Open deck surgery on the front kayak hatch – the ultimate upgrade!

This one is not for the faint of heart. Significant deck surgery, involving cutting and fiberglass work required. Read on at your own risk!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

The original small front hatch of the Seda Glider and a pre-financial crisis Miami skyline in the late afternoon.

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My kayak, the ‘Banana Boat‘ is a 1992 model Seda Glider that originally came equipped with only a very small VCP style 8″ access hatch for the entire front compartment. This severely limited the kinds of items I could carry in the otherwise large space provided. My first step to improve access was the addition of another hatch into the front bulkhead itself, as previously described in:

Accessing the space within – adding a front bulkhead hatch!

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

Alternate access to front compartment via an additional hatch previously installed into the front bulkhead as outlined in:
Accessing the space within – adding a front bulkhead hatch!

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While this worked pretty well for carrying long items such as chairs and tripods, in practice it was a chore shoving drybags in and out through the cockpit. Loading this way also proved nearly impossible from any significantly elevated platform. In the end, the only real solution was to cut out the tiny round hatch and fiberglass in a much larger oval hatch opening.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

All of this had to fit inside the front hatch. You can see that the original tiny round opening was next to useless! Mind you, the Glider easily accommodates all this gear and more!
Shown here at the Canepatch backcountry campsite dock.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

This image illustrates the difficulty of loading the front hatch from a platform, especially on low tide!

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Why the need to carry so much stuff? Well, for me a big part of kayak touring and voyaging is my photography, so I probably end up with about twice the amount of gear of a typical touring paddler. I like to be a able to carry a 3 foot tripod or long lens. It’s also really nice to be able to take along a regular-sized folding chair – in addition! 🙂

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“Wish you were here!”
Normal size folding chair makes this view to a chill much more comfortable and enjoyable.
Shown at Little Rabbit Key in Florida Bay.

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For the new replacement hatch, I chose a much larger 11×18 inch oval hatch from SeaDog, similar to these Sea-Lect hatches available from here. It completely dwarfs the original tiny 8″ opening! The rim is injection molded plastic and the lid strong but lightweight. The new setup actually weighs a bit less than the old solid rubber Gaspachi hatch lid pictured above, so I incurred no weight penalty!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

The new oval hatch rim overlayed in position over the original factory round hatch.

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On the Glider, I determined that the best way to proceed was to leave the cockpit-side of the original rim in place, and only cut out forward. The sectioned and contoured part of the cut out was then reused and epoxied in place to form opposite ends of the new oval opening. After this cured, it was only a matter of filling in along the sides to complete the oval opening and join it to the deck. I used strips cut from styrofoam plates to add stiffness to the fiberglassed sides. A poor man’s take on foam-core sandwich construction! This method also made it relatively easy to keep the oval level and even. This was important so that the new plastic rim would epoxy properly to the deck!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

Moving things forward, literally!

Before and after!

Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

After installation of the large oval hatch, shown with an unused cutout section.

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Although I spared you the grisly details of the operation itself, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. I used a dremel disk to cut away the old plastic rim and a hand saw for the fiberglass to keep the dust levels down. Fiberglass work is relatively easy, but it is a messy job!

The end result looks pretty good I think. When snapped shut, the lid sits recessed below the deck height, just like the original small hatch. If I ever find matching yellow paint, I might even sand it down a bit more. As it is, it has also proven plenty strong over the years!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak review adventure Everglades tour banana boat Florida camping photography tech 24 years ownership

Peeking in through the much larger front hatch. Look at all that easily accessible space!
Also note the high quality inside fiberglass seam on this 1992 Seda Glider.

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

The view from within – exploring a sea kayak from the inside out!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

Oval hatch seats nicely flush for touring!
Shown in the crystal clear turquoise waters of the lower Keys.
See: Exploring a Higher Ground in the Lower Keys!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

The new lid has proven to be 100% watertight. This is the kind of access hatch that a long boat like the Seda Glider really deserves and needs!
Shown in the late summer rain at the Sweetwater Chickee campsite.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

Here’s looking at you kid!
What’s in your hatch?

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I do have to say that this is the best thing that’s ever happened to the Banana Boat! 🙂

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Seda Glider kayak tech hatch enlarge storage lid upgrade bigger oval open access banana boat Miami camp

The Banana Boat with large front hatch at sunset on a tiny sandbar in the lower Keys.
See: Higher ground in the lower Keys – Temporary space and Faith in Numbers!

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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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! Bless

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