Section 4 - Kayak Modifications
The XT came with eight factory installed accessory eyelets as indicated by the black arrows. The two marked with the * are where you attach the front side of the backrest straps. The two marked with x may have to be removed and the holes filled with rivets because these eyelets can poke you in your hips while seated in the kayak, depending on your body size and shape and the style of backrest. I consider those two eyelets to be useless in this location and wonder why Ocean Kayak put them there.
I installed nine additional eyelets as indicated by the red arrows. You will need them for the front and rear anchor line safety connections ("Anchoring Procedures" section), tank leash ("Tank Well" section), and front hatch leash ("Front Hatch" section). The two extra ones along the top sides can also come in handy (you may want to install brass/bronze rings on them before installing them.) The use of the additional eyelets is covered under the respective indicated sections. Please read those sections before installing these eyelets. Be sure to purchase both the eyelets and the rivets from the kayak dealer, as the rivets are different than store bought ones. They have a black plastic material on them that spreads out larger on the interior of the kayak than ordinary rivets. Also, I used Marine Goop on the rivets to seal them (the factory ones are not sealed).
The red "X" indicate two areas that are marked at the factory for eyelets by tiny raised bumps. I advise you not to use these locations. The one near the center hatch location may be convenient for the paddle leash but it was the spot on one of my kayaks that depressed and cracked at the rivet. Even without a center hatch, that area is where you are likely to sit while gearing up for a dive, causing the material to flex. The flexing is where the rivets would be. The other red arrow is near the front of the kayak and may have been intended for the paddle leash as well, or the front hatch leash. If you use it for the front hatch, the hatch cover will be between you and the hatch when open. I also don't think it is a strong area for the paddle leash. The floating paddle can create a lot of stress on that eyelet if the surface current is strong while you are below diving. Surfacing from a dive to find no paddle is not a pleasant thought. I use one of the side eyelets for the paddle leash, as that appears to be a solid firm area on the kayak. I put the hatch leash eyelet in front of the hatch.
The XT came with four straps that have male-female plastic buckles. The straps are riveted to the kayak. The top set of the double set connects to the back side of the backrest. Use the lower set for securing the weight belt across the base of the scuba tank. The rear set is used to secure the tank in the tank well. Use the front set to secure the lifejacket. The key to not losing any gear is to secure everything. I suggest you retrofit the newer Ocean kayak models with straps in place of the bungee cord.
The strap buckles have a tendency to slide off the straps. After losing a couple of them I took steps to prevent this from happening again. I installed grommets at the ends of all the straps, then put ultraviolet black cable ties through the grommets and trimmed off the excess. This prevents the buckles from sliding off.
You may be wondering why should you purchase a kayak and have to make all these modifications? Most of the modifications are specific to using the kayak for scuba diving purposes, although I personally feel some of them should be made by the manufacturer.