Hatch Musings

These comments pertain mostly to a Scamp but could be applicable to other designs as well.

Here’s the deal:

Scamp offers a ton of storage, literally.  It is possible to install anywhere from 10-15 hatches in various places on this competent little micro cruiser.

Now for my question:

Since we can install hatches everywhere on Scamp, does this mean we should

Here in resides the problem.  Each and every time you cut a hole in your boat you compromise safety.  You compromise the boats integrity.  Sort of like someone telling little white lies until they get out of control and become a chronic lier, steeler or murder.  Well, that was a bit extreme, but you get the point.  It’s very easy to go Hatch Happy on a Scamp and I believe I’ve been guilty of this heinous crime.

If you think about it, the number one reason for storage compartments isn’t actually storage.  No, the number one reason for storage compartments is buoyancy.  And, if cutting holes jeopardizes buoyancy, why are we doing it?

We’re doing it for storage, dummy!  If we didn’t need storage, we wouldn’t have any holes in our boats.  OK, how much storage do we actually need?  The answer to this question depends on how we plan to use our boat.  And, once we’ve determined how much storage we actually need, let’s agree to just install this number of hatches.  No more, no less.   Now we would have a boat with sufficient amounts of storage for our needs without overly compromising the integrity of the boat with hatch overgrowth.

If I build another Scamp I’ll have a minimal number of storage hatches and probably none in the seats.  Well, almost none in the seats.  I would install 2 hatches in the vertical front face of the seats under the veranda.  At least this is my current level of thinking.

Remember also, that a dry bag secured under the veranda could easily hold a weeks worth of clothing and provisions.

Scamp is a very sea worthy micro cruiser if we don’t scandalize its sea worthiness by going hatch happy.  My confidence level in my own Scamp will be much higher if I minimize hatches and make them water tight.

In summary:

Water can’t get into your buoyancy chambers if you don’t cut a hole and allow access.  This seems overly simple, but might be profoundly true.  Read almost any boating disaster, it probably began with water intrusion.  


11 thoughts on “Hatch Musings

  1. This is an interesting topic for me Brent as I have a SCAMP in my future.

    I have a backpacking, cycle touring background so in that context the SCAMP would be luxurious. My current Chebacco 20 worked out well when my boys were younger the four of us would do a couple of camp cruises each year. The cuddy (that just sleeps two adults) would be filled like the proverbial minivan with camping gear, stores, etc. These days I am more likely to sail alone for overnighters or with wife and dog for day sails which is why I would like to down size to SCAMP.

    Some questions and comments….

    What is the storage situation in the forward cuddy? I have not looked into one of these is real life but it appears to be pretty spacious for storage.

    I have never been keen on latches on seat tops so wondering if a the seat fronts on a SCAMP are large enough to mount circular kayak type hatches.

    When building my Chebacco I recall you should not have any 100% sealed compartments – they need air flow to avoid dampness. For my boat I installed kayak hatches that I could then open when not at sea to facilitate this.


  2. Agreed. I have now read more than a few seasoned sailors (in whose company I am not, being a rank amateur) express the opinion that open boats are safer than cabin boats and that their buoyancy is best augmented by lashed-in dry bags rather than compartments.

    Separately, since I too am contemplating a future SCAMP build, can you opine how long it might take a competent woodworker (but neophyte boatbuilder) to build one from plans only, to a workboat standard of finish? You earlier stated that compared to SkiffAmerica, the SCAMP might be smaller but more intricate, and that worries me a bit. I am 62 and want to get done in weeks or months, not years. Any advice would be appreciated. Regards and keep building!

    • Seymour, thanks for your comment. Dry bags are hard to beat for functionality, portability and reliability. I plan to use 2 of them on each side up under the veranda.

      By way of build time: My first build took 1,1/2 years and I worked on my boat almost very day. I’m not fast and possibly quite picky. So, your milage may vary. I built from kit. That said, I totally enjoyed the project and never felt burdened by the tasks or regretful of the decision to build. In fact, this is a huge part of the fun for me. If I build again, it would also be from kit, yet with modifications and I would expect it to take about the same amount of time. I can’t see how anyone could accomplish this build in weeks or months. I would recommend you buy a used boat or new fiberglass boat, given your time restraints. Just my thoughts.


      • Thanks. I think I will start with something simpler, like Ross Lillistone’s Flint, which I can row for exercise, sail for fun, capsize without sinking and, if I really want to, sleep on for camp cruising. SCAMP sounds like more than I can handle.

      • Seymour, I hate to see you give up on building a Scamp due to the time it takes to finish one. Many have attended Scamp Camps where 70% of the boat is built in 7 or 8 days. You may consider this option. I will tell you that the boat is very impressive for cold water sailing and has a lot going for it. I tried to fall in love with Ross Lillistone’s First Mate, and came very close, but in the end, I’ve flipped back to wanting another Scamp. Very sea worthy, very voyaging capable, very secure in bad weather. Easily to recover in a capsize.

  3. Randy, my background and activities are similar to yours. I have found I’m most happy with the right gear, but minimal gear.

    Now for your questions:
    The front cuddy is very large and spacious. But, you should keep the total weight down, due to the narrowing of the hull in this area. It is plenty big for sleeping bags, sleeping pads and even clothing. Heavier stuff like water, stove and anchors should be place closer to the center of the boat.

    I agree with your dislike for hatches in seat tops. One reason is comfort, and the other reason is it gets in the way of cushions. I will likely use close cell seat pads like those made by C Cushions on my next build.

    The seat longitudinals will accept small hatches like 6″ circular hatches, but not much bigger. The forward face of the seat (under the veranda) could take a bigger hatch…not sure exactly how big. I would guess 10″-12″.

    I also agree with the ventilation issue. All closed areas need some way to vent for condensation and air movement. This could be accomplished with 6″ screw in hatches placed in strategic locations. I’m thinking along the centerline of the sole and countersunk so one doesn’t trip on them. One such hatch behind the water ballast area should be sufficient to ventilate all the buoyancy aft of the water ballast tank (all these bulkheads have breather holes pre drilled for air/water movement between them), especially if you do a rear lazarette. The lazarette picks up a ton of storage and could have one hatch along it’s centerline. In this sense, all centerline hatches would not be below the waterline during a capsize. Once the boat is righted, you would have water laying on the access hatches installed in the sole. So, we still need to find really good water tight hatches for this area.

    As I recall during a Scamp Skills Academy, Jackie’s Scamp experienced a ton of water below the sole, due to all the capsize drills we placed it through. This issue has always stayed with me and bothered me, to the point of me wanting to dramatically limit the chance for water intrusion. Hence, I’m searching for really good 6″ screw down hatches that would significantly limit this possibility.

    Hopefully these thoughts are helpful. They are simply my own thoughts and concerns…others undoubtably feel differently.

    I love the discussion though, so please keep it coming.


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  5. Yes. Hatches. I’m finally ready to order and install hatches on my Scamp (#333). I have found some hatches on Cabela’s website that I’m thinking of getting. One type is an aluminum frame and lid that sits flush with the seat, which I like. I don’t want to be sitting on a raised hatch cover. My preliminary measurements indicate that the “small” size will work for the seats and allow access to the center of the under-seat storage area. I also think that there should be a circular hatch on the forward end of the starboard seat to provide access to the outboard end of the centerboard pin. And I’ve closed off the aft ends of the seat framing on both sides and even fiberglassed the insides for strength and waterproofing. So I will have small, discreet, hatches on both sides of the lazerette. Which will also have a hatch, perhaps one of the flush aluminum jobs. So I guess I’m also going hatch happy.
    Regarding time to build. I started my boat at Scamp Camp two years ago and I’m at least a year away from finishing. Of the four of us at that camp, only one is getting close to finishing. It just takes a lot of time to build this boat. It seems like I’ve been rolling epoxy on for months, because I have been rolling epoxy on for months. Finally switched to 207 special hardener, which doesn’t blush.
    Regarding building from a kit or scratch, I definitely recommend a kit. This is how steel and aluminum boats and ships are built these days. Computer controlled routers can cut very precisely so you get parts that fit right from the get-go. Scamp construction is really a high-tech assembly of plywood and epoxy, so you might as well start with the high-tech-produced parts.

  6. Bruce, on my last build I used drop and go hatches (that’s my term for them) from Ductworks. They were advertised as not water proof, and indeed that was the case. I’m totally committed to try the Russell Brown hatches for this next build. Much more work (and that’s what dissuaded me the first time), but I’ve come to believe that the hatches are one of the most important safety items on a Scamp. The drop and go hatches will undoubtably work fine for many and possibly most sailors, but my objective is to make the boat even more seaworthy. Hence, I’ll be trying the RB hatches.

      • Russell, you know more than I do. I sure hope he is still supplying them…I’ll call next week. I really want to use them on this build. Sounds like I might be building my own.

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