Leaving Hatches/Scupper Plugs Open

Someone told me to leave my scupper plugs open. If so, why are kayaks made to have the plugs to close? I thought you only opened them if you took on water, or do you keep them open if you know you will take on water, like if you anticipate water going over your bow.

About the hatches, if your kayak is dry inside, do you store your kayak w/the hatches open for any reason? I have a sit on top.



are wet,scuppers all water to flow out rather than just get deeper. I really can’t see any reason for plugs.

I Store with Hatches Open
I always store with hatches open. I thought I read somewhere that the pressure differences between the sealed interior of the hatch and the outside environment can cause the cover to bow in or out, thereby causing premature wear on the seals, and in extreme cases the possibility of damaging something.

Note that said pressure differential can be caused by temperature changes too. Over the winter I did a few pool sessions, and bringing the boat in from zero degrees and popping it into an 80 degree pool caused the hatch covers to bulge out quite a bit.

What About A Person’s Weight
Can an especially heavy person cause water to come in through those holes, so that may be a reason why they are kept closed, or atleast for some people?

Thank you both for your input.


Water in footwell area
Yes, a heavy person will cause a boat to sit lower in the water and it will flow in through the scuppers. Water sloshing around in the footwells is a problem in some sit on top models. That’s why scupper plugs are used by some, in an attempt to stay dry. If you don’t have standing water in your boat, you don’t need plugs.

I use scupper plugs
It really depends on where you are paddling. I use the scupper plugs to cross Pearl Harbor on my daily commute. Without the plugs a small amount of water comes in at the foot wells and ALWAYS finds it way to my butt! The water is flat enough in the harbor that waves wont break on the kayak so it is a dry ride all the way. I pull the plugs if I take the kayak out into surf to allow the water to drain out that washes over the kayak.

My kayak is a Scupper Classic so YMMV

Dry hatches open for storage
Allows things to air out. If there is a reason to close them for storage aside from concerns about critters taking up residence, I can’t figure out what it would be. Our long boats are hung up and half of them upside down, so that’s not a problem.

If you are heavy enough, water will come up through the scuppers and pool up where your legs and butt are. Not only do you get wet, but you are having to paddle harder because there is additional weight in your boat that moves around as you paddle.

If this occurs on flatwater, the only solution is plugging the holes.

I test paddled a Tarpon 140 and found that it held about an inch of water in the footwells on flatwater with my 230 lbs in it. I have a Manta Ray 14 that has no water in it on flatwater, so it’s a much drier ride for me. Out on choppy water, the water plays peekaboo in the scuppers and while “surfing” below a rapid it puts on a mini fireworks show, occasionally blasting up like a mini Old Faithful.

I have also intentionally filled the entire boat with water just to watch the scuppers drain - very cool, but it takes a minute to empty and you end up sitting it a little water the rest of the day.

There are also SOTs like the Synergy that have no scuppers which is good on flatwater - much like a canoe.


i accumulate water in my SOT due to my size. I dont mind it and i usually leave it unplugged. But if you are out on the middle of a lake and you wish to drain the boat, i have found that if you get the boat moving fast the water will drain out. Plug it quick and you are riding dry (almost). or get a pump.

Plugs for cold water paddling.

My Butt
I was headed into some big waves creating by passing cargo ships. I received little water it seemed in my sit on top, which I drained by pulling the plugs, but later on, when I got out, I found a quart of water where I was sitting. I do not have scupper plugs there. My husband does have scupper plugs behind his seat in his sit on top. It was a sunny 77 degree day, so I think the coolness it gave me made me not realize I was sitting in a lot of water.


I never plug the scuppers on the ocean. I might on a calm river/lake.

If you HAVE to open a hatch on the ocean do it quickly and get it close back up fast.

store gasket-style OPEN
yes, if your hatch covers use a gasket-style (where the plastic lid comes down on a compression-type rubber lining to seal out the water), then you will want to store your hatch covers LOOSE (or off). Otherwise the gaskets will lose their “stretchy” waterproofing purpose over time. Then you’ll go to tighten it up when you’re on the water, and it won’t work.

I’ve never had a SOT that didn’t get
some awter inside. I leave the hatches open until it dries.

On scuppers, WS puts a bunch of scuppers in the T160i to improve hull rigidity, per Flatpick.I plugged all but the ones at my feet. I wish it had one under the seat, because I’m always in a puddle.

This is a pretty ridiculous design flaw. Would it be so difficult to design a seat with some sort of moulded channel to drain the water from the seat out to the feet? My seat holds a lot of water. of course getting wet is half the fun of SOT kayaking…

There is no extra weight moving around.

– Last Updated: Jun-27-08 7:35 PM EST –

That is not a problem. Study hydraulics there are rules.

The T140 is a nortoriously wet ride
Other Tarpon’s, depending on your weight, less so.

Some SOTs/Slabs are drier
than others.

The Sprinter is guaranteed wet, the Tarpon would be dry for someone lighter than me, but it was just my legs getting wet. Paddled a Pegasus that was fairly dry (on flatwater) and have tried a Scrambler XL that was mostly dry (but really plows water). My Manta Ray is drier than any of those and on flatwater I can stay dry without a problem. I’m 230 lbs, if you are 130 lbs, they would all be dry.


Lets say I slide into a rock garden and end up doing a little tipsy-turvy action, taking some water over the side. Wouldn’t it be more fun to have the water draining all by itself while I look for the next rock-fun? Pulling the plugs is a pain. I want the scuppers open, unless its a chilly day and the water is flat.

Oh, and if I’m using plugs, I want a big ol’ sponge handy for paddle-drips…also handy for sopping water out of the seatpan.

Hatches? Your SOT may build up some water inside from condensation if you leave the covers on. It may build up some water from rain if you don’t. Think of it this way…if you wear it out, you get to look for a new one!