Checking for leaky bulkheads.

-- Last Updated: Dec-29-06 2:17 AM EST --

The boat is a fiberglass Tempest 170.

Today after some rolling I noticed that I had about half the amount of water in the compartments as usual (quarter cup vs half cup.) This is the only time I haven’t done any wet exits or self-rescue work, so now I’m wondering if my bulkheads are leaking. Could account for less water in the forward compartment and day compartment.

I don’t feel paranoid about it. I’m just enjoying getting to know my boat better.

What’s a good way to check all the way around for leaky bulkheads? So far I’m thinking jut put one end of the boat on a saw horse, supported at about where the bulkhead is, and put water into the forward hatch until there is about an inch of water above the bulkhead line on the high end. Look for leaks on the cockpit side. Then do the same with the day hatch.

My only concern would be too much stress on the boat from the weight of the water inside. I’m thinking it should be ok though if I limit to one inch above the bulkhead line on the high end.

I prefer not to use part of a pool session to check because I hate to waste perfectly good practice time.

Thanks for any ideas.

Paul S.

(This is my boat. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Leaks or not.)

I wonder
if you could somehow set the boat on end ,like fastening to a tree or something then you could put a fairly small amount of water into the cockpit,stick your head inside the hatch with a light and watch to see what happens.

Another way is to fill the hatch with water,roll the boat around and try to see where it comes out.

I haven’t had much trouble with my kayaks leaking but I was an auto trim tech for years and part of my job was water leaks. Usually the hardest part was finding the leak and diagnosing it properly as water does seem to defy logic sometimes. The easy part “usually” is fixing it.

Fortunately all kayaks are pretty simple pieces of equipment so you will be successful in time.

Good luck.


Putting water in the hatch and rolling
the boat around carefully on a saw horse sounds like a good idea.

Paul S.

I just realized my bulkheads don’t leak.
I have a double tunnel dry top and neo skirt. When I side scull it burps the DT into the cockpit and the deck of the skirt bulges up. Pretty funny.

Just before going to bed, I had read in the archives about bulging hatch covers indicating sealed bulkheads. Then I woke up and it immediately popped into my mind that my spray skirt bulges. Diagnostic complete!

Paul S.


– Last Updated: Jan-04-07 12:16 AM EST –

Tempest owners may especially wish to read on.

Filling the forward hatch and the day hatch half full of water and carefully rolling the boat on saw horses, as Olde_Inuit and DennisH (offline) suggested;

The forward hatch leaks just a little, looks like in one spot.

The day hatch leaks a good trickle in both directions. There is no caulking where the skeg tube runs through the bulkheads.

I'll ask the kayak shop too, but the bulk heads appear to have clear silicon caulking around them now.

I also got a recommendation to use 3M 5200.

Thoughts on best caulking to use? I'm inclined to go the easy route and just use some 100% silicon clear sealant, like GE Kitchen and Bath, unless I wanted to remove all the caulking and re-do, in which case I might use the 5200. Thoughts?

The spray skirt bulge just discharges slow through the leak points I guess. I had the forward hatch and day hatch bulge yesterday too. I'm no longer going to trust hatch cover or spray skirt bulging as a test for leaks.

Playing upside down and sideways for a half hour at a time last night with my dry top on to keep water out of the cockpit, I only got beads of water in the hatches! With water in the cockpit I get a half cup. Turns out the covers aren't so bad. It's the bulkheads.

Similarly, I know a 2007 tempest owner who was getting a couple cups of water in all three hatches. He found his hatches were leaking. That's where I got the idea to go ahead and test my hatches actually.

Paul S.

I believe that Flatpick recommends slathering on 5200. I have done this for small bulkhead leaks, including around skeg cable, and fixed the problem. Don’t understand why the concern about filling compartment–glass boats are plenty strong. First, fill cockpit and check forward and day hatch bulkheads for leaks. Second, fill rear compartment and check rear bulkhead in day hatch OR fill day hatch and check bulkhead from rear compartment. If you can’t figure it out, seal the entire thing with 5200.

Remove Si caulk before 5200?
Thanks for the good info everyone.

In the small area where bulkhead meets deck, where I want to re-seal, should I remove the existing silicon caulking before applying the 5200? I’m thinking yes, and scrape up the fiberglass some to remove the last film of silicon and get down to get bare resin/glass. I have a needle file I can get in there. A galvanized nail would probably work too.

Paul S.

no need
just use the 5200–helps to wear plastic gloves as the stuff is rather messy.