I am back at Peake Yacht Services in Trinidad and Tobago. Sylvianne stayed behind while I am doing boat work and watching our hard top come together. I had previously mentioned the project to Greg Downes, the service manager at Peake and he said, "I have the man for you, let me put you two together". Paul Ammon, (aka "Englishman") as well as an accomplished sailor, is a builder of racing sailboats in both glass and carbon fiber. Paul and I discussed our ideas and he added some of his own then went to work to figure out how best to design and build the top. We had three main criteria.
- The top had to have the same look as the rest of the boat, once complete it needs to look like it was part of the boat as delivered from the factory, not an "Add On".
- The top had to able to support a person but at the same time be as light as possible.
- The top needed to be able to accomodate our planned solar upgrade.
Criteria number one, the look.
I had a concept in my mind of taking the look of the cockpit ceiling with its 3 degree radius and beams and carrying that look to the flybridge hardtop. I originally envisioned the top would be supported by a stainless steel frame. Greg Downes had suggested maybe glass, he had seen a top that Paul had built for a catamaran done that way. Hmmmm......maybe, but I still could not grasp the concept, sounded difficult and complicated. In steps Paul, he has some pictures of previous projects and we chat. Paul comes to the boat and does a "mock" up. Ah now I get it!
Criteria number two, strong and light.
It is decided that carbon fiber combination box beam/foam core construction is the way to go. Paul assures me that if he designs it correctly it will be very light and very strong. He will build a mold for the underside with all the beams hollow and a larger center hollow cross beam which will have access panels to run the solar panel wiring, add lighting etc. This larger cross beam will also be where the support legs will attach. For the top he will use an existing mold and laminate carbon fiber to a 1/2' foam core, vacuum bagged.
Criteria number 3, solar upgrade.
This was easier, Paul increased my original design slightly to both improve esthetics and give us a bit more room for panels. We plan to use the same type of Solara panels as we used on the pilot house. Very light flexible "walk on" panels with a slip resistance textured surface.