Editor's Tip: Locked Tight

An easy-to-make and use bar brings dockside peace of mind.

Reader Tip: hatch lock

When in place, the bronze bar wedges against the wood cross beam of the Lexan sliding hatch and is a simple way to lock the companionway from the inside.Mark Pillsbury

One early spring night a couple of years ago, I sat reading at the nav station just inside the (thankfully) closed companionway when I heard a commotion in the cockpit. Turning to look through the Lexan weather doors, I spied what I first thought to be a neighbor's dog. Instead, it was one very large raccoon who'd come to visit. "Definitely not a good mate to wake up to in the v-berth some night," I thought, vowing to find a way to lock my companionway hatch from the inside. I did. A deck tool fit neatly between the fiberglass deck and a wooden slat of our overhead sliding hatch. Wedged in place, the tool kept the companionway locked up tight.

I lost the tool overboard last summer (don't ask), but at the time was not concerned since I was swinging at a mooring that not even the craftiest raccoon or other varmint could reach. Back at the dock in the fall, though, security became an issue again when one November evening my neighbor on the finger pier tried to kill his wife. By the grace of God she escaped and the police managed to arrest the heavily armed brute without anyone being hurt. Still, such events don't go unnoticed.

Again I vowed to find a lock, and so trudged off to the local True Value, where I toyed with barrel bolts, hook-and-eyes, hasps, you name it, before settling on a hefty piece of bronze flat stock. Back on the boat, armed with hacksaw, centerpunch and drill, I made a simple-to-use lock in no time. At night, I can swing it into place, and when not in use, it's out of the way, and better yet, won't go overboard.

Do you have a simple solution for a problem on board? Send your idea and a photo to HOS@cruisingworld.com.