Accessing the space within – adding a front bulkhead hatch!

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kayakfari flex maslan inside front hatch sea kayak whole seda glider bulkhead storage space banana boat

Exploring a sea kayak cockpit from the inside out. Note the hatch opening inside the front bulkhead!
CLICK for interactive VR panorama!

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My early production Seda Glider originally came equipped with only a very small 8″ VCP style hatch in the front. The Glider, aka the “Banana Boat” is a long boat, almost 20 feet, and the front hatch compartment has a lot of room. Unfortunately all that space went mostly unused because many items just would not fit through that tiny opening. It was kinda like ice fishing trying to get any gear out!

Thus one of the very first modifications I did to the Banana Boat was to install an additional hatch into the front fiberglass bulkhead itself. I used the Henderson watertight locker door, type TCL4, which is still sold today. This is a 9 1/4″ hatch OD with a 7″ internal opening.

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The cockpit of the Seda Glider from the seat forward to the access hatch in the bulkhead.
Long items load into the front hatch storage space through the cockpit!

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The opening might not seem very big, but since it is inline with the boat, it allows for long items to be shoved in and out of the front hatch through the cockpit. Camping chairs and long tripods are no problem at all! It also allows for storage and transport of one piece paddles inside the kayak.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch bulkhead lid henderson photo upgrade banana boat storage Miami Florida

The large yellow shelf inside the Glider cockpit was another early modification that I made to the “Banana Boat“.
CLICK for story!

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In my opinion, this is about as large a hatch as is prudent to install in a typical sea kayak bulkhead. Anything smaller would be pointless unless you just want an opening to poke Greenland sticks through. Anything bigger would likely compromise the integrity of the bulkhead!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch bulkhead lid henderson photo upgrade banana boat storage Miami Florida

Seda Glider front bulkhead from inside the cockpit.

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Installing the Henderson hatch into a fiberglass bulkhead was straightforward. I traced and then cut out the circular opening with a hacksaw. A dremel type tool would be quicker, but be sure to wear eye protection and a respirator. Cutting fiberglass at 30000 rpm creates lots of microscopic dust that gets into everything!

In my case, the only complication was that I also had to notch out a small section into the circle to allow me to push the lid door through to the other side of the bulkhead. This was because it wouldn’t fit through that small VCP front hatch opening! I then re-glassed that little bit with some fiberglass mat that you can see in the imagine above at 2 o’clock.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch bulkhead lid henderson photo upgrade banana boat storage Miami Florida

Closeup of the Henderson watertight locker door, type TCL4 installed in the front bulkhead on my Seda Glider sea kayak.
(image shown reversed so you can read the type)

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In theory you could install this lid into plastic or even possibly foam bulkheads, but be careful so as not to compromise the hull integrity by weakening the bulkhead too much. Foam bulkheads are especially susceptible to this because they probably also keep the hull from oil-canning in many cases!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch bulkhead lid henderson photo upgrade banana boat storage Miami Florida

Henderson locker door, view from inside the front hatch compartment. Note the curved and tapered bulkhead as factory installed by Seda. A nice touch indeed!

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Like any screw lid, the Henderson hatch cover is easy to start cross threaded. The good news is that it won’t cross thread very far, that is as long as you use the ‘gentle touch’. With a little practice and care you’ll quickly know if you’re ‘screwing it right’, and it only takes maybe a couple of turns to seal. This lid has proven quite sturdy, still going strong after over 20 years in the boat!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch bulkhead lid henderson photo upgrade banana boat storage Miami Florida

Inside the front hatch compartment with the Henderson bulkhead hatch door lid open.

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I used this system for many years and it worked pretty well as long as the boat was on the ground or on a beach where I could be right next to the cockpit to pull things in and out of the hatch. However, things got real tricky if I was above the boat, as on a chickee platform for instance. It proved to be almost impossible to shove things through the cockpit while hanging off a chickee, two, three or more feet above it!

Finally, after a Wilderness Waterway Everglades through trip, I got tired of the tiny factory installed VCP front hatch and removed it completely. As you can see below, the unloved VCP hatch has since been replaced with a much larger and more useful oval hatch. This has been the best thing that’s ever happened to the Banana Boat! 🙂

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kayakfari flex maslan inside front hatch sea kayak whole seda glider bulkhead storage space banana boat

Exploring the front hatch from the inside out. Note the hatch opening into the front bulkhead and larger oval main hatch!
CLICK for interactive VR panorama!

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As it is now, the Henderson bulkhead hatch is mostly a carry over from the past. It still comes in handy, sometimes to transport paddles or other long items (like poles) inside the boat, out of sight.

This is an easy way to add some functionality to most any boat, if there is the need. Please note that the watertight bulkheads on most sea kayaks are a key safety feature that should never be compromised! If you decide to add an access port like this, be sure to think it through and test for any leaks before venturing out!

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Enjoy!

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© 2016 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

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I hereby disclaim any sponsorship, endorsement, nor association with any product or service described herein. The photographs, depictions, products, and ideas presented on this site are for informational purposes only. Your results may vary, and I do not imply nor guarantee the effectiveness, suitability, design or operation to adhere to any standard. I assume no legal responsibility for the implementation of anything herein presented! Use any and all information at your own risk! By using any and all information from this website, you accept the final liability for any use or possible associated misuse! 

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! Bless

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