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Hatches

How to make the hatches turned out to be one of the largest decisions of the entire kayak project. Many contradictory arguments were heard and thought of, but I decided that the esthetic aspect was one I didn't want to sacrifice. So, rubber deck hatches were out...

On the other hand, in literature and on the internet, many constructors seem to opt for a homebrew closing system, using a strip glued under the deck, around the opening for the hatch. The cutout is then used with some kind of seal, to close. My instincts yelled that there was no way to make this work reliably, even I do have the utmost respect for some of the builder's opinions.

Finally, I opted for a rubber-closure type of hatch, but I will put it under the deck, so it can't be seen. This means that the cutout only has to protect the neoprene/rubber from direct water impacts, no hermeticity required.

Cons of this system: It is surely more complicated to open and close, particularly if this has to be done for some reason on the water. Also, it poses quite some design challenges to get the hatch to fit under the Guillemot's deck, especially aft, where the deck is very flat.

The pictures

The base for the hatches is formed by two 4 mm plywood panels, glued together with quickset epoxy, at a very sligh roof-like angle. The inclination is very small, just a couple of mm. I then made the cutout, and mounted the vertical strips, just like the cockpit (the strips are only 12 - 13 mm wide).

The horizontal border of the coaming was also made from plywood, in four sections, to be able to re-utilize the material removed from the panels. The borders are here shown, while resting on pieces of scrap plexiglas, which has just the right height for the separation.

Again, I only glued the borders with a couple of drops of quick set epoxy. I distrust this glue for long term solutions, but I count on the good epoxy to fill the space when I apply the first layer of protection.

I only have a limited supply of wrenches, and decided to mount the ring in two sessions. While the first half was setting, I could adjust the form of the second half.

Here's the border glued on, after sanding the vertical strips to size.

I also applied a strip of glass to the upper surface to improve the structural resistance (here the epoxy has already set, and I I cut the cloth approximately to size.

The entire lower side of the hatch panels was also covered with fibreglass.

Continues with joining the hatch with the deck.


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(c) John Coppens ON6JC/LW3HAZ mail