How to drain water if I add bulkhead?

I ordered material to replace the foam pillar I lost out of the Kanoe Latvija, a 16’ hatchless, FG, kayak. It had foam pillars in bow and stern, and I added airbags behind the pillars. But even with airbags, the boat can hold a lot of water, and it takes forever to pump it out if you manage to fill it.

I noticed on the Sweet website that the same material I ordered to replace the pillar is used for bulkheads, and that has me thinking about retrofitting a bulkhead vs. replacing the foam pillar. What’s stopping me is that it seems inevitable that water will accumulate behind the bulkhead, and It’ll have no way to get it out.

I don’t think I want to add hatches, because it’s more work than I want to get into and will increase the weight of the kayak, and one of the things I like about this boat is it is light weight.

I suppose I could add a drain plug, and it seems like it would be easiest to add the plug to the bulkhead. I could fit a piece of pvc tube through the foam bulkhead and then fit the tube with a plug.

But what if I just leave a hole in the bulkhead? I guess the amount of water that would enter through the hole would depend on how airtight the hull is. If the hull is fairly airtight, probably not a heck of a lot of water would enter the sorta-sealed compartment. And the rate of entry might be slow enough that it is still lots easier to pump out the boat. And seems like I’d want the hole at the bottom, so that the water would drain out to where I could pump it.

Seems my options are:

  1. Just replace the pillar and stick with the airbag, and try not to let the boat get full of water.
  2. Retrofit bulkheads, with a drain plug in the bulkhead.
  3. Retrofit bulkheads, with a drain hole in the bulkhead
  4. Retrofit bulkheads without a drain, hope for the best, add hole or plug later if water becomes trapped.

    I seek opinions from the fountain of p-net knowledge. What’s yours? TIA.


option 5
While you are doing the work, consider adding hatches to the boat. This way you can access the space, should you want to put something there. Also allow you to drain/pump out/sponge the boat.

I’ve never been a big fan but they can be very effective. FeatherCraft makes a really nice neoprene rimmed one.

not an answer to your question, I realize, but possibly another option when used in conjunction with the float bags you already have.

What about a Beckson hatch
added to a new bulkhead?

That would give you access for storage, and allow the compartment to dry much more quickly than a drain plug would allow. Beckson makes many different diameters and you should be able to find one to suit.


Spend some time and get the bulkhead fitted nicely all around. Add a rope loop or two for handles. Then just jam the thing in tightly and don’t bother with any sealant or caulk. Maybe add a small (1/8") vent hole in the bulkhead.

When water gets in just pull the bulkhead out to let it dry.

If you want to use the space for storage, just pull the bulkhead out to load.

It won’t go anywhere, but if you’re worried you could devise a way to add a few screws.

Great Ideas

– Last Updated: Aug-15-09 7:58 AM EST –

I looked at those hatches. They look heavy and big. The smallest size would work but it's hinged on one side, so wouuld be inconvenient.

Hobie makes a circular hatch that would work. But I like Mint's idea of friction fitting the hatch. The material is 3" thick so maybe it would stay put. Has anybody ever used friction fitted bulkheads and had a cockpit full of water? Did the bulkheads stay put?

Had to lookup watersocks. They look inconvenient and scarrey.

Try these Chip

Thes are what I was thinking of.


I have one of these installed

– Last Updated: Aug-14-09 4:13 PM EST –

as a day hatch. You do not have to put it on the bulkhead itself. It is easy to install (no access from below needed) in any place on the deck, as long as your deck has enough flat area so that the hatch makes good contact. Some sealant will make it waterproof.

Also, these hardly add any weight - remember that you trow away a piece that you cut out and replace it with another pice - the hatch cover. May be a few oz extra but that's it. IMO it is worth it - easier to dry and clean the boat fro mthe inside this way plus you do get useful storage even if you only use it a few times a year...

I have put a small one (6" I think) as a day hatch and it is just big enough to get my fist thru it to fetch some water. The only improvement I did - thether the cover to the rim with a piece of rope so that I do not loose it while at sea.

CLC sells them for not too much money - check them out in person if you drive that way as they usually stock them...

Drilling for it can be really easy with a RotoZip tool or similar - no time at all if you have it...

If you do not want to deal with this for whatever reason, a small hole on the foam with a plug would be my next suggestion as you propose yourself (with or without pipe to make it sturdier). This way you will probably never get water in the sealed hatch but you may get condensation and may be some mushrooms growing in there -;) If you do not like that - you can alwasy drill later and put a hatch...

I do not carry much in my rear hatch, but I like to have it - sometimes I put my slippers or a second snack and more water for a day trip and I do not have to deal with them rolling about in the cockpit (there I have my essentials rolling about - pump, water, snacks, float for the first few hours only -;) )

if you want to be able to just drain what little water that gets in from your retro bulkheads, then the easiest solution is to put in drain plugs right near the tip of the bow and stern. Cheap and easy to install.

However, I think if you are going to install bulkheads, you might as well maximize and install hatches. If you got a relatively flat deck surface, it’s easy (and relatively cheap) to put in Beckson or SeaDog (screw in) deck plates. (I recently installed two hatch plates on SOTs – easy job – provided measure twice and cut once.) I would go with an 8" or 10" opening. If the deck has some curve, you’ll need to go smaller, even a 6" to make sure that the flange sits relatively flushed and thus watertight (with sealant in place).


my thoughts exactly
Ditto on what Sing said.

BTW, I’ve tried the beckson hatches in the bulkheads and I didn’t much care for them. I wound up putting deck hatches in.