St Francis
44




 
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Cockpit Upgrades

Last Updated: 04/13/2021

Helm Seat

Winches

Hard Top

Our St. Francis 44 came with a well-built dodger frame and arch.  But top of the cockpit enclosure was Sunbrella.  Between the parts of the frame, the Sunbrella drooped, and therefore water puddled in the low spots.  Since Sunbrella is hard to keep waterproof, we opted to build a "hardtop" to replace the Sunbrella top.  Here are some of the design criteria:

1.  Be as light as possible

2.  Support a man walking on the top

3.  Support 4 permanently mounted solar panels

4.  Have a water catchment feature

5.  Overlap the cockpit edges so water drips OUTSIDE the cockpit

6.  Have a slight forward slant and a slight curvature, so water drains to the forward outboard corners (part of the water catchment system).

7.  Provide a way to affix front and side curtains

8.  Be strong enough to handle sustained winds over 60 knots.

There was a guy (Jonathan) associated with our marina who had already built several hardtops for other boats, both monohulls and catamarans.  We worked with him to design the approach, around our existing frame, and then he and his workers actually fabricated the top.

Made from 2 honeycomb and fiberglass, over the original stainless steel frame, the new hardtop is a 130 square foot cover over the cockpit.  It is bolted to the original frame around the cockpit perimeter. It acts as a rain/sun shield, rain water collection device, strong mounting for our large solar panel array and provides easy access to the boom and mainsail. It overlaps the front cabin top by about 6, extends to the back of the athwart ships platform aft and just covers the upper cockpit combings on the sides.

The 1 plastic thru-hulls mounted at the forward corners have hoses attached that reach to the fresh water fills forward. In a good rain we can fill the two 57 gallon tanks in about a half hour. In addition to the front isinglass wind/rain screens, we have also recently mounted side and corner curtains to PVC track on both sides to protect the cockpit from wave splash when necessary.

  Frame before Top Added

Frame 1 Frame 2


Fabrication of Hardtop

Note tabs for Solar Panel Mounting
and holes for water catchment
 

Fab1 Fab2
Fab 3 Fab4
Fab5 Fab6


Mounting the Hardtop on Existing Frame

Mounting1 Mounting2
Mounting3 Mounting4
Mounting5 Mounting6


Solar Panels Mounted on Hardtop

SolarPanels1 SolarPanel2


Shade and Clear Curtains for Enclosure

SideShade SideCurtains

The Full Set of Pictures for fabricating and installing the hardtop is here:  New Hard Bimini Photos  

(top)

Strong Helm Seat

The original plastic chair with aluminum pedestal that came with the boat was totally inadequate.  We looked at a few other designs on other catamarans--mostly made of stainless tubing (see above), but decided to use some left over fabrication material and make a seat that would also provide extra storage.

Current Seat
Original Seat
 
AtlasT's Seat
AtLasT's Seat
  
Changing Spots' Seat
Changing Spots' Seat
Tackless II's Seat
Tackless II's Seat


Our new seat is made of 1 PVC foam with one layer of light fiberglass cloth on each side.  It is bolted to the seat and lower cockpit combing.  It is a much better solution. It is 23x29 and stands 31 to the hard seat. The 3 seat cushion provides a bit more height. Lifting off the seat platform allows access to two large storage compartments. Another compartment is accessible from a lower inboard side opening. The seat is just the right height to be able to see well forward over the saloon top. And it is wide enough to allow seating for two.

(top)

Future: Added Winches

Extra Cockpit Locker

As part of our refrigeration project, we converted the port aft bunk to a custom front-loading refrigerator. Behind the fridge is a 6 ft long space. We added a hatch from the cockpit side, and this is now our "long storage" for things like rolls of sunbrella, swimming noodles, and cockpit enclosure panels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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