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Hi guys:An intact settee wall will NOT stop the water from filling the boat due to a side hull puncture. The ends of the settee voids are not sealed and water can drain into the bow and stern, albeit slowly. Once the settees are filled, the water will continue to flow over the top and fill the cabin. Basically the cut-out holes will equalize the level of the water quicker than if the hull did not have the holes. Eventually the hull will fill completely, regardless of the holes. I suppose that not having the holes will buy you some extra time to get to land though. Consider this; an SJ23 hull with a 1" diameter hole forward of the keel will fill to 1 foot deep in about ten minutes. This water is spread pretty well equally throughout the hull. What a mess.
However, you should concern yourself about the reduced strength of the settee. An intact wall adds considerable rigidity to the hull. If you sail in an area with high winds and rough water, I wouldn't consider this feature. While I agree that the access hole is very convenient, having used them on several other boats, at least cut the hole so the corners have a 1" radius to them. This prevents stress points. You should reinforce the inside edge of the hole with 1" thick wood or aluminum stiffeners to keep the Fiberglas in line. This would also give you a convenient attachment point for the inside slide rails you describe. Remember, two smaller holes ones are stronger than one big one!
-- Kind Regards Bob Schimmel (Always stay curious) bpschim@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Archives: http://www.mobilegeographics.com/sanjuan23/ San Juan 23 Internet Fleet: http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Rapids/5493/ San Juan 23 Tech Tips: http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/2358/index.html mailing list commands: mailto:majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx?body=help