What's on deck?
Page 7 of 8
You're going to spend a lot of time putting stuff into your hatches and taking it out again, so it's worth paying some attention to the hatches before you buy the boat. In a perfect world, every hatch cover would be a snap to open and 100% watertight in all conditions. Unfortunately, there's still no perfect hatch-cover. Our guides favor the simplest solution, the rubber ones that go on like Tupperware. The seal is as good or better than the more complex systems with cool-looking cross straps and inner liners, and there's a lot less to fool with, adjust, and fix.
A transatlantic feature that's finally catching on among North American kayak manufacturers is the "day hatch" - a third hatch, right behind the cockpit, close enough to reach any time. This means you don't have to call over a friend to go into your forehatch and dig out your sunscreen or munchies when you're on the water. A less obvious advantage of having a day hatch is that it usually means there's a third water-tight compartment in the boat. Recently, we were doing some kayak surfing and had a traffic accident, the equivalent of a fender-bender, it seemed. In fact, the "victim's" boats' day hatch compartment had been damaged enough to flood completely. Had it not been a separate compartment, the whole stern would have flooded. Although the boat wouldn't have sunk completely, it would have been hanging straight up and down in the water, making for the very difficult rescue paddlers call the "Cleopatra's Needle" scenario.
Decklines are vital, but there are still some boats that are sold without decklines running all the way forward and all the way back. If you capsize, decklines are the indispensable "handles" that your rescuer needs to come to grips with your boat, get the water out of your boat, and stabilize it while you get back in. Like a boat without at least two fully watertight compartments, a boat without full decklines isn't a sea kayak. It's a beach toy.
Atlantic Kayak Tours, Expert Center
Copyright (c) 2014 Atlantic Kayak Tours, Inc. All rights reserved.