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by Joel Fleischer - Marquette, Michigan - USA - Black Dog Kayaks

To Your Skin-On-Frame Kayak

One of the advantages of a skin-on-frame kayak is that it is light and easy to handle, both in the water, and out. So it would seem that the SOF kayak is ideal for ultra-light kayak camping, right? The problem is, how can you carry enough gear to camp out of an SOF kayak?

There is a simple solution to this problem. Bring enough gear to camp, eat, sleep, etc. So, how do I do that in a Skin-on-Frame kayak? After all, you can only stuff so much in the kayak through the cockpit.

Simply put, you need to carry enough gear in your kayak to be self-sufficient. But, how do you do that in an SOF kayak? Elementary, my dear Watson! Add hatches to your SOF kayak!

In the photo below, using kayak hatches in conjunction with gear/float bags, I was able to pack a week's worth of gear into an SOF kayak for a week long trip to the Apostle Islands in Northern Wisconsin. Not counting paddling gear, i. e., wetsuit, PFD, paddles, etc., I was able to keep the weight down to twelve pounds of gear. Note that the camping weight does not include food, but does include a box of wine.

In the example below, we used the 8" 1/4 Turn Hatch offered by Duckworks.

Follow along as we install hatches into a skin-on-frame kayak.

Step One:

Cut the hole. Lay the base of the hatch on the skin and trace the inner dimension of the opening with a sharpie.

This is the biggest leap of faith you'll take in this process. Once you put a hole in your skin-on-frame kayak, you have to go on. Once you put the knife in the kayak, there's no turning back!

Once you've taken this leap of faith, you need to make sure that it's done in a way that achieves the desired result!

Step Two: Cut out the space so that the kayak hatch fits snuggly within the hole.

Step Three:

Cut the inner ring. Trace the base of the hatch on the bucket lid and cut out the base.

Step Four: Smear a layer of GOOP on the top surface of the bucket ring.

Place the ring on the inside of the hole you cut in the skin, and clamp. Clothespins work well for clamping this piece. Let the GOOP cure and remove the clamps.

Step Five: Apply GOOP to the base of the hatch cover and put the hatch base in hole. Using a #8 drill bit, at the mounting hole in the hatch base, drill a hole through the skin and the bucket ring.

Before you install the screw, put the screw into the mouth of the GOOP tube, coating the screw, and install the screw. Note that we used 3/4" #8 stainless steel screws. If you don't want the sharp points of the screws sticking out, then you should use stainless steel machine screws, locking washers, and nuts. Because the 3/4" screws don't extend past the hatch base, the sharp points have not been a problem. Another way to solve this problem would be to apply a dollop of GOOP to the point of each screw to cover the sharp point.

Drill the next hole, install the screw, and so on.

Clean up any overrun of the GOOP, let it cure, and enjoy a watertight access point on your SOF kayak.

Black Dog Kayaks offers complete plans to build a 14' SOF kayak. Plans include full-sized paper cutting templates for each frame at:

Black Dog Kayaks

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