When I purchased Triola she had a moderately mouldy sprayhood that served to keep (a bit) of the spray off me for a few seasons. After a few half hearted attempts at repairing the hood, I decided it was time to do the job properly and get one made up.
There are a number of options open to the keen Ballad Owner. The first is that you can buy direct from Albin Marin at the below address.
At 4100 SEK (that’s about £320) thats pretty awesome value (although I believe this is without the frame). However, I wanted a SS frame and a grab handle. I had long been a fan of CJ Marine so took the plunge at the 2013 Southampton boat show and shelled out nearly £800 for a new hood, with grab handle and frame with assurances the fitting process was a ‘simple DIY’ job – and as you can see, I am keen on doing things myself where I can. They supplied some instructions that related specifically to the Ballad, so I felt all was well.
A year and then some passed before I finally got around to fitting said hood…
First, I fitted the Universal Deck fittings in the precise location marked out in the instructions. I bedded these on Sikaflex sealant. To make sure the location was right, I suspended the frame from the boom to ensure the feet location matched the span of the frame.
The next stage involved fitting the track that the bolt rope at the front section of the sprayhood. The track is fitted with the gap facing upwards, which was not apparent as it had been deformed quite badly during shipping and thus required some work when fitting to get it back into shape. I drilled the holes and affixed it as per the instructions, then took it up again, applied silicon to the bottom of it and then stuck and screwed the track down. At this point I let the silicon dry, so as to not get it on the hood.
Next was first fit time, the bolt rope was slid through the track and the frame was slid through the two pockets in the hood to receive them. The position of the front frame relative to the back frame is very important, hence in the photo below you can see it was marked.
I pulled the sprayhood back as tight as I dared and marked the position for the side studs (that pull down the sides of the sprayhood, just seen in the bottom right of the below photo) and webbing bridge (one each side, the strap at the back of the hood is passed through these and back through a buckle on the hood to tighten the hood) and fitted them accordingly. I did note, to my alarm, that when I pulled the frame back, there was still a sag in the front panel as below:
I put this down to the fact It was not yet tightened on the webbing straps and all would be well, so I bedded the studs and the webbing bridges down in silicon, and went away to let it dry.
When I returned, I offered up the grab handle, and tightened the whole affair up. Much to my dismay the sag was still there. I contacted CJ Marine and sent them a pile of photos, and they suggested the studs were in the wrong place and that it was a fitting error. I tested the theory by pulling the hood hard down by its sides, and this helped not at all. CJ offered to come and refit the hood at a prepaid cost of £650 – if the hood was found to be in error, they would reimburse me. I was less than pleased with this offer, and after some frantic posting on YBW, Wilkinsons Sails came to my rescue and took a look for free. Cindy (of Wilkinsons sails), with a tweak to the front bar (I believe she bent it upwards) managed to get 90% to perfect and the hood now looks amazing. I have asked her to come back and move the webbing bridge around and the studs on one side to get a perfect fit at a very reasonable price they quoted.
Whilst the sprayhood is very well made indeed, after the whole experience, I would not buy a sprayhood ‘off peg’ again, I should have originally gone to Wilkinsons (or name your local hood maker) and had one made up and patterned on the boat itself. If I was to buy one made to a pattern, I should have gone with the hood from Albin Marin – you live and learn! The end result though is very good, and it will be good for many years to come (thanks to Cindy of Wilkinsons sails!).