Well I think we’ve done it. We’ve gotten the hatch installed. It only took working in the middle of the night in cold temperatures and getting caulk in my beard to do it.

We went to the boat after work which meant after dark, but were blessed by the fact that the boat that is hauled out behind us had crew there working on it and it was lit up like a huge Christmas tree with flood lamps. That gave us some little light to work with in addition to our flash lights.

I started by bolting down the “big” hatch.
Bolting main hatch down

We used 3M 4000 under the washers and screw heads for all the work on these hatches. I tightened it down just enough to compress the new gasket and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it has formed a watertight seal to the lip.

I fit the trim ring into place and drilled a hole, installed a bolt to hold it in place. Then tragedy. The bolts we bought were not quite long enough. The fiberglass hatch was just a bit thicker than we thought, so it was a mad dash to Lowes in the middle of the night to find replacement bolts. Unfortunately Lowes didn’t have the size 12 bolts I was using, so we went down to size 10, which seem to work just as well with doubled and oversized fender washers on the back. We made it out of the hardware store in just a nick of time. We returned with the bolts and made sure they fit. I drilled out all the remaining holes. This involved drilling through the aluminum trim ring as well because it came with the counter sinks in place but no holes in it.

Bolting main hatch down

Next we sanded off the parts of the cockpit floor that the Bomar hatch trim ring would be covering, cleaned it with a fiberglass solvent, scrubbed it with a wire brush, then cleaned it again with acetone.

It was finally time for the “real” fitment. I really didn’t want to have to do this twice so I used a “lot” of caulk. The trim ring has two grooves in the underside of it that I assume are for gaskets or caulking, but for some reason it didn’t seem to fit perfectly flush on the floor. I was worried about this non-flush issue so I compensated with the caulk gun.

Like… entire tube compensation.

As it turned out, this was a good thing because just enough caulk squished out all the way around the trim ring as I tightened down each bolt.

Cleanup was a lot easier than we expected because the cold weather had one other effect. The caulk was drying very slowly and not setting easily. This gave Dani ample time to clean around the ring and get it looking spiffy. I would have stayed to help but was instead off to the restroom to you know… Dip my beard in mineral spirits and attempt to salvage it from where I had put my face in the caulk.

It turned out looking pretty good. At least I thought so. I couldn’t trust myself at first, believing I must be high from mineral spirit fumes, but the pictures of the hatch the next day brought relief. The hatch did indeed look good.

As with so many things though, the real test will come with water. We’ll see if any of it leaks. But one good thing that I didn’t expect is that the cockpit floor seems as stout as ever. I expected putting the hatch into it would weaken it and that there would be more flex when I stood in the well but I haven’t found that to be the case. I believe this may have something to do with the oversized washers I used to secure it and also that I pushed it aft instead of trying to center it in the cockpit floor.

PS. I got all the caulk out of my beard and moustache. But Dani laughed at me when we got home and I put leave in conditioner on my face.