Bulkhead/hatch volume and safety?

Decided on dual bulkhead boats.I weigh 190 lbs.The three boats I am considering have hatch displacement weights of 285 lbs,351 lbs and 365 lbs.I have already ordered the lesser volume boat for my wife and I am considering the pros and cons of ordering the same boat for myself but want to be sure there is enough dry hatch displacement for safety considerations.How should I look at this issue?

I’ve never seen published hatch displacement figures like that. Usually they just give a recommended paddler weight or maximum load limit for the boat.

How long is the boat you’re considering?

Your weight should have nothing to do
with the compartment space.

If you are upside down and do a wet exit, the compartments job is to basically just keep the cockpit no more than half full of water when you up right it with you still in the water.

You pump as much of the water out as you can, then do a self rescue with just a few inches of water in the boat.

Naturally the compartments are also used for storage

Jack L

I was thinking that if the boat swamps that I would want a boat with enough flotation for there to be adequate free board with me still in it to bail/pump the boat without water washing over the cockpit faster that it can be bailed.Now that I am thinking about it this it this also a function of the volume of the swamped cockpit relative to the hatch volume.I guess this could only be tested with intentionally swamping a boat in at least a few feet of water.

I know what you are asking, but if you
don’t mind me changing the subject, your boat should never swamp if you have a spray skirt.

Even if you keep it on the deck, you should be able to get it on if the wind blows up or before a long crossing.

I have often said that if I had to pick between a spray skirt and a PFD, I would take the spray skirt.

I think it is the most important safety device that a kayaker has.

Others might differ, but mine has saved my butt many times, and I don’t leave shore without it.

Jack L

I agree with you Chan, that a kayak needs to have enough flotation that it can maintain adequate freeboard when swamped, and with you in it.

There are times when it is important to be able to hop in a boat that’s full of water after a capsize, without first emptying the cockpit. (In cold water, pumping first is a dangerous suggestion. In current or near rocks rescues are often done into a flooded cockpit - you need to be able to paddle comfortably with the cockpit full of water in these situations. If a paddler is injured, you can scoop them into their boat, but not if it won’t float their weight when full of water).

If a boat’s bow and stern compartments displace 285 pounds, and the boat weighs 50 pounds, then a larger paddler will sink it if they climb in.

The sea kayaks I’ve seen compartment volumes for are in the neighborhood of 350-400 pounds displacement (that’s excluding the cockpit volume).

Published capacity vs positive flotation
I agree that manufactures only list the volume of the hatches and maximum capacity of the dry boat,not the positive flotation of the sealed hatches.I did the math(1 gal=231 cubic inches=8.3 lbs).The boat with 285 lbs positive flotation is too small for me(53 lb boat+50 lbs gear+190 lb paddler+50 lbs extra flotation for safety margin =343 lbs).The other two boats do have enough positive flotation to keep me afloat if swamped.Thanks for the input!

Boat buoyancy?
A standard PFD has a bouyancy rating of approx. 20 lbs. which is enough to float an average person.

Would this relate to boat bouyancy? If so , no worries ,there would be plenty of bouyancy.

If I was out on my own and wet exited , I would not pump the boat out prior to getting in, in the event of possibly reflipping trying to get in . I would have just wasted a lot of time and energy. I would recommend getting in and then pumping even thou the boat will be more unstable. I personally wouldn’t go out paddling without my PFD.

PFD buoyancy
A 20 pound PFD can float you with your head just above the water. It takes much more flotation to float you with only your legs in the water.

whether the boat fits
THEN rescue practice. The numbers are somewhat irrelevant to your ultimate concern about performing a competent rescue. That will be determined more by your familiarity in doing them and your judgement/skills that result in needing to perform them.

here is how
You should try all of the boats you considered and choose the one that fits best DRY, or loaded with your paddling/expedition kit.

Some manufacturers list design load for their boats, aim for that weight when making your decision.

I’d recommend you take “beginning kayaking class” or similar. I have no idea where you are, if close to a place with regular kayaking symposia “playtime in your kayak” class might be really good in alleviating your sinking boat fears. One of the usual silly exercises is paddling your boat while 3-4 other people sit on it.

Here’s also how
Capsize over in about 3 ft of water. Wet exit. Stand up and right the boat without draining it. Pull it into shallower water and get in it.

Does it float you with enough freeboard? Ultimately that’s what you’re talking about. I can’t imagine any boat with two bulkheads not working for you.

lesson booked
Good advise siran. My wife and I are booked for beginner lessons with kayakinglakemeade.com in Black Canyon/Willow Beach on the Colorado below the Bolder Dam.Focus will be wet exit /self and assisted rescue and proper paddling technique and just getting in and out in various situations.

As for trying out boats,We rented one of the three boats on our short list but the other two are not available in our area.I ordered the other two from REI and will decide after trying them out.May have to use the REI 100% satisfaction return policy one or both of the boats.