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Portlights

 

     This page is primarily to address the nontraditional uses of  below deck portholes on Trinity.

     Port lights, portholes and hatchways are all potential holes in your boat and need to be given the same consideration.  Although a boat is meant to stay upright, this may not always be the case.  Your boat is subject to an unexpected knockdown or rollover at any time, especially in heavy weather.  Therefore, if  portholes are located on the side of the cabin or the side of the hull, they are subject to the same potential forces as the hull itself, and they need to be engineered as a structural part of the boat.

    Fortunately, with the new clear plastics in today's marketplace, port lights and portholes become somewhat less of a problem. Especially when working with steel and other metals, the opening and framework can be designed as a structural part of the hull.  Polycarbonates such as lexan can be bolted in the opening to maintain hull strength.  However, as the opening gets larger, or is located in a higher impact area, the thickness of the lexan needs to be increased and costs goes up.  One inch Laxgard Laminate, a high impact GE polycarbonate, has a cost of over  $100.00 a square foot.  Add the time and money spent custom building the port light frame or porthole frame and hatch.  You may decide to be more conventional than I have been with Trinity.  (Trinity also has 10 watertight compartments.) 

    The Coast Guard was not impressed with Trinity's portholes.  If I plan to charter, they will want me to show the portholes to be 3 times the strength of the hull and have the ability to be locked when underway.  This will be no problem in either case.  It should be noted that the portholes on Trinity open inward and offer alternate escape routes, should they be needed.  As to appearance, I ask the traditionalists to hold their opinions until the portholes have been installed and the surrounding areas have been faired and painted.

    I recommend that you follow your plans, pick quality port lights and portholes that are welded or bolted in place.  If you think you would like more light, consult the designer for his recommendation.  

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