Pro Tip: Hatch Covers
I have thought about the perfect raft set up for many years. While it has been a slow process I am nearing the end to piecing together my perfect build. I have a 4-bay frame by Down River Equipment on a 15' SOTAR. The front two bays have drop bags from Wet Dream River Supply. This is where most of the gear (roll table, chairs, rocket boxes, et cetera) goes with a hatch cover on top. This provides a nice big seating platform for human and dog passengers. Also a great place to sleep when nice flat camp space is limited. These hatch covers are pretty easy to make, and can be custom to fit any frame out there.
The Tools Needed
- Plywood - 15/32 or 23/32
- Circular Saw
- Jig Saw
I used 15/32 for this project to save a little bit of weight. Hopefully I don't regret not getting 23/32. Also I got sanded plywood to cut out sanding. To seal I got a water based spar urethane. Time will tell how long it lasts. I prefer spar urethane to spar varnish but both can work great.
Step 1: Cut To Size
Every frame is a different shape and size. I put my frame on top of the sheet of plywood and just traced it. I only need to cut a bit off one side and round the front to match the frame.
Step 2: Adding Notches
Since my frame can be broken down I have decided to cut notched out so the boards sit flat on the frame tubes. The middle notches will allow the two pieces to sit on the tubes nicely as well as open and close nicely as two separate pieces.
The two pieces fit together nicely and make a nice plat form for sitting as well as sleeping on. I decided to forgo a big dry box as rocket boxes fit nicely in the hatch space and allow for a cover to go over them. Also a double wide sleeping plat form is a nice option.
Step 3: Finishing Touches
Each piece got two handles for easy carrying. Also could be used to help stabilize an injured person. The small slots allow for 1' strap to act as a hinge for opening and closing each compartment.
I used a router to round all of the edges. Also finished everything off with two coats of a water based urethane. It will protect the wood from mold, mildew, and UV damage. Clean up is easy (soapy and water) and it doesn't flake off after time like spar varnish does.
There are a bunch of fun and unique rafting rig set ups out there. This is what I have decided fits my needs best. Please feel free to share your rafting set up in the comments below!