leaking Pintail hatches - - -

my VCP Pintail leaks in both front and rear hatches. it’s almost certainly not the hatch covers. any experience with this and can tell me where the most likely point(s) of entry might be? how did you fix yours? thanks, dan

Use soapy water
The kayak shop near me had a vcp cover with a valve stem glued into the center that they used to slighly pressurize the compartments. I spent two years chasing leaks that I thought were in my hatch rims until I rigged a similar contraption consisting of a shop vac, an old dry bag, duct tape, and bungee cord. Once you have some pressure in the hatch area, you can paint the soapy water along the hull deck seam, hatch rim, deck fittings, ect. and all leaks will be easy to see due to the bubbling.

leaky hatches
are sometimes from the where the hatch attaches to the deck. They use sikaflex to attach the plastic VCP hatchrim to the deck. I would fill the compartments with water turn the boat upside down with the hatches on and watch where the water leaks out. If you can buy some sika flex and apply a thin layer around the hatch rim that will sometimes stop a leak. But other times it is on the inside. If it is on the inside, you can get away with spreading resin around where the interior of the vcp hatch attaches to the inside of the kayak. Sikaflex could also work on the inside. third possibility, which is a bummer, is that the hatch rim itself is cracked . Then the hatch rim may need to be removed and a new one put on. Unless you can repair the hatch rim with sikaflex or resin. Fourth possibility is the hatch cover. The easiest and cheapest solution. But you should be able to tell when the boat is upside down with the hatch cover on if it is leaking via the hatch cover.

hull pressure
DO NOT USE AN AIR COMPRESER. It take very little pressure to blow out a hull. I have seen people blow out hulls on their Hobie cats. An old tank type vacuum will work great, just reverse the hose so it is blowing. I only takes about 8 lbs of pressure to blow the hull on a Hobie.

Double-sealing VCP covers.

– Last Updated: Feb-07-04 10:55 PM EST –

I too had leakage problems with both the fore and aft VCP hatches on my new boat. It was really evident after extensive rolling practice. I mentioned this issue to a more seasoned paddler, who watched me mount my VCP covers. He immediately noticed that I was not "double-sealing" the hatch covers. I was just putting them on like Tupperware lids. Snap and go! Once the cover is snapped over the hatch you need to press the outer edge of the cover tight against the mounting rim, otherwise you will get leakage. This technique immediately fixed the leak in my forward compartment and greatly reduced the water coming into the aft hold. I still get about 3 - 4 ounces of water in the rear compartment after rolling practice. When Spring rolls back around I will have to hunt down that small leak. I did try filling the compartment with 20 gallons of water and slowly inverting the boat, but no leaks were evident. Not a drop.
Safe Paddling,

Good point. Here’s more.

– Last Updated: Feb-06-04 5:27 PM EST –

Double sealing does make a difference. Other common leak points on VCP boats are:

- Porous deck fittings or ones where the glass has cracked off the imbedded nut.

- Bulkhead gaps along the keel line. A coat of epoxy will fill any porosity in the fabric and seal any pinholes.

- Compass mount. I've had leakage through the screw holes.

- The skeg. With rope skegs, the deck fitting, skeg box fitting or tube may be loose. With cable skegs, check where the cable housing fitting attaches to the skeg box.

- The hatch covers. If they're old, they're likely to be cracked and leaky

- Pressure differentials can cause water to be drawn in. Venting the bulkheads eliminates the problem.

Have fun!

venting the bulkheads - - -
hey brian … how do you do this on your boats? i always double seal the hatch covers, i’ve resealed the screw holes for the compass, i’ve checked the recessed deck fittings … no cracks in gelcoat on deck or in hatch, the skeg box is very well glassed – unlike my romany :wink: – i looked at the bulkheads and they seem well glassed and in such case water infiltration would only occur if the cockpit had water in it and unless i roll alot it doesn’t. hatch covers are new.

interestingly, the hatches have been bone dry since i’ve owned this boat (8 years now) and just started leaking this winter.

venting the bulkheads
is simply drilling a pin prick hole about halfway up the bulkhead.

I tried water first too
I think small leaks are hard to locate with water in the compartments. I located about 15 slow hull/deck seam leaks with shop vac and soapy water that weren’t as apparent with the water alone. I think launching/lifting the boat while loaded and the age of the boat ('97) led to the leaks. I was sure it was the hatches or bulkheads for 2 frustrating years. I reset my hatch rims 3 times and kept resealing the bulkhead seams only to still get water! You will know EXACTLY where the problems are if you pressurize and use soapy water. I was very surprised, there were no visual clues to where my leaks really were.

pressurize? - - -
how does one do that?

I Improvised
My hatch covers are both 9.5" round. I took an old drybag of approximately the same diameter, cut the bottom off leaving about 4 inches of the sides. I then cut an “X” shaped hole in the middle of the bottom of the drybag just big enough to force the nozzle of my shop vac through. The tabs of the “X” cut made it easy to duct tape the bag to the nozzel. I then slipped the bag over the hatch rim and tied bungee cord tightly around the rim over the ends of the bag. In my case the fit was pretty good. I rolled about 3/4" of the bag back over the bungee cord and wrapped a bit more duct tape around the rim to keep the bungee from sliding out. Put the shop vac hose on the vac in reverse and it will apply plenty of pressure. Put soapy water in a cup and start brushing it on just like a plumber looking for gas leaks.

I had leakage around the bag so it was hard to use around the hatch rim itself. It worked amazingly well everywhere else though. I found every major and minor leak and could say with certainty that I had no bulkhead leaks. I also got practice in making an emergency field repair of a lost or damaged hatch cover.

The local VCP dealer (GRO) gave me the idea. I asked how they find leaks and they showed me an oval hatch cover that they had modified with a valve stem in the center. If we ever have problems with our VCP hatches I know exactly what I’ll be asking to borrow.

i’ll give that a try.

Yeah, pretty much
I drill 1/32" holes 1" above the center of the bulkhead, the theory being that the boat is likely to have more water in it when upright (probably with me in it) than when inverted. Honestly, it probably doesn’t make any difference.

Leaking Pintail Hatches
Re: Leaking Pintail Hatches - Dan

I have only experience with my Pintail.

Check the easiest things first:

Rubber hatch cover terminal edges must be pushed down into recessed lip on boat deck to complete seal after installing hatch.

Exposure to sun can cause covers to loose suppleness requiring reconditioning.

If ‘easy’ doesn’t fix the leaks then its likely the seal on the patitions, the skeg intrusion (rear), or the joint between boat deck and hull. A good kayak shop should be able to pressure check the each hatch and isolate your specific problem.

Hope this helps.