23 July 2009

SHOP: underdeck storage

And just when the dust had settled over the "must have" 3rd hatch (aka day hatch) some new models of sea kayak are starting to sport the 4th hatch.
Hey, I have even seen one with two day hatches and not sure if there was a 5th hatch... that's just getting silly.
Soon we will have kayaks with more hatches than pockets on a pair of 90's cargo pants.
Admittedly I find the day hatch a great idea: easy access and safer than one big rear compartment that if left open and flooded could seriously compromise safety.
Com'on, hands up who has not left accidentally the day hatch open after retrieving an on-water snack...
Now if that was done while paddling in rough seas and water would have filled the big rear compartment... you get my drift.
So, I find the day hatch great for items that I want to access during a paddle.
What I was missing is a storage area that would be in front of me.
Somewhere to put my water.
Paddling makes me thirsty, especially in tropical environments like summer in Queensland.
Water bottles under the bungees of the deck just don't cut it.
Beside the fact that they inevitably get washed away in rough seas, they just don't hold enough liquid for long paddles.
I have been using a large water bladder with a drinking hose to stay hydrated that I have been storing behind the seat.
The bladder is secured so won't come out in case of a wet exit but the hose stays under deck, under the spray deck (I was not going to say "skirt" in case somebody might question my sexual preferences :-)
I could feed the hose through the tunnel of the spray deck but inevitably I would forget to remove it before getting out of the kayak.
Not to mention my "occasional" swims in the surf zone :-)

So I was rather excited when I spotted a very neat under deck storage in Greg's kayak.
That's just the ticket. I needed one too.
I could have my water there, out of the way of my feet and I could route the hose through the deck.

Greg's underdeck bag is smaller than mine: he stores smaller items there.
I need one big enough to hold 4 Lt of water.
I use a MSR Dromedary water bladder as hydration system.

Of all the bladders that I have used to date, the Dromedary is still the most durable with its tough 1000 denier nylon that can easily be patched in the unlike event of accidental puncture.
I have never experienced a split seam and the wide opening allows for easy filling.
The perimeter webbing serves as anchor points for lashing it down securely.
On the bottom of my kayaks cockpit I have epoxied-in small anchor point to secure a 10 Lt Dromedary bag for very long trips that require excess water supplies.

My drinking hose now sits neatly on the deck in front of my cockpit.
I can grab the spigot in any sea conditions and can drink from it without having to pop the deck open and potentially allow a wave fill my cockpit.
Obviously the deck had to be drilled to allow the hose through.
(Routing the hose between the coaming lip and the spray deck ends up pinching the hose and restrict flow)
The hose also needs a coupling for easy attachment to the bladder.
A special self sealing plastic coupling was sourced from CPC (included on some water bladders).

modified Nalgene cap with CPC coupling

The drinking hose stays permanently attached to the deck while the bladder is stored when not in use.

To keep the bladder from going funky between uses I store mine in the freezer.
That means less room for the Häagen-Dazs but I never have to taste mouldy water.

I fabricated small saddles made from fibreglass (and carbon for "bling effect").
I draped several layers of epoxy impregnated fibreglass cloth over a small diameter tube and covered it with balking paper.
I placed a wooden board on each side of the tube to create a sharp "tunnel" shape.

After it cured I cut sections from my shaped plate and made saddles.
I secured the saddles on the underside of my kayak's deck with microfiber thickened epoxy.

The underdeck bag is made from mesh shade cloth material.
The perimeter is sewn with flat tape creating a casing for the cord that holds the bag onto the saddles.The exact shape of the bag will depend on one's needs.

My bag had to be large enough for the 4 Lt Dromedary bladder.

anchor points for 10 Lt Dromedary visible on bottom of cockpit
The underdeck bag I slightly 3D with two darts to make it belly shaped.
A slit in the front with a bit of elastic to allow easy stowage completes the bag shape.

I can now drink all I want (water I mean) and prevent a dehydration caused headache at the end of the day.

*A= magnetic switch (details here)
B= main sheet cleat (details here)
C= compass Suunto Pioneer


  1. Hi!

    Thx for sharing! Detailed explanation and very easy to follow instructions. I haven't thought about using the space under deck as a storage for a water bladder. My water bottles on deck are often lost in even moderate sea.

  2. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing with us and keep the ideas coming.

  3. nice idea, but most of the folks I paddle with (for week long camping trips) gave up on the MSR dromedary bags due to the foul tasting water after a few months of use.

  4. Tom, I have been using Dromedary bags for 8 years now. Most times the bags will have water in them for a few days to a week or so.
    So far I have had no problem with foul tasting water however I know of one person that ruined several Dromedary bags after filling water from a suspect source. He could not get rid of the foul taste. BTW, I never add anything to the water (sweetener, fruit juice etc.)

  5. Thanks for sharing the explanation and the instructions. I haven't thought about using the space under deck as a storage for a water bladder. The instructions are easy to follow. Source Outdoor

  6. Great instructions; thanks for posting. Which fittings did you use from CPC?

    1. I don't know the CPC part number since the fitting came with a water bladder.

  7. Very nice idea.
    One question though:

    "The perimeter is sewn with flat tape creating a casing for the cord that holds the bag onto the saddles.The exact shape of the bag will depend on one's needs."

    Did you drill extra holes for the saddles or did you stick them on? If so what did you use to stick them?

    1. The saddles are made from fibreglass and I attach them with epoxy glue.


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