Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Designing & Making a New Forepeak Tent

--Blogpost written by Bob

We use our fore peak tent as a sun shade over the forward end of our sailboat when we are anchored--it is also used to shield rainwater from entering our open hatches.

Our old fore peak tent was made from white polyester material that resembled sail material. 

Our old fore peak tent was made from white polyester material that resembled a
heavy sail material.  The white color didn't really match any of our canvas
and it was badly soiled with bird excrement, even
though it doesn't show in this photo..

It was fastened to a track on the foreword edge of the mast, on the forestay above the jib sheet furler and to the tops of two lifeline stanchions on each side using shock cord and stainless steel hooks.  We also used a pole topping lift to hold the center up.  Before and during our recent month-long sailing trip, we noted several problems that we would like to solve in a new design:

(1) When we pulled up in the center of the fore peak tent a valley was created between the two stanchion supports.  The wind would catch this valley and push the tent downward and block the wind from getting into the hatches.  Also, rainwater would run down the valley, somewhat close to the open forward hatch.
(2) The old white material was stained by bird excrement.
(3) The shock cords were too long and stretchy, allowing the tent to flutter violently in the wind.
(4) The fore peak tent wasn't wide enough or long enough to keep rainwater from entering our open hatches.
(5) There have been times that we would like to use a wind scoop while our fore peak tent is in place--we can't do this with our old fore peak tent.
(6) The central top hook was rusty and constructed too lightly.

We used string to make an outline of a new (larger) fore peak tent design.  We measured four panels which would form the new tent and made some geometric calculations to confirm all the sizes.  We purchased 12.5 yards of 60-inch wide Sunbrella in "toast" color to match our newest canvas at Bacon's in Annapolis.  This material will not only be used for the new fore peak tent, but a few other small projects as well.

Working in the boater's lounge in our marina, we drew the outlines of the panels, made the necessary allowances for seams and batten pockets, and cut the panels out of the large piece of Sunbrella fabric.  Maggie then sewed the pairs of panels together.  Work to this point took about 4 hours.

The fore peak tent is comprised of four panels that had to be sewn together.

We had a large stainless steel belt fitting and some heavy yellow belt material
left over from another project--we made the attachment point for
the topping lift using this material.  This hook looks like
it could be used to lift the entire boat!

We purchased used fiberglass battens to reinforce the forward edges and
sides of the fore peak tent.  In this photo Maggie is sewing the
batten pockets on the outer edges of the fore peak tent.


We spent another 8 hours finishing up this project but it turned out great.  All of the problems we identified with our original fore peak tent have been solved.  We intend to design a wind scoop that zips into the fore peak tent and acts like a funnel directing the wind into the forward hatch--this will be one of our next projects.  Maggie did the bulk of this project.

We had to make a few minor adjustments to the forward attachment point to keep the
fore peak tent taught but it turned out great and provides much
more protection from the sun and rain.

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