Leaky Hatches

I’m a begginer/intermediate kayaker and recently bought an kayak. I’m not gracefull yet at getting out of the kayak, so once and while I’ll cause the kayak to flip. I did with my new kayak and discovered that there was probably a 1/2 liter of water in the front hatch and 1 liter of water in back. Is this common? I searched the archives and some say they have leaky hatches while others not a single drop gets in. I talked to the manufacturer and said they will fix it.

I guess my question is are hatches suppose to be water tight, or should I expect some leakage. Basically what is acceptable?



are hatches suppose to be water tight
Yes, hatches are supposed to be watertight.

In reality not all hatches are absolutely watertight.

Valley and Kajak-Sport hatches are usually water tight. Many others are not.

What boat do you have? What kind of hatches does it have? Did you buy it new?

check all possibilities
If it’s after a capsize, and it’s that amount of water after one capsize, there’s also a good possibility that the bulkheads are leaking vs the hatch covers. You may have checked that already, or that may be actually what you’re referring to?

Good luck.

NC Kayak

– Last Updated: Jun-12-09 6:42 PM EST –

NC Kayak from showroom floor (I guess it's brand new).

The front hatch is a beckson twist top I believe


The rear hatch not sure what it is but it looks like:


Bulkheads huh?
Thanks for the info, I did think about checking the bulkheads.

Agree, often bulkheads not hatches
Many of the hatches are watertight but the bulkheads are not. If you have water sloshing around inside the cockpit, there’s a good chance some of it will make it to the hatch area. You want to re-seal the bulkheads periodically to maintain a good seal. I would always use a dry bag anyway because a little water will always make it’s way in.

However, it does sound like a lot of water in your case. I would let them look at it. Too much I think.

Have dealer look at it
New off the showroom floor you should not be getting notable amounts of water in the compartments - whether it be from bulkheads or hatches.

The folks from whom you bought the boat should be able to assess and remedy the problem.

Is the boat
made of thermoformed plastic. If so check and see if there is a small hole drilled in the bulkhead. This hole is for venting pressure on high temp days. Mine has one (Hurricane Tracer). I have been thinking of taping a small piece of plastic rap over the hole, taping only the 2 sides and the top OR bottom edges. This would allow air to escape from the hatch compartment but would stop most if not all water from going into the compartment the plastic rap would act as a one way valve.(I would think)


What is acceptable
A cup or two of water is not perfect but not fatal either. I tend to get that amount into the rear of my Vela from wet work.

But the amount you mention is too much. If it is coming in from the hatch covers, it’ll really get in the way when you start learning to roll and do other type of wet work. You can’t be having to empty your boat out every five minutes when you are trying to learn that.

If it is coming in from the bulkhead, you have a significant safety issue should you capsize and have to do a rescue on open water, well out from land.

Either way, the dealer owes you a correction to the problem.

With that type of hatch…
…it’s important to check the O-ring seals. First off, make sure that they’re actually there. There is an obvious groove in the hatch cover for the O-ring, so if it’s missing, you know immediately.

If the hatch closes really easily, the fit between the O-ring and the outer hatch ring is probably too loose, which is a common source of leakage in my experience. I fixed this on one of my boats by removing the O-rings and wrapping thin layers of tape in the grooves until I achieved a good fit and seal.

Another thing that you should do is coat the O-rings lightly with silicone (spray, liquid or grease), as this will prolong their life and make inserting and removing the covers easier.

Lastly, if your bulkheads are not vented, you should vent them. If they’re rigid (plastic or fiberglass), drill a 1/32" hole in the middle or slightly above. If they’re foam, poke a piece of stiff wire though them (a bicycle spoke works great), then insert a piece of spray-can tubing (like what comes with spray lubes) to keep the hole open.

twist off Beckstroms
and kayaking has to be the dumbest combination. A little grit and dried up salt and it’s near impossible to open them or close them so the gasket is compressed.

Yes they are supposed to be water tight
but with that said:

We have two older plastic Perceptions, (a Eclipse and a Shadow) that have never leaked a drop in any of their hatches and have been upside down on a bunch of occassions and have been buried in surf and big breaking wave many times.

We also have three different model QCC’s which will leak a little bit (a spoongeful) every time they are tipped or after a day with waves breaking over their bows, and have been that way since they were new.

Draw your own conclusions from that.

If I had a kayak that leaked a gallon of water into it, I would return it if it was new, and either repair it or get rid of it if it was a older boat.



It’s fiberglass, I stuck my head in the cockpit and yes there is a venting hole in the front bulkhead but none on the back.

Bulkhead issue
I took it back to the manufacturer and they were able to discover a hole in the rear bulkhead, they said to come back in an hour as that’s how long it would take to fix. Upon my arrival they told me to let it set for 24 hours before use.

I went out for a paddle after the 24 hour period was up there was a lot of chop and some water go in the cockpit, I also spilled my water bottle in the cockpit. But I never flipped or did a water exit, so I was sure not to see any water in the hatches. Front hatch fine back hatch water. After playing around with water on in cockpit and sloshing it around I found the issue. Still a leak in the rear bulk head, when the kayak is on it’s side.

Is it really this hard to make the bulkhead water tight? I used it about 27 hours after the fix wa applied should I have waited longer? I carry my kayak on yakima hull raisers and also manually carry it with the cockpit resting on my shoulder. Could handling it this way cause the issue?

I agree
The press-in and T-lock types do work OK. However, with the press-ins, you need to add some type of latches to hold them in place, as pressure changes can pop them loose. Commercial boats that use them, like Betsy Bay’s, use small turning latches that mount to some of the screws.

Still a bulkhead leak
Thing is, I don’t anything about the material NC Kayak uses for their bulkheads and sealant around the edges. I would consider a bulkhead leak in a new boat a more severe problem if the materials are all pretty stiff, which means that they won’t lend itself to easy maintenance as the kayak ages. There are more flexible materials that you can expect to have to throw some sealant at each year, like the minicell foam bulkheads on plastic boats. But any hardware store has the stuff you’ll need for this type of maintenance.

Is there an NC Kayak owner’s web site or something, where you could chat with others who have one of these?