Battle of the bulkheads

hi, rotomoulded PE boat owners, how often do you have to reseal your bulkheads?
when launching I always manage to get a cup of water in the cockpit ( from my pool shoes) and this seeps into the back compartment.

I suspect that flexing while rockhopping breaks the seal.

if this is something you guys learned to live with I was thinking of just putting 2 more drybags in the bag and put all my clothes in them & give up trying to re seal

btw i read on an an older post here one guy used flashing tape ( aluminium tape with a bitumen adhesive ) designed to be applied externally to leaking drain pipes

Haven’t had to do it on a SKUK Romany Surf. If I had to I’d favor a silicone based seal.

Annual maintenance for our first plastic boats was to reseal around the bottom of the minicell bulkhead once a year. I think I used Lexel but a good hardware store has plenty of options.

But dry bags regardless, even in my areas that are bone dry. Makes it way easier to carry stuff to and from boat, and why take the risk of a wet surprise if they make dry bags to handle it.

I resealed the bulkheads on an old poly boat about four years ago and the seal hasn’t degraded at all yet. I’d advise removing as much of the old sealant as possible, especially from the poly hull, and don’t use silicone which loses its adhesion to the plastic pretty quickly. Lexel is pricey but it’s the stuff to use.

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The few time I have tried to reseal bulkheads I have not been able to get them to work all that well. By the time I beat up a boat enough that it leaks badly, I sell and buy another boat.


  • get the dry bags for clothing anyway. I anything I want to keep even partially dry is in a dry bag, even in supposedly dry hatches.
  • I do a lot of rock hopping and I don’t think that is a normal cause for leaking bulkheads. The pressure against the boat isn’t that much (unless you find yourself balancing on a pinpoint rock after a wave leaves you high and dry) to flex the bulkhead. Overtightening straps when the boat is on your roof seems to be a more common cause.

I just checked the bulkheads on my 15 year old Sirocco and they’re still like new.

A lot of it depends on where you live and how you store your boat.

Plastic get soft when it is hot and shrinks a bit while getting brittle in the cold. Either of those extremes will deform the boat and cause the bulkhead seal to fail. The plastic does not allow any glue to sink in, it just adheres to the surface. If you could roughen that surface to glue would stick better, but most bulkheads are a pain to get to.

You might want to consider checking with the manufacturer to see what they recommend. Different types of adhesives work with different types of plastic boats, I believe.

I tried silicone and shower stall caulk, but the best for me so far is liquid nails for plastic. Going on three years now with no leaks.

2008 Current Designs Storm GT

Agree. Lexel is amazing stuff. Stays more flexible than typical silicone.

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3m 5200 is my go to choice for that job.

The problem with 3M 5200 is that it gets all over everything, before you even open the package. I have a small spot of it on my couch that is proving how durable it is.

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Lexel is what the manufacturers use. Make sure the area is dry and them wipe down with Acetone before applying Lexel.


Do not use Silicone, This will not adhere to polyethylene for long.

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Have never had a problem with bulkheads separating. Only folks I know that have had problems leave their hatch covers on 24/7/365 no matter the conditions. Living in the South, I always remove hatch covers when not paddling to prevent heat buildup and I suspect bulkhead deterioration too. Not sure if overheating is an issue with plastic kayaks, but I don’t want to chance it. I have seen a friend’s fibreglass NDK Explorer break the gel coat from overheating because the tight fitting hatch covers were left on all summer in the heat despite being in a semi-shaded location.

To keep critters out (especially nesting blue jays who seem to really like front hatches at my outdoor covered storage), I fabricate simple breathable cloth covers for all my fleet.

nests in your kayak? this happens over the winter?

Happened every spring until I started using a fabric cover while stored. For some reason the blue jays love the front hatch about 3 ft off the ground. Nesting starts about now along the northern Gulf of Mexico. I would always notice it about the time the weather started getting better and I would test out my number 2 and 3 kayaks in spring paddling. They never seem to nest in number 1 since it use it regularly all winter/early spring.

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