How to Fix or Replace a Fiberglass Deck Hatch

One of the biggest nightmares for any boater is trying to replace a broken fiberglass deck hatch. We’ve dealt with 100’s of boaters that share the same issue and we are glad to share some advice and explain all of your options. Preventive maintenance is a boat owner’s path to happiness! Often small cracks in the glass can lead to large broken sections, so the first thing to do is keep an eye on small cracks and repair them. Small fiberglass cracks and breaks can be fixed with a fiberglass repair kit. The other option is to consult a marine fiberglass repair specialist. Making sure you hatch pulls, and gas shocks are working also prevents your lids from slamming and therefore breaking.

4 Things to consider when looking for a replacement hatch

  • Cost: Each replacement option varies in price. 
  • Rigidity: Solid fiberglass or a fiberglass encapsulated material are best for this.
  • Water resistance: Making sure the lip of the hatch is a perfect match will prevent water from dripping or splashing in. This is often the hardest section to replicate. 
  • Look: An exact OEM replacement always will match best, with fiberglass or starboard replacements there may be noticeable color and finish differences.

The first step, check with your boatbuilder!

When it comes to total hatch replacement the first step should be to contact your boat manufacturer. They may have some stocked replacements or a mold they can use to remake the part. There are no inexpensive options when it comes to hatch replacement, however, this is often the best option. This also ensures a perfect fit, water resistance, rigidity, and it will look as good as new.

No luck? Time to consider custom replacements

If you have an older boat or are unable to get a replacement from your manufacturer the next best option is to get a replacement made.

Custom fiberglass replacement

As mentioned earlier there are many fiberglass repair shops across the country, they should be able to make a replacement. This process can be expensive and the hatch should be a good match but may not be perfect. Similar to automotive repair, the quality and price of the replacement have the potential to vary greatly between repair shops. As an example, Land & Sea Detailing is a fiberglass repair shop many boaters in the Orlando area go to when they need fiberglass hatch repair or replacement. When looking for a fiberglass shop in your area refer to customer photos and reviews to help decide if the price and quality of the job match up. Another great resource is a Facebook group for boat owners of your same boat make or model, there may be another member who had good results with a specific fiberglass shop. 

A fresh start! Brand new frame, and door

We realize all boats are different and sometimes creative solutions are needed. We offer 2 solutions for this issue. The better option, if possible, is to replace the hatch with a new deck hatch and frame. This involves cutting out the existing hatch recess/landing area and filling the void with a brand new frame and door which can be ordered directly from our website or can be customized by our design team to match the size of the area you need.

Original deck on a bay boatOriginal deck on a bay boat
Original deck
Cutout  for new door and frame on a bay boatCutout  for new door and frame on a bay boat
Cutout for new door and frame
New deck hatch door and frame on a bay boatNew deck hatch door and frame on a bay boat
New deck hatch door and frame
Open deck hatch door and frame on a bay boatOpen deck hatch door and frame on a bay boat
New door and frame-open

The last resort! Custom starboard hatch replacements 

Cutting into your deck and totally replacing the hatch and frame can be a big project, and sometimes not even an option. As a final resort, we offer custom starboard hatch replacements. We like to be totally transparent with our customers, and want to make it clear that a starboard replacement should be your last option. 

Starboard’s properties are not ideal for deck hatches, but it will work. The rigidity and look will not be as ideal as fiberglass. However, in order to aid in the rigidity, we can add U-channel metal reinforcement pieces to the bottom. As far as the water resistance is concerned, we mill out a section or add a ring around the perimeter of the hatch bottom to help it fill the void of the hatch gutter. We’ve created a guide that supplies our engineering team with all the crucial measurements needed to make a hatch replacement. All the customer needs to do is take the measurements and fill out the form, Boat Outfitters takes care of the rest. Reviewing the hatch replacement guide and sharing some photos of your project is a great way to start!

broken deck hatch on a bay boatbroken deck hatch on a bay boat
Original deck hatch
replacement starboard deck hatch on a bay boatreplacement starboard deck hatch on a bay boat
New starboard deck hatch
open starboard deck hatch on a bay boatopen starboard deck hatch on a bay boat
New hatch with gas shock and u-channel stiffiner