Britannia has 12 opening portlights, giving good ventilation in a marina or at anchor.One of the things that impressed me when if first considered buying Britannia were the nice rows of opening portlights that in addition to the deck hatches allow for superb ventilation, at anchor or at seaThe Beckson cam latch is easy to open and close and can be adjusted for pressure..

They are Beckson Marine “Newport” style opening ports, roughly 15” x 8” inches, with their unique style cam latches. Once set these can be opened and closed very easily without having to screw and unscrew toggle type knobs like on many old style portlights. When properly adjusted they simply don't leak, even when constantly bombarded with solThis is the old style portlight whith the broken toggle latch. They are easy to break if they are water.

Britannia has a total of twelve ports, all Beckson’s – that was except for one! This was a different old style portlight with five screw down knobs. It never leaked because we learned just how much to screw the knobs down to give the correct pressure all around on the neoprene sealing gasket. One day however it started leaking during a rain storm and I discovered that one of the hinged toggles holding a knob had broken. (This can be seen on the right of the picture). This meant that one side of the widow could not be tightened down at all, so water was dribbling in past the gasket. We had just had some friends sleeping in that cabin and I suspect the knob had been tightened just a little too much, that cracked the plastic base.

There was no way the broken base could be re-attached to the body of the portlight, because glue would never have held the pull from the screw. A new portlight was the only option and since it was the odd-man-out anyway I decided to buy a new port to match all the others.The broken base of this frame could not be repaired.

The new portlight with the new bug screen and gasket.I bought a new unit from Go2marine who had the exact model in stock and it arrived in three days. I then set about removing the old portlight, but this turned out to be much easier said than done, because it was completely plastered in with solid old caulk on both inside and outside flanges.

The first thing that had to come off was the trim ring around the outside of the port, but when I tried to ease it of it would not budge. Caulk was holding the whole ring firmly against the cabin side and I was reluctant to try to pry it off and damage the paint.

I searched the internet with the question, “How to soften marine caulk” and the most recommended method was rubbing alcohol. Since this is a liquid I hoped I would be able to run it into the joint between the trim and the cabin side. I soaked an old rag, then squeezed it along the seam and it did run in between the joint on the top of the flange and partly on the sides, but it would not run “uphill,” along the bottom flange. After an hour of repeated applications the flange was still showing no signs of giving way.

Removing the old port proved easier said than done.Portlight-drawingI then tried Vinegar with more-or-less the same negative results. The top had softened a little, but the sides and bottom were still solid and seemed like they were perfectly happy to stay that way.

The new portlight came with a new outer trim ring, so it didn't actually matter if the old one was damaged in removal. I finally decided that I had little choice but to wrench the thing off using brute force. I hammered my 1 1/2” inch wood chisel hard all the way along the top flange and managed to lever it part way of the cabin side. I then worked down the sides using the chisel to slice through the more reluctant caulk. The bottom part however still would not move and it was difficult to hammer the chisel upwards.

My wife Kati had heard all the hammering and banging, including some choice expletives, and came to see how I was getting on. “Perhaps that’s the reason the last window was left there,” she observed, “The fitter probably had a heart attack before he could do that one.”

Finally, after using an actual pry bar on the trim ring it suddenly cracked. This was the point of no return and I started to apply some serious leverage on the flange, finally removing it in broken pieces. I could now see that the frame had been sealed to the cabin wall with what must have been at least a couple of tubes of caulk.

Using a chisel and box cutter I scoured out as much of the mess as I could and it was a good thing I had kept the portlight closed all this time, to prevent the dust and mess entering the cabin. With this done and after removing the screws holding the inside frame to the cabin wall I whacked the frame from the outside all round with a hammer, and the whole assembly suddenly gave up the struggle and fell into the cabin. I then cleaned up the edges of the aperture ready to receive for the new port.

With the new port installed the outer rim is glued in place.This was the point where my aching back told me to leave the job until the next day, but if I had done that it would most likely have hurtled down with rain in the night, and I had a 16” x 9” inch hole in the side of the cabin wall.

It was necessary to remove the screen and gasket to be able to clamp the new port in place.After cleaning up all the piles of solid caulk and bits of plastic, I pushed the new port into the hole and marked the position of the ten screw holes in the inside flange, then pre-drilled them to the screw size. I then ran a caulk bead around the inner flange and screwed the port in place. Then, from the outside I filled the gaps between the cabin wall and frame with 100% silicone caulk, that Beckson recommends. I then completely disconnected the inside window by unscrewing and pulling the hinge pins to enable me to use clamps to hold the new outside trim ring in place.

Surprisingly, I found the next part of the operation to be the most frustrating, this was re-fitting the rubber sealing gasket. This is the most important part to waterproof the port but I found it infernally difficult to press the gasket into the narrow channel all the way round the frame. Beckson’s instructions say to start at the top center and push the gasket flange into the groove while stretching it at the same time, then hammering it home with a nylon mallet. The gasket is a tight fit and even when I managed to get it in around three corners I didn't have enough left over to stretch round the fourth corner. Warming the gasket in a bowl of hot water made it a bit more flexible, and after about five attempts I managed to wangle the last corner into place. I didn't have a mallet so I used a chunk of wood and a hammer to make sure it was bedded correctly. I was then able to replace the window

My brand new portlight, that now matches all the others, was finally installed, but now I can't decide whether I should thank whoever broke the old port, or send them a large bill.


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Replacing portlightN
A new portlight was installed. These cam lever clamps are much easer to open and close, than the old style toggle clamps.