NICE VIEW

THE LAT­EST WINDSHIELDS AND WIN­DOWS AF­FORD GREATER VIS­I­BIL­ITY, PRO­TEC­TION AND STYLE

Sport Fishing - - BOATS - BY JIM HEN­DRICKS

Ad­vance­ments in glass mold­ing and ad­he­sive tech­nol­ogy, cou­pled with the in­ge­nious and ded­i­cated work of ma­rine de­sign­ers, have sparked a rev­o­lu­tion in boat windshields and win­dows.

Known as glaz­ings in the ma­rine-de­sign field, the new wave of glass windshields and win­dows is not just strong and durable, but also af­fords more styling choices and su­pe­rior vis­i­bil­ity com­pared with other windshields made from ma­te­ri­als such as clear acrylic, poly­car­bon­ate or vinyl.

“Th­ese new glass glaz­ings first ap­peared in the ma­rine mar­ket on su­pery­achts,” says Rob Kaidy, chief de­signer for Mi­ami-based Sea Vee Boats. Yachts re­quire sweep­ing high-strength glaz­ings, and today’s styling cues often de­mand com­plex curves, Kaidy points out. Sup­pli­ers such as Penn­syl­va­nia-based ProCurve Glass De­sign have tapped ex­per­tise in au­to­mo­tive and rail to build windshields and win­dows with curves that com­ple­ment today’s yacht de­signs.

BOND­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE

Around the same time, high­strength-yet-flex­i­ble bond­ing agents emerged from com­pa­nies such as Michi­gan-based Sika. “Ad­he­sives such as SikaFlex were born in com­mer­cial con­struc­tion, where builders needed to se­cure large, frame­less panes of glass to high-rise struc­tures,” he ex­plains. The ad­he­sives also work well in ma­rine ap­pli­ca­tions, elim­i­nat­ing the need for frames, per se.

About 10 years ago, this tech­nol­ogy be­gan find­ing its way into salt­wa­ter fish­ing boats, al­beit mostly on larger, high-end mod­els. How­ever, boat-in­dus­try ex­perts agree that glass glaz­ings are des­tined to trickle down to smaller fish­ing boats. As Kaidy puts it: “The ad­vance­ments we’ve seen have changed the fun­da­men­tals of boat­build­ing.”

To learn more about the glass-win­dow rev­o­lu­tion, I also talked with the de­sign­ers from Grady-White and Scout Boats.

MORE PRO­TEC­TION

One of the ma­jor ben­e­fits of the new wave in glaz­ings lies in the abil­ity to in­clude a full-height glass wind­shield be­tween the con­sole and hard­top. A prime ex­am­ple of this shines through in GradyWhite’s new Canyon 456 (see page 38), says Chris­tian Car­raway, new prod­uct en­gi­neer for the North Carolina-based boat­builder. The wind­shield com­ple­ments the in­te­gra­tion of the con­sole and hard­top.

“The glass also adds struc­tural strength,” Car­raway says. “At the same time, the ad­he­sive al­lows for a cer­tain amount of flex and ex­pan­sion due to sea con­di­tions and tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ences be­tween the glass and ma­te­rial to which it is bonded,” he says.

“Peo­ple want more com­fort than ever,” Car­raway points out. Bring­ing the wind­shield all the way up to the hard­top and in­clud­ing full-height tem­pered-glass side win­dows pro­tects

the helm from wind blast, rain and spray, and also en­hances the ef­fects of on­board air con­di­tion­ing and heat­ing.

BET­TER OP­TICS

While a full-height wind­shield is pos­si­ble with other ma­te­ri­als such as clear vinyl or thin poly­car­bon­ate, op­ti­cal clar­ity is bet­ter with glass. With lam­i­nated safety glass, there’s also greater pro­tec­tion from large waves or ob­jects such as crab-pot buoys that might strike the wind­shield in heavy seas.

“Lam­i­nated safety glass is very strong and will not shat­ter into tiny pieces, and that makes it a bet­ter choice for for­ward-fac­ing glaz­ings than other ma­te­ri­als such as acrylic or clear vinyl,” Kaidy con­tends.

Also, clear vinyl can­not be fit­ted with wind­shield wipers, as can glass. With spray, the in­abil­ity to wipe the wind­shield can im­pair your for­ward vi­sion.

Then there’s the con­ve­nience fac­tor. With glass, there’s no need to put up the wind­shield and en­clo­sure, and then take it down and find a place to stow it when you’re done for the day. Fi­nally, glass of­fers far more dura­bil­ity and longevity than any other clear ma­te­rial, and it is highly re­sis­tant to scratch­ing.

Scout Boats’ new flag­ship 530 LXF, ex­pected to de­but in early 2019, takes the pro­tec­tion fac­tor up a notch, says Steve Potts, pres­i­dent of the South Carolina-based com­pany. In ad­di­tion to a full-height, wrap­around glass wind­shield, the 530 LXF fea­tures mo­tor­ized slid­ing side win­dows that ex­tend aft, past the helm seat­ing. “Just press a but­ton for each side to cre­ate a hy­brid pilot­house,” Potts ex­plains.

“This does away with the need for side cur­tains or wings to pro­tect the helm from side winds and spray,” he adds. “The slid­ing win­dows look great, and they make the air con­di­tion­ing more ef­fec­tive.”

FRESH-AIR OP­TIONS

The per­ma­nence of glass glaz­ings has a down­side: You can’t re­move the wind­shield and win­dows to get some fresh air. But boat­builders have cre­ated ways to cir­cu­late air around the helm when you need it on sul­try days.

On the Scout 530 LXF, for ex­am­ple, the mo­tor­ized slid­ing win­dows can be quickly re­tracted to al­low a re­fresh­ing breeze to sweep around the side and cir­cu­late in the helm seat­ing area.

In an­other in­no­va­tive touch from Everglades Boats, the patented hy­draulic slid­ing glass windshields on the 295, 335, 355 and 435 cen­ter-con­sole mod­els re­tract down­ward to open the bridge area to a re­fresh­ing breeze.

The Grady-White 456 of­fers two ways to get more air. A mo­tor­ized vent atop the wind­shield opens to let in a cool­ing breeze, and mo­tor­ized slid­ing vents on the side win­dows let you cir­cu­late even more air in the helm area.

SMOOTH STYLING

Curved-glass glaz­ings give boat­builders greater lat­i­tude in de­sign­ing windshields and win­dows that flow with the grace­ful lines of the boat.

Car­raway points to the wind­shield of the Grady-White 456 as an ex­am­ple. “This wide, one-piece wind­shield bends in two di­rec­tions,” he says. “That’s a first for Grady-White.” The ver­ti­cal- and hor­i­zon­tal-curv­ing glass wind­shield com­ple­ments the sim­i­larly curv­ing de­sign of the front of the 456 con­sole.

Curv­ing tinted-glass win­dows on the sides of the con­sole serve not only to help il­lu­mi­nate the cabin in­side the con­sole, but also serve as ac­cents for the over­all de­sign of the 456.

The abil­ity to have sweep­ing one­piece windshields also elim­i­nates the ver­ti­cal frame mem­bers that dis­rupt an oth­er­wise smooth de­sign, not to men­tion pos­si­bly block­ing the field of vi­sion.

Ul­ti­mately, bonded-glass glaz­ings have made boats safer, more com­fort­able and bet­ter look­ing, Kaidy says. “It’s truly a rev­o­lu­tion, and I’m glad we’re fi­nally talk­ing about it.”

Full-height, curved safety-glass windshields, as on the Scout 380 LXF, are made pos­si­ble thanks to the lat­est glass-form­ing and bond­ing tech­nolo­gies.

Top: Grady-White en­gi­neers melded a curved safety-glass wind­shield and side win­dows with the hard­top of the Canyon 376. Above: The Sea Vee 270Z fea­tures a stand-alone curved safety-glass wind­shield.

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