need help with possibly leaking bulkhead

Just completed a six day 320 km solo trip on a Class I river. Wore my spray skirt half the time.

Each night I would have a cup or two of water in the cockpit, either from water splashing around the spray skirt, over the coaming (when I wasn’t using the spray skirt) or just drained from my sandals on re-entry. Sponged it up, no problem.

I also found half a cup or so in the rear hatch each evening, but don’t know how it got in. I used a Necky Manitou, poly boat with a glued minicell bulkhead. The hatch is the usual neoprene cap (which fits quite tightly) covered with a plastic lid.

The hatch leakage was no problem, since “dry” items were all drybagged. However, if it is a bulkhead leak, I wonder if I should fix it before it turns into something bigger.

So my questions are:

  1. How do I definitively diagnose a leaking bulkhead?

  2. If it is a bulkhead leak, is it worth fixing?

  3. If it’s worth fixing, what’s the best way?

    I fear that the answer to (3) will entail complex and laborious efforts which I will be too stupid to complete correctly, so reassurances may eb helpful.

Why not
just put the kayak in the yard and put a couple of inches of water into the cockpit, or into the hatch compartment, into the boat with your garden hose?

ditto . . .
Only I would add the water to the suspect compartment - to at least the water line and a little above.

And if you do find a leak…

– Last Updated: Aug-25-09 8:08 AM EST – it with Lexel or one of the GOOP products (they're all the same). DO NOT use silicone sealer!

Also, you should vent your bulkheads to prevent pressure variations. While putting a hole in a bulkhead to keep it dry sounds counterintuitive, if you put a warm boat onto cooler water, the reduced pressure in the sealed compartments will tend to draw in water from any available leak point. The best way to do this with foam bulkheads is to poke a hole through it with a piece of wire, then insert one of the thin thin tubes that come with spray lubricants and cleaners. Trim it flush and you're done. BTW, I generally locate vent holes ~1" above center on the bulkheads.

I had a leaky bulkhead
My Current Designs boat has ABS plastic bulkheads. The bulkheads are sealed with what looks like silicone caulking. The stern bulkhead always leaked water from the cockpit into the stern compartment. I used a 4-inch wide piece of ‘flashing tape’ which is like really thick electrical tape, available at your local home depot.

My rear bulkhead has been dry for 2 years now.

Odds are excellent it’s not the bulkhead that’s leaking, rather the hatches. Even rubber hatch covers leak a little.

Bill H.