I’ve enjoyed using the layout boat for fishing, but duck season is only a month away and it’s time to finish the final stages of making this boat “disappear” from wary ducks in the marsh. That involves fabricating flip blind doors, a dog blind, and brushing out the entire boat. Fabricating the flip blind door frames requires head brackets, foot brackets, and tubular framing.
Both aluminum crossbars attach to brackets screwed to the cockpit frame.
I raised the head bracket 5” with a wood block screwed to the crossbar. This gives enough clearance for my chest even with a life vest and a down coat on. The crossbar is held in place to the bracket with a push pin. I used bimini hinges to secure the doors. These hinges are screwed in place. Notice that I cut one end off the base of the bimini hinge to put it closer to the edge so the door frame rests lower when it is flipped open.
The door frame is held in place to the bimini hinge with a pin. The bimini fitting at the end of the tubing is held in place with a 10-24 machine screw and a locking nut.
The foot crossbar is similar to the one at the head. The hinges are attached with small machine screws and nuts at the outermost ends and with 3/16” rivets at the inner end.
The wood screwed to the foot crossbar holds the flip blind doors at the ideal height and keeps the door frames separated by about 1/2”.
I wanted my flip blind doors to be light so that when I flip them open, they don’t beat up the bimini hinges too much. I opted to use 3/4” aluminum tubing. This proved a challenge since it slipped while bending it using a conduit bender. My brother did the bending and with a little struggle, we produced two good door frames from two 8’ sticks of aluminum tubing.
View from the stern.
Quartering view from stern. NOTE: I’ll paint the crossbars and wood attachments once we’re done sewing the door covers.
View from port side. NOTE: An option to consider is orienting the flip blind doors opposite from your oar locks. This would allow a person to chase cripples without removing the doors. I may flip mine around eventually, but I epoxied the brackets to the cockpit sides and will leave them in the current orientation for now. The next two boats will run in this reverse orientation. My brother thought of that today…it’s nice for him that his and my nephew’s boats aren’t the prototype!!!
Our goal with the flip blind doors and dog blind is to make gradual transitions that create minimal shadow. This had to be balanced with the requirement to have our head at a comfortable height for spotting ducks in flight and also fit our body under the door frames with a life vest and heavy coat. I think we’ve achieved this with our doors. The door fabric will extend to the outer edge of the gunnels to ease the transition along the cockpit, provide a place to hide my oars, and also allow our arms to rest on the side deck or cockpit edge and still remain concealed.
In the next installment I’ll discuss modifying a trailer to transport three of these layout boats.
-- Mark, Minnesota