I assembled the hatch with waterproof woodworking glue and fastened it using the same stainless screws that came out. The original assembly appeared to have not been glued, which I think allowed water to eventually seep into the end grain of the plywood. With it’s glassfibre top and glued sides, that won’t happen a second time.
There followed quite a bit of finishing off by hand, sanding the side trim flush with the new top and gluing twenty eight teak plugs into the screw holes, and sanding them flush. As an added touch I ran a moulded edge along both sides of the top using my hand router.
After masking the top panel I applied a coat of Cetol natural teak to the sides. Then I turned the hatch over and rolled Cetol on the teak underside. I then applied three coats of Cetol gloss all over, rubbing down between coats with 250 grit. This produced a beautiful glossy finish which further enhanced the appearance in the saloon when the hatch was closed.
The finished hatch sat in my workshop for a week, while the varnish hardened and I cleaned out the housing. I then sanded and varnished the remainder of the fixed teak surrounds.
When everything was thoroughly dry I simply lifted the hatch back into the left side guide and refitted the right guide—but this time I used 1/4” inch stainless self tapping screws to fasten it to the deck, bedding it with 3M 5200 adhesive caulk. This will be more than adequate, since the guides carry no load, just acting as guides for the hatch. I filled the screw holes with 1/2” teak plugs and the hatch was finished.
Originally the entranceway had two large solid teak washboards which stacked, one on top of the other in slots in the companionway. They were very heavy and cumbersome and my wife could hardly lift them in and out, and there was nowhere to store them in the cockpit.
The washboard concept is part of a “traditional” design, which hypothesizes that if a giant wave floods the cockpit the boards would stop water entering the saloon. That of course presupposes they would actually be in place, since they completely prevent access to and from the cockpit. For a short handed crew I consider semi-permanently closing off the companionway in this way to be actually dangerous, because it effectively prevents quick access, both in and out. Also, the prospect of a total cockpit flooding is remote, especially on a center cockpit boat like Britannia, with its high freeboard and coamings, six feet above the waterline.
When in port or at anchor, (which was most of the time), if we wanted to “shut the doors,” it was a struggle even for me to lift the boards high enough to slide them in and out. It was certainly not conducive to harmonious living—they had to go.
I used the 3/4” inch solid teak from both boards to make two doors, which I hung with piano hinges either side of the companionway. One side locks with a sliding bolt into the bottom sill, and the other with a heavy dead bolt into the solid beam of the sliding hatch. We can now easily close one door, or both, as we wish. To complete the ensemble I bought two oval glass panels of lighthouses from Amazon.com and recessed them into each door, adding a touch of elegance when daylight filters through.
The doors had to open inwards due to the shape of the cockpit seats. So I left the two long teak slots either side of the entrance, where the washboards slid into. Any future owner can still fit washboards if he likes, even in front of the doors.
In addition to now having a waterproof companionway hatch, the refurbished entranceway and doors present a very classy appearance to our “front door.”