Current Design Bulkheads

-- Last Updated: Apr-13-07 4:00 AM EST --

I just took delivery of a Kevlar Solstice Titan. It was the one the factory had in stock, supposedly first quality, but at a reduced price.
I was told by factory reps, that the standard bulkhead arrangement is fiberglass in the rear, and ABS up front. (the new website now states all bulkheads are fiberglass). Retrofit kits of fiberglass are available for the front.

When I inspected this boat, both bulkheads are ABS.
I am leaning towards returning the boat, as I believe having the rear ABS is a quality issue.
If I was to return it, I would have them replace the front one as well.
Has anyone had this happen in the past with boats from CD? Other than the bulkhead issue, the boat is beautiful!

Model year?
I wonder if what you got was an older model year - for a bit there CD was using the ABS bulkheads front and back. It’s a pleaseant surprise to hear that they are going to all glass bulkheads now - I tend to think well of the company but that was the one thing that I thought was not in keeping with the rest of their quality.

But everything anyone has posted here is that their customre service is great. I suspect that you will get satisfaction if you call CD.

Model year

– Last Updated: Apr-13-07 8:26 AM EST –

2006 model. After thinking more on the situation, if I can get the glass bulkheads from the factory, and it won't void the warranty, I will try to install them leaving the ABS in place, making it easier to locate, and creating a stronger section in the long run.

glassed in bulkhead
I’m pretty sure CD is glassing in their rear bulkhead while gluing in the front. There is nothing wrong with an ABS bulkhead, it solves spider cracking issues that often occurs with a glass bulkhead.

spider cracking?

Why would ABS solve that issue, seems that the ABS can flex more, thus increasing the possibility for cracks. I can currently move the ABS bulkheads with my finger, back and forth. The factory has agreed to send me two glass bulkhead kits for the front and rear. They do say the ABS needs to come out, but I will look at it to see if I can trim enough maybe to but them up to existing ABS.

Spider Cracking

– Last Updated: Apr-13-07 10:32 AM EST –

In the main body of the boat around the bulkheads, is that where the spider cracking mentioned might be? If the bulkhead being glass can cause spider cracking in the body of the boat, it seems that a second look at the boat's layup is in order. The match of the stiffness and flex between bulkhead and hull/deck sections might not be ideal.

We have glass bulkheads on all four sea kayaks - one Valley, two NDK including one Elite layup and one P&H. We've used these boats in lots of rescue work, dragging other boats over ours, had people climb across them and otherwise abuse the heck out of 'em. The only one of the lot that has shown any spider cracking at all is the NDK with the Elite layup, which is a clearly lighter layup than the rest. (Would not recommend that layup for the rocks of Maine, tho' it's a lot nicer to haul around for local paddling.)

Edited this post to clean up above and add a question for ericnyre - I've heard from others that the ABS bulkheads hold up OK, at least for a decent while. Have you found any issues with them over time when using foam blocks for bracing rather than footpegs?

Why worry?
If you got a good price, why worry. I have had my Caribou with abs bulkheads for about 6 years with no problems. They were designed to flex and spread the load so the boat would not be damaged if you ran over a rock (hopefully round) or something. A boat can be too stiff. Now I have probably started a big argument.

Not with me
We have altogether heavier boats than some because of time in areas with extremely unfriendly shorelines and needing to contemplate poorly executed surf landings. If I paddled in Florida, I’d go for a lighter layup in a heartbeat.

I’ve just always wondered about the ABS bulkheads for bracing against, have had no trouble with glass bulkheads for that so start out with some assumptions.

Thanks to all for your comments. I will have to say, I really don’t relish the idea of tearing out bulkheads on a new boat. I may have to rethink this whole thing, but at least I’ll have the kits to use if I have to in the future.

Good choice
As stated above there are tradeoffs to both materials and my preference would still be for glassed in bulkheads but if I were you I would just enjoy the boat with the ABS B-heads in place .If they become a problem in the future tear them out and replace with glass.I’m a firm believer in kayakers doing their own repairs,maintenance or modifications. It’s part of the sport and enjoyable in it’s own right.


This issue has bugged me for years.
I have a 2002 CD Slipstream, and it has plastic bulkheads front and back. It’s not something I really thought about when I bought the boat as a relative newby to the sport (the same with the poorly placed factory installed compass), and it really hasn’t caused any problems, but it just always seemed a bit cheap to me. One definite issue is that I had planned to install a bulkhead-mounted footpump up front, but I certainly wouldn’t do that with the plastic bulkhead; it’s way too flimsy. I know I can install a mount, but it would be nice to have the option! I’m glad to see they are finally switching over to glassed bulkheads.

just be glad they’re not foam

I also have a Caribou, that I’ve had for 9 years. It has ABS bulkheads, and the boat has been heavily used and quite a few times abused. I’ve never had any problem with the bulkheads, and both of my compartments are still dry.

The value of glass bulkheads depends on who you talk to. For instance, Nick Schade of Guillemot Kayaks says that glass bulkheads create a “stress riser” (He’s an engineer by training) that can lead to spider cracks by creating a hardpoint in the hull and deck, which forces them to flex around it, rather than as a unit. He advocates glued-in foam bulkheads as the best solution, as it allows the kayak to flex as a whole, not as antagonistic parts.

I also had a Necky a long time ago with foam bulkheads. Never a problem with them, either.

Short answer is don’t worry. If the bulkheads are properly installed, it really doesn’t matter what they’re made of, as long as they hold back water.


CD Brit boats
All of CD’s brit boats come with fiberglassed bulkheads now. Of course the Slipstream is no longer offered.

the slipstream is out?
That’s a shame.

Anyone from CD here? I wonder why on a 3k composite boat one would use plastic bulkheads.

No, good info in fact
Weight and stiffness do not automaticaly = strength. Excess Gel-Coat serves no structural benefit. I’d rather spend that weight on more structue. Likewise excess resin makes for heavy and brittle. It’s about balancing materials to achieve the desired result.

ABS bulkheads are a cheap way to accomplish a bulkhead. You reduce labor and cycle time. Done well, they are fine. Usually bonded with methacrylate or urethane. Lousy bond = future failure.