VCP oval hatch question

Has anyone ever had a VCP oval hatch cover come off in adverse conditions?

I am finally reading Deep Trouble and saw a story about a paddler who dislodged and lost his hatch covers. Scary thought.

VCP? No, but be careful of Wildy hatches

– Last Updated: Jan-28-06 10:27 AM EST –

I have never had either a VCP or Kajaksport hatch inadvertently come off my boat in any of the conditions I have paddled in and that includes the Triangle area at Tybee Island, GA. However, if you paddle a Wildy Tempest Pro, beware. I have had both my bow and aft hatch dislodged on several occasions durning rescue drills. Sea conditions were not a factor. It was flat. The hatches were mounted with care, so it was not user error.

Wildy's large oval aft hatch is particularly problematic on the Tempest 165. Due to the size of the hatch and the beam of the boat this hatch actually over-hangs the hull by just a smidge (Note: this is not a concern on the wider T-170 and T-180). It is very easy to hook the lip of the hatch and pull it off.

I see two possible solutions:
(1) develop a hatch that seals more securely (thank God that Wildy put tethers on their hatches)

(2) replace the oval aft hatch with one that is circular. The aft storage compartment on the Tempest 165 is not overly large. You do not need a hatch that is almost 1.5 times larger in surface area than that of a VCP to gain access to the compartment.

BTW, I love the handling of the Tempest. I'm just not of big fan of Wilderness System's in-house hatch system. From what I have heard Wildy has been working on a solution, but the prototype aft hatch I tried did not rectify the issue. It was actually easier to dislodge inadvertently because it did not seal flush with the deck.

other variables
While I do not doubt that your wildy hatch came off during rescue practice, do not use that incident categorically.

There are many photos of people I paddle with, using wildy Tempests, in BIG surf (not 6ft, much bigger), recently a friend was pitch poled in a 15ft breaking wave (the height is verifiable), and no imploded hatches (one boat was broken in a huge closeout). But, on some of these very same boats (not the same model, but the individual boats noted), one could push hard enough in the center of the rear hatch, and come close to popping it open. Conclusion- is pushing on the center a valid test?

More- after using 303 on the aft Kayaksport hatch on a Kayaksport Millenium, the hatch popped off during a rescue. A few months later, a group of WW paddler tried to paddle out into 20ft storm surf. The one using the very same Milly started to get pitch poled, gracefully turned it into a cartwheel, but then got pounded. No hatch implosions (but another broken boat).

The only consistent problem in nasty surf (in our area)has been with- Valley hatches! But read on-

it only happened with plastic Avocets, and only a few. It is important, if expecting snotty conditions, to pay attention to detail- with all these rubber hatches, and especially the Valleys, it is critical to not just fit the rim, but also tuck the lower rubber edge into the recess on the boat. On some Avocets, the rim was installed not quite centered, and this last step is impossible. It was on these boats that the hatches came off.

As an interesting note, some who experienced this think that the hatch did not “implode”, but may have been blown off when the hull was compressed, and the pressure blew it off (example- when the boat clears a big breaker in a rocket move, and then crashes down).

Interesting that on some boats (Necky Chathams) where the lower lip of the Valley hatch does not need to be be “tucked in”, stay on fine even after a major working.

The biggest problem with Wildy hatches, IMO, is inconsistent QC that leads to excessive seepage. There was also a seepage problem with some plastic Chathams with Valley hatches, but that was due to QC issues in installing the hatch rims, not with the Valley hatches.

Valley hatches are far more prone to UV damage than Kayaksport; easy to deal with by using regular treatments of 303.

Lesson? Problems may be the hatch design, more likely operator error or an issue with an individual boat.

I wouldn’t worry about Valley hatch integrity.


What Year Avocets?
I’m curious if you might know what year the Avocets were manufactured. I have a 2004 Avocet and it is difficult to seal the lip on the oval hatches (hurts my thumb), but they do seal well. I doubt they would come off, but I pay attention to getting them on correctly in the first place. The worst problem is getting them on properly when it’s very cold out. I suspect they shrink a bit with cold temperatures, or at least they are much less flexible.


re: WS hatch weepage

Yes, my Wildy hatches leak a bit too. Again the aft oval is most problematic.

I have no doubt that you can paddle the Tempest in the big swells of the NW Pacific coast. Heck, that’s were Steve S. lives and plays. :slight_smile:

I standby my statement above that there is an issue with the aft hatch on the Tempest 165, which has come off my boat several times. The same problem has only happened with my bow hatch once.

Safe paddling, Joe

This is not a cure for the problem…
but is relief for the symptoms in case you lose the hatch cover. Scroll down to the emergency hatch covers and pick out one for the large oval and one for the 7.5" round. I also have one for the 9.5" round. If you want to be really cheap, just carry a cockpit cover and a 3-4’ section of shockcord. None of these will survive large dumping surf, either, but your caution-ometer needle should be waving around pretty good by then.

Augustus Dogmatycus


re: GRO emergency covers
are a nice option.

I purchased both a round and oval GRO emergency hatch cover for my Tempest. I found that they are ideally designed for replacing VCP hatches, and will work for Kajaksport. However, you need an extra set of hands to even attempt fitting these covers on the Tempest. The Tempest’s hatch rims are a bit larger than VCP’s, so it is a real stretch (pun intended).

Would you like to buy a set? Never used. :wink:


Kajak Sport Cover Implosion
How embarrassing, once I had my Meridian SK Kayak Sport oval hatch cover implode during a recue demo when I leaned on the middle. From then on I put a bungee cord ring around the cover similar to Current Design covers. It no longer imploded due to my leaning.

Poly Avocet Hatches
They are a real bear when cold to get on or off. Can’t imagine mine coming off by accident. I always take mine off and keep them warm in the car until ready to put on before launch when it is cold. Snugging then down is great for breaking fingernails.

They’re all like that
All the boats I’ve owned with Valley oval hatches have had one thing in common; the secondary lip seal is always harder to work into the groove on one side than on the other. It’s apparently due to the hatch rim being mounted slightly off-center in the deck opening. Some were almost impossible to work into the groove at all.

Valley hatch covers are a real pain to use in cold temps, as they stiffen up considerably. They degrade much more rapidly from UV than Kajak Sport hatch covers. I spoke with Peter Orton (the new president of Valley) about this and they’re currently experimenting with other materials. Perhaps we’ll see a more durable, less temperature sensitive hatch cover material soon.

On the plus side, I’ve never had a Valley cover come off on its own or inadvertently during a rescue. They fit too tight for that to happen. The covers also float, which Kajak Sport covers don’t.

With any boat, I recommend venting the bulkheads to prevent pressure buildup that could blow off a hatch cover.

trimmed covers…
I trimmed a little material off each lips underside to help get the second seal started.

They go on much easier now.

Here is a pic…

Fitting the covers to the boat

I found the problem common on most Valley boats, glass ones too.If left this way, in time the lower hatch cover lip will become permanently

warped and not respond as well to the following fix.

Anyway, I found the solution was just to “fit” the covers using a belt sander to reduce the hatch

covers lip (out side radius). Note, Don’t sand on the rim or the boat!

Often if you look at the bottom of the hatch cover itself you’ll find one side has a wider foot print than the other. This is often the side that isvery hard if not impossible to tuck in. By carefully sanding the out side edge of that lower lip at 90 degrees to the bottom of the hatch cover on a bench top belt sander you can bring the fat side back in.

Just take a little at a time and you can get a nice custom fit that’s not too loose or thumb killing tight. Be careful not to sand the upper lip of the cover at the same time. This can be avoided by hanging the upper lip over the edge of the sander so as to keep it out of trouble. Also

keep moving so you don’t get flat spots.

I also resist the temptation to round off the bottomedge, preferring to have it “fill the void”

I like it a good snug fit, but not so tight it hurts or is a pain to deal with.

So far I have found this method to be the perfect and only fix I know for this built in

factory defect. That said, I still like the valley hatches the best.

One note, in the last year or so Valley has revamped the hatch covers,

They appear to be cast from a new mold and the plastic is of a harder nature. The edge issue may have been cleared up on these, I don’t know.

Never Had it Come Off
I’ve never had my aft hatch cover come off my 165 but… I do get a little water in the aft hatch. Whether the water comes past the cover or the skeg box has a small leak, I don’t know. I do know however that the fore hatch with the round cover stays bone dry always. Wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if WS went to a round cover for the aft hatch. I’m a daytripper anyway.


– Last Updated: Jan-29-06 9:34 PM EST –

I never had a hatch come off my Tempest while just paddling.
The problem arises with rescues.
Both self rescue (i.e. cowboy reentry) or assisted rescue drills, which involve the "victim/swimmer" coming across the fore/aft deck, will do the trick. PFD catches the hatch cover edge and Voila! My kayak becomes a "drop-top". :-o
Never had this happen with my previous boats, which sported Kajaksport and VCP hatch respectively.

Safe paddling,