The majority of today’s kayak anglers purchase a sit-on-top kayak (SOT) over the traditional sit-inside kayak. While most SOTs come from the factory with ample storage, there are aftermarket options that can make better use of the large space inside the hull. Adding a center hatch that can be accessed from a seated position not only opens up more space for storing gear, it allows for a drier storage option that can be safely used on the water. If you have ever tried retrieving gear from the bow hatch while out on the water, you know how difficult (and potentially dangerous) this can be.
This install was performed on an Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game, but the process is similar for other SOTs. Exceptional online retailers such as Austin Canoe and Kayak out of Texas sell the hatch kit detailed in this article as well as a plethora of other items at great prices.
The directions included with the kit are well written. However, for my application, there was an important modification included in this write up that is not mentioned in the supplied instructions. View the slideshow to see what comes in the package.
(NOTE – THE SLIDESHOW to the LEFT details the pictures from the entire install. Click on the SLIDESHOW to see the step-by-step process)
Center the rubber gasket and trace the inside of it using a sharpie.
Use a drill to make a pilot hole for the jigsaw blade. Take your time cutting out the rounded rectangle with the jigsaw; with the proper tools and patience, the result will come out nicely. Any imperfections can be cleaned up with sandpaper, so it is better to make the hole too small than too large. (Sidenote: Be sure to save the excess plastic rectangle that is pictured. If you ever need to make a repair to your kayak in the future, this plastic can be melted down and “welded” to repair holes or gashes.)
STEP 3 – Modification
A slight modification of the kit was required for my application. From the picture in the slideshow, one can see that the black frame of the kit is a little too wide to fit into the designated space.
To fix this issue, mask off both sides with blue tape, leaving approximately 1/8 of an inch of the plastic exposed. Use the tape line as guide as to how much plastic needs to be removed from the edges. After securely clamping the frame to a workbench, use a belt sander to carefully remove the excess plastic.
Finish up the rough edges by using a block with some 400 grit sandpaper. The fine grit sandpaper does an excellent job at leaving a “from-the-factory” finish on the plastic edge.
Place the supplied gasket on the mounting ring, drill the holes and bolt the frame down using the supplied hardware.
STEP 5 – Optional
I used an old cell phone car charger, a few zip ties and a clip to build a lid leash. When hatch lid is removed, it can be clipped to the deck so that it doesn’t accidently go overboard. Another option is to clip the lid to a section of pool noodle and leave it on the leash permanently. Even if it goes overboard, the buoyant noodle will float the lid.
Total install time is around one hour. Retailers such as Staples, Office Depot and Walmart carry medium sized plastic bins that fit nicely through the opening and offer an easy way to keep accessories and tackle organized inside the hull.
Additional Kayak Fishing Resources: Check out Paul’s up and coming kayak fishing store – Palmetto Kayak Fishing – that offers custom made goods at affordable prices. All items are built by Paul in South Carolina. Sales can be facilitated localy and through email ([email protected]) using paypal. The online store will be fully operational by mid-October.