Skin-on-Frame Hatches and Bulkheads:
Peter’s F2 Modification, South Australia

A note from Brian:

People frequently ask me about hatches and bulkheads in a skin-on-frame kayak. Having gone down this road many years ago I concluded that the time and effort involved is a bit of a mismatch to the elegant simplicity of skin-on-frame. I’m not against hatches, I just think they make more sense in rigid kayaks. It is true, however, that a skinboat with float bags takes on a lot more water in a rescue scenario. For me this isn’t enough to justify the build time, expense, and complexity, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done!

The following text and pictures were sent to me by Peter of South Australia who has built 3 of my kayaks and paddles them constantly with his wife. I’m very impressed by the creativity and technical execution of his hatches and bulkheads so I just thought I’d share this for anyone thinking about going down the same path. Keep in mind, if you try this you must do it WELL, because if a bulkhead or hatch seal fails, you will end up in a MUCH worse situation than if you had float bags, because there will be no way to get the water out. Also pictured here are Peters electric bilge pump and skeg, both very clean installations as well!

I am Peter from South Australia I have built 2 F1’s and more recently the F2. Which I must say is one fantastic double. As my wife and I are both 73 we were finding the pulling in and out of float bags was getting a bit of a pain especially on 4-5 day trips we enjoy doing. So I had been toying with the idea of bulkheads and hatches for sometime, and finally came up with a concept that could work. So bit the bullet and strpped the F2 down to a skeleton and set about my work. the Idea was to use 40mm minicell foam ( we call it closed cell )  for the bulkheads. The idea being that it was rigid enough to hold shape and yet had enough give as not to create a shear point on the fabric.

Nothing was changed from gunwale downwards. because the performance is fantastic, leaving all but the long 7.2 meters Mirage in its wake, and of course no comparison to the plastic Bath tubs.

So now we have deck hatches, a day hatch and a cockpit that fits us, keeping water to a minimum in case of a capsize. A very accurate template was made of the location of the bulkhead and a bead of Sika FC 11 was the applied as the fabric was stretched over the kayak to create a bond and seal. 

We have been using it regularly for about 5 months now and no problems have arisen yet. Also as we now have a 2.2M2 pacific action sail on it a made a skeg to help with drift and weather cocking. The images should explain most of it if not just ask.



View posts by Peter
Hi I am Peter a energetic young 70 year old that has come back to kayaking after an absence of about 45 years. I enjoy working with my hands and always making or creating something. Building skin on frame kayaks fills both of my needs. Have worked in the building industry most of my life, about ten years ago turned to photography for my semi-retirement job. I want to be able to work as long as possible and kayaking is keeping me fit. I already own a west greenland kayak in which I am learning to roll.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top