Bulkhead Repair

The KayakNevada website had the only useful information on the subject of caulking bulkheads that Google could unearth for me, but here are a few helpful hints I’ve learned that I haven’t seen anyplace.

My 15’ Orca (by Pyranha) leaked front and stern, and had lots of loose silicon and black mushy junk around both sides of both bulkheads. After pulling it all out there was a quarter inch gap between parts of each bulkhead and the hull!

Both Pyranha and my local kayak guru said caulk her up with GM’s 5200 and it’d be OK.

HA, have you ever tried kneeling next to a kayak to get a caulk gun into either hatch to circle around the bulkheads? Or, worse, all the way down to the front of the cockpit side of the front bulkhead?

What I finally realized, after contorting myself to the point of chiropractic care, is:

The only way to caulk bulkheads easily is to position the kayak UPSIDE DOWN, elevated on sleeping bags strapped to saw-horses placed under the bulkheads.

By kneeling under the boat and reaching UP into the cockpit (or either hatch) it is so much easier to reach the bulkheads and see what you are doing.

There may still be places where you will have to mush the caulk in from off your finger, so have a helper to squirt it on for you and use rubber gloves (you’ll need several pairs because the caulk gets everywhere). Also, have lots of small, soft rags to wipe off the extra that gets on everything…it’s lots easier to use a small rag and throw it out than try to fold and refold a bigger one. (5200 is the consistency of Desiden diaper rash ointment and doesn’t wipe up well with paper towels.)

If The Gap Is That Much…

– Last Updated: Aug-08-07 5:44 AM EST –

it could be that the bulkhead is too far back towards the boat's center. Push it further towards the end, where the increased tapering ensures a snugger fit of the minicell bulkhead. Trying to fill a .5" gap takes a lot of sealant and you may not get it packed in tight enough, thus leaving small gaps for more leakage.


Next time …
Put a nice neat bead of your choice of sealant … then use a table spoon to get the fillet you want … have a couple paper towels ready.

Boat builder scenario ;

Two bulkheads ( 4 sides ) takes less than 6 minutes to do perfect.

My good friend “Grayhawk”

– Last Updated: Aug-08-07 6:32 AM EST –

has a better way of working inside the cockpit on a yak.
He suspends them up side down from overhead so the cockpit is just at a working height.


I had it made on this one, just sitting idle sipping on a glass of wine, while he was installing a under deck bag.