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Old 02-24-2019, 12:40 PM   #1
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Project #flybridgedelete

After a year and a half with our Bluewater 40 Pilothouse we've decided to delete the flybridge. In the interest of sharing DIY knowledge I thought I'd document the project a bit here for others. I'm also sure I'll have questions along the way so I'm grateful for forum wisdom when needed.

I'm sure many of you are probably thinking "That's Bananas!" but for us the flybridge needed to go. Here are a few of our reasons:

1. Functional. The fly bridge helm was a dealer (or PO) "bolt-on" style installed on the back edge of the PH roof with a small bench seat installed directly behind it. This relocated the mast aft directly behind the bench seat. Unlike typical "over-the-pilothouse" fly bridges, our FB installation placed the helm so far back on the boat it’s essentially useless as a helm position (zero visibility to the bow or side decks). It's also to small to comfortably sit more than a person up there. Finally, we have great visibility in the PH so we always drive, dock, lock and maneuver from the lower helm.

2. Structural. The installation moved the mast back about four feet and added a fiberglass bench seat over an under-supported section of the salon roof. Over the years this has caused a deformation of the roofline which has contributed to deck issues. Since we need to de-teak and repair the boat deck, flybridge was always going to need come off.

3. Usability. The placement of the seat and mast essentially cuts the boat deck in half so we're always working around it to use the boat deck for a table and chairs, etc. BW40s have a very small cockpit so the boat deck is our only outdoor space when at anchor or visiting a marina. We also store our dinghy on the boat deck so between the FB and the dinghy there is no room up there. Furthermore the placement of the helm cuts the PH roof in half and we'd like to store SUPs and kayaks up there.

4. Aesthetics. When I say the flybridge is a "bolt-on" it's looks like it too. I love the look of these "salty" little PH trawlers and the "bolt-on" nature of the FB always bothered me. I've also not seen another BW with a FB and other BW owner I've asked thought deleting it made sense.

5. Simplicity. Deleting the FB simplifies things like electronics, gauges, wiring, etc .

6. Future. If we keep the boat for a long time we have considered adding paravanes. This will require a mast in it's original position (over a main bulkhead).

Over the last couple of days I was able to remove everything (a benefit of being "bolted-on"). Next up will be de-teaking the boat deck and re-skinning the PH roof.
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Old 02-24-2019, 12:45 PM   #2
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Hmmm, looks like some of the images changed rotation on upload. Sorry about that.
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Old 02-24-2019, 05:52 PM   #3
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Made some good progress on project #teakdelete today.

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Old 02-24-2019, 05:59 PM   #4
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A few of us see little need for a flybridge except for use as an open attic for storage.
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Old 02-24-2019, 08:48 PM   #5
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That wiring... that's a special bit of funky.
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Old 02-24-2019, 09:01 PM   #6
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Airstream, your reasoning is solid. Wow, quite the undertaking! Look forward to following the progress.
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Old 02-24-2019, 09:01 PM   #7
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Project #flybridgedelete

Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post
That wiring... that's a special bit of funky.


Ha, it really is isn’t it. Lots of curlycues. Also, label makers ROCK!
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Old 02-25-2019, 12:19 PM   #8
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Awesome project. Thanks for posting.
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Old 03-04-2019, 11:07 AM   #9
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Project #flybridgedelete

Progress report (32 hours of work so far) - 95% of the teak decking has been removed as has the fiberglass. We're finding that the majority of the glass wasn't bonded well to the decking. This seemed to be related to a poor job wetting out the decking and then the glass from the manufacturer. In a sense it was a good thing because it made removal easy, but we found about six orange sized sections of glass left completely dry. Certainly plenty of places for water to get to the decking. In general, the most severe damage is near areas where we found dry glass.

We also found some strange previous repairs. The biggest one was a hatch in the middle of the boat deck (the teak decking covered/obscured it). This corresponds with the interior framing being different than other BW40PH's I've been on. We suspect a PO had one or both engines or the genny out. Whoever did this work did a poor job as they cut the main lateral and longitudinal support beams out to "frame" in a hatch. This structural "modification" and the additional loads from bench seat and the mast stepped over it explains the deformation in boat deck (a visually noticeable swale mid-deck).

We found a number of repairs as well in the form of some "scabbed in" modern plywood (non marine) in the form of some poorly fit patches here and there. More evidence of repairs - possibly related to the hatch. In any case I hope the PO didn't pay professional rates for this work....it's below marine standards in materials and workmanship.

Finally I spent some time chasing the worse rot all the way to the edge and documented the structure. Fortunately the beams and underlying structure are in good shape with minimal “punky” layers. One of the benefits of the beams being made out of solid mahogany. I also could sort out how the house was constructed (diagram below).

So what's next?


Despite being able to “get away with” patching - our plan is to remove and replace the entire deck. For our own peace of mind and for the next owners (whenever we sell her) to have another 30+ years with a solid deck. I also think this will reduce our labor significantly when fairing and painting the new deck.

Found some exterior grade plywood scabbed in near this hatch.

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A slightly better repair using marine ply and well wetted out.

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Yowza! This is the worst of it.

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Nothing like a hole in your boat to motivate replacing everything!

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After some forensics I was able to document the construction between the house and deck.

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Old 03-04-2019, 11:45 AM   #10
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Think your logic is very sound! When looking at different Independence (my boat), the ones built by Hans Christian had flybridges and the Cherubinis for the most part don't. My conclusion was that with the excellent visibility from a pilothouse boat and the wonderful ventilation of two open side doors, there was no significant gain for all the flybridge complications. Certainly a poorly positioned one with all that extra weight up there, is very easy to justify removing.

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Old 03-04-2019, 11:59 AM   #11
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Thanks Ted. With it gone we already are amazed at how much space we have up there now. Like you, with a proper raised PH, the FB was more of place to steer from when underway, on nice days, in a straight line...often alone

The upside is that we are going to turn the FB into a rolling bar for our Yacht Club! Trying to sort out how to turn the old Morse controls into keg taps.
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Old 03-04-2019, 12:36 PM   #12
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Another upside is that engine and transmission controls more much more freely when they aren't moving extra cables and levers.

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Old 03-04-2019, 02:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airstream345 View Post
The upside is that we are going to turn the FB into a rolling bar for our Yacht Club! Trying to sort out how to turn the old Morse controls into keg taps.

I liked you from the moment I saw you.
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Old 03-04-2019, 03:04 PM   #14
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... My conclusion was that with the excellent visibility from a pilothouse boat and the wonderful ventilation of two open side doors, there was no significant gain for all the flybridge complications. ...
Pilothouse with good visibility, port and starboard doors, and no flybridge.
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Old 03-04-2019, 08:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Ha, it really is isn’t it. Lots of curlycues. Also, label makers ROCK!
Even better when they're wireless and have an app for your phone. I've been having decent luck using this model:

https://www.brother-usa.com/products/PTP750W

The flexible tape they make for cables is nice.
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Old 03-04-2019, 08:27 PM   #16
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I liked you from the moment I saw you.
Great minds my friend. great. minds.
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Old 03-09-2019, 06:40 PM   #17
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Project #flybridgedelete

Removed the railings and stantions, cut in around the trim. Next step will be to tent the boat deck and start removing the plywood.

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Old 03-09-2019, 10:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
Next step will be to tent the boat deck and start removing the plywood.
Airstream345:


Does this mean you will be roof-less until you re-glass the roof?


Your photos show the extraordinary extent of the work you have undertaken; well done!



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Old 03-10-2019, 10:22 AM   #19
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Does this mean you will be roof-less until you re-glass the roof?


Yes, there will be a period of time with no roof over the salon. Fortunately we’re under cover and today’s project is to build a “tent” from some clamps, pvc and plastic sheeting.
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Old 03-10-2019, 10:36 AM   #20
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Good for you Airstream, you might be able to add a big solar field up there.
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