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Old 06-01-2014, 07:22 AM   #1
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alternatives for replacing flybridge clears

I need to replace my flybridge clears. They will probably last another couple of years but they are quite scratched and starting to go cloudy. It irritates me to no end looking through something that is not clear - sort of like having smudgy glasses on!
I have taken them down and polished them which made things better for a couple of weeks but slowly and surely the vision impairment returns - for the time it took I don't consider this a solution.
The front one rolls up which is great for vision. Unfortunately I live in a part of the world where the temperatures and winds rarely allow for the front screen open and for everyone to remain happy boaters.
Ball park pricing to replace all of these is $10-12k using Strataglass or similar high end clear.

I hate doing anything twice and anything I can do to minimise maintenance is great, so I just want to replace and forget them.

For longevity and ease of maintenance, I am considering having glass frames put in with either a flip up or sliding centre section in the front to let the air in on those few good days.
To me it seems like such a great idea - put rain-x on it to keep the spray to a minimum, hose it down at the end of the trip, use a broom to scrub the bird droppings off - no scratches, polishing, broken clips, jamming zippers, shrinkage, etc etc etc. Downside I can see is weight - perhaps 60kg/120lbs, which I think is negligible for the coastal cruising we do.

Doing much research, I don't seem to be able to find anyone that has done this. There are no doubt reasons that I am missing, so before I embark on this exercise I would like to hear from more knowledgeable owners why I would not do this. Hopefully the reasons are not so obvious that I will kick myself!

Further information on the structure - the Flybridge roof bolts to the top of the radar tower which is in the centre. At each corner there is a 50mm stainless support post with a 100mm flat plate through bolted. This support post bolts to the superstructure. There may be a bit of flex somewhere that might need to be considered.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-01-2014, 07:34 AM   #2
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Many boats where I am have refitted with plexi (or Lexan) or even glass. Many are home made and thus look as such but others have done it and the look is very nice.

I refuse to have a clear vinyl enclosure (had'em/hate'm) and probably could never justify the expense of EC2CY with it's issues too.

If and when I ever think of something for my flybridge (and I may not as I don't really need it like some climates do)...I'll probably go with plexi (if I had a hardtop - glass) in simple frames and just use simple plexi made opening windows and frames like they have in some helicopter bubbles/windows.

One possibility is to just do the front and 1/2 the sides with proper frames and plexi or glass and the rest in the more optically clear vinyl. As 90% of the time is looking forward....but if you use the enclosed flybridge as a more full time room...then the vinyl would be out in my book.
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Old 06-01-2014, 08:05 AM   #3
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There are a couple of products of choice over here in the states that provide the visual clarity sought by the OP. EZ2CY is the most well known, also Ranier Windows.

Rainier Industries: Marine Windows
EZ2CY Marine Enclosures

You see them used on most high end sport fishers and many yachts. The aft deck on our Hatteras (see avatar) has EZ2CY all across the back. The middle "window" swings up and attaches to the ceiling in fair weather. Most sport fishers have this arrangement. The visual acuity is remarkable; when the middle window is up and the side ones cleaned, its almost like an old Windex commercial, when you compare. You have to exercise a little care in handling and swinging it up or down, they are semi rigid and will crack if bent too far. Also must be cleaned with 210 or equivalent. But all in all a really wonderful product. After living with it for 7 years, in the most-occupied part of the boat, can't imagine having anything else.
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Old 06-01-2014, 08:09 AM   #4
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For short term cleaning try PLEXUS sold at a WM near you.
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Old 06-01-2014, 08:43 AM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. B. From the best of my calculations, "...at a WM near you." is about 2500 miles.
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:07 AM   #6
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Greetings,
Mr. B. From the best of my calculations, "...at a WM near you." is about 2500 miles.
Probably won't be able to go there at lunch time for a look then........
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:10 AM   #7
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There are a couple of products of choice over here in the states that provide the visual clarity sought by the OP. EZ2CY is the most well known, also Ranier Windows.

Rainier Industries: Marine Windows
EZ2CY Marine Enclosures

You see them used on most high end sport fishers and many yachts. The aft deck on our Hatteras (see avatar) has EZ2CY all across the back. The middle "window" swings up and attaches to the ceiling in fair weather. Most sport fishers have this arrangement. The visual acuity is remarkable; when the middle window is up and the side ones cleaned, its almost like an old Windex commercial, when you compare. You have to exercise a little care in handling and swinging it up or down, they are semi rigid and will crack if bent too far. Also must be cleaned with 210 or equivalent. But all in all a really wonderful product. After living with it for 7 years, in the most-occupied part of the boat, can't imagine having anything else.
The EZ2CY looks good. Website shows a dealer about 1500NM from me - may not be practical to go down this path.

Do you get away with washing yours with a soft broom and normal wash, or do you give it much more love than that?
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Old 06-02-2014, 06:34 AM   #8
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This stuff Works for me, Tho this months practical sailor has a great review of all profucts.

I woud replace the clear section with the best of modern plastic , which has improved loads in the past few decades.


  1. Klear To Sea cleaner polish protectant for plastics, clear ...

    www.amazon.com/Klear-protectant.../dp/B004Z1W0BCAmazon.com


    Amazon.com : Klear To Sea cleaner polish protectant for plastics, clear vinyl, isinglass, plexiglass, lexan, electronic screens and more - 1 gallon : Marine Vessels ...
  2. $18.99 for 16oz "Klear-To-Sea" cleaner/polish/protectant ...

    Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more › ... › Car CareExterior CareCleanersAmazon.com


    $18.99 for 16oz "Klear-To-Sea" cleaner/polish/protectant Safe on all surfaces you can see through....This product is 100% SAFE on all electronic screens, clear ...
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:04 AM   #9
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Looks like plastic is still the preferred option. I just cringe with the extra maintenance. I can wash the glass salon windows with a broom and hose them down the same as the deck. Bit of glass cleaner when dry to remove water spots and perfect.
The flybridge clears mean a ladder, some gymnastics, and much more love. Might have to resign myself to that fact......the downside of large boats I guess - good thing there are so many upsides!
Thank you for all your replies.
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:29 AM   #10
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Or...and I'm a bit surprised FF didn't suggest this, as he, like me, is not a fan of enclosed fly bridges, and from memory refers to them as oxygen tents...you could just save yourself the trouble and expense of all of the above, leave the flybridge open around front and sides, as I see it has a nice hardtop, and just use it for nice warm weather times, and when it's not, just drive from below, which is usually more convivial and comfortable anyway. You could have them fashion a special cover for the bridge instruments, seating etc, which would be much cheaper. Of course that advice is predicated on you having a lower helm. See mine below..
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:28 AM   #11
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Or...and I'm a bit surprised FF didn't suggest this, as he, like me, is not a fan of enclosed fly bridges, and from memory refers to them as oxygen tents...you could just save yourself the trouble and expense of all of the above, leave the flybridge open around front and sides, as I see it has a nice hardtop, and just use it for nice warm weather times, and when it's not, just drive from below, which is usually more convivial and comfortable anyway. You could have them fashion a special cover for the bridge instruments, seating etc, which would be much cheaper. Of course that advice is predicated on you having a lower helm. See mine below..
I wish everyone would follow this philosophy. We have both seat/panel covers and enclosures for the flybridge and the sundeck. I have never installed the enclosures. The individual instrument panel and seat covers work great, and when in the marina our fellow boaters have an unobstructed view across our boat.
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:26 AM   #12
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Or...and I'm a bit surprised FF didn't suggest this, as he, like me, is not a fan of enclosed fly bridges, and from memory refers to them as oxygen tents...you could just save yourself the trouble and expense of all of the above, leave the flybridge open around front and sides, as I see it has a nice hardtop, and just use it for nice warm weather times, and when it's not, just drive from below, which is usually more convivial and comfortable anyway. You could have them fashion a special cover for the bridge instruments, seating etc, which would be much cheaper. Of course that advice is predicated on you having a lower helm. See mine below..
YES!

Another vote for an open flybridge!

We have the same philosophy. When it's beautiful outside, I pilot from above. When the weather turns nasty, we are in the saloon at the lower helm.

If we decide to enclose the upper helm, it'll be with hard windows vice plastic.
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:47 AM   #13
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We use our enclosed FB but it is work to keep the Strataglass clean, about two hours every six months using Strataglass cleaner. A good very light auto wash soap and fresh water rinse as needed is normal every month or so, with a shammy for drying. I use a extendable rod for the hard to reach wash spots. We have a hard glass center section with wiper, Diamond Sea Glaze by brand. Our installer is a few steps away from our boat which facilitates things a lot.

But, the more crap and weight you put up top the higher your CG, so think like a naval architect too.
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:58 AM   #14
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The EZ2CY looks good. Website shows a dealer about 1500NM from me - may not be practical to go down this path.

Do you get away with washing yours with a soft broom and normal wash, or do you give it much more love than that?
There are various brands similar to EZ2CY or Ranier. I would just hose mine off on a regular basis, maybe use a microfiber or chamois. This is what I see the sport fishers doing too. Do not use a brush! Mine, being on the stern, got some salt water mist under a lot of conditions. We would clean them with 210 maybe once every month or two. (Klear to See works too, preferred 210 after trying both). Very easy, hose off, light wipe with microfiber, spray 210 on, wipe off with Bounty paper towels (you want to use good, non brasive paper towels). If not that dirty, skip the hose off. They also make a scratch remover spray-on for any light scratches.

I found the maintenance very easy and I hate doing that stuff. From what you describe, you are shortening the life of your current stuff by the way you wash it.
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:34 AM   #15
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I would have suggested an open bridge too...but I think in the OP he said no to climatic conditions.
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Old 06-02-2014, 01:51 PM   #16
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The EZ2CY looks good. Website shows a dealer about 1500NM from me - may not be practical to go down this path.

Do you get away with washing yours with a soft broom and normal wash, or do you give it much more love than that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeagleBoy View Post
Looks like plastic is still the preferred option. I just cringe with the extra maintenance. I can wash the glass salon windows with a broom and hose them down the same as the deck. Bit of glass cleaner when dry to remove water spots and perfect.
The flybridge clears mean a ladder, some gymnastics, and much more love. Might have to resign myself to that fact......the downside of large boats I guess - good thing there are so many upsides!
Thank you for all your replies.

Our custom enclosure is a mixture of Makrolon (a product similar to EZ2CY) for the front three panels and sheet vinyl for the rest. The front panel unzips on sides and bottom, so we can pin it to the underside of the hardtop. Smileys on all the vinyl panels roll up when necessary. My local enclosure guy -- down the street -- got all the various supplies in, did the design with me, fitting, and then made it all up and installed it... so it might not really matter where your "local" EZ2CY (or Makrolon, or whatever) dealer is.

Actually, all ten panels -- 5 in front/sides and 5 aft/sides -- are zipped to an upper valence, so they can all come off individually, in no particular order, if necessary for deep cleaning.

That said, cleaning the inside surface is easy enough... and we usually just hose the outside all down, use boat soap and a chamois mop head on a long extension pole, then hose it all down some more. I sometimes remember to use a flimsy rubbery squeegee blade to reduce spotting...

In summer, we dismount and store the 5 aft panels, and while I've got 'em off I generally use additional cleaner and/or polish if necessary (Imar products)... and about once/year we temporarily dismount the front panels to do the same to the outside surfaces.

The three front panels are usually "as clear as glass" -- although we could probably do even better if we used softened water.

FWIW, using an upper and lower valence system (as on our front three panels) could mean it'd be easy enough to zip in/out any panel anywhere.

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Old 06-02-2014, 10:45 PM   #17
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Many thanks for the continued suggestions.

I am glad to hear that some of you live in climates where you can go without clears altogether - I would absolutely love that!
I am also happy for those of you that are able to drive from the lower helm to get out of the elements.
We are all different though, and I personally don't like to drive from the lower helm as I don't have the visibility that I like - due to the design of the vessel you pretty much have to steer by chart only.

My climate is not friendly towards family members that are casual boaters - the next bit of land south of me is Antarctica. In general it is cold on the water here for at least 9 months of the year and cool for another 2 months. Nice Bahama or Queensland weather happens about 20 days a year. We boat over 100 days a year so that leaves me with 80 days of cold/cool.

I guess the point of the post was not to debate having/not having clears, but explore what options there were for replacing my old ones with more modern, low/no maintenance items. There is no debate in my situation - something is going back in there!

I have received some good responses to give me some items to research and I thank you for that.
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:39 AM   #18
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Ez2cy

EZ2CY

We've known many Hatteras and Viking owners who have had great service from it. Our philosophy is dependent on location and time of year. We like open, but we also want to be able to enclose things occasionally. Seems when properly designed and cared for they last very well. The key is when folding up to be albe to remain flat. That's easy on a hardtop where you fold them to the top. Also, follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions and don't let anyone start using the wrong cleaning products.
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Old 06-03-2014, 01:18 AM   #19
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Welcome Aboard Michael.
Located as you are in the North Antarctic, go with something fixed and permanent. You might get ideas from how Riviera and Maritimo go about it, they often fully enclose FBs, dispensing with a lower helm altogether. "Do it once do it right" makes sense, down there it could add to the value/saleability as well as improve boating enjoyment, long term. There are boat window manufacturers in QLD (sorry,can`t remember the name, try a search, Gold Coast located I think) who do good work at surprisingly modest prices and will quote. My replacement side cabin windows were made in aluminum to my shipwright`s cardboard template. You`d need a design, and to work out a fitting method. The QLD maker might have ideas too.
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Old 06-03-2014, 01:26 AM   #20
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Welcome Aboard Michael.
Located as you are in the North Antarctic, go with something fixed and permanent. You might get ideas from how Riviera and Maritimo go about it, they often fully enclose FBs, dispensing with a lower helm altogether. "Do it once do it right" makes sense, down there it could add to the value/saleability as well as improve boating enjoyment, long term. There are boat window manufacturers in QLD (sorry,can`t remember the name, try a search, Gold Coast located I think) who do good work at surprisingly modest prices and will quote. My replacement side cabin windows were made in aluminum to my shipwright`s cardboard template. You`d need a design, and to work out a fitting method. The QLD maker might have ideas too.
Yes, I just looked at your temperatures and having removable really would benefit you little unless you cruise to the north. So, I certainly see where glass might make sense for you.
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