Hatch Cover blown off - how likely?

-- Last Updated: Jul-14-12 11:20 PM EST --

Greetings All,

How often do Kayak hatches (the rubber ones, w/o additional straps holding it down) blow off when driving? Do I need to bungee or cam strap down the hatch covers before putting the kayak on the roof? I use a malone stax system with the decks facing outward.



Not too likely
But I guess it could happen. What you should do is tether the hatches to the boat anyway, because opening one on the water can (And I have seen this happen) lead to dropping it, and being stuck out on the water with an open hatch.

This way, if one does fall off when driving, you’ll hear it right away - banging on the boat.

Happened to me…

– Last Updated: Jul-15-12 7:55 AM EST –

...and I was stuck without a back hatch for the weekend. It was tied to the kayak too...but I hadn't put it on properly for the trip and off it went. Oh yes, I was very pleased about it.

It does happen. Put those hatches on securely.

Lost one
The internal tether had come off and apparently I didn’t seal the hatch completely.

Now I do this on both front and rear hatches…


What boat do you have?
It is rare to lose a hatch cover, but when it does happen it may not be due to a loose hatch cover per se. If the bulkheaded areas aren’t vented via a small hole in the middle (and no it does not make water come in), the hatch covers can expand like mushrooms on a really hot day and that’ll make them prone to coming off while driving.

Some manufacturers send their kayaks out from the factory with venting already arranged in the bulkheads, but others don’t. So it could matter which boat you have for this question.

That’s smart!
Never occurred to me to do that. Easy, and looks very effective.

2nd that, great idea

maybe I have old eyes
but I couldn’t tell how you secured the hatch down (did you attach the elastic cording with a lock - or some other attachment thing)?

Like I said - old eyes.

Thanks Andy.

Not sure how often, but it happens
A couple years ago I was on my way to meet a group of kayakers I’d never met, on a river I almost never visit. A few miles from the put-in, I saw a rubber hatch cover lying on the side of the road. I stopped and picked it up, feeling pretty certain it belonged to someone in the group I was about to meet. Sure enough, shortly after arriving, I heard an anguished cry about something that was “gone”. I walked over, looked at the open hatch, and said to the woman, “don’t worry, I’ve got just the solution for that.” She surely thought I was nuts or about to concoct some hair-brained method to cover the opening that might or might not work, but she was quite pleased when I produced the missing hatch cover. If I’ve seen it happen once, I’m surely not the only one who has.

small bungie

– Last Updated: Jul-15-12 7:17 PM EST –

I just curl them around the lines. You can use anything, but I often repurpose them.

Thanks! (n/t)

Only when the covers weren’t on

– Last Updated: Jul-15-12 11:28 PM EST –


I had a hatch cover blow off twice, both times when the covers had only been put on with part of the edge engaged (for storage). Both times, the covers stayed on for the sub-highway speeds part of the drive. They only came off when I got to the 55-mph section. Found the cover both times.

Now I make sure I can see that the covers are not secured--I simply remove them entirely for storage between paddles. Then, as part of my prep for the drive, I put the front and rear covers on but keep the day hatch cover in the vehicle. That is for venting because there is at least a 2000-ft elevation difference in literally every drive I take to/from home.
While the front and rear bulkheads have a tiny hole for pressure relief, I did not want to drill one in the slanted middle bulkhead, so instead I just don't put the day hatch cover on during transportation.

I carry some bubble wrap or other waterproof stuffing, in case it looks like heavy rain is imminent (also carry a cockpit cover). Then I can either put that in the day hatch or, if there's no big change in temperature or elevation, I put the day hatch cover on. Once we move out of this region of huge altitude and temperature differences, I'm just going to put the day hatch cover on.

While the only blow-offs occurred with covers that weren't properly engaged, I have had them puff up and deflate a LOT during big altitude changes. They never blew off.

But you should be aware that even without the covers blowing off, if the bulkheads are not vented and the covers are on the kayak itself can undergo some very strange transformations with huge changes of altitude. One time I went from 11000 ft to 5800 ft, where I stopped to buy gas. I was horrified to see that the rear deck was severely sucked inward! Oh-so-carefully I lifted a little bit of the day hatch cover up and heard a loud HISSSSSSSS as the pressure equalized in both the day and rear compartments (tiny vent hole in the rear bulkhead). That was quickly followed by a muted POP as the rear deck flexed back to its normal shape.

Incredibly, there was no damage whatsoever to the kayak. I checked and rechecked many times, searching for spidercracking in the gel coat or cracks in the glass. Nothing. Numerous prolonged rolling sessions also left the compartments bone-dry, just as they had been before. Maybe I was lucky. But at that moment I knew that the often-maligned NDK build quality had passed with flying colors. You should've seen that sucked-in rear deck...

I have the worst hatch covers on my
Prijon but they’ve never blown off on the highway.

Me too.

– Last Updated: Jul-16-12 8:11 AM EST –

I lost a VCP oval cover (Arggghhhh !!! $$$) because I was unloading and didn't have the cover snapped on and put the kayak on the car.

Plus I discovered it when I got home an hour driving later. Next day went back and re-drove the route and never found it. (Arggghhhh !!! $$$)

I now have tethers on all covers.

Why all the gyrations?
Why don’t you just install the covers fully on the boat for storage? It’s not as if it’s going to damage anything. There’s no good reason not to vent all the bulkheads either.

Simple is best:

1- vent all bulkheads

2- tether the hatch covers

3- keep the covers fully installed unless you’re loading or unloading something from the boat

You’ll never have to worry about a lost hatch cover.

No gyrations
I always remove the hatch covers when we get home anyway. I’ve rented kayaks only to discover stinky wet jackets, food, etc inside hatch compartments. With my routine, everything gets cleared out till the next time it’s transported. Works for me.

Hatch blown off, broke off from the teeter (YES, it’s teetered!), flew off the side of the exit ramp!

Stopped at the bottom and walked back to look for it. No luck.

Stopped at a kayak outfitter to buy a replacement. After installing it, it dawn on me the remaining hatch covers were cracked also. That explained why the one got blown off in the first place!

Hatch covers has finite life span. Taking it off the hatch while in storage, especially in winter, could potentially help to keep it going a little bit longer.