Chatham 16 hatches

Any suggestions for getting a tighter seal from the Valley hatches on a plastic Chatham? Maybe some type of neoprene like on the Manitou?

I assume you get water ingress
I assume you want to do this because you get water ingress? If so, the first thing you may want to do is confirm the actual source of ingress.

My girlfriend has Chatham 16 that she bought new a year ago (so a 2006 or 2007 model). We did get some water ingress in the large hatches (day hatch is dry). After checking it out some, I found that the water was dripping through the area where the hatch base meets the plastic of the boat, not between the hatch base and the hatch cover. You can test this by having the boat flat on ground with the cover off. Fill the drip ring around the hatch base with water and watch to see if it drips into the boat.

Had the shop we bought it from try to reseal it, but it does still seem to leak some.

During the early production runs, there was quite a problem with the plastic Chathams leaking. I have one, and the shop I got it at had quite a few with the same problem. Likely a rushed production. From what I have heard, Necky listened and stepped up the QC on this issue, and now it is uncommon.

Most probable is that the hatch rims were not installed optimally. Take them off, clean the area, and lay down either 5200 marine sealent, or Lexel. When you re-install the rims, do not overtighten the stainless steel nut/bolt! Just snug them lightly, overtighting could actually make things worse.

As someone else mentioned, it may be a good idea to precisely diagnose the leak. Fill the compartments with water, close the hatches, and tip the kayak on one side,then the other. Look for the area of leakage, is it really the rims, or something else.

Although highly unlikely it is the rubber hatch leaking, there have been some boat designs where the deck shape around the hatch rims (especially if the rim was installed ever so off center)bulged up in a way to interfere with the sealing of the lower lip of the hatch cover. One had to carefully press that lip down to get a proper seal. This has not been an issue with the Chatham, to my knowledge.

When properly installed, Valley or Kayaksport hatches should be far better than any neoprene cover.

My plastic Chatham 17 had the issue of water seeping in between base of hatch rims and the deck. Make sure to be very careful tightening the tapered screws on the big hatches, it’s very easy to crack the rim by overtightening. Pinpoint the source of leak by hanging the boat, pouring water into the hatches(one by one) and see where it comes out. Mine also has an issue of leaky bulkheads i’m currently fixing.

air pressure
I use air pressure and soapy water sprayed around all possible leak points. big bubbles form wherever the air escapes. sometimes it’s hard to see exactly where water is leaking.


They had issues with the sealant not being applied heavily enough. New production manager has fixed these nagging deals! Call Necky and they will send you some butyl tape which works great. Granted you shouldn’t have to fix these…that’s their failure, which they will stand behind. But, it’s an easy fix and the good news is you can refresh these every few years.

Bulkheads: Foam bulkheads do require annual service in my opinion. Not hard, just clean and use Lexel. A couple of hours a year maitenance on a kayak will serve one well.

Now, all these are pressure tested at the factory, and the new production guy is as anal as they get. His wife was an Olympian, and he knows boats…been with Necky since the old days.

various options
First remove them, clean off the old goop, it should come off easily with a scraper. Rough underside of hatch frame and mating surface on deck with 80grit sandpaper. Lay down THICK layer of Lexcel on hatch and reattach to deck.

As mentioned don’t screw them down too tight, just do it until the goop squishes out. Wipe up the excess and let it cure for a few days then check to see if the nuts can be screwed down another half turn or so if needed. When I repaired a few there wasn’t time to let it cure so we just tightened it down semi-snug.

On another I used 1/16" neoprene tape for the round day hatch. For the oval hatches the plasic deck bulges down between the screws more, I’d be tempted to use 1/8" neoprene gasket tape.

After you do all of that put in little air relief tube between the bulkheads to the cockpit.

I’ve used little tubes used on spray WD40 cans although you could probably use something a bit bigger like the small housing used on some rudder cables, not the 1/4" od stuff, more like 1/8". That should reduce the pressure differential that can suck standing water around the hatches if there’s any other potential leak points between hatch and rim.

Definitely leaking…
I paddled yesterday afternoon and played around in some shallow water. I practiced some bracing and wet exits. It was windy too which made the lake very choppy. By the end of the day, all three hatches had a significant amount of water in them. If I have the hatches filled with camping gear and cookware, I will most likely be paddling from A to B, and not playing around enough to get that much water in. But, as everyone knows, just a little wind and the Chatham is a very wet ride, even paddling in a straight line. The deck basically has water washing over it non-stop. I would like the assurance that all my gear will stay dry.

I appreciate all the suggestions. I am going to call Necky today and let them know the situation. I will take your advice and remove the hatches and try to reseal them this weekend. Thanks again!

Flood it
You have to flood the cockpits with a hose and watch to find where it’s coming in from. Sometimes water can leak in from the grab loop holes. Make sure the hatch openings on the boat are smooth and don’t have any tiny seam bumps. When you turn it over it’s hard to tell if it’s the cover seal that is leaking or the hatch insert. One way is to use a bungee band with plastic over the hatch opening so you can more clearly see if it’s the hatch insert or the cover.

just so you know the problem
get a mirror or stick your head inside the hatch and see how the deck doesn’t conform to the flat hatch. In between everyscrew the plastic bulges apart. On the Chathams I fixed the adhesive/sealant didn’t adhere to the plastic deck. On one model the hatch rim was roughed up,but not the deck, on another the deck was roughed up, but not the rim. On both the amount of sealant was insufficient. Once I repaired it the hatches were as dry as any. For all the effort don’t forget the breather tubes or to overtighten the screws. Better to leave the nuts backed off a bit as long as all the sealant squishes to the edge instead of overtightening and cracking the rim or squishing out all the sealant and having it pull away where it wasn’t roughed up.

If you have cracked plastic hatch rims
a simple fix is to take some 2 part epoxy putty and fill the gaps with that. It cures white but a simple sharpie job will fix that. What everybody else said on fixing the problem of the leaking.