How to make hatches?


I was wondering if anyone had some experience of making rigid hatches in the deck and cockpit.

The obvious and easy solution is a hole in the deck/cockpit, covered with dacron/tape. But wouldn’t you have to replace the patch every time the you have to “turn off” the boat if the switch is bellow deck? Or is it really not a problem?

Maybe a spring/elastic loaded rigid hatch would make it quicker to access the inside, but will it be water tight? what is your experiences? Also thought of just putting the switch outside, but those water proof switches seems to damn expensive, and maybe a bit of a gamble.

The last thing is the paint job. I’m sure rigid hatches painted in the same color will look better than having some tape hatches in a slightly off color. But is it worth the weight penalty, compared to tape hatches?

Any ideas opinions are welcome.


Hi Anders,

on my IOM I used to have sticky dacron tape to close the deck opening and it worked fine. I had the switch outside so I only had to remove the patch when I needed to replace my battery or if there was a problem with the rudder servo. My boat being really waterproof, I had very little water inside if any but if your boat is not that watertight then you should forget about this solution as you’d have to remove the tape too many times for it to stick again or use another one. the main drawback is to stick the patch back on as when it’s windy or rainy the deck remain wet or damp and it’s harder to stick another patch on as you need a cloth to dry as much as possible around the opening to stick the new patch on.

on my new IOM I still have dacron patches to cover the rudder servo and an extra opening in the deck but I only take them out at home after the sailing is finished to get plenty of air circulating though the hull. no need to take them out during racing as I use a pot (medical pot) when I put my Rx and battery so I can easily open and close the pot anytime regardless of the weather or how wet is the boat. Find this a great solution to change battery very quickly between races and to keep the electrics dry as the bottom of the pot is slightly above the bottom of the hull if water find its way in the hull. so this is a great solution but no necessarily the most aesthetic - but what I’d do to “hide” it is either a sliding hatch above it (assumes that the pot is completely below the deck line or a raised cockpit also sliding above it. This should give the appearance of a more realistic boat but with the ease of access to most of the electrics in the boat.

On my Jet Service 2 replica I use hatches that fit in a recess (with a small band of insolation foam at the bottom of the recess) built in the deck, attached to the bottom with an elastic but I also put a dacron tape on the join hatch-deck to increase waterproofing during sailing but remove the tape when the boat is for show. Find them good compromise between aesthetic and purpose when sailing.

Hope this helps.

Hi Anders,

The hatch system that I use involves a plastic lid from a can top (coffee can for example) and a fabricated rim that matches the original can’s rim. The plastic lid then works just like it does on the can, watertight, easily removable, and light weight. I currently use a Pringles potato chip can lid.

The rim can be fabricated with thin strips of fiberglass sheet or .5mm plywood. Use the interior of the can as a mold.

  1. Trim a wide strip of thin fiberglass sheet (account for the rim height, the height above the deck, and the thickness of any interior structure the hatch combing will attach to) and fit it into the inside of the can so the two ends butt. Ca glue an extra strip that overlaps the joint. Be sure not to glue the fiberglass cockpit strip to the can!
  2. Trim enough thin, long strips (the height of the can’s rim) to wrap around the lip of the wide strip enough times to match the can’s rim’s outer edge. Ca glue one strip at a time around the lip of the cockpit strip, and trim so that the ends butt. Hint: making these strips slightly bigger than the can’s rim height allows some wiggle room if the strips are not perfectly aligned as you build up enough layers to match the can’s rim’s outer diameter. You can always sand them to dimension but adding to them is more involved.
  3. Pull the new cockpit out of the can and do any finish sanding or re-gluing. To test the fit with the plastic lid put the new cockpit back in the can with the fabricated rim above the rim of the can. This way the can will keep the new hatch combing rigid while you make adjustments to fit the plastic lid.

Don’t worry if the first couple of rims don’t come out perfectly. It may take a couple of stabs at it to get the feel for the hows and the whys. My first ones were pretty mangled. Once you get it down though you will probably make hatches this way forever.

Hi guys…

Thanks for the replies. I’m still a bit in doubt of how to do it. The can option is a good solution, but i think it is to late to adopt this solution for my Iacc project. I think i will prepare the deck for rigid hatches. But start off with tape, As I predict quite alot of work to make that solution work well.

But thanks, the can option is defenetly to be considered for the next project.


Check/search for my RG65 thread/photos of “Dirty Deeds” -the boat I built for my son-in-law. I used thin balsa along with a small amount of structural pieces to make a “hard” hatch for his RG65. Works great, is easy to take on and off, and leaves a lot of room to get at the internal electronics.



here are some pics of what I did for my EC12 and also for my American Eagle rg65 as I wanted a smooth deck, and was willing to pay the price for the extra grams

the hatch has two pins that mate up with two holes ont he deck. and on the back edge of the hatch opening has a lip that keeps the hatch from falling into the hull. I used the furry side of the velcro as a “watertight seal” it works kinda… on the American eagle is going to me more of a decorative boat, and a fun build, so I don’t expect it to see mych water use so i was not as concerned with a good seal. but woudl be easy enough to grab some tape in a pinch.

a small loop of string on the aft end of the hatch gives me something to grab onto so I can remove the hatch…

soling has a molded hatch, victoria has a slide hatch, and other rg have a combination of tape/plastic


Encouraged of the fact that a rigid hatch could work, and that tape hatches could give me problems in wet conditions, I just made this little principle model.

Below is some pictures of what I was thinking.

Blue(ish) parts is the deck.
Geen(ish) parts is the hatch.
Red(ish) parts is the holding mechanism.
Purple is elasting/bungee

I was thinking to make a indention in the deck for each hatch, and put some seal in the bottom around the edge. The seal could be a silicone o-ring or maybe a neoprene gasket. The holding mechanism could me bade of a molded carbon profile. The elastic wraps around the CF profile to gain some length. The holding mechanism hooks to the bottom of the deck, and can easily be removed when needed.

Top view, bungee stretched.

Bottom view, bungee stretched.

Section view, hatch in place.

I haven’t done any calculations on the weight gain of this, but i think the holding mechanism could be less than 10g, and the hatch would not be much more than the deck would be anyway. In a race situation the hatches could be replaced with tape, but in the day to day sailing I’m sure I will be happy for the rigid hatches… Only problem at the moment is that I have 5 hatches in my design, which I might have to do something about.

Didn’t give this access thing any thought. Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking… :smiley:


Hi Anders,

I thought about bungy attached to the hatch idea you have out-lined, only problem I found was when you want to open the hatch, the bungy keeps the hatch cover around the hatch area, making hand access a bit of pain.

I’m from the dracon camp, the only initial problem I had was when you peel the dracon back to open the hatch that you can peel paint off also, to avoid this problem I now cut slightly larger patch & cut out hatch shape, kinda works like a gasket, then stick the hatch patch on top and no more paint peeling.

Dracon patches used this way can be used multi number of times (no need to have new ones all the time) providing when you take them off you put them back onto wax proof backing paper and keep the gasket surface dry when sticking patches back into position, otherwise it will not seal.

I have 3-4 patches on most of my boats to access to various areas if I need it for repairs etc. but I only ever take ONE patch off for changing the battery, here I put the battery in the boat before I leave home & rely on waterproof switch for turning power ON/OFF during the day … just need to remember to turn power ON when boat goes back in the water …had few occasions swimming after my boat …believe me, you learn pretty quickly through experience.

I’ve experienced no problem with Dracon, it’s easy, quick and 100% waterproof.

During the day condensation builds up inside the hull and if you have water ingress you need a simple & quick drainage system. With each boat I build I put 6 mm hole in the deck at the bow and use silicon bung.

Sailing in salt water waterproofing electrics is critical, I have seen how black rot slowly eats cables and runs into lot of head scratching trying find the problem that you cannot see. Seal all wire connections with silicon then put heat shrink tube over all connections.

Medical pots being round are little awkward for AC 120s, here I found square tooth pick plastic box with clip lid works perfectly and I’ve built it into the keel bridge so can slide it out of the hatch, if needed.

Cheers Alan

Hi Alan

Uhhh, so many decisions to make and no personal experience to help. The dracon solution is so appealing, as it so damn simple. I’m now heeling towards this solution. If I end up with problems, I guess I can always convert to the rigid hatch solution. I’m so hungry to get on the water now, that I have to choose the easy way out.

I’s too late for me to put a toothpick box (:D) in, I will have to rely on silicone sealing of components. Will properly be bonding the internal stuff this weekend, and start deck and rig fabrication. More will follow in the other thread…


Hi Anders,

my 2 cents :

The use of Vaseline with the linear ‘O’ is quite effective and can be glued with cyanoacrylate glue.
‘O’ ring can be done with fuel type tubes as used for fly/car model engines.

Felt can be also obtained from one of the Velcro tape.



with your method. a small hook on the bottom of the hatch and a small hook directly below the hatch glued to the hull and you bunjee of choice could be as simple as a rubber band.

the only problem with this would be if you need the hull space for the sail winch arm/sheets witch could foul up with the rubber band…

to keep in place the hatch a couple of hooks or pivoting blades can be used, further it is also possible to use small furniture magnets !

Anders, so much choices and all great solutions. if you’re in a hurry to get your boat on the water then I’d go for the dacron patches as they’re the quickest to implement and they’ll keep your electric dry - if in doubt you can use 2 layers but I never had too.