any thing on it, needs to be designed to withstand these kind of situations without needing any work done to it by the crew, and from an engineering perspective, it is not all that hard to do. To bad that only few yards/ designers seem to pay attention to these so important details.

Hi Eric, Good to get an engineering-driven perspective on the question.

When I was construction manager on the 112′ S & S motorsailor “Venturosa” the owner requested that I devise an instrumented fixture to test window adhesives, contact areas, and glass breaking points for the substantial pilothouse windows. As I recall we ended up with a standard automotive adhesive and custom laminated 3/4″ thick glass that met the design specification for wave impact and 175 mph wind strength. So I’d tend to agree that pilothouse windows should first of all be made strong enough (which is relatively easy to calculate) before concerning oneself with metal or wood storm shutters. And your lexan idea makes a lot of sense.

In the case of the vessel I was building the owner grew tired of it and sold it before sea trials were complete. The next owner (who I’ll decline to identify) wanted us to immediately remove the pilothouse windows and replace them with bulletproof glass. He wasn’t too happy when we pointed out that the aluminum that the boat was built from wasn’t bulletproof. I can understand his concern since he found it necessary to fly a second pilot to the Sun Valley airport to have his Bell Jet Ranger helio warmed up to take he and his family the 8 miles up valley to their compound for fear of kidnapping should they be so foolish as to drive.

Life is so much simpler when you are a mere commoner—.

Hi Erik and Richard,

For a new boat, what you are saying makes a lot of sense. I especially like the idea of the thin lexan outside the normal glass although it seems like thought would need to be given to preventing fogging.

How about for older boats? In your experience would it be easier to retrofit an older boat to thicker glass or would storm shutters make sense provided that the original windows are not overly weak? We don’t have a pilothouse but we have a large hatch on the foredeck which is equally vulnerable and it is definitely underbuilt. I plan to replace all of the ports with new stronger ones but dealing with the hatch would require a lot of custom work which strikes me as more complicated than making a cover.

I was aboard a steel vessel several years ago with ports in the hull and the classification society had required that they be as strong as the hull, that glass was unbelievably thick.

Good to hear, (as I suspected and stated in the post) that safe windows can be engineered. However I still think that some sort of cover is a good idea since if a window does fail, perhaps in the glue where perfect execution is required, the cover can be used to cover the hole.

And, as you point out, few boats are really engineered strong enough in this area, which makes storm covers a good idea if there is any doubt at all.

sharon severs

would like to know the answer as we’re getting a boat with pilot house windows and the window size is very important to know,

David Lymn

My windows are 12mm thick polycarbonate and held by 60+ small nuts and bolts. Although the forces involved are great I reckon there’s little chance of a break. Knock down implies a roll into the water on one side and a hit by a lifting wave on the other. I don’t reckon the water would have enough momentum to smash through ( I know it’s scarey when the bow smashes through a wave head on but the windows are very unlikely to be exposed to such direct blunt force). Even a wave coming over the bow would hit a sloping window with some of the forces reduced by the dispersing effect of the bow and rigging. A force great enough to break a window would probably be great enough to smash the boat entirely or at least the fibreglass that surrounds the window.

I would recommend a read of Don Jordan’s papers (that I linked to in the post) on the potential impact loads when a boat broaches on the face of a breaking wave, very sobering reading backed up by good science.

Brian

Not sure how your windows are built, but lexan is very prone to cracking. I would avoid drilling it if possible, and if so be very careful about the finish – smooth is good. Flame polishing is one solution. Uneven stress with lots of fasteners drilled will crack lexan easily.

I had to put a lexan window on a pressure housing (only needed to go 10 atm but was built with massive safety factor. We cut out a ledge with an o-ring and used a retaining frame to hold the lexan in place. Hopefully that makes sense. The bolts on the retaining piece were outside of the o-ring obviously. Wouldn’t be difficult to design boat windows that way and not even necessarily crazy expensive – you could probably just use a gasket and forego the o-rings for one.

That makes sense. The thick glasses in the ports on our boat are attached just that way. I believe I’m right in saying that a lot of windows are just glued in these days. Not something that would let me sleep at night.

Morgan Henry

It seems that this article and a story in today’s New York Times are destined to cross paths: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/technology/out-of-tragedy-a-protective-glass-for-schools.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

This company is developing thin glass that has a center layer that is supposed to be resistant to gunfire and other significant attacks. Maybe they can develop something for the marine industry.

Pat Kelly

As regards large pilothouse windows I recommend Michael Tougias’ book OVERBOARD – a true story and a good read. The “Achilles heel” of the boat – a Harden 46 caught in a Gulf Stream storm on her way to Bermuda -were the large forward facing pilothouse”windows” that blew out with a boarding sea. The final result was loss of the vessel.

Thanks for all the really good additions and amplifications. All good stuff that will help those wrestling with this difficult question.

The big take away for me from all this is that ultimate answer is to have the area with large windows self draining and separated from the rest of the boat with a watertight hatch.

Phil Streat

Large windows can be engineered so they are safe. The Coast Guard Motor Lifeboats are designed to punch through big breakers and roll over without damage to their windows. The classification societies have requirements for windows for different service conditions. Getting this level of design and construction in a yacht is most likely only to be found on larger custom projects.

SteveA

Hi, There is very good and concise information on Steve Dashew’s site, google setsail window thickness. It is based on Lloyds & ABS requirements and years of experience from a sailor, designer and builders perspective. A selfbailing pilothouse and storm shutters are great ideas, but often hard to retrofit. 3/4″ glass in commercial frames from DiamondSeaGlaze in Canada are very nice, they have several models and thicknesses and are pretty much the standard on the Alaska fishing fleet. Damage control “blow out panels” can be carried and fitted from inside the pilothouse in an emergency. I have installed DSG windows in several vessels, and wish I could say that I got a discount on their fine products…

I fruitlessly contacted Diamond Sea Glaze to fabricate me a companionway hatch of “ocean grade” strength…I was basically told I am too small a job for the likes of them. Which is a shame, as I liked their products, but is probably true.

Any aluminum fabricator/welders out there in Southern Ontario, feel free to contact me!

Matt Marsh

This is one area where a “defence in depth” approach seems appropriate. It might look something like: – Tier 1 is an anti-broaching device such as a JSD. – Tier 2 is window glass and framing that can handle the dynamic water pressure encountered in a high-speed broach. (These pressures can be in the hundreds of kilopascals / dozens of PSI, so you’re looking more at submarine, aquarium or spacecraft window designs than at car or house window designs.) – Tier 3 is an impact-absorbing outer cover such as the polycarbonate sheets suggested by Erik de Jong earlier. – Tier 4 is independent draining and watertight separation of the pilothouse / saloon area from the rest of the boat. – Tier 5 is a crash pump sized to keep up with the inflow through a broken window, and a stack of raw material that can quickly be used to patch the hole.

That makes sense. As you say, the downside of such a failure is so bad that we need to really plan for it, even though it may not be that likely.

The only thing I would say is that I’m not sure how you could ever satisfy Tier 4 with a pump that a yacht could practically carry or power. I think the best one can hope for is a pump that can evacuate the water quickly once the hole it covered as in this chapter .

One of the reasons I put in soft mounts and an AquaDrive on my Beta 60 install is to be able to run the engine in an emergency at an angle of heel without worrying about misalignment. Oil starvation is a separate issue! But I also put in a second PTO on the front of the block in case I ever needed an engine-driven pump to supplement the existing 12 VDC bilge pumps. It’s also for a second alternator and clearly won’t go to waste, but that was the “tiered” thinking at the time, the rationale being that one might need a few minutes to find and address a bad leak. If I’m wrong, I can still have that backup alternator!

Interestingly, “defence in depth” resembles what used to be called “seamanlike prudence”. I was discussing offshore safety gear with Andy Schell ( http://59-north.com/#start ) and Paul and Sheryl Shard ( http://www.distantshores.ca/boatblog.php ) at the Toronto Boat Show yesterday and Andy is yet another JSD owner who has never deployed it, despite putting thousands of sea miles under his keel. Maybe the JSD is the talisman of sailors who are (not to get New Agey here) holistically careful and tending to the conservative in their sailing style, route planning and weather forecasting, and thus, despite having the gear to cope with very heavy weather, do not experience much in the way of heavy weather because of their extensive preparation and determination to preserve themselves and the boat. I’ve heard said that the biggest threat to small boats is not the storm, but the calendar.

Absolutely!

Marcos

It has been always a concern for me the opening ports and windows of our Hylas 56, I ahve found this Man Ship Opening Ports with Storm Covers like a good option at keast for the opening ports https://www.deckhardware.com.au/hatches-ports/man-ship-portlights/man-ship-opening-ports-with-storm-covers/

Ernest

They have a new page structure – this is the new address: https://www.deckhardware.com.au/hatches-ports/man-ship-port-lights/man-ship-opening-ports-with-storm-covers/

Dick Stevenson

Dear John and all, This is a report on a large window breakage on an Island Packet 45. Last summer this 2007 IP45 left the Pacific Northwest for a trip south. Early on, the mainsail roller furling became unworkable, and they went into port for repairs. While executing repairs, a set of small Allen wrenches, not much weight, fell from about 6 feet from work on the boom to hit the large window. An initial star grew to a crazing of the whole window able to be pushed out easily. The above was reported first to me by one of the crew and confirmed by the owner in a subsequent conversation we had. He has made some initial work to ensure that the integrity of the boat remains OK in the event of further problems. He has not contacted IP, but intends to. Dick Stevenson, Alchemy

That’s sobering indeed.

That reminds me that an EMT that works on the highway told me that he and his colleagues all carry a spring loaded small centre punch. If they need to remove the windscreen or window of a car they just use said punch at the corner once and the whole window just disintegrates—glass, (maybe plastics?) just don’t like point impacts.

A couple more facts that make me more sure that storm covers are a very good idea!

Interesting verification and support for my contention that catamarans could and should be unsinkable. The Gunboat 55 Rainmaker has just been re-located after having been afloat in the North Atlantic for entire winter. Looks like she might even be sailable with jury rig after being pumped out. Two very interesting take-aways. 1- The design is really an open bridge deck catamaran with a glass house on top. The glass house of course has been swept away. Makes one wonder how high she would be floating if the entry companionways into the hulls had been watertight doors. 2- The boat hardly went anywhere for five months! Was that due to some form of magnetic attraction to the continent where she was built? LOL

Rob Gill

Thanks for the link, what strikes me is nearly all the deck hatches appear to be missing – wow! Is this because they have been torn off by waves, or because someone has arrived earlier and done some “selective salvage” work? I seem to recall one Volvo skipper in the latest race saying they had concerns over their hatches breaking away when diving into deep waves at speed, and had readied their emergency covers. Can such wave action alone rip deck hatches off without broaching or falling off a wave? cheers Rob

Hi Rob, I suspect the hatches were broken out by free surface effect surge from inside. Lacking watertight closures at the companionways, the hulls rapidly filled with water once the house was gone, and the surge inside would break out almost anything less strong than the carbon hulls.

The design of this boat has always struck me as bizarre— a glass palace perched on top of two hulls. When it looses its rig or gets swept by a wave the glass palace cannot help but collapse, and pity anybody that was on deck at the time. The designer evidently never considered that such a thing could happen, and the yuppies lined up to buy them are personally immune to bad things happening because of the size of their checkbooks.

The condition of the structure is vivid testimony to the strength of modern composite materials, and to the advantage of a lightweight core that doesn’t have to float a big chunk of lead!

Hi RDE, interesting thought, but yes that could do it. I agree with your thoughts on the open structure of the Gunboat, they needed a way to close the hulls off in the event of flooding the bridge deck. Like that it’s unsinkable though – and they go pretty well. Rob

I have stated elsewhere that I draw comfort from the complete indifference of the sea to our plans and preferences: on water, you know where you stand. I find it puzzling, therefore, that while we are arguably building boats that have never been more strongly designed to survive the sea, we are putting glass boxes atop them and, in order to maintain “an airy, bright interior”, are forgoing doggable, watertight compartment doorways inside, and going for big portlights. I grasp that marketing has trumped reality here, but if I was spending millions on a vessel, it suggests I have more millions elsewhere, and I would want to preserve my life and my wealth by building a vessel as “sea-proof” as possible. This isn’t rocket science: “keep the water out” is on the “package” of this very website, and yet it seems to have fallen off the list of desirable characteristics of modern, high-seas boats.

Hi Marc, I’ve observed that amount of money they have is inversely proportional to the amount of time owners spend on their boats. In accordance with that principle, if you are truly wealthy you stand little chance of losing your life at sea. If they have their GunBoat Glass Palace professionally delivered to the BVI and then sail it around the Drake Lake they should be fine.

(they just need to avoid web sites like this where snarky guys like me hang out and their peers will all think they are a bleeding edge genius)

nelms Graham

I simply can’t believe that no one has mentioned the technique used by countless commercial fishermen worldwide and US Navy in years gone past. Simply, very heavy wire mesh permanently mounted in heavy frames approx. an inch or two in front of the windows. This mesh breaks up the force of the wave at impact, much in the way the “bow wave breaking sticks” did on the ancient Polynesian trekking canoes.

Makes sense, although aesthetically and visibility wise, perhaps not something a lot of yachties will want.

Hi John, Latest Maritime NZ report on the loss of SY Essence off the NZ coast. As I think you know, these reports are produced after every major NZ maritime incident (commercial or pleasure craft) and are generally very well authored and researched. The NZ Cat 1 safety rules (compulsory for every NZ yacht registered yacht and launch going offshore from NZ) have been strengthened to make the carrying and fitting of storm shutters for cabin windows larger than 2 sq foot (if no intermediate strengthening knees) compulsory. This is less area than the conservative recommendation in this post. This was a shocking and tragic loss to the NZ sailing community of the skipper who was experienced, well known and well liked. Br. Rob

I should add the interesting lesson for me is that the windows exploded outwards, not inwards as might be expected. I had heard this rumoured around the waterfront, but this seems to be now confirmed. Makes those increasingly large, in-hull windows seem even more vulnerable and dangerous than they look – how long before we lose a boat, and before they are banned? Rob

These NZ reports are excellent, albeit always sad and disturbing. I always learn from them and so have bookmarked this one to read. Thanks for the heads up.

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Storm covers for windows and hatches

  • Thread starter Tintin
  • Start date 25 Jul 2021
  • 25 Jul 2021

Tintin

Well-known member

Following on from the thread about the loss of Essence, I was wondering how one might go about modifying a standard production AWB to make it easy to fit storm covers on windows and hatches. Also plywood is often mentioned, but what about thick clear acrylic or lexan? Thoughts people?  

Roberto

Roberto said: I made this type of boards, the wooden battens proved too flexible so I changed it with a light alloy profile. A rubber contour might be added to make the contact surface between the wood and the alu frame more waterproof. (Happily) never used them in anger. View attachment 119504 Click to expand...

Fanny Haddock

What boat do you have, with what kind of frames? Pictures would help.  

  • 26 Jul 2021

I would suggest rather than covers over windows if you are concerned about green sea stoving in the windows that you consider mid window support for the acrylic from inside. So a bar from front to back inside the window from stout attachments at each end, and with padding or similar so that window centre is supported would give the window more strength. ie rather than cover windows make them stronger. Vertical bars could do the same thing. The number of bars being up to you and considering water loads likely from the outside. The advantages...always in place with no worries about stowage. ol'will  

lektran

On Essence the windows apparently popped out from internal pressure and/or flexing, rather than being stoved in by water pressure  

Fanny Haddock said: What boat do you have, with what kind of frames? Pictures would help. Click to expand...
Comrade Red said: I was asking really for more general interest and if I were to get a GRP boat again in the future. Click to expand...
  • 27 Jul 2021

Laminar Flow

Laminar Flow

Whatever you do, do not have bolts sticking out on the outside. I did that. After a few months, a number of nasty injuries and a couple of F10+ storms with breaking seas later and in the open ocean, I cut them off with the hacksaw. The window, facing forward was 30"x24" and 10mm laminated and tempered glass. The cover was made from 3/4" ply. I never used it. The most sensible solution I saw was on a Fisher that went blue water where you could slide acrylic panels into rails either side of the wheelhouse windows. Personally, I would not bother with storm shutters any more, even though we have something of a greenhouse on top. I would just carry a suitable assortment of suitable plywood pieces, a collection of self-tapping screws and a battery operated screw gun for emergencies. Emergency being here the operative word.  

I've still got those old fashioned, car-style rubber seals holding the flat acetate (?) panes in place. I should imagine they kick in rather easily. Come to think about it, external ply wouldn't work well because the cabin top is slightly curved, I think in two planes.  

Fanny Haddock said: I've still got those old fashioned, car-style rubber seals holding the flat acetate (?) panes in place. I should imagine they kick in rather easily. Come to think about it, external ply wouldn't work well because the cabin top is slightly curved, I think in two planes. Click to expand...

lustyd

I'm wondering what it is that you're all doing on your boats in 2021 that you need such things? You'd have to go pretty far out of your way to be surprised by weather these days so presumably sailing into the eye of storms on a lark?  

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yacht window storm covers

Protecting windows and portholes during heavy weather conditions

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Big windows in a boat are wonderful for providing views but can really heat up the inside. Regular shades work most of the year, but better window shades can lower interior temps by 10°. Just 5 minutes and less than $20!

Better Window Covers

Published on June 12, 2017 ; last updated on June 12, 2020 by Carolyn Shearlock

If you’re in the tropics or near-tropics for the summer, you know that sunlight streaming through every window — hatch, port, or whatever you call it — just adds to the heat inside the boat.

Catamarans, trawlers and some newer monohulls are the worst, with large non-opening windows. They offer gorgeous views from inside the boat, but can raise inside temperatures considerably.

Big windows in a boat are wonderful for providing views but can really heat up the inside. Regular shades work most of the year, but better window shades can lower interior temps by 10°. Just 5 minutes and less than $20!

And so, the first thing most boat owners do is to make (or have made) snap-on exterior shade panels with a fabric such as Phifertex or Phifertex Plus. Both of these block a fair amount of the light (70-90%) but still let you see out a bit. Our boat came with one for the saloon windshield, and I made another for the large window in our cabin.

Big windows in a boat are wonderful for providing views but can really heat up the inside. Regular shades work most of the year, but better window shades can lower interior temps by 10°. Just 5 minutes and less than $20!

They snap on, which is helpful for the one that the helm looks through (we take it off before getting underway — it’s part of our “Before Moving Boat” checklist ), and they do a great job nine months of the year.

But, we’ve learned, they are woefully inadequate during the summer. Enough sunlight comes through that the window gets uncomfortably hot to touch!

We looked at all sorts of possible solutions and ended up going for the 5-minute, less than $20 solution . We bought a roll of Reflectix (bubble wrap with foil on both faces) and cut it to the size of the windows and slid it under the snap-on shades. I simply cut out little places where the snaps are so that the Reflectix can be the full size of the window.

Big windows in a boat are wonderful for providing views but can really heat up the inside. Regular shades work most of the year, but better window shades can lower interior temps by 10°. Just 5 minutes and less than $20!

My technique was simple — I cut the pieces roughly to size, put them in place (on our boat, it was easiest to set them against the bottom snaps), made the cutouts for the snaps on that side (on ours, the bottom), slid the Reflectix into its “final” spot, trimmed up the other sides and cut the holes for the rest of the snaps, then snapped the fabric covers back into place. Two done in about 5 minutes.

It has made a big difference in the temperature inside the boat. Temps inside the boat used to be about 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) hotter than outside “in the shade” temperatures; now they are about the same. 90° in the boat is a lot more tolerable than 100º!

We got the idea from another boat that was going on the hard for hurricane season, but it works just as well if you’re living on the boat.

NOTE: Putting the Reflectix on the inside of the boat is a bad idea we’ve learned — the heat will build up between the window and the Reflectix and can damage the window. Putting it on the outside, on the other hand, helps to protect the window.

When we get ready to get underway, we always remove the snap-on shade over the windshield anyway and put it back in place once we’re anchored or at a dock. With the Reflectix in place, we simply roll the Reflectix up with the shade to get underway and put them on together at the end of the trip. It takes no more time.

We had seen various ways to make pockets in the shade cloths for the Reflectix or to otherwise attach the Reflectix either to the boat or the shade. We have found it totally unnecessary.

Big windows in a boat are wonderful for providing views but can really heat up the inside. Regular shades work most of the year, but better window shades can lower interior temps by 10°. Just 5 minutes and less than $20!

Yes, with the Reflectix in place we lose the view and so don’t use it during the cooler months. The pieces are easy to store under a mattress during the winter and we’ve found that even in tropical sun and rain, they last two to three years. They didn’t disintegrate; the foil just slowly wore away so that light started coming through. Exact longevity will depend on how much of the year you use them and how intense the sun and rain are.

A couple weeks ago I had to replace one and walked over to the Home Depot in Marathon, Florida (it’s a couple blocks from Boot Key Harbor, making it very convenient for cruisers). I figured with all the part-year residents leaving homes and boats here, Reflectix would be a popular item. Discovered that they don’t carry it or anything similar in stock at this store (only their larger stores do). Turns out that no local store carries it. Okay, off to Amazon (seems to me that there’s a business opportunity here for a local entrepreneur):

  • Reflectix on Amazon

Reflectix comes in a bunch of different sizes, so you’ll have to do some rough measuring to figure out what width and length roll will work best for you. It also comes in “tabbed” for stapling in home construction; this generally isn’t needed for making sun shades but can easily be cut off if that’s all you can get.

P.S. If you have large “glass” hatches, look at Outland Hatch Covers to insulate (and also protect) them. Read my post here .

Big windows in a boat are wonderful for providing views but can really heat up the inside. Regular shades work most of the year, but better window shades can lower interior temps by 10°. Just 5 minutes and less than $20!

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yacht window storm covers

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Reader Interactions

Claire Ford says

June 12, 2017 at 10:46 am

Great article. Since we’ll be moving the boat to Texas from Kentucky in a few months, I’ll be looking into doing this. In Texas, anything that keeps it cooler is welcomed.

Jim Taylor says

June 13, 2017 at 11:51 am

I have a 3′ x 4′ plexiglass roof on our pilot house and have used this material with a layer inside and outside. Know of an coating or film I could use on the outside to reflect sun, rays, heat but still see through?

Carolyn Shearlock says

June 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Use automotive/limo window tint film — the darker the better. You can get it at almost any auto parts store and also on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2thV0K9

June 15, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Be very careful about which window film you buy. Most labeled UV are not tested or lose their UV abilities in a very short time. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends only 2 brands (3M & Llumar). I have had both on my vehicles, as I tend to get benign skin cancers easily. 3M Crystalline and 3M Color Safe are the most durable in my opinion (I had a bad experience with scratching on Llumar Air 80).

The 3M tints even come in clear and block 99.9% of UV-A and UV-B rays, PLUS…. it rejects up to 62% of solar energy and up to 97% of heat-producing infrared rays. It makes a HUGE difference in my car (I live in a hot part of California). I have the lightest tint on my windshield and medium on my side windows. Even on 100 degree days, you can get in the car and it’s not very warm at all.

June 15, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Forgot to note… many window films interfere with electronics, such as GPS and cell signals. The 3M Crystalline and 3M Color-Stable do not interfere with electronics. http://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/automotive-window-solutions-us

Bob Menches says

June 14, 2017 at 8:01 am

If you can’t find reflectix and have an autoparts or Walmart near, get a windshield shade made the same material. That’s what we did before we knew reflectix existed.

Thomas Conover s/v Double Life says

June 14, 2017 at 9:20 am

I believe I had Home Depot in Marathon ship a roll into their store free shipping and then just picked it up at the store in a few days. Seems like they would stock it but ordering was simple.

June 14, 2017 at 10:01 am

At the time we needed it, they said 10 days for delivery. Amazon was two. And it was HOT.

June 14, 2017 at 10:03 am

At the time we needed it, they said it would be 10 days for delivery. Amazon was two. And it was HOT. Guess who won?

Cheryl Geeting says

June 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Sounds great, but does the Reflectix damage the plastic ports with its heat? I thought I read somewhere on your site about That? We definitely need something here in Louisiana!

June 20, 2017 at 12:08 pm

If you put it on the OUTSIDE it does not. It protects the plastic from the heat.

Carey Mitchell says

June 21, 2017 at 3:52 pm

I covered every inch of the interior of our refrigerator and freezer (like wallpaper) with Reflectix and boy did it make a difference. I used the accompanying foil tape to hold it in place. Not only does our top-loading fridge lid not sweat on the outside in high humidity, but we also save a lot of compressor use and thus battery power. We keep our boat on a mooring in Maryland in the summer and never have to turn off the fridge while we are away.

Amanda Roberts says

April 13, 2018 at 4:51 am

Hi From the Norfolk Broads uk ,my husband lined our windows .with foil car sunshades on the outside under our screens ,,bought from Lidl’s this works great we are warm in the winter and cool in the summer ,he has also put the foil bubble wrap behind all interior panels and beneath the headlining ,,an easy job so I’m told ,you can definitely tell the difference in the winter ,we are lovely warm and snug ,compared to our other friends ,

Anonymous says

May 1, 2018 at 1:31 am

Merran Sierakowski?

May 19, 2019 at 2:44 pm

Hi Carolyn Two questions on the window covering post. 1. Would you recommend laying tape over the cut edges of the foil material to keep water (rain) out? 2. We’d like to use this to block sunlight on small lewmar ports, say 15×4, but worried about the reflective heat as mentioned in your article. Ports are mostly vertical.

Thanks Kris

May 23, 2019 at 2:44 pm

You could, but getting the tape residue off is a pain (we used tape in the sun one year for something else). The best way to get it off is with WD-40 and a green scrubby. Not sure how bad the reflective heat problem would be on those side ports — my guess it would be okay, particularly if they were not facing directly east or west.

Allyson says

May 3, 2021 at 2:08 pm

For those of us that says l in the winter months, could you use the reflex to help keep the warmth in the galley? For flexible vinyl windows on the Dodger areas can you use the reflex on the outside to protect the windows?

May 7, 2021 at 7:39 am

I would think Reflectix could help a bit in the winter if used on the inside. I’d be afraid of using it against Stratoglas or similar things as they scratch so easily. The usual recommendation is to use very soft fabric against them. So you could cover the side of the Reflectix that will rest against the “glass” in something like t-shirt material.

Lynn Van Den Broeck says

June 7, 2021 at 3:23 am

Hi there, I am interested to know how you made the snap on exterior shade panels voor the for the large window in your cabin. How are they attached to the boat?

June 8, 2021 at 9:45 am

On the boat side, we used the SNAD fasteners available from Sailrite (you can get them in both white and black). https://www.sailrite.com/search?keywords=YKK%20Snad They attach with Very High Bond adhesive rather than having to drill a hole.

June 11, 2021 at 3:29 am

Thank you, Is the black fabric also from sailrite?

June 11, 2021 at 7:47 am

Yes, it’s Phifertex Plus.

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Bullet proof storm windows

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Cal cruising 46 pilothouse windows are large. My concern is in a big storm they my burst. Any suggestion on storm windows made of say 3/4inch polycarbonate or just replacing them with heavier thicker windows? I am in marina del rey CA and would appreciate referals to people who spe ialize in these windows.  

yacht window storm covers

Frankly, you'd do better with 1/2" plywood with a few view-slits routed in. However, if you are determined to use plastic, contact "Mark Plastics" in San Diego which is the acknowledged expert on port-lights and windows for classic Cals. FWIW...  

yacht window storm covers

If you going cruising and really worried about the large windows, then cover them all from the outside with a removable polycarbonate panel for bad weather...like shutters on windows.  

Thx hvHyte and jiffy lube the plywood may work but I would want to make visual contact easily I will contact the san Diego expert. Thx again Edwin  

That's why I mentioned polycarbonate (clear) panels.  

What's the thickest polycarbonate in your opinion would be allowable or practical for a cal cruising 46. This added weight no doubt changes the righting arm and center of gravity of the boat Edwin  

I can't answer that question about the center of gravity. I think a supported one piece panel spaning across all the windows on each side (on the outside), should be stronger than the individual windows themselves. You're concern is that a wave hitting from the side will blow a window inward, since these windows are not really supported that good against sideways forces. One large panel across all the windows will be much stronger, and almost any panel thickness will be better than no panel...but I would say at least as thick as the window is now.  

yacht window storm covers

Port material Having sailed far offshore on a pilothouse with large port/windows in the pilothouse here is my take- Lexan- expensive, strong, scratches easily, especially hard to see out of at night. Plexiglass- relatively inexpensive- really not suited for larger expanses since it will flex and blow out when hit by a big wave. Tempered safety glass, stiff, optically good, heavy, will break with hard impact. The boat i sailed extensively on had forward window in Lexan(because of hatch in window) and the side windows were 3/4"" tempered glass which withstood several days of waves crashing over the pilothouse. Good luck with your choices.  

Sanduskysailor said: Having sailed far offshore on a pilothouse with large port/windows in the pilothouse here is my take- Lexan- expensive, strong, scratches easily, especially hard to see out of at night. Plexiglass- relatively inexpensive- really not suited for larger expanses since it will flex and blow out when hit by a big wave. Tempered safety glass, stiff, optically good, heavy, will break with hard impact. The boat i sailed extensively on had forward window in Lexan(because of hatch in window) and the side windows were 3/4"" tempered glass which withstood several days of waves crashing over the pilothouse. Good luck with your choices. Click to expand...

I've used clear plastic (Lexan, polycarbonate, don't remember which), plywood, and aluminum storm shutters on a variety of boats well offshore and crossing the pond. We mounted the storm shutters to external studs placed around the frames. The aluminum panels were bulletproof and expensive. The plexi/poly panels were cheaper but not much. The plywood (1/2" sealed and painted) were very good and cheapest. The biggest problems with the aluminum and plywood were they made the cabin look like a cave and didn't give you a good look outside. I far preferred the external clear panels. The mounting system allowed for some movement of the outer layer of protection, took most of the force, brought light to the cabin, and protected the inner ports from damage. We installed the shutters before leaving the dock and didn't remove them until we got to safe harbor. My plans call for using the external stud system for my boat and I'll go with the polycarbonate as it seems the best value. I'm rebedding every port light and hatch so adding some backing and studs isn't that much more work but if I were further along or the ports didn't need that kind of attention, I might have to rethink my strategy. I'm thinking that with a proper thickness, a flexible gasket that matches the port frame, and some careful tweaking I can bring light to the cabin, add some protection to a potentially weak part of the boat, and do it economically. Even if I had to replace the port light panels, I'd still go with the external, separate, storm shutter.  

yacht window storm covers

I agree with JiffyLube. I would be more worried that the frame would give out first, not the pane itself. Years and years ago I heard that many "professional" fisherman had screen frames (tight of course) put over windows will save them. Apparently even solid water when hitting gets "aired" and pressures on the windows are even and lessened. Something to do with the introduced/trapped air's compressibility. Never seen any tests though. Anybody ever hear about this?  

I read an account long long ago where an old salt was asked how he had never had his windows stove in while similar boats in the same seas had theirs smashed in. His solution that he had been using for many years was simply outside screen frames screwed in for storms. It was a thick screen in robust frames. The "scientific" explanation by others that investigated and tested it (yea, someone did that for this article) explained that it is the air trapped and mixed with the water that hit the windows allowed a compression/absorption of the energy. Any hoo, that is what they said back then. I have no idea where I read/saw it.  

therapy23 said: I read an account long long ago where an old salt was asked how he had never had his windows stove in while similar boats in the same seas had theirs smashed in. His solution that he had been using for many years was simply outside screen frames screwed in for storms. It was a thick screen in robust frames. The "scientific" explanation by others that investigated and tested it (yea, someone did that for this article) explained that it is the air trapped and mixed with the water that hit the windows allowed a compression/absorption of the energy. Any hoo, that is what they said back then. I have no idea where I read/saw it. Click to expand...

I replaced the old windows in my Triton because there was some spidering in one or two corners but the rest were perfect. I took the old windows and put them on the inside and put the new ones on the outside making them double paned. Been that way for over a year and get very little condensation, visibility remains good.  

Thank you all ( OCEANSCAP, diesel boy Sandusky sailor, jiffy lube) for your reply I will consider all of your recommendations Edwin cal Cruising 46 Marina del Rey CA  

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Storm Windows?

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One of the requirements for the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally was to add storm windows to each boat. These are extra-thick windows, which screw onto the boat OVER your existing windows. They can be comprised of anything tough enough to do the job; I’ve seen thick acrylic, and my recollection is that at least one of the boats on the Nordhavn rally used aluminum plates. The purpose of storm windows is fairly straight forward. If you take a direct hit by a wave, they are meant to be tougher than your normal glass windows. A wave through a window could ruin carpets, or worse. Potentially, much worse.

I’m currently wrestling with the decision of: “Do I have storm windows made for Sans Souci?”

On our prior boat, the N62 that we took across the Atlantic, I decided not to add the storm windows. Our N62 had fairly large windows, and needed probably 10-20 storm windows made. My issue was not the cost involved, but the size. The plates are heavy and bulky, and need stored somewhere. We crossed the Atlantic in the best possible season and were fairly confident that we wouldn’t be seeing serious seas. When I pushed the Nordhavn executives about the real need for the storm windows on the N62, they thought they might be optional. I took a chance, and came out fine.

But, now we’re starting our circumnavigation, on a new boat, and I need to struggle with this decision all over again.

I must confess that when faced with the question: “Do I put on the storm plates, and get my butt kicked by a hurricane, or put the boat in a nice marina, and fly to Cabo for some golf, returning to the boat sometime after the storm season ends?” It’s a tough decision, but golf in Cabo always wins. My #1 storm handling tactic is: Cruise in the good season, and put the boat away when there is potential for trouble.

Unfortunately, that’s a good strategy, but not a fail-safe strategy.

Storms don’t always announce themselves well in advance, and there are times when the boat needs moved, whether you like it or not. For instance, most boats on the east coast of the US are perpetually at risk for needing to be moved during hurricane season. If your boat is sitting in Fort Lauderdale, and the weather forecasts suddenly say a Cat 5 hurricane will be hitting in 10 days, you need to move the boat. Weather forecasts are not 100% accurate, and hurricanes can move faster or slower than predicted. They can also be larger or smaller.

There are also times when the weather report is somewhat irrelevant. One of the sad, but true, facts about power boats is that once you are on a major passage, your ability to change course due to weather is very limited. I’ve been asked several times why I’m taking the Bering Sea to cross the Pacific, rather than going direct to Hawaii or Polynesia. The answer is that it enables me to avoid a 12-15 day ocean crossing. If a tropical storm or hurricane comes along, and you are well into a major offshore passage, it is generally impossible to do any major rerouting of your path. On a passage to Hawaii I’d probably only be carrying a 10-15% fuel reserve. Not only are there few possible alternate destinations, but the odds are I wouldn’t have the fuel to reach them. On the northern route, our longest passage should only be about two or three days. This is within the “predictable weather window” where weather info is usually fairly accurate.

When we first bought our Nordhavn, I remember telling people that it meant I could “go” in any kind of weather. However, what I quickly discovered is that rough seas aren’t much fun regardless of your boat. Given my respect for the seas, owning a Nordhavn doesn’t mean an expanded cruising season. Instead, what it means is that if I am caught out in rougher seas than planned, it will not be fun, and it will not be comfortable, but at least I’ll be returning to port.

Recently, Bill Harrington, the commercial fisherman who will be traveling with us across the Aleutians, asked me for the stability curves on my boat. It was a reasonable request. He’ll be traveling with us across the Aleutians, where the conditions can be seriously ugly at times.

The stability curves, are a mathematical way of looking at the seaworthiness of a vessel. When boats are designed, the designer cranks a lot of numbers into a spreadsheet, and comes out with a set of numbers which predict the seaworthiness of a boat. It is possible to predict how far a vessel can be rolled, and still pop back upright. For most boats, there is some magic angle, that if you roll past, the boat will rest inverted, or sink. There are some specialty boats, such as coast guard rescue boats, that can roll completely, but these are not the norm.

Stability curves have that name because they are generally shown as graphical plots of the data. The curve for most yachts looks like a bell-shaped curve, with the degrees of tilt shown along the bottom of the graph, and the ability to resist capsize shown vertically. The higher the point on the line, the tougher it is to capsize the boat. I looked at the data for a wide range of boats, and the point of return (the tilt angle where the boat is almost certainly going to roll over) for full displacement boats, such as mine, is around 80 degrees. Traditional light displacement boats tend to have much lower points at which they capsize (maximum tilt angles closer to 40 degrees). To my surprise, sail boats tend to have significantly higher roll-over points, more like 130 degrees.

“… . The norm for most motor yachts, ships, and military vessels is a maximum heel angle of 60 to 70 degrees, after which the boat keeps going and does not come back.” – steve dashew

I’m happy to report that my boat’s tipping is healthily past this standard. Interestingly, in studying the data, there is a 10 degree swing in the data for my boat based on how heavily it is loaded. In other words, there is a significant difference between the stability of my boat with full tanks, and empty tanks. This makes sense, in that with full tanks, the boat is heavier, and the center of gravity is pushed lower into the water.

Of course, spreadsheets only tell a small portion of the story, and the math can change in real time. Water or fuel shifting in tanks can make a boat more susceptible to rolling. There is a whole science to making fuel and water tanks for ocean going vessels. Our tanks are “baffled”, which means that waffle-like panels are in the tanks to minimize fluids shifting as the boat gets pushed around by the seas. And, of course, it doesn’t take much water intrusion to dramatically change the math.

Here’s a few of the articles I read on this topic:

Ultimately, I cheated, and just asked my boat’s designer (Jeff Leishman) what he thought I should do. His response:

Your trip sounds like a tough one! In a roll over or knock down the house is going to give you a tremendous amount of added stability assuming the windows stay intact. I would recommend installing storm plates for this trip.

Best regards,

Given Jeff’s comment, I’m going to explore having the storm windows made.

I do already have steel covers for all the port lights. They are heavy, awkward and a pain to store. I’ve banged up the wood in a few places storing them, and hope I can find something easier to work with for the storm windows. My first thought is to see if some material like carbon fiber is possible. I’m stocking spare parts for a circumnavigation, so there aren’t a lot of open spaces for storing the storm plates. Something light, and easily stored will rank at the top of the list.

10 Responses

The previously referenced USCG 47′ MLB failed its first incline/rollover test. Why? A small pilothouse window broke. I think that the Dashews opted for thicker glass instead of storm covers. The rationale was that he didn’t want to go outside and put up covers in bad weather – he’d rather always be ready. He made this decision during construction. Your Nordhavn contact said put on the covers. Dashew made one other point. He didn’t want the darkness that covers produce. Acrylic installed prior to departure might be the answer.

I checked to see what the glass is around my boat, and it is: 1/2″ tempered glass.

If I was going to have storm plats made, I would have them made of thick acrylic, I would install them at the beginning of the trip and leave them installed. The installation becomes their storage place in effect and I would not have to worry about installing them in the advent of a storm.

The only downside I can see it being able to wash the salt out between the windows and the plates and perhaps reduced visibility during the cruise.

one scene that stuck in my mind from watching the deadliest catch was the scene where a rogue wave slammed into the side of one of the boats. these waves can come at you from any angle which makes them even more dangerous. seeing that scene i know what my decision would be! jon

I golfed this morning with a sailboater who has crossed the Pacific a couple of times. His guess was that Carbon Fiber storm windows might cost $20,000. I had been thinking MUCH less. He backed down a little when I said that I already have the fittings built into the boat to accept the panels. All I need is the panels themselves.

Overall, his opinion was that I’d be wasting money. I’m not planning any major passages (more than three days). Modern weather routing is pretty good. It’s tough to believe I’d get caught in something serious enough to require storm windows, that wasn’t predicted three days in advance.

My focus on the weight really has more to do with keeping them easy to store. I doubt that regardless of the material I choose they would be heavy enough to make any real difference in my seaworthiness. My guess is that carbon fiber window coverings might weight under a pound each, and plexigrass between 5 and 10 pounds. Neither material is a big deal in terms of the 220,000 pound weight of the boat. However, my goal is to find panels that are easy to lug around, install and store. I don’t mind paying a bit extra for carbon fiber, but I wouldn’t spend a huge amount extra.

This brings up an interesting question…

I’ve assuming I’d only install the storm windows on the main salon level. My pilot house is another 10 feet or so off the water. I’m definitely not planning on putting storm windows on the upper deck.. although, perhaps I should be…

Get someone to make Titanium plates…strong and light if weight is an issue.

How much weight would they add high up? Wouldn’t they detract from the stability of the boat.

Mother nature wil always win

I believe it is about patience and weather routing rather than trying to beat the ocean.

If I were faced with a situation of smashing head seas that would break windows then I would also be faced a many other problems

Weather routing as advanced as it is, there is no need to punish the boat and crew

It appears that the most reliable trhing about the Bering Sea and the Aleutians is the unpredictability of the weather and the relatively few harbors of refuge.

To the extent that you have overhangs above your windows, why not hinge the storm covers and securly attach them to the overhangs – out of the way. When needed, they swing down and are secured at the bottom. As you say, the lighter the better, so carbon fiber or new technology honeycomb as used in aircraft bulkheads and wings might be appropriate. The engineered shape or reinforcement could inhibit flexing – as opposed to the thickness (weight) of the material.

Ken, I still think your trip sounds like the trip of a lifetime. I spent several years working at the, now abandoned, fish plant at Port William on the south end of Shuyak Island. I could spend months just exploring the Kodiak Island group.

I’m looking forward to more updates on your trip, and then updates and photos as you and the group head for Japan. –Chet

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Luxury rules at the moscow yacht show.

by Maria Sapozhnikova

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The windy Russian autumn weather might be a little bit tricky for sailing, but it doesn’t stop brave yachtsmen from all over the world from flocking to Russian capital in the beginning of September when the Moscow Yacht Show commences. The main Russian Yacht exhibition gathers professional and amateur yacht lovers together under the wing of The Royal Yacht Club.

This year it took place for a fourth time already. The exhibition is considered the principal event on the sporting and social calendar. The Moscow Yacht Show 2010 united in one area three of the largest Russian yachts distributors: Ultramarine, Nordmarine and Premium Yachts.

A wide range of yachts were on display for a week. An exhibition showcased yachts both from Russian manufacturers and world famous brands: Azimut, Princess, Ferretti, Pershing, Riviera, Doral, Linssen, etc.

It was a real feast for seafarers as visitors of the show had a unique chance not only to take a look at the newest superyachts before they hit the market, but also to evaluate their driving advantages during the test drive. The show provided an excellent opportunity for yacht enthusiasts to choose and buy a new boat for the next season.

The event started with the grandiose gala evening. It included grand dinner, the concert and professional awards ceremony for achievements in Russian yachting industry. The guests also enjoyed the annual regatta.

Special guest Paolo Vitelli, Azimut Benetti Group president, opened the evening.

Next year organizers assured guests they would bring more yachts, the scale of which will even make oligarch Roman Abramovich envious. Sounds very promising indeed.

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You are here, update on snow cover in moscow.

Here is an update from Ken Siems of the Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club in Moscow.  The first picture is from April 8 and the second one is from April 12, 2013.  He has removed snow cover from some of the key areas on the golf course, but is expecting snow cover to last in May.  So far, the grass has been pretty healthy under the snow, with little snow mold  (he treated for snow mold before the first snow). 

This is one of the latest snow covers that I am familiar with.  It will be very interesting to see how the course emerges from the winter.  Ken will continue to keep us informed as the snow melts.  

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Under Relentless Russian Assault, Ukraine Adopts a Defensive Crouch

As Moscow’s forces retake land from which they were ousted at the end of 2022, the Ukrainian military has adopted a strategy of fighting while slowly falling back to more heavily fortified positions.

Ukrainian Police evacuate an elderly resident from the town of Kozacha Lopan on the Russian border in the northern Kharkiv region. Credit...

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Reporting from villages in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine

  • May 22, 2024

At a high point for Ukraine in its war against Russia, when its army was sweeping Russian forces from the country’s northeast, a small-town police chief proudly hung a Ukrainian flag on his newly liberated city hall.

A year and a half later, the policeman, Oleksiy Kharkivskyi, was dashing into the burning ruins of the same town, Vovchansk , last week to evacuate its few remaining residents as Russian forces closed in.

“Everywhere they come is just razed to the ground,” Mr. Kharkivskyi said of the advance of the Russian troops , who have returned to the region with a scorched-earth ferocity, setting in motion one of the largest displacements of people since the first months of the war.

Russian troops punched across the border between Russia and Ukraine this month and pushed toward Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, which has a population of about a million people. Military analysts say Russia lacks the troops to capture the city but could advance to within artillery range, touching off a larger flow of refugees.

Militarily, the incursion seems intended to stretch Ukraine’s already thin and underequipped forces by diverting troops from the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, still seen as the likely target of a Russian offensive this summer. It has also had the destabilizing effect of sending thousands of dismayed, disheartened people from the border region deeper into Ukraine.

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After more than a week of fierce fighting, the Ukrainian Army has fallen back to more heavily fortified positions about five miles from the border, which they have held now for several days. Even more formidable positions — trenches, concrete tank traps and bunkers — lie farther to the rear.

Regional officials say the attack has so far displaced about 8,000 people, and a frantic effort is underway to evacuate stragglers, mostly older people, from towns and villages in the path of the Russian advance.

Many have fled villages that lay in front of the defensive lines, an area given over to skirmishing and ambushes, and heavily bombarded by Russian artillery.

While hardly ideal as a strategy — and accounts from commanders and soldiers suggest Ukraine executed it with some mishaps — the tactic of defending while retreating in small steps allows a weaker force to inflict heavy casualties on attackers. Those on the offensive must storm row after row of positions as they move forward, continually breaking cover and exposing themselves to artillery.

Ukraine, with insufficient troops as a mobilization effort stalled for months and short on ammunition as the U.S. Congress delayed a spending bill, has used the strategy out of necessity after Russian forces took the city of Avdiivka in February.

It comes, of course, at a cost of slices of territory — and of misfortune for those living on the wrong side of the fortifications the Ukrainians will probably fall back on.

Vasily Holoborodko, 65, a retired airplane mechanic, had remained on his farm even as he watched soldiers build tank traps and trenches on the wrong side of his property — away from the Russian border.

When the attack came, he was soon caught in the fighting. Mr. Holoborodko made a dash for safety on Thursday, passing burning houses and blown-up tanks — and the more robust defensive lines.

“We barely got out,” he said. In his rush to flee, he left behind his chickens, his cat and his dog “to whatever God will give them.”

The villages dotted around pine forests north of Kharkiv are picturesque jumbles of brightly painted one-story homes, with gardens freshly planted. The fighting retreat, however militarily sound, has meant surrendering some to ruin.

“The tactics of the Russians have changed radically compared to 2022,” said Capt. Petro Levkovskiy, chief of staff of the operational battalion of Ukraine’s 13th Brigade, referring to the invasion that February. At that time, he noted, “They came in columns, marching to Kharkiv, because they thought they would be welcomed.” Russia occupied the border area until September 2022.

This month, heavy artillery bombardments from across the border in Russia announced the latest attack. “They fire artillery at long distances, destroy everything, then small groups assault, but in large numbers, from different directions,” Captain Levkovskiy said.

On a drive north toward the border from Kharkiv last week, pickup trucks and armored vehicles sped in the same direction, while cars overstuffed with people, bags of clothes and pet carriers raced south.

Wildfires burned through the pines, and smoke rose from burning villages farther north.

Sprays of dirt from fresh artillery strikes spattered the road. The window for evacuating civilians from areas in front of Ukraine’s fortifications is closing.

Scenes of anguish unfolded as people left homes, and sometimes pets, at a moment’s notice.

When an evacuation team arrived at his home in Bilyi Kolodyaz, Pavel Nelup, 30, quickly threw a duffel bag into the car and clambered in as artillery rumbled nearby.

“It’s scarier this time” he said of the latest Russian attacks. “Now we understand they won’t leave anybody alive.”

His German shepherd, left behind for lack of space, stared balefully at him from a gap under the fence, whimpering.

A neighbor, Elena Konovalova, 58, emerged to say goodbye to Mr. Nelup. “My precious, see you later,” she said. “You will be all right.”

Vitaly Kylchik, a chaplain with the 110th Territorial Defense Brigade helping with evacuations, urged her to leave soon, too.

“Don’t sit and wait like the people in Vovchansk,” he said of the town to the north, from where plumes of black smoke were rising. The city hall where the flag was proudly hung after liberation is now a ruin, residents said.

Daria Sorokoletova 40, a resident of Vovchansk, fled on Wednesday. Just as she left her home, an artillery shell hit it, blowing it to smithereens.

“There is nothing there,” she said. “There is nowhere to go back to.”

Even as its citizens are forced to evacuate , the Ukrainian government has defended the strategy of retreating to the defensive lines. Russia has advanced over about 50 square miles and captured about a dozen villages, many now in rubble.

On Friday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said the Russian offensive had reached but not crossed a first line of defenses, beyond those villages.

“The first line is not the border,” Mr. Zelensky said. “It is impossible to build there because our people were getting killed” by artillery fire as they dug fortifications and laid mines, an effort that began in 2022 but intensified in recent months.

A guessing game for the generals awaits. How far Russia advances depends on how many soldiers both sides commit. For Ukraine, that calculation means moving defenders from other potential sites of attack.

“War is interactive,” Johan Norberg, a senior military analyst at Sweden’s Defense Research Agency, said in a telephone interview. “What the Ukrainians do or don't do is just as important as what the Russians do.” Capturing the city of Kharkiv, he said, would require Russia to commit “not just a few thousand but hundreds of thousands” of soldiers.

Residents have less assurances. After Ukraine reclaimed their village, Staryi Saltiv, in 2022, Mykhaylo Voinov, 63, and his wife, Olena Voinova, 54, repaired the roof, plugged shrapnel damage and replaced broken windows. In a lovingly manicured backyard, bird song mixed with the rumble of artillery.

“We live our life to the fullest, even knowing at any time we might have to pack and leave,” Ms. Voinova said. “Of course it’s very hard, but this is our land, we are ready to rebuild again and again.”

In one sign of the exodus, Elena Bubenko, 59, who takes in stray dogs and pets that her neighbors placed in her care before fleeing, is now caring for 116 dogs in the village of Tsykuni, north of Kharkiv.

If Ukrainian troops need to fall back beyond her village, she said, she would understand and just hoped to evacuate the animals in time.

“They should defend their own lives,” not the villages, she said. “Otherwise, who will be left to fight for us?”

Evelina Riabenko contributed reporting from the Kharkiv region.

Andrew E. Kramer is the Kyiv bureau chief for The Times, who has been covering the war in Ukraine since 2014. More about Andrew E. Kramer

Our Coverage of the War in Ukraine

News and Analysis

U.S. and allied intelligence officials are tracking an increase in low-level sabotage operations in Europe  that they say are part of a Russian campaign to undermine support for Ukraine’s war effort.

Some American-made, precision-guided weapons supplied to Ukraine have proved ineffective on the battlefield , their accuracy badly diminished by Russian jamming efforts.

Ukraine has begun releasing prisoners to serve in its army , part of a wider effort to rebuild a military that has been depleted by more than two years of war and is strained by relentless Russian assaults.

Striking a Chord: A play based on a classic 19th-century novel, “The Witch of Konotop,” is a smash hit among Ukrainians who see cultural and historical echoes  in the story of what they face after two years of war.

Europe’s Defense Industry: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine jolted Europe out of complacency about military spending. But the challenges are about more than just money .

Putin’s Victory Narrative: The Russian leader’s message to his country appears to be taking hold : that Russia is fighting against the whole Western world — and winning.

How We Verify Our Reporting

Our team of visual journalists analyzes satellite images, photographs , videos and radio transmissions  to independently confirm troop movements and other details.

We monitor and authenticate reports on social media, corroborating these with eyewitness accounts and interviews. Read more about our reporting efforts .

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