Using 303 on hatch covers: be careful

I have advocated using 303 on rubber hatch covers because it makes them seat better. It also protects the rubber from UV’s harmful effects.

For 3 years I’ve occasionally treated the ones on my Tempest 165 without problem, although it has always made them feel too easy to put on and take off.

Recently I 303’ed the rubber hatch covers on my new boat, an Explorer LV. The covers, which had been balky to seat well, suddenly became ridiculously easy to put on and take off.

Today I did a lot of rolling practice plus a cowboy re-entry. On the latter, when I sat in the cockpit something felt odd under my butt. I gingerly felt for the mysterious object and recognized it as being a hatch cover! When I turned around to look, the day hatch was gaping open. Because there were no waves, only a few drops of water were inside (probably from my wet sprayskirt as I slid forward).

Anyway, from now on I think I will only rinse and wipe the mating surfaces with clean water and leave the 303 to the exterior of the hatch covers. Putting them on will become a slower process but I prefer that to risking a swamped compartment and/or a lost hatch cover (they are not tethered). This did not happen earlier, before I had 303’ed the hatch covers, nor has it ever occurred with the Tempest even after 303ing (though I bet it could).

Geez. It’s a good thing I try this stuff in safe conditions because I’ve now had 3 odd things happen during practice: foot snared in a loose rudder cable, discovered during a paddle-float re-entry; panic strap on a sprayskirt snagging on the rear deck (probably hatch covers) during a cowboy re-entry; and now this.

Glad you found this out on
tame waters!

I only 303 the interior of my lids each winter just before the boat goes into storage to prevent dry rot.

During paddling season the exteriors are treated about once per month.

I really like to scuff up hatch rims a little with wet/dry sandpaper; 600 grit for poly rims and 1000-1200 grit for composite lips. I think the ‘teeth’ of the sanded area provides increased staying power for the lids.

That new boat treatin’ ya well?

Good post - Thanks for the heads up
My wife is the one who always does ours and I’ll pass this on to her.



And one other thing
NDK doesn’t generally tether their hatch covers to the boat. Not good. I’ve seen many a British boat owner lose a hatch cover either on the water or on the highway.

Get some deckline, and tether them to the boat.

303 still great on some boats
I’ve found that 303 works best on some roto-molded hatch and lid combos. That is where the hatch is part of the whole boat mold. On composite or thermo-formed kayaks, the hatch is set into the deck and glued (sometimes screwed too) in. The glued in two-piece style is a harder plastic that is more slippery to begin with and often will not need a lubricant. But the more porous roto-molded style will vary all over the place in how it mates with the hatch cover and often needs help with some 303. I know this has been covered before ad nauseaum but roto-molded kayaks can shrink during cooling in their molds after baking and the manufacturers try and control the amount and sometimes miss by a big margin and you get hatches that are too tight or more likely too loose on one end and too tight on the other! Two piece hatches are more consistent in size and shape but I’ve seen times where you can’t get the lids on those with a ball bat!! Good post…I’ve had these kinds of on water surprises too and it’s a big part of knowing what’s safe and what isn’t.

Thx, pikabike, for warning.
I am in the “303 is waaaay overrated” camp, but stilol nice to not lose a hatch cover and die. Agree with prior poster about tethering your hatch covers.

are you applying 303 on the inside?!
I thought 303 was UV protection. I thought you applied it to the outside. Applying it to the outside shouldn’t make your hatch covers loose.

Yes it can
A couple of years ago I 303’d all our rubber hatch covers on -tempests,squamish,capella,acadia,sirocco. I didnt know quite what i was doing although i did only put on the outside rubber. Well, i figured, put lots on - leave on to set in - then wipe! The covers barely fit anymore as they felt loose and sloppy. It has taken a long time for them to revive. Just 2 days ago i took out my acadia which i never use and decided to try it again and that hatch cover sitting the the garage all these years still fits loosely! If I ever use again - it will be a quick on and off procedure.

Good points
The roto Tempest’s hatch covers AND the hatch rims (molded as part of the deck) seem to work well with a little 303ing. Their materials are definitely different from the more rubbery-feeling NDK hatch covers and the hard glued-on hatch rims.

Doesn’t make any sense
First of all, your covers may get stretched if you leave them fastened on the boat all the time (during storage). Rubber stretches over time. Leave hatch covers detached when you’re not using the boat.

Second, 303 is easy to wash off with a little bit of dish detergent.

Third, don’t overuse the 303. Spray it onto a rag, wipe the item with that, and then wipe again with a clean dry rag.

I applied it to the insides as well
I treated the hatch rims, plus the hatch covers inside and out. From now on I will leave the hatch rims and the insides of the hatch covers untreated, on the Explorer. The Tempest I will continue to treat as before.

The new boat is super-easy to roll
The downsized keyhole cockpit makes the difference between easy and don’t-even-think-about-the-hipsnap. Now I know what it’s like to be an “average” sized paddler, as far as contact area goes. I can hang upside down and move around without fear of losing grip on the boat. And wet exits are still easy. Getting INTO the boat rightside up is less forgiving–no more mindless plopping the butt into the seat and pulling legs inside. But it’s still easy enough.

New boats at the time
The hatch covers werent stretched as they were new and very snug before I 303’d them. Its clearly a case of misuse (overuse) on my part. I havnet used it since but now after a few years most of them can be done - lightly this time.

Can 303 help neoprene covers? - the CD breeze has them under the plastic hatch covers and they are cracking around the edge parts that bend (age related as 04’s but barely used)

Is it a rigid hatch or a rubber hatch??

“when I turned around to look
the day hatch was gaping open …”

day hatch = rubber hatch cover

all rubber covers
Some are like bottlecaps ie WS/Perception but the P&H and Current Designs are a better rubber cover-kayaksport hatches.

It’s a lube, not a stretcher
(Sounds vaguely suggestive.)

303 is meant primarily for UV protection, but it does have the side effect of making things more slippery. How slippery depends on how much you put on. It should not be left oily-looking.

What you think is stretching is the effect of added slipperiness.

I doubt if it will restore neoprene that has aged and cracked already. 303 preserves rubber products, which neoprene is. But once rubber is dried out and cracked, it’s already damaged.

Sounds vaguely suggestive

Ain’t much UV exposure on the
back side of a hatch.

on my paddle made it real slippery. took a while to wash off the grip…

thanks for the warning… my hatch covers are on there real tight but the last thing I need is to have one of those come off out in the middle of nowhere…

good thing i was too frugal to 303 the inside hatches