Drilling a simple hole in your kayak can be a bit intimidating the first time you do it. Imagine what it’s like when you decide to install a hatch!
Steps to Install A Hatch in Your Kayak
First, Measure & Measure & Measure
Make sure that the hatch will fit the area to which you are installing it. You can only cut your hole once, so make certain it’s in the right spot. We measured and then drew dots and then a line on our bare boat.
Next – Make The Cut
You can use a roto-zip, jig saw or any similar cutting tool. We used a jig saw. By the way, don’t worry if you cant cut in a perfect straight line, the next step addresses this.
TIP- Make sure you save your extra plastic..it can come in handy for future bottom or hole repairs.
Clean Up The Edges
Now that you have a roughed out opening, you’ll need to clean up the sides and all the little plastic snards on the lip.
The sandpaper/file technique works fine for this. Troy has a compressor and the rotary tool really worked well and made this process much easier. It also lets you clean up the curve in your cut.
Apply Some Heat
Heat gives the plastic a little flare and really makes the opening look sharp, while taking the sharp edge off of it. Use a torch to heat up the plastic just until you see it start to shine. Work your way around the opening.
Install the Gasket
We used lacquer thinner to clean the area that the gasket adheres to.
Attach the Gasket
Starting in the center on the cockpit side, we removed the backing from the gasket and screwed it into place.
After the gasket is in place it’s a good idea to silicone the inside of it to prevent any leaking.
That’s it. It’s really not as difficult as it sounds and if you are installing a different kind of hatch (one that has to be riveted or screwed) just follow the steps until you have a rough opening, clean the opening, and rivet the hatch base on to the opening. (apply a marine silicone to the bottom of the hatch base prior to riveting to ensure a water tight seal)
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.