BOATBUILDERS DO THEIR BEST to provide access to critical com- ponents under decks or behind hull liners, but sometimes the unexpected happens and you find the need to get at something behind fiberglass. Or in other cases, you simply want to improve the ventilation belowdecks. If your boat could use a new port,
follow these steps for a smooth install.
Location, Location, Location
Choosing the correct placement before installing your new port is very important. You must
avoid cutting into your boat’s structure, wire runs, piping, or any other mechanical functions.
If you don’t know what’s behind the spot you want to cut, ask your manufacturer. Find out
before you begin whether you’ll be cutting solid fiberglass or a cored portion of your console,
deck, or cabin sides, for example. Solid glass is easier to deal with because coring will require
proper sealing before you can move ahead with the install. Similarly, if there is a void, say
between the inner liner of your boat’s cabin and the outside, you’ll need to reinforce the area
around the port with coring to prevent flexing.
Think ahead: Before picking a spot for your new hinged-window port, check for any
obstructions that will be above it to make sure it can open. The same goes for access ports
that tip out. If you can’t open it all the way, it won’t be much use. Spin-out ports typically
don’t require the same clearances.
Measure, trace, and Measure again
Most ports will come with a template that you can trace onto the spot you’ve selected that
will help you cut the proper-sized opening. To ensure you get the opening square and level
78 | Boatu.s. Magazine AUGUST | SEPTEMBER 2014
– or at least even in relation to the rest of the
boat – you’ll need to carefully measure both,
from either the top or bottom of the template, on both ends to a fixed reference. The
difficulty is that the reference itself, whether
it’s the top of the console or the deck, may
not be level. Traditional bubble levels aren’t
much help, either; boats are rarely sitting in
the water or on the hard in a level position.
Choose carefully – if you’re cutting into a
console or cabin, a position that looks good
outside might not look good inside.
Once you’re happy with the port’s position, trace the template onto the boat using
the MoMent of truth
Now comes the part that makes most boat
owners squirm: cutting the fiberglass. With
a bit large enough to accommodate the blade
of the cutting tool of your choice, drill a hole
at one corner of the template you’ve traced
PRACTICAL BOATER | DO IT YOURSELF
INSTALL A SIMPLE VENTILATION
OR ACCESS PORT
Need more breeze belowdecks or a way to access fittings and tanks?
Installing a port is not a complicated project By MichaeL VataLaro
use the template provided to
trace a pattern onto your boat
where you will make the opening.
run the saw at max speed to
avoid splintering the fiberglass.