I'm planning to build a Shearwater 17 this winter, and I'd like to use a deck plate for the front hatch. Does anyone know how wide the flat area of the front deck is? I imagine that the flat part is where CLC recommends cutting the standard hatches. If anyone has tried this, I'd like to use an 8" Beckman plate, which is actually 10" in outer diameter - any idea if that will fit and/or work generally? The reasons for using a deck plate are (i) it's watertight - not convinced with the performance of wooden flush hatches and (ii) not likely to kick up spary like a raised VCP-type hatch.
Also, for the rear hatch, I definately want to use a plastic oval hatch rather than the wood option that comes with the kit. The Kajaksport and VCP hatches are great - but really expensive. Duck Works has an oval hatch made by Seadog for less than 1/2 the price. Has anyone tried one of those, and would you recommend it?
Thanks for all your help both with this question and the myriad of questions that I've found answers to while lurking on the board.