Failed Dorade Upgrade

The idea is simple, add baffles to our dorade box so that gushing waves don’t pour through and into the cabin.

I built a test box that would allow me to place baffles of different sizes in different positions to try and find the best combination to stop the flow of water while still allowing plenty of air to pass through.


Tests were very easy to carry out. I used a bucket of water to simulate a boarding wave, and simply dumped the whole thing in as hard as I could. Water would then roar and pour through the system, loosing its speed at each baffle, until it quelled before reaching the end.

Just two baffles seems to be the most effective at stopping water without disturbing air flow. One large one on the bottom and a smaller one at the top closest to the hole that opens for the boat intake.

The plan was simple and I was ready to retrofit the modifications to the old dorades!


The great ideas all came to a quick halt when I cut open the top of the dorade box. The box ranges from 3/4” thick to 1-1/2” thick of solid (no core) fiberglass. I am a strong believer that any modifications I do to the boat need to be equivalent or better than what was currently there. At this moment, I knew I had failed.

There was no way I could add to this box in such a way that would be as strong or stronger than what is currently there. I simply didn’t have the materials or time on hand to layup a 3/4” thick box with baffles. I was expecting the box to be between 1/4” to 1/2” thick, and probably cored with wood, not solid fiberglass.


It makes sense that it was so thick, as I frequently step hard on them when the boat heels over. Having a strong foot hold is key in a rough sea way while working on the deck. The thought of making them larger and then more prone to impact means that they should be even stronger than this!

With my tail between my legs, I began to think of alternatives. Suddenly the easiest alternative came to mind: turn the cowl away from the wind when in rough conditions.

Yes, something as simple as not having the cowl face forward in heavy seas had escaped my mind. When I go up to reef, I simply need to also rotate the cowls away from the wind.

I sit here on the deck, looking at this massive hole I need to fill back, and realize that all I needed to do was rotate the cowl.