To hatch or not to hatch

This question would probably be better answered by those of you that have kayaks without hatches. I’m looking for a new kayak and the one that hits my eye is available either with hatches or without. The one without hatches of course weighs less and costs less.

I had never considered buying a boat without the hatches but it got me to thinking. I’m 64, I don’t ever see myself going on multiple day paddles that would require me to pack a lot of stuff. The items that I would carry, safety equipment, water, camera, etc. wouldn’t be carried in a hatch anyways. Plus I would never have to worry about the hatches leaking.

So if there is anyone out there that has a kayak without hatches or used to own one do you regret not having them? By the way this would be my only kayak so suggestions to have one of each aren’t feasible. This question is also for a touring style kayak 16’.

assume you’re talking SOT then?
may help others answer better.

If you don’t need them…
why pay - in both money and weight - for a feature that offers no advantage to you?

Keep in mind that you should get airbags for the unhatched version - assuming that the hatched version also has bulkheads to make water-tight flotation compartments.

Consider the effect on resale too.

I am Confused
Hatches in a sit-inside are related to having bulkheads, and having air pockets front and back is a safety factor. Whether they have hatch access only affects the question of whether you can use that space for dry storage.

So - not dissimilar to the above question - are you talking about a SOT, or about the diff between a sit inside that does or does not have bulkheads?

Hatches = Floation

Are you going to use float bags or a sea sock?

I have no idea what kind of kayaking you’re doing but when I see 16’ kayak I think of a sea kayak in the ocean and I recommend flotation of some kind.

I bought a Looksha Sport at auction
that had no front bulkhead, and the front hatch was not cut and functional. I bought a hatch kit from Necky, and made the front hatch functional. My main reason was that I wanted to add front flotation, and wanted to be able to easily access the float bag tie points. I also was able to access the footpeg tracks more easily. Putting gear in the front was my least concern, but there are situations where distributing weight up there might have been a consideration.

I think your reasoning might be correct. As a sometime whitewater kayaker, I don’t miss having hatches when doing an overnight. There are other ways to get gear in and out and stabilise the gear bags. And if you don’t do overnights, it may not be an issue. What will be the bulkhead situation in the kayak you are thinking of buying? No bulkheads? Support walls?

Mayan Seas
This is the kayak that I’ve been looking at it’s the Performa either the L (with hatches) or the S (without).

get with hatches

– Last Updated: May-16-12 5:51 PM EST –

It wouldn't make much sense to have no hatches but still have bulkheads. With no bulkheads you would need air bags which may gradually lose air or not fit tight anyway and so you'd get more water in the boat making rescues, etc. more of a hassle. Repair work inside the kayak would be a bigger hassle too since it's hard to reach near bow and stern.

No hatches
I have a NC 17 without hatches. I find it very much a pain to be able to carry things on the deck. I sometimes take a lunch and have to wait until the paddle is over to eat. I would not buy a kayak without hatches again.

I have an old Express without hatches
love the boat, I use float bags and just put a small drybag with lunch etc behind the seat.

second the hatch version
You may never use the hatches to carry gear, but they are built in flotation. You can add float bags to the unhatched version to do similar, but float bags don’t keep out as much water as a version with bulkheads. And emptying a boat (whether as part of a rescue or even just getting any drip water out after a paddle) is harder without bulkheads.

It has no bulkheads
I don’t think you understood the description. The version you are looking at has no hatches because it has NO COMPARTMENTS. When a manufacturer says that about a sit-inside, it means the boat has no bulkheaded areas that act as flotation. To make this a really safe boat, you would have to purchase two sea kayak float bags or a sea sock. Both are a additional money and over time are a pain unless you really have some reason to panic over a few pounds.

If the weight of the hatch covers really bothers you, just take them off and carry them in the car when you are putting the boat up or down on the racks. But get the version with compartments.

Bulkheads w. hatches vs. airbags

– Last Updated: May-17-12 5:14 PM EST –

In the fleet are a Mariner Express and a F1 SOF that don't have bulkheads and hatches. The necessary airbags are removed after each use to avoid mildew. I find inserting and inflating the airbags before use annoying and time consuming.

I just added a ferrule to my homemade Aleutian paddle so I can use it as a "air bag insertion tool" and then reassemble it for use as my paddle. Helps w. inserting the airbags but they are still time consuming to blow up. If they both weren't such great kayaks to paddle, I would always choose to paddle my kayaks with bulkheads and hatches instead.

My vote as one who has both "bulkhead/hatch kayaks" and "airbag kayaks" is to choose the hatches/bulkheads version and decide on a way to deal with the extra weight.


When I’m 64
Hey 64 isn’t old. You’ve still got years to paddle, go with the hatches.

When I’m 64 lyrics

Songwriters: Mccartney, Paul; Lennon, John;

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now

Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I’d been out 'til quarter to three, would you lock the door?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?

You’ll be older too

Ah, and if you say the word, I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse when your lights have gone

You can knit a sweater by the fireside, Sunday mornings, go for a ride

Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage

In the Isle of Wight if it’s not to, dear

We shall scrimp and save

Ah, grandchildren on your knee, Vera, Chuck and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line stating point of view

Indicate precisely what you mean to say, yours sincerely wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form, mine forever more

Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?

I think it does have bulkheads
On the “Technology” page it states:

“All our models have bulkheads with waterproof front and aft compartments and some models have hatches for access to these, as means for storage of camping gear.”

Which sounds odd to me, but that’s what it says.

Go for hatches
Like some of the others, I have a Mariner Express, an absolutely superb little boat BUT for the fact that it came without hatches or bulkheads. I ended up installing a rear hatch/bulkhead, but the front deck shape makes it costly to install one up there. I use float bags in the bow and have no trouble with buoyancy/safety. When I add a seasock, I probably have more reserve buoyancy than people who rely on a bulkead alone.

The problem, however, is that a lack of a hatch/bulkead makes storing gear and trimming your boat more of a hassle. You say you don’t want to do long trips in your boat, but you will still carry stuff on a day trip, and you may find the need to distribute gear between bow and stern to deal with weather/lee-cocking. No hatches makes that a PITA.

Also, consider resale. When you want to sell the boat, what are you going to say to convince potential buyers? They will want hatches and bulkheads.

Compartments may not equal bulkheads?
The specifics for this boat, with the L suffix, says no compartments. I took that to mean no bulkheads… I may be wrong but that seems very odd in a touring kayak.

if so I’d avoid even more
but I suspect it doesn’t have bulkheads. With bulkheads it’s still possible to get leaks but without a hatch of some sort it would be hard to drain. I suppose you could have a drain plug but still without a hatch how do you do repairs to fix any leaks.

But they’re waterproof!
Says right there that the compartments are waterproof.

Obviously that means they don’t leak.

Or at least the manufacturer is foolish enough to believe that they don’t leak and will never leak.

Paddled the Performa S Today
To answer some questions. These are definitely bulkheads. The kayaks are fiberglass and the bulkheads are fiberglass. I would say they are watertight. The kayak that I paddled was an older one that seems to have held up very well.

Still debating on hatches or not. There are some very good arguments for getting them. Carrying things, at least for me, is not a selling point. I have a Sealine Baja deck bag that will carry most of the items that I would ever need.

Fortunately I have the opportunity to try both kayaks before I make up my mind.