Chesapeake 17 Hatch Closure Alternatives

I've build a NE Dory and a Shearwater Sport, both with some customizations, so I don't mind going out on a limb a bit with modifications.  I'm about to pull the tigger (before the Fall sale ends!) on a Chesapeake 17.  I installed the Shearwater Sport hatches as flush hatches (bungees loops pulling down on custom wooden hooks that I epoxied onto the hatch undersides).  I like the clean look on the deck.  I was happy to do away with the Shearwater toggles.  Now I'd like to avoid the look of the 3 big straps over the Chesapeake hatches.  Reminds me of a military backpack or something.

Anyway, who has unique solutions/suggestions for "prettying up" the Chesapeake hatches (while maintaining adequate watertight sea-worthiness)?  If you do, please suggest any additional materials (some extra plywood or whatever) I might need to include with my kit order to accomplish the modification. I'm not really interested in rubber/stretch synthetic covers - I'd like to stick with wood.  And I do want to be able to store some cargo - don't want a small bailing-port or anything like that.  I do note the hatches on the Chesapeake are cambered, not flat as on the Shearwater, so I'm sure that adds to the amount of creativity required for alternative closure systems. I'm sure there must be some good ideas out there.  Thanks in advance.

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RE: Chesapeake 17 Hatch Closure Alternatives

if you want to do a chesapeake with a flush hatch and no obvious stuff on the deck, you basically convert it to the same system as a shearwater (to get the flush element) and then repeat the same operation you described above to replace the toggles.

in terms of material, you then need a spacer and shelf piece below the hole you cut for the hatches.   the chesapeake kit comes with a seperate piece of wood for the hatch which can serve as material for the 'shelf' peice (assuming you use the same shape hatch per the plans).  with respect to the spacer piece, some 3 mm okoume is all you need and it can probably be done with 4 mm scraps that get created from the deck if you don't mind glueing a couple pieces of wood together. 

if you want to make it easy, however, i would just order the kit with the flush kit option.  see the following link:

CLC also sells a an invisible hold down kit which makes it easy.  of course you can configure your own...its just time.

to the extent you want to do something really interesting, you can also do an invisible hold down with rare earth magnets.  a little google search on the topic and stuff will come up.   but in my view, that starts to get a little too complicated for me.

hope that helps





RE: Chesapeake 17 Hatch Closure Alternatives

   Thank you so much.  And, "Duh..." now how did I miss seeing that the flush hatch kits were for sale?  Were they there 8 months ago?  I'd already seen the invisible hold down kit when I was building the Shearwater, but decided to make the hold downs on my own.  Maybe a case of not seeing what you're not looking for, and since the Shearwater hatch was already flush I wasn't looking?

I like challenges.  It is no fun having problems solved so quickly, so I'll have to think of something else to fret about now - like maybe actually getting the kayak kit on order.  Thanks again.

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