Pygmy Hatch straps

I’m finishing up the hatches on my Pygmy Arctic Tern, and I finally opened the bag of hardware that comes with the hatch straps. I have to say I’m a bit disappointed by the clumsy and inelegant design of the cinch cam system. Have any Pygmy owners out there installed a simpler alternative hatch strap system?

They work…
Very well in fact. Depending on how well you matched the hatch to the lip.

Some have done internal bungee holddowns which look much cleaner. Many different versions of the bungee system.

I agree with grayhawk…
…they aren’t elegant but they do work very well.

Work fine and
I don’t think they look that bad either. I thought they’d be a pain to open and close but they’re not.

Best hatch around
I agree they could look a bit better but they work, and they work extremely well – I’ve got a Pygmy Double and a Coho and have never experienced leaky hatches.

I did a few revisions to the hatches on my Coho, bevelled the half dowels and added a sneaky little finger pull:


Thanks for the pics!

– Last Updated: Jan-30-07 9:02 PM EST –

The bevelled dowels look nice. Your site was invaluable to me during my build. I'm reassured that folks are satisfied with the hatch straps, and don't find them difficult to do and undo. Ihaven't actually drilled the holes and attached them yet--just fiddled with a strap and the hardware to see how they work.

And the finger pull idea is ingenious!

Hatch straps

– Last Updated: Jan-31-07 9:07 PM EST –

I have an Osprey HP & my hatches have leaked for the entire 1 1/2 years that I've had the boat. I have tried several ways to stop it without success. I think that my problem has to do with the curvature of the deck which creates uneven pressure on the hatch cover by the straps. It creates more pressure on the top of the hatch cover than the edges.

Comments please.

Thanks for the advice. I will study this thread well before I resume this project.


it works

– Last Updated: Jan-30-07 10:42 PM EST –

but I'm not a fan of hardware that can catch pfds or tow ropes,,let alone become unhinged with a body sliding across it. I think you could rig some 1/8" line or sleeves of nylon or velcro to keep it from happening. It's the same rigging Current Designs has used and it works.

The setup i've used for flush hatches is oval or rounded triangle pieces of plywood attached through the deck near the hatch so they can be swiveled over the closed hatch and swiveled over the deck to open. Check out the Arctic Hawk on CLCs website. I'd use more than four swivels. I've used six or eight depending on the size of the hatch.
It doesn't look anymore elegant with all those little tabs but it doesn't require any kind of down force from a strap or extra dowels on the hatch, you press the hatch onto the gasket and swivel the tab over the hatch.

Internal bungies or hidden methods of closure bother me because it requires an assumption that it's working whereas the other methods are obvious.

I've done it on a four paneled Merganser deck and a flat paneled aft deck.
On one of the Mergansers I used one fasteck buckle strap and four tabs on the front hatch and one fasteck buckle strap with eight tabs (big hatch) on the back. It looked busy but the strap was a tether as well as a quick or temporary closure but relying on the tabs for a final seal on the perimeter. When not paddling the one buckled strap kept the hatch on but didn't compress the gasket very much. That way the gasket is always compressed when closed.
It's a bit of work to make all those little tabs but not more that it was to make the hatches once you get the hang of it. Cut, round, drill and sand the tabs, warm them up in the oven and dip them in warm epoxy to soak well then hang them on a wire as the epoxy gets sucked in while it cools. You could make wind chimes that way because they have a crisp tinkling sound when all cured up and strung on a wire. Kind of like fat guitar picks made out of 4mm Okoume.

Hatch leak…

– Last Updated: Jan-30-07 11:17 PM EST –

Remove the weather stripping and set the hatch on the lip. It should fit fit very even without any wobble, if not work on the lip or hatch until it does. Try to get the hatch to mate perfectly without the weather strip before installing the strip. Also helps to coat the under edge (1 to 2") of the hatch with epoxy and sand smooth.
Install the half rounds on the hatch, they distribute the pressure more evenly. I have seen them installed on the deck which only makes things worse. You should have three straps adjusted evenly.

Just reread your post.. Do you have the half rounds installed on your hatch?

The finger pull
The reason that I had to make a finger pull was because of the bevelled half dowels – I bevelled the dowels on my double when I refinished it and realized too late that the hatches were darned near impossible to open as there is no where to get a good hold (I generally have to insert my knife into the crack and gently pry the lid open – ugh).

The finger pulls work pretty good but I think the next time, I’ll put them on the outside instead of the inside – it’s not that it’s tough to use them on the inside, but it’s the opposite of what would be the natural position for them. I was initially concerned that the finger pull would prohibit the strap from sitting flush on the dowel but so long as the concave finger pull is not too large it should be OK and not effect the strap.


A better hatch system

– Last Updated: Jan-31-07 12:01 AM EST –


LeeG wrote:

it works but I’m not a fan of hardware that can catch pfds or tow ropes,let alone become unhinged with a body sliding across it. I think you could rig some 1/8" line or sleeves of nylon or velcro to keep it from happening. It’s the same rigging Current Designs has used and it works.


I agree with this completely, although I don’t like the idea of fixing the problem by adding even more clutter to the deck.

I’ve seen where someone drilled holes through the ends of the cams and then ran a line through all three – ensuring that the cams could not accidentally come loose. A good idea but a cumbersome and messy looking solution.

Current Designs places the two outside cam levers in one direction and the center cam lever in the other – I assume this is to reduce the chances of something catching on all three cams and pulling them all open at once.

The thing about the Pygmy hatch system is that it works. And I have a really difficult time convincing myself to go to a less effective hatch system just for looks. I just won’t do it – unless I or someone else comes up with a system that holds water out of my hatches equally as well as the Pygmy hatches, I’ll continue to use the Pygmy system.

One of the fellows who runs westcoastpaddler with me has designed a new cam and we’re working with Pygmy on it. If it works, it will greatly reduce the amount that the cam sticks up above the hatch – essentially eliminating the entire problem of catching something on it. we’ll let you know if it works or not.


They worked fine for my Tern
Once adjusted the straps don’t seem to loosen and I’ve had no leakage with pygmys setup.

I tend to like the simplicity of it.

My goals are making the hatches absolutely secure and not susceptible to catching things. The tabs don’t catch anthing. The cam levers do. You can tighten each nylock on each tab so that the force required to move them is firm and not loose. With the cam straps if you loosen a strap you immediately loosen 1/3 or 2/3 of the hatch closure. With the swiveling dogs you might move one or two in a rescue but they woudn’t necessarily move 90+ degrees.

Getting the hatch flush
Okay, so I’ve got the foam glued in, and attached the straps, and places the half rounds in position (not glued on), tightened the straps, locked the cinch cams with LOTS of pressure, and the bow hatch is not quite flush with the deck–maybe and 1/8 to a 1/4 inch higher. (I haven’t tried to do the stern hatch yet.) Is this normal, or did I screw something up? I took the instructions seriously and did not sand off too much on the edges of the hatch cover. Without the foam, it fit, but I needed a knife blade to lift it out.

No, mine is flush

– Last Updated: Feb-01-07 1:19 PM EST –

My Tern hatches are flush wit de deck after cinchin' down. Yer might want to put in the spacer between the inner lip an' the underside of the deck to compensate for the gasket thickness? But, it's probably too late to do dat now, if ya didn't. Ok, possibly ye might git a thinner gasket or epoxy another thin layer of plywood to the underside of the existing lip an' carefully route the top surface of the lip to the depth of what your hatches protrude above the deck. Ah' won't cut down the actual hatch thickness along the edge. Jus' remember, the foam gasket will compress a bit over time, so give it a chance ta settle in.


are you sure you used the spacer between deck and the lip the gasket sets on. if not and already glued in just cut flush with hatch opening and make a piece with a lip for the gasket.this should drop it enough for a flush fit.


Yes, I glued the spacer in. The hatches are raised just a very tiny bit above flush–a fraction of the thickness of the spacer–but enough to be noticeable and possibly to compromise the seal. It would suck to have to cut new lips for this. Maybe I could find a marginally thinner foam strip? I’m scratching my head over this one. Not sure what I could have done wrong.

Maybe too much

– Last Updated: Feb-01-07 1:43 PM EST –

glass an' epoxy on de top of de lip? Give de foam a chance ta compress.

It will settle
My hatches were all a bit higher initially as well – but the foam gasket will compress and the hatches will then be flush. A few times out using the boat and it should be fine.


Foam Seal Thickness
The seal material that I received with my Tern 14 kit was slightly thicker than what came with the Coho. Just what they had in stock, I guess.

As a result the hatches on the Coho were flush but the Tern does stick up just a bit. I have considered replacing the foam in the Tern with something thinner but my hatches do_not_leak. I would be doing it strictly out of vanity and it just doesn’t matter to me. That foam is going on 4 years old and will probably start stiffening up and leaking eventually. When that happens I’ll replace it and have flush hatches.