DIY Screens for Pilothouse Doors

Magnolia, a 1997 Kadey Krogen 42, has a raised pilothouse with two side doors. Being averse to biting black flies, I wanted screens before going down the Delaware Bay – a known fly habitat.  No one seems to enjoy their visits as they arrive in swarms.  I completed the first phase of the screens before we left the Chesapeake Bay bound for the Great Lakes. Reporting no flies aboard to date. 

The screen material is cut the actual size I wanted with a two inch binding top and bottom which I made from Sunbrella and a 1″ Sunbrella binding on the sides.  The material is Phifertex white 54″.  This is the basic Phifertex which will allow more air flow, but may not keep out any noseeums.  For noseeums, I’d spray the mesh with “Shoo-Fly”.  Primarily I wanted the air flow and fly protection for these screens. During the second phase for the screens I hope to add roll-up webbing and replicate the idea of a “Dutch door”, which are on some Krogens but not ours, to allow for some air flow but not have the full door open in case of some splashing seas. More on that thought later. This is a fairly easy project taking just a few hours.

Considering that nothing on a boat is square, how to measure for the screens?  I used the Sailrite patterning material, Dura Skrim.  It is pretty easy to work with and doesn’t stretch. You could also use a basic shower curtain or tape together brown paper. I taped up the patterning material with double stick basting tape (it leaves a residue so you may want to put down strapping tape first or have Goo Gone at the ready). Mark it with a Sharpie (careful not to accidentally mark the walls).  I used a ruler to mark about an inch outside the door frame.  There were existing snap studs in the bulkhead wall so I made sure the pattern covered those studs. Mark the pattern carefully with top, forward, and port or starboard. Each will be unique, but easy to mix up.

Pin the pattern to the mesh for more accurate cutting. Mark each piece of mesh to identify them.  I put the side binding on using a binder attachment first. The top and bottom binding go on next. Make the larger binding by cutting 5″ wide strips for the width of the door. Iron under 1/2″ on each long side and iron in half.  Marking lines for the ironing will make this an easier (but slightly tedious) process. Turn under ends or use a hot knife to finish the edges. Sew close along the long edge once wrapped around the top or bottom edge. Sew a red and green tab (get it – port or starboard?!) or a couple of stitches on the back side to easily identify each screen.

Install snap studs as needed on the bulkhead. I had eight snaps already installed to use. Using positioning pins made marking the snaps easier. The positioning pins are snap fasteners with a pin attached. So you position and reposition the screen on the pins, add the pin cover, then remove the pin fastener carefully off the stud.  There is a small tool to help pry them off.  Then you can install your snap fastener and cap.  I use the SnapRite dies on a rivet tool. Snap it on and it’s ready to use.

Now back to phase two.  I used gypsy studs instead of fasteners with caps.  Gypsys allow cloth to cloth to surface attachments. This way I can sew on webbing to the top with a snap cap on the end so we can roll up the screen.  I can also make a Sunbrella panel to snap on the lower half of the screen to cover part of the screen to make a smaller screen opening. Another thought is to add a thin metal rod or chain to the bottom binding to hold the screen down and add stability. If by chance there are any gaps at the sides you could add Velcro loop to fill the gap.

The gypsy snaps at the top. Note that the white rod at the top is for the nearby curtain.







June 1, 2018


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