Leaky Front Hatch!!!!!


I have a seriously leaky front hatch. It always leaks a little, but after paddling rough water where the waves are continuously breaking over the bow it is much, much worse.

Today I went on about a 3.5 hour paddle in fairly rough conditions and when I got back I had SEVERAL GALLONS of water in my front hatch. This is now starting to concern me as that much water will affect the handling of the boat.

The hatch cover was secure. The boat is a Valley Aquanaut. I can’t find any spots where boat is cracked, etc.

What suggestions do you have?

I am sure that there is some water that will get in through the hatch cover, but not this much I would not think.

I am thinking of caulking around the hatch rim to see if that helps

Any other suggestions???



Test the hatch and bulkhead
Could be the bulkhead or the hatch. Put some water in the compartment secure the hatch and turn the boat over to look for leaks around the hatch. Also look to see if any area of the bulkhead is leaking. Water could be coming through the bulkhead from the cockpit as well. Have you seated the hatches properly? Pushed the inner part of the hatch cover’s rim fully down into the recess? If you thumbs and fingers don’t hurt you probably haven’t fully seated the hatch covers. Is it an RM or composite Aquanaut? I believe the RMs welded bulkheads have a lifetime warranty. Let me know what you find. The day hatch on my RM Avocet is leaking a little bit and I must do this test as well.


Secondary seal
That whole notion is a bit crazy. If you really look at how Valley hatches seal, the bottom part of the hatch fitting into to some recessed trough is not applicable. It all has to do with the upper bead on the hatch coaming fitting well with the recess in the hatch cover. I have a Chatham that has no secondary seal and is totally dry. I’ve owned 3 Nordkapps, 1 Skerray, 1 Avocet. All leaked a bit from time to time. Valley hatches are (along with Kajak Sport) the best, albeit quite crude. Testimony to the technology in Sea Kayaking! If your A-boat is composite, look at the bond of the hatch coaming to the deck, bulkhead seal, grab loop tube. If Poly look at the weld between the hatch coaming and deck along with the bulkhead. They do a good job typically of welding, utilizinng a nichrome mesh and elecricity they achieve a good melted-in bond. But there have been minor issues. Deck fittings are either molded-in inserts or glassed in nuts, so leaking from either is unlikely. Do as the previous poster says…fill the front chamber and invert it on stands…look for the seeping. Good luck…you’ll find it…it’s a good boat!

Possibilities -

One of our friends did find that there was not insiginificant leakage in her day hatch on an RM Avocet unless she seated the hatch cover all the way down as recommended in the first post.

Front Bulkhead -

The leaks that happen from a crack or flex right around the edges of the bulkhead can be impossible to see with your eye, whether the boat is glass or RM. Also, that front bulkhead is often where it’ll start because it is larger and where the hull has to flex a bit when strapped down to the car.

Top of bulkhead - My husband is in the process of sealing up a small crack in the top of his front bulkhead in a glass boat, said crack is absolutely invisible to the eye. The only way it was proven was that the only way the front bulkhead got wet was from rolling sessions.

Bottom of bulkhead - I had the same experience with my old RM boat, except the leak was on the bottom so it showed up in regular paddling. Same solution as above - seal it whether or not you can see the problem.

These leaks tend to take a couple or so tries with the correct gunk to really get it.

Hatch cover, fit of same -

My Vela rear hatch, with that huge oval, will leak a bit unless the 303 is applied to hatch and hatch cover about every other time it is on/in the water. If you feel around the edge you can see why. The combination of the oval shape and the sheer size of the thing leaves spots around the oval where the hatch cover is less tight than other spots, unless there is a lot of fresh lubricant to make sure it goes on evenly.

Yours is a Kayak Sport hatch, different from the oval Valley hatches you are dealing with, but it may be worth taking a good look at the rim.

RM or Glass Boat? We haven’t had this issue on any of our glass ND(S)K or Valley boats, but the rim itself could have a weak area in how it is glassed into the top deck.

Be curious to know how this works out - is this a newer Aquanaut? My husband’s is a 2004, ProLite layup, and those bulkheads/hatches hatches have been bone dry with no extra attention.

If there are gallons
it’s not likely coming from the hatches. This happened to me and the problem was the seam between the deck and the hull. It was very hard to see, but easy to diagnose using the above mentioned water test, but you need to be sure to turn the kayak on both sides as well as upside down.

For your peace of mind…if that’s the problem it’s an easy repair. I did it myself and it was my first glass job (aside from the keel strip) and it’s held up perfectly since then.

Good luck,


All good ideas…
All are great ideas. Thanks. I will do some more investigating.

The boat is glass. It is a 2003 model I think.

I don’t think it is the bulkhead b/c I would have a cockpit full of water too…although I do get some leaking there too which is a bit frustrating to me. I get maybe a quart or two. That is something I would like to fix as well.

The front hatch thing is ridiculous though. Overall, with a quality boat I would think that I would not get a leak in either location. Unless there is a crack somewhere, it would seem to me that the leaks could have been prevented with better quality control from the factory. We’ll see though.

Please don’t stop with the suggestions.



Given the details, that seam idea sounds awfully good interesting.

You’ll get it…
Don’t be too hard on Valley. Great products. I’ve owned MANY kayaks and never a “perfect” one. I wonder if your boat was damaged in shipping? I suspect a crack somewhere for sure. Check carefully the bond between the hatch coaming and the deck. Not the hatch cover, but the ring. Pull and push on it and look for cracks. Next step would be taking it to a composite shop. I did so about every three years with my boats to fix numerous cracks etc. Cost about 3-400 each time, but I had a “new” boat.

A flashlight helps in the search…
for leaks. Have someone shine it in the hole where the end toggle is located, then look at the end inside the hatch. Have the flashlight illuminate the outside deck to hull seam slowly. Any pricks of light will betray a crack. run it along your keel, too.

Have a quart of water on hand and pour it on the hatch rim to see if it leaks in that way. NDK used to bolt their hatch rims, which of course cracked and water leaked in that way. I solved that issue with 2 part epoxy putty and an El Marko pen to paint it black.


This is not likely, especially if the
boat was gelcoated, but in hand layups, a worker may have been over-aggressive using a squeegee to remove excess resin after the initial wetting out. This can lead to a condition called pinholing. An old Noah WW boat of mine, bought from Noah as a second, had pinhole leaks, and might acquire a quart over a long day of paddling. (This is harder to tell in WW use.) If your kayak has pinhole leaks fairly far down toward the bottom, hydrostatic pressure could force in quite a bit of water in a short time.

Another detective trick you could try is to put in some desk blotters or similar absorbent paper into your front compartment. Then paddle it on smooth water for a short time. Beach it and examine the paper. Leaks coming down from the seam would wet the edge. Leaks from pinholes or cracks might be located by the wet spots on the paper.