The Hobie Outback comes fitted with two 8” ‘Twist & Seal’ hatches, however hatch bags are only available as an optional extra on the 6” hatches. Having a hatch that opens into the hull of the kayak is only really useful when it comes to rigging access or perhaps stuffing a small dry bag in there. If it’s to be really useable it needs some sort of container to allow gear to be stored and not to roll around the inside of the kayak.
The only real solution I could find was to insert a collapsible ground bait bowl into the hull. I originally tried to insert the large version (32cm) of the Daiwa Airity bowl into through the centre 8” hatch. I managed to break the re-enforcing hoop in the process, perhaps if I’d inserted it via the front hatch that might not have happened!. However, it turned out that the bowl tended to collapse and move about, as well as not sitting well on the semi-cathedral hull shape of the Outback.
I liked the idea of a large soft bag inside the hull, though it needed to be supported to be useable. I decided to remove the centre hatch to check out the possibilities. I was pleasantly surprised at the makeup of the hatch. The hatch cover is held in place with self-tapping screws (initially not a pleasing thought), though it transpired that these screws pass directly through the hull into a circular backing plate. This wasn’t expected and potentially made a solution far easier.
I removed the metal support hoop from the canvas bowl before making a small incision and removing the broken hoop. The same method could be used after cutting an intact hoop with a pair of wire cutters. The bowl was about 2” larger in diameter than the circular backing plate for the hatch. I removed some material (triangular cuts) from the top edge of the bowl by making it possible to ‘neatly’ fold the bowl edges over the backing plate. I used Evo-Stik 528 impact adhesive to glue the edges of the bowl onto the upper surface of the backing ring.
To neaten the job up and to provide an even sealing surface when re-fitting the bag, I added a ring of neoprene to the top of the bag.
Basically that was the job completed, however, I carry a hand operated bilge pump on the kayak. This raised the question of how would I pump water from the kayak when the centre hatch had a waterproof hatch bag fixed into place?. This was a concern so I decided to add mesh panels into the sides on the bag. I purchased some plastic mesh design to keep leaves out of rain gutters.
I removed a couple of pieces of the bowl using a sharp knife. The bowl is constructed with a plastic type outer material with a mesh inner layer. The plastic mesh was slipped in between these two layers and glued into place using contact adhesive. I found it best to do one edge at a time, a little time consuming, though it results in a neat finish. Should the kayak flood internally, the hatch bag will also flood. This still permits me to use a manual bilge pump through the centre 8” hatch. The vented panels will also permit air flow which will aid drying when the kayak is in storage.
The above photo shows two mesh panels at the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions, the finished item has four panels, with the other two at the 3 & 9 o’clock positions.
The bag assembly weighs very little and inserted through the front hatch and pushed back into position. It’s just a case of then screwing it back into place. That’s the job completed and the finished product cost around £10. It provides a huge amount of useable internal storage space, especially when you compare it to a standard manufacturers hatch bag.
The photograph above perhaps doesn’t do the bag justice. The hatch opening is 8”, the bag diameter internally is almost 13” and the bag depth is 8”... that’s over 20 litres (4.4 gallons, UK/5.3 gallons, USA).