It's puzzling why anyone would ship a kayak kit without the essential accessories that all paddlers use: hatches for gear storage, bulkheads to create watertight compartments for safety in a swamping, and deck rigging for storing gear on deck, including that critical safety device, the paddle float.
Making kit builders pay extra for these features makes good sense for profits, but no sense at all for the builders. Chesapeake Light Craft kayak kits include hatches, bulkheads, and deck rigging at no extra cost.
Hatches on CLC kayak fall into two categories: flush, or deck-mounted. The flush hatches provide a very sleek appearance and, since they are cut from YOUR deck, the grain will match exactly:
These hatches are a sophisticated installation, easy to build but tight and elegant. The assembly includes a sill mounted beneath the deck, and a rim in which the hatch gaskets engage to maximize the water-tightness. Hatch toggles are the usual closure system, but many opt for an invisible scheme to hold the hatches on.
Flush hatches are available for all of our models and are standard on Shearwater, Wood Duck, Guillemot, Auk, Night Heron, and other kayaks.
Deck-mounted hatches are a little simpler and look like this:
In this system, which is standard on the Chesapeake series of kayaks, the hatches are shaped atop frames and held in place with webbing and buckles. Uncountable thousands of CLC kayaks have been fitted with these, and magazine reviewers have praised the system unanimously for its effectiveness.
Watertight bulkheads complicate the construction of a kayak and make it more expensive for the manufacturer, but are such an essential safety feature that watertight bulkheads have been standard on CLC boats since 1996. Most of our kayak fleet has a watertight bulkhead at the front and rear of the cockpit, as shown here. The Wood Duck 10 and 12 have just one watertight bulkhead, behind the cockpit.
Here are the bulkheads in a Shearwater 17 kayak:
Simply indispensable for a serious paddler, and standard in all CLC kayak kits at no extra charge.
The layout will vary slightly from one kayak to another based on form and function, but this Shearwater Sport's outfitting is typical:
Behind the cockpit is a criss-cross of bungie cord for a paddle-float re-entry. Read more about that here. In front of the cockpit is another bungie cord "X" that will hold your chart or other small items you need to reach for while on the water. Deck-rigging can get quite elaborate; read here for more about how to outfit an expedition kayak.
Bungie cord is held onto the deck with webbing loops and fasteners. We use the webbing loops because they are soft and low-profile and thus won't hurt or snag on your clothing as you slide across the deck in a paddle float re-entry.