Shop Tips » Fitting Out Your Boat
Flush Mounted Deck Hatches
As long as there have been CLC boat kits, there have been builders who designed and installed flush-mounted deck hatches. The stock hatches are easy to build and use; builders universally acknowledge that they keep the water out. But, it's a natural gesture to ponder flush hatches – who wants to break up that wonderful sweep of varnished Okoume decking with hatches? Let's assume your boat has no hatches yet. Here's how to install flush hatches:
- If you're very, very careful, you can cut out the hatch opening with a bonsai saw and reuse this piece (with its matching grain) as the hatch cover itself. You can use the standard Chesapeake hatch shape, or make them round or elliptical, or any shape you like.
- All CLC boats have some deck camber, and the hatch cover will have to match this very closely. The best way to do this with our boats is to laminate a second layer of 4mm Okoume to the underside of the hatch cover. Use a temporary mold to hold the radius while the glue dries; the mold should have a 1" tighter radius than the actual deck to allow for a little "springback."
- The hatch sill is built up beneath the hatch opening. It's like a reverse cockpit coaming. If your hatch is 8mm (two layers of 4mm), the sill needs to be about a 3/8-inch deep to allow for gasket material. Two layers of 4mm plywood, cut from scrap, work nicely for this.
- While the hatch cover is drying on its mold, glue the hatch sill spacers in place. Do a few dry runs and try to trim the spacers to exact shape. It's tricky to sand them smooth later if the alignment is off. Use as many small C-clamps as you can collect.
- The hatch sill itself is made of 4mm and should protrude into the hatch opening about 3/4-inch. After the sill spacers have dried and you've sanded them smooth, clamp and glue the sill into place.
- When all is cured, apply foam gasket material to the finished and epoxy-coated sill.
Any number of hatch hold-down mechanisms are possible. You can use webbing and side release buckles screwed into the sill spacers, or tiny wooden cams. Some clever hatch builders have even created invisible hold-down mechanisms, such as a bungie cord that holds the hatch tightly in place. See our Shop Tip Installing Flush Hatches Without Toggles.
The Flush Hatch Kit comes standard on the Arctic Hawk, Shearwaters, and Sea Island Sport. You can purchase a Flush Hatch Kit for most of our other kayak models. The kit includes hatch cover laminates, sill spacers, hatch sills for fore and aft hatches, and more detailed instructions.