|In common with most flybridge boats, my Sealine F33 was equipped with a flybridge canopy that was little more than a raincover:-|
In some ways, even this description overstated its utility; you can see from this photograph that it required several (4) canvas props and two camera tripods just to keep the centre high enough to avoid rain collection. In the winter months when I checked my boat, some of the props were often found lying down with the canvas sagging under a pool of water. It was not unusual to step on the boat and quickly have to sidestep water falling over the side. I also remember vividly one occasion when I had to get on all fours under the canvas and push upwards with my back to displace what seemed like a bath full of water!
At the rear, a small tripod was used to try and keep the canvas close to the forward-sloping radar bomber:-
Having been inspired by photos of another F33, I engaged Bailey and Stone
to design and manufacture a new canopy incorporating a frame.
I developed a fairly precise specification, including requirements:
- to be able to make use of the upper space in all weathers.
- to be able to fold the canopy back flat when we're at sea, far enough so that it would not block the stair access at all.
- to be able to use the canopy as a bimini
- to be able to helm the boat from the flybridge with the canopy up, with or without the front panel in place
Another challenge for Bailey and Stone, was how to make the canopy fully functional without adversely affecting the overall look of the boat. They quickly suggested keeping the design minimalist, avoiding too many clear panels, particularly the front one to aid visibility.
They managed to avoid the boxy look you often see on on flybridge canopies and kept the design fairly sleek-looking:-
One of the biggest difficulties with the F33 is coming up with a design that allows the canopy to clear the radar bomber. Bailey and Stone solved this by putting the canopy poles on adjustable rails - this was a significant departure from the photo of the original boat that inspired me, where they were mounted directly on the top handrail:-
Putting the frame on sliding rails solves this problem and has the additional benefit that the frame is kept mostly away from the clear panels because it's narrower overall. This was also essential to ensure that the canopy frame would be able to lie flat inside the original handrail:-
Here is the completed canopy in various modes:-
You'll notice that it was raining when I took these interior photos; so good to be able to use this space in all weathers and leave the sun lounger cushions here instead of taking up space in the mid cabin.
We can take the front panel out completely, or just unzip from the top and roll down:-
For cruising around the Broads with the top down, we don't bother lowering the canopy completely; rests nicely on the radar bomber:-
But on the sea, we like to have it completely flat out of the way:-
Partial bimini - we haven't found a need to remove the rear panel yet - but would need to if using the boat at speed:-
One unanticipated benefit is the extra light in the rear cockpit compared to the original raincover:-
Overall - we're very pleased with the final result.
It seems almost like an extension as we have so much more usable space in all weathers.
Many thanks to Bailey and Stone
for a great job - they went that extra mile to achieve all my requirements, including a couple of additional visits to get the details just right.
10th July 2022