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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Whoever Heard of Sewing a Door?

One of those fancy companion-way doors

Whenever we go to a sailboat show, whether in Annapolis or in Chicago, we drool over those beautifully designed custom-made teak companion-way doors that are on display.  They are hinged and open just like a pair of saloon doors, making it much easier to open and close them. They are also fairly expensive, and as such, we consider them nonessential luxuries for the boat.  

Looking down the companionway steps to the cabin below. Two Lexan doors.
Our companionway is closed by the use of two smokey-gray, heavy Lexan-like panels that slide down into vertical channels.  It’s not accomplished very quickly and the panels are wont to fall over if they’re set off to one side after exiting the cabin.  When they fall, the sound sets off a reaction in me akin to being startled by an attack squirrel.  When I “put away” the panels, they are tucked down into sleeves that are suspended inside the lazarette.  Again, this is not a quick opening and closing of a door, by any means.

Hull #1 zippered door.
Hull #1 door.  Screw snaps up each side.
Once again, meeting other cruisers has provided us a wealth of information.  In an earlier post, I referenced meeting the owners of Hull #1.  Hull #1 also gave us this great idea for making a door.  A door that I could sew!  They allowed me to take photos of their door, and I recently got around to making a similar door for our boat.  
I trimmed our doors in navy stamoid binding.

I used Ivory Stamoid from SailRite for the body of the door.  I had 20 gauge Riviera glass on hand and made two windows for the door with that.  From SailRite I ordered a 36” Vislon zipper for the center zipper, and I used two (12”) lengths of continuous zipper to make horizontal openings at the bottom of the zipper.  
Installed a pair of windows in doors.

Therefore, when all three zippers are opened up completely, the two halves of the door can each be rolled to the outside and secured by leech line.  I used navy Stamoid to encase the outside edge of the door.  
I covered the vertical zipper with a flap and snap.

The thing that really made this slick for us was that, as folks on Hull #1 pointed out, there are two parallel lines of screws that hold the stainless steel frame around the companionway.  Attaching this door to the companionway opening was simply a matter of replacing the outside line of screws with snap screws.  Piece of cake!
Snaps screwed into the stainless door opening. Easy to install.

We’ve been quite happy with this little zippered door.  It makes going in and out of the companionway much quicker.  It’s water-repellant, and when it’s chilly, retains warmth just as well as the Lexan hatch doors.  Even when the two horizontal zippers aren’t opened all the way, Jax can still gracefully maneuver through the door.  More gracefully than either of us humans I might add. 
Note: one vertical zipper.  Two horizontal zippers at bottom.
Sewn doors can be rolled back and secured with ties.

One nice thing about the new door too is that the Lexan hatch doors still fit into those slots if needed.  We need to put those in when we are obligated to leave Jax alone on the boat for a while.  He would prefer coming with us, of course, and if he could, would probably *charge right through the doors.  Additionally, we still need the Lexan hatch doors when we want to lock up the boat.  

A big thank you goes out to Hull #1 for the inspiration on the zippered companionway door.

Lexan doors still slide in channels inside the sewn door.
Addendum:  Sept 2017

We finally decided that we should try leaving Jax alone in the boat with just the sewn doors zipped up.  Ya, it turned out not to be a good idea.  This is what the door looks like now.  

*charge right through the doors— A few years ago we took Jax with us when we went on a camping/fishing trip in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.  With us was another couple of friends and their huge dog. We decided the dogs would be happier remaining together at our campsite on a little private island we’d claimed, as opposed to sitting in the hot fishing boat with us all morning. (We did not actually consult with the dogs on this point). 
Notice Jax' tooth marks in the window.  Covered the worst with star.

We zipped up the tents against mosquitoes, set the campsite in order and left the dogs on “guard” in front of our tents. When we returned to the island campsite at noon, Jax was lying inside our tent on our comfortable air mattress. We noticed that our friends’ dog had successfully guarded their tent from the outside.

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