Finished Door

Cockpit Side Door Project

By Charlie Billings — NOBSKA, 32-057, Bremerton YC, WA

For the past few years, I’ve often thought it would be nice to have an access door in the starboard side of the cockpit to make it easier to embark and debark from our 32’ Nordic Tug when side tied to a float or pier.   As our yellow lab, Bob, got older, it became difficult for him to “jump the bulwark” to get in and out.   At 13+ years old and 70+ pounds, having to lift him in and out during the past St. Patrick’s Day weekend club cruise caused me to think, “It’s time to make it easier for the dog, and his keepers”.

A fellow club member and I commenced the project in my boathouse at the Bremerton YC on Monday, March 16th, 2009.   We worked several hours a day, depending on weather (temperature, humidity, etc), and other commitments.   Sharon & I even took the tug out for a four day cruise with friends after we completed the glassing, but before final sanding and application of the gel coat.   We completed the project on April 24th, 2009 – a little over 6 weeks from start to finish.   All told, between the two of us, we have approximately 130 +/- man hours of labor (lots of filling, grinding and shaping, glassing, and dry sanding, and filling, and dry and wet sanding, and more wet sanding, rubbing out, waxing, and buffing) and perhaps $200.00 in materials.   If this project were to be done by professionals in a commercial yard, I imagine the man hours required would be less.

I had some left over “Ivory” gel coat from a previous project, so we didn’t have to purchase new gel coat to match the hull color.   I thought about purchasing some blue gel coat for the insert stripe, but had difficulty determining the correct Spectrum part number for the particular shade of blue used on our tug.   However, at $95/quart (minimum quantity and we needed about 4 ounces), we decided to try to mix our own.   We came pretty darn close.   I call it a “ten foot color match” – hard to see the difference from 10’ away.   Between the two of us, we had all the tools needed, so didn’t have to purchase any “new” tools (shucks).

One thing that really impressed me about the construction of Nordic Tugs is the thickness of the glass work.   The overlapping hull/deck joint was over an inch thick.   The exterior hull thickness was 3/8”, the interior (cockpit) was ¼” thick.   These two parts (hull and deck) were held together with what appeared to be thickened epoxy (not 3M 5200 or Sikaflex).   Additionally, there were large stainless screws through the top of the joint every 8-10 inches.   The starboard end of the stainless aft rail was through-bolted through the thick hull/deck joint, followed by a half inch thick glass/epoxy backing plate, followed by fender washers, lock washers, and nuts.   Talk about Nordic Tugs being bullet-proof and over built!   Our tug is a 1991 model, built before the latest technology in vacuum bagging and resin infusion processes came about, so it is no doubt heavier than the newer tugs….but it’s “built like a tank”, and definitely strong!


Making the cut
The beginning of the new door
The opening
Starboard water tank vent
Filler installed, ready for grinding
Glassed in place
Final filler layer before sanding
Door aft edge
Door forward edge
Checking for fit
First gel coat shot
Last fill of pin holes
Final gel coat on door
Final gel coat on door
Final gel coat on opening
Final fit before last wet sand and buff out blue insert
Final door closed
No Step decals on
Door open from outside
Door open from inside



Copyright © 2008 SENTOA • Last Update September 29, 2009 • Questions? Contact the SENTOA Officers.