Kids sitting in the storage compartment

I recently bought a Valley Aquanaut 17’x22" sea kayak. I was considering either a tandem or a canoe to take my little girls out on the water with occasionally but they were all too big,slow or heavy. The salesperson told me that some people let their kids come for a ride by sitting in the open hatches. Has anybody tried this? Obviously i would only consider doing it in calm and warm conditions!


I have seen this suggested, and even saw a photo recommending this in a kayaking book. However, I would not do it. If one of your children needs help (they are upset, slip to far into the hatch, etc) you are unable to reach them from the cockpit. If you have one in the back, you can’t see them at all. I would rather have young children in arms reach in a canoe, or one in the cockpit of a rec boat with me.

double dumb
isn’t that sealed storage compartment your reserve flotation? I think it is.

Have to echo mill
Just not worth the risk. People drown in some of the most benign conditions, and wind and weather conditions can change very quickly. Your narrow Valley may just not have the stability for safe paddling with “live” weight in the hatches, no matter how skilled you may be. R

I have not fond visions
of a child stuck under the bow deck of an overturned boat and not being easily reachable.

I think the salesperson’s remark was irresponsible.

Triple Dumb!
Would never ever buy anything from that estabishment that employed that salesman.

I agree with sjyaker.
The salesman’s advice is so irresponsible that it would be helpful for the paddling community to know the name of the dealer that is putting out this sort of information. Do PNet posting rules allow naming names? If so, I for one would like to know who these people are.

Aside from the above comments…
all of which are correct, there is one more point that is about this boat. We have one in the family. The Aquanaut is stiffer than some others in its class, like the TideRace Xplorer, the NDSK Explorer or the P&H Cetus. It pays you back by being very well-mannered in slop, but even on a fairly calm day you may find yourself having to drop a fairly deep edge on this boat to get out of harm’s way.

You do not want to do that with little ones sitting in the bulkhead hatches, or the hatches being open in any way, unless you feel like having to wait for a motor boat to help you drag your nice new boat off the bottom.

Didnt Cheri Perry kill her son that way?
I know she talks about doing that in her early days of paddling on “This is the Sea”. That and letting him play on the beach unattended. Surely he must be dead by now. You can’t do those things in this day in age. How people did it for thousands of years successfully remains a mystery.

Getting away with it
Everyone did (and at times still does) do things that are pretty risky and a high proportion of times they get away with it. But do you want to recommend this as being OK if this is the one time that it doesn’t work out?

I’ve done this with my daughter (now 7) when she was 2 and 3 years old. She did, in fact, survive, but I had some misgivings about it at the time, and have since decided that I wouldn’t do it again. (I never did it with my second child (now 4) as he was growing up.)

My concerns with doing this are the loss of buoyancy, the tight fit of the hatch coaming, and the inability to reassure the kid. I think a kid would most likely pop out in a capsize, but I’m not sure of that, and I think that’s a major concern worth thinking about. It’s tough to evaluate this risk unless you’re willing to practice doing it (with help right at hand), but I’m guessing that sort of dunk-drill might turn off most toddlers to the idea of getting back in a kayak for a few years.

I always put flotation in the compartment that Lilja was in (I would HIGHLY recommend doing this if you decide to go ahead with this), to maintain the boat’s buoyancy in both ends, in case of flooding or capsize. And I kept to relatively calm waters, but even 6" waves lapping up against a beach are enough to get water in the hatch of a compartment when launching or landing, and that’s no fun for the kid.

On one short paddle at the beach with Lilja in my stern compartment, I experienced an illustration of why this isn’t a good idea. My brother and his wife were in single kayaks, and they continued around a small point at one side of the cove, and immediately got into more chop than they could handle. They were afraid to turn around in those waves, and so they sort of got stuck, and had trouble doing anything but paddle further from shore. Normally I would have headed out and shepherded someone back into the cove in a situation like that, but with Lil in my back hatch, I wasn’t willing to go out into that rougher water which could have spooked her, or partially flooded the compartment.

So keep in mind that if you put someone in your hatch, you’ll probably be unhelpful to others in your group, in even the simplest scenario.

Basically, all this is to say that yes, people have done it, including myself, but there are lots of reasons why it’s not a good idea. Many of those ideas may not be obvious at first though, so maybe hearing some of them from someone who tried it and then changed his mind will help you reach your own safe decision.

Thank you!
Thank you all for your imput.

I had severe reservations about doing this, considering i have to edge the boat to turn, so i thought I’d ask around.

I guess I’ll be buying a coleman canoe or a mad river adventure 16 with my upcoming bonus. Padded seat backs, cup holders and a 2hp outboard… fun for the whole family…here I come!

another idea

– Last Updated: Apr-17-11 5:38 PM EST –

rather than a coleman, see what you can get used on craigslist. Sometimes the older aluminum boats are a steal and they are fine family canoes that (especially used) will hold value. You should be able to find a better quality canoe for the same money. A new canoe is used as soon as you use it.

I know the OP has made the decision already but I’d like to add that entrapment is definitely possible. Think about a small child sitting deep in the hatch, or in a center cockpit/hatch on a tandem. They may be sitting very deep (arm pits at the hatch rim) and they could easily be entrapped during a capsize.

do you want to recommend driving
as being okay if this is the one time that it doesn’t work out?

You ask a loaded question.

I believe tnat was Freya who paddled with her son inthe hatch

Yes, I did
But driving is done because it is necessary for most. Not the same.

BOTH of them admitted doing so
It’s in one of the TITS DVDs (not footage, just them saying they had carried a kid in a hatch when they began kayaking).

Just because people have done it without killing the kid(s) doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I can’t believe a salesperson would recommend it.

BTW, that is one of the frequently-asked questions I hear from nonpaddlers: “Are those black things covers for where kids sit?” (OR “Is that a 3-seater?”)

In the cockpit
I found that I could carry my daughter in the cockpit of a Carolina and Tsunami. Both are on the larger size of cockpits for sea kayaks. It was cramped but wonderful.

I also paddled with her a lot in a rec. kayak.

Once she was too big, she went into her own boat.