On the water day hatch usage ???

I’m wondering what the consensus is regarding your use of a stern deck day hatch (if you have one) while paddling ?

I’m considering adding one of the pouch type to get a few things off the deck. I’m wondering about the dexterity required to personally hand access (open, retrieve items and close) while on the water ?

If you have a stern day hatch that you find relatively accessible and useful for you while paddling, what kind is it ?



Never use while paddling …
… I have a Valley … have to stand on the deck to open. They don’t leak, but man are they tight.

Day hatch use, on the water,
depends somewhat on your dexterity, kayaks initial stability and the location of the hatch itself. My wife’s Chatham 17 hatch is located so far to the rear of the cockpit that it is easier for me to access it for her. This also stabilizes her kayak, which is a big help in that the hatch is located rather close to the water line. I often access my own in calm water, but with VCP hatch covers, it is easier to get them off than to get them back on securly. If your boat doesn’t already have a factory installed day hatch, I suggest checking out a NorthWater under deck bag. All of our kayaks have one installed, a much easier task than installing a day hatch, and much easier to access. You can easily find one on the web.

stern day hatch
I’m paddling a Romany 16 which came with a stern day hatch on the starboard side behind the cockpit coaming. Use it all the time. I do need to twist in the seat a bit and it did take some practice to secure the lid back on properly and quickly. If I’m not mistaken, most day-hatch lids are designed a little differently than the fore and aft lids which makes placing them on and off easier with one hand. Of the three hatches, this is the one that gets used most often. What I do remove are generally loose items and not zippered in coolers or dry bags. If access is needed to items in a dry bag (cell phone), then the whole bag is removed. Having enjoyed the day hatch for about 13 years, I would be hard-pressed to purchase a boat without one.

Yes, on most paddles
All four of my sea kayaks have day hatches. All of them Valley (though the boats include a Necky and NDK in addition to 2 Valley boats).

I access my day hatch nearly every time I paddle. In how dimensional of water depends on the boat and my confidence - e.g. I’ve accessed my day hatch in more dimensional seas in my Aquanaut and Romany than my Nordlow.

I find day hatches essential.

For those whose Valley day hatch is hard to remove or replace, some 303 might help.

NDK hatches come off together with the rim

WS hatches don’t do anything but come off

Hey Chris

– Last Updated: Oct-21-10 9:22 AM EST –

Have you ever thought of an under deck bag.
My wife has one under her front deck of her QCC and loves it.
Very easy to get stuff in and out of.
I know Grayhawk has one in his yak too.

They are made by Northwater.
She keeps her camera, (in a small dry bag) in it along with other goodies such as lip balm, sunscreen , etc.

I would have one in mine, but don't need to since we are almost always together.

Jack L

Very useful, for me

– Last Updated: Oct-19-10 9:43 AM EST –

I find having one very useful! On the WS boats I've had (Tempests and Zephyr, all plastic) my day hatches have been bone dry and easy to access and replace the cover on the water. On one boat the front hatch leaked like a sieve (defective rim) while the rest were mostly dry. But on my current Zephyr 15.5 (2010 year, with the current hatch style), all hatches are easy to open or close and not a single drop got in after some rough water and rolling this weekend. Your mileage may vary. But I digress -;)

Since you are asking about installing one yourself, check out the recent thread about the Sea Line (sp?) - If not mistaken, you can buy the rim and matching cover and opt for a bag under it or not.

On one of my boats I had a screw-in day hatch and I found it a little more challenging to use since I had to have the threads "catch" or it would not close well.

Depending on boat, a front deck hatch may work for you too and is more convenient to access but takes leg room and I'm usually short on that so I'm not a fan of these things.

use it all the time
I couldn’t live without one (not happily). I open mine all the time. (2 valley boats). I don’t find that I have trouble accessing them on the water. Though I have long arms.

The screw-on type of pouch day hatch might be a lot harder to use though.

Not a problem on our NDK boats NM

use it always
I pack my day hatch full - in order: tow rope, flares, GPS, storm cag, extra hat, water bottles, lunch, trail mix in an old gatorade bottle. I have an Impex Force 4 which uses Valley hatches. Reasonably easy to get cover on and off with one hand. I basically work by touch when rummaging for something.

If my boat didn’t have a day hatch, I would install one. Sometimes you just wouldn’t want to have to pull the spray skirt to access something like food, water, GPS, etc.


– Last Updated: Oct-19-10 11:22 AM EST –

One of my boats has kayak sport cover for the day hatch, and I am in it frequently. It comes off and seals back easily. It's good for pulling out lights when it gets dark, fog horn if it gets foggy, the snacks I forgot to put anywhere else and most importantly the cag for changes in weather. (and stuffing all this back in)

I use the day hatch on my other boat the same way, but I sometimes have to ask someone else to get the darned thing off when I am in colder water. It's a Valley hatch cover, and I find that the combination of the stiffer material and how tight that hatch seals down when the air in the day hatch cools and compresses can challenge my leverage from the cockpit.

I see a suggestion for an under-deck bag - it's a moot point for me because there isn't any room for that in my lower volume boats unless I want to assure I will have trouble doing a wet re-entry.

But I'd hesitate to go that route for the stuff I keep in the day hatch even if space wasn't an issue. I've happily paddled along and even rolled with the day hatch cover barely attached and not even noticed it (until someone sees the contents of my day hatch floating beside me - a reason I put my lights into a small dry bag now). The idea that the day hatch allows you to have a storage point that can flood with water without challenging the boat's stability works. This is why I am OK with going into the day hatch in even messy conditions if need be - I know that the worst that will happen is that I'll be retrieving floating gear. Any time you pull the skirt, you increase the risk of having to do a more troublesome recovery.

The lack of a day hatch is a deal-breaker for me. If I can't store at least my cag and awkward stuff like the fog horn and white light in a place that functions like a day hatch, it's not a boat for my use.

(Oh yeah - GPS too, just for emergencies since we tend to keep charts on deck.)

Yes, I do have an under deck bag.
Yet I am a carry the kitchen sink kind of guy, so I still have a few things on deck, including a GP.

I’m looking for something to get things off the deck for rolling and rough surf landings.


Should have put one of these …
:wink: in my comment on Valley hatches …

Re: Day Hatch
I used the day hatch on my Romany Explorer a lot, and found it rather easy to access while on the water. However, the combination of the day hatch and skeg box so greatly reduced the usable space in the boat that we sold it for a kayak that had neither. We used the Explorer for long(ish) trips of two to three weeks, so this may not be such a problem for day paddles or weekend camping.

and I have North Water under deck bags installed as well. That gives me just that much more storage and options as to what I want where. If conditions are so rough I’m reluctant to access either, I don’t want anything in my hands by my paddle anyway. I’ll do without 'til I get to some place slightly more benign.

Celia - Have you tried a boat with an under deck bag? I’ve never had a problem with entires or exits whith mine. Just a thought.

All the time, but then I only select
kayaks that have a day hatch. My current kayak also has the handy ‘4th’ hatch on the foredeck.

I use my day hatch

– Last Updated: Oct-19-10 12:48 PM EST –

I have a Valley Aquanaut HV in plastic, and use the day hatch reasonably often. I am not the most flexible person (not even close - there is a reason I paddle an HV not an LV), yet can still reach it while seated and skirt is on. I can't get things buried deep in it, so pack things I think I may want while paddling towards the top and on hatch side with some dry bags of things I would only use on beach breaks underneath to hold them up. Lid goes on and off easily enough.

I actually use the day hatch to carry pretty much everything I carry in a hatch on a day paddle, as the main hatch covers are very difficult to get back on (particularly rear one). I have to use a paddle or other item to push the hatch cover in to the seat to get the final seal.

I second the comment about under deck - but read your response about how you have stuff there already. This was something that first came to mind when I first read your post.

Another option is stowing stuff behind your seat. I have my inflatable paddle float there and a Gatorade pee bottle. Have also stuck small dry bags there or Dromedary water bladders. If you are surf landings or rolling where you may have a chance of wet exiting, best to carabiner these items onto something (straps for seat, etc.) to ensure they stay there while you float out of the boat.

And another option would be a bag on your spray skirt. I have a Seals skirt and use the accessory bag they make also - normally as a place to hold trash I find on the water, but sometimes for my gear. Some spray skirts have bags built in.

On a prior boat
Note that I didn’t say it was a wet exit issue - short of an actual snag it’d be difficult to get caught on a wet exit. But getting out involves fewer gyrations than getting back in upside down.

I had an underdeck bag in a prior boat, one with a much taller front deck than my two now. I am not exaggerating when I say there isn’t room under the foredeck of my current two long boats to fit a bag, or for that matter even a pump (which I’d love to get off my deck if I could), without challenging a wet re-entry. The NDK Explorer LV is too low and the Vela is too skinny. My WW boat is an an old Inazone 220, which a friend laughingly refers to as just about the right size for one of his feet and is too tight vertically for me to wear anything other than neoprene socks. I’m Ok with a tight fit.

But as above the functional level is still an issue. I can get to my day hatch in rougher stuff without much concern, to get to anything under the skirt I’d have to ask someone to come up just in case I needed stabilization. It’s not about feeling comfortable on the water, but there’s a point where it is not fair to your fellow paddlers to add unnecessarily to the risk of a capsize. It just complicates an otherwise lovely paddle. And sudden changes in weather are really the most likely time I would need to get into the thing, for example the GPS unit if a fog rolled in and confounded us or a squall came up and I needed the cag.