Sea boat -best hatch configuation?

Hi all. After paddling the Tempest 180 prototype for several days last month, I did find one structural item I didn’t like. Thought I’d bring it up here for discussion.

When practicing rescues, I put my knee on the back hatch cover and pushed it half way into the hatch. Didn’t take that much pressure with my hand to do the same. It’s a large oval hatch with Birt-style rubber cover. A textbook rescue wouldn’t have my knee on the hatch cover, but still. I could inflate a flotation bag when the aft compartment isn’t loaded, to support the hatch cover.

It brings up the question, what would be an optimum configuration of hatches on a sea boat that’s used 90% as a day tripper, 10% expedition?.

Here would be my favorite configuration (config 1). Large front and rear hatches for easy loading/unloading. Covers made of stretch neoprene for water tight seal, rigid cover strapped over it for strength, like the CD Storm design. Include a Brit-stylday hatch with rubber hatch cover for quick access of day items.

What would be the downsides of config 1? Cost? Hatch straps are a snag point?

My next favorite configuration (config 2) would be Brit-style round hatches and rubber covers, all around, front, rear, and day. Only downside I can think of, though significant, is you’re more limited on the size of bags and items you can load.


Paul S.

My Necky has the hatch system you
describe. The hatches are covered first by neoprene, then by a hatch cover held on with straps. The Necky hatch covers are extremely rigid, so that there is no risk of them being pushed in just by somebody’s knee.

It has occurred to me that if one did a lot of smashing around in rock gardens, the little plastic loops which hold the hatch straps on could be smashed. But normally only the Tsunami Rangers would be smacking around the rocks that way. However, I may replace the plastic arches with something which sits flat between the screws, and which is even a tad flexible, so that it can’t be smashed.

Not Animal proof
If you are using your sea kayak for expeditions 10% of the time, be aware that racoons in heavely used campsites learn how to quickly open rubber hatches. If you are somewhere you can’t hang your food and water that can spell trouble. I have also had porcupines on the pukaskwa coast of lake Superior make a meal out of a rubber hatch. Seems he loved the salted rubber from the Atlantic coast! IMHO sea kayak manufacturers that use rubber hatchs are neglagent because they are more interested in marketing than producing the best boat. A hard shelled hatch with the refigerator door seal and rope to secure it not straps,(racoons can open buckels), is the best way to go. Peace Joel

personally I would not
choose any boat, for day trips or otherwise that had neoprene hatch covers even with a fitted fiberglass cover. But that is me. I have found those hatch systems to be prone to leakage. If the hull was really spectacular I might consider it, but it would have to be pretty hard to beat.

Otherwise I would rather have vcp or kajaksport hatches. So far there aren’t any better systems for keeping the water out. I have come to really like the large 17" oval vcp and kajaksport hatches fore and aft with a day hatch. I’ve never found them prone to cave in while doing a rescue, I’m sure it could be done, a forced failure is still a failure after all, but it doesn’t seem very likely. Also day hatches are a real must for me on any boat.

I’ll have to try to put my elbow down hard on my vcp hatches next time i’m in the water.

Variations in rubber hatch covers?
Are there significant differences in the Brit-style hatches and rubber covers? Has anyone looked at the differences between a Tempest hatch and cover and a Valey hatch and cover, for example?

For me
For me the Valley and Kajaksport rubber hatches are the only way to go. I’ve had and still have glass covers, and my rubber ones are much better at staying water tight.

so you really want me to go there!
I don’t want to make any of you WS Tempest guys cry, cough (steve).

I think it’s great that somebody is trying to stick it to the man and make their own proprietary hatch covers. But the tempest ones from my observation weren’t as nice as either kajaksport or valley’s.

The tempest hatch covers are not as rigid as the valley counterparts. However I will admit that the kajaksport covers are somewhat more pliable. But I have to say that never even with my full weight, standing on the backdeck of my boats --(P&H capella with proprietary hatches, P&H Quest with kajaksport hatches, or the Foster Silhouette with VCP hatches) – ON the hatch cover did I put my foot or knee through one or even dislodge it.

If the proprietary covers aren’t as good
then WS is sticking it to the customer, actually.

Paul S.

By glass covers, you mean
glass with the rubber seal ring? Yeah, other people I know who have those also say they leak. The stretch neoprene with glass or plastic hard cover over it though I’ve found to seal well, and have mostly read the same from reviews.

Paul S.

I like VCP covers.
I’ve yet to have any problems with the covers caving in or coming off during rescue drills. I have seen a friend snag and dislodge 2 of the 3 straps holding his hard, molded, refridgerator door sealed CD Extreme hatch cover. The straps on his boat had cam-like levers that he snagged while doing group rescue drills. We tightened them down as far as we could afterward, but I like the “tupperware” lids better.

Rubber versus Hard Hatches
I’ve used and sold every type of hatch talked about here and all have sealed well and all leaked some of the time. I have a Meridian with kajak sport hatch up front that has always leaked although we can’t figure out why. I had a Diamonte with hard hatch and rubber seals that did not leak a drop in 3 multi week trips and so on. If you want to use a sea kayak for wilderness trips The rubber hatches are problematic, they are not animal proof and you could lose both your food and water,(ask my 18 year old son), If all you want to do is practice self rescues, the Kajak sport, valley etc. work fine. The Wilderness Systems hatchs IMHO are pure junk. Peace Joel

kajaksport then VCP
is my preference. I always tether so the non-floating KS do not sink and the VCP do not float away. I like the flexiblity of the KS much better than stiff VCP, especially on day hatch. Even with clean, smooth and lubricated inside flange - it is a juggling act to one hand replace my day hatch cover.

The two piece, neo base/rigid cover are cumbersome.

I did have leaks on a KS hatch that was from a hairline fracture in inside, vertical face of the hatch combing. Not from the rubber to rigid seal. Once found and sealed, no more water.

Agree with KWINKLE

Oh my! I agree with Kwickle and Spray
I’ve never seen a hard cover over neoprene hatch system work as well as the kajaksport hatches on my quest did. I’ve paddled about four or five of the other style boat. Rolling the boat, in seas etc. My VCP hatches have been dry as well.

hard over /vcp/kayaksport?
hey Joel!..

it never occured to me that the rubber hatches would be susceptible to racoons until you mentioned it.

The soft rubber hatches on the quasi rec/sea kayaks that Dagger and Perception are putting out are a joke. The neoprene/hard cover hatches are a problem because of the amount of flexing the plastich hull can go through to pump the water around the hatch. I haven’t figured out yet whether the hatches on the Perception Avatar work yet. They sure haven’t figured out the ones on teh Eclipse.

I’ve heard good things about the CD hard hatches but no experience.

I think making a glass cover for a rubber VCP hatch would be easy to make,hell look at the hard covers on a Seda. The combination would be good.

An optional hard cover
… for VCP style hatches would be the cats meow. I miss seeing ya Lee! Peace Joel

how bout no covers or bulkheads
my first yak, a phoenix, has neither hatches nor bulkheads, just bungies that go thru holes drilled in the decks. i added float bags. whenever i carry stuff i just use dry bags stuffed in from the cockpit and let out some air from the float bags if needed. i guess native boats are similar. all the plastic eyestraps, rivets, straps, fasteners, gaskets etc on my necky seem pretty junky compared to the elegant simplicity of the phoenix.

No neoprene or straps, thank you
The straps are a hazard during rescues and are failure prone. Neo gaskets are just one more thing to forget to put on when getting ready to paddle, which apparently happens pretty frequently, based on the stories I’ve heard.

Of the rubber hatches on the market, Kajak Sport is the best and most durable. VCP’s are watertight, but the covers rot quickly in the sun and they’re a pain to get on and off in cold weather. One advantage they have is that they float, but I always keep my covers tethered, regardless.

My ideal hatch configuration is large rubber ovals fore and aft, plus a day hatch.

No Hatches
… with a sea sock does have some advantages, being able to grab all your gear in two dry bags is so much faster than pulling 20 things through a hatch. Clean back deck. Sea sock makes self rescue fast although boring, (less for stationary paddlers to practice). Peace Joel

A couple questions about that.
How do you get the bag into the back? Push the backband down?

Should be cheaper without hatches or bulkheads. What about strengh of the shell without bulkheads?