Sealing bulkheads

I have a leaky bulkhead on my Perception Eclipse. What do I use to seal it? Is there special stuff or is it just silicone caulk?




Me too

– Last Updated: Apr-30-06 9:32 PM EST –

The bulkheads on all of my boats are sealed with silicone caulk, which just doesn't adhere well to polyethelene or ABS plastic. I have a leaky bulkhead on my CD kevlar boat (bulkhead made of ABS) due to silicone pulling away from the ABS. I picked up some super sticky sill/gutter sealer tape off a jobsite (five finger discount) and used it to seal the bulkhead/hull seam (the bulkhead has a one inch lip that I was able to overlap with the tape.) It works very well.

Anytime the hull flexes (like when strapping to car rack) or because of other forces, the caulk is probably going to fail. The tape I used is 4 inches wide and very flexible so it will absorb any flexing and maintain the seal.

Plastic Is More Difficult
For the kevlar boat with ABS bulkheads I would use either glass or 5200. I have heard that 5200 works with the plastic boats but I have never tried it.

Happy Paddling,


marine sealant

– Last Updated: Apr-30-06 10:00 PM EST –

don't use silicone.

there are abunch of marine sealants that work. sikaflex, 3M 5200, lexel, Goop. use alot.


I know everyone is going to tell you
not to use silicon sealant, but the bulkhead on my Eclipse was leaking slightly about seven or eight years ago.

I used silicon sealant and it never leaked a drop after that, and it was uopside down in surf many times.

Try it and see. It won’t do any harm to the boat.

By the way, that is great boat if it is the older model Eclipse and has the aluminum rudder.



Just did this on a Percep. Carolina

A few weeks ago I re-sealed the bulkheads on my Perception Carolina. Here is the method I used.

  1. Start with a dry boat, stored indoors since last fall.
  2. Remove old factory sealer, by grabbing and tugging. Use utility knife as necessary.
  3. Wash seal areas with rubbing alcohol and cotton rags.
  4. Allow all alcohol to evaporate (24 hours).
  5. Flame treat the bonding areas with a propane torch. Apply just enough heat to see an iridescent effect on the surface of the poly. Don’t apply much heat to the ethafoam bulkhead.
  6. Apply LEXEL sealant. This is a solvent based product which other posters have said is the sealant used at the Perception factory. It is available by mail order.
  7. Smooth the LEXEL sealant hand pressing it fully into the seam at the edge of the bulkhead, wear a surgical style glove and wet the glove with mineral spirits before smoothing the sealant.
  8. Allow LEXEL to cure for two weeks, keeping boat in a heated location. The living room works great if you are a bachelor.

    I’ve had the boat in the water 3 times, and the bond seems good.


Older vs New Eclipse

– Last Updated: May-01-06 2:28 PM EST –

Hey JackL,

You mentioned the Eclipse is a great boat, if it's an older model...

Is there something wrong with newer model Eclipses? I'm curious because I just bought 2 Eclipses last year.


leaky bulkhead
On some kayaks (Impex for example), one side is siliconed, the other glassed. If glassed on both sides, best to use epoxy mixed with Marine West 406 Colloidal Silica Filler and fiberglass tape. If siliconed on one side and it is a pinhole leak that you can identify, you might try 3M 5200 on the siliconed side only–also good for leaks around skeg cable. Once you use silicone, it is hard to glass over it.

Just my take, since you asked…
I saw some Perception boats made out of airlite( not sure if I spelled it right) that were coming apart at the seams, which turned me off completely, and correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t the newer Eclipses made out of that?

Plus I don’t like the plastic Yakama rudder. the old aluminum one was unbreakable.

I guess what it boils down to is the whole newer model is made cheaper than the old school one.




– Last Updated: May-01-06 6:32 PM EST –

Hi JackL,

Eclipses now come in both materials, Airilite and the old standy, plastic. Both my new Eclipses are plastic. I just checked the Perception website, and it states that new Eclipses come with aluminum Expedition Touring rudders. I guess they heard the remarks and made the tight changes. Hopefully.

Whew, I don't feel as worried as I did earlier. :-)


Great Stuff
you know that spray-in, expanding foam. it sticks to most everything. I just put some in my little boat to test it out. it sealed around the foam blocks and also stuck where I put it in just to take up space. I didn’t want the time and expense of all the minicell and all that…I had a can of greatstuff laying around.

what is the worst that happens…you are out $6


Hardware Stores have LEXEL…
You can buy the Lexel adhesive/sealant at most hardware stores. We found it (comes in a clear tube) at Ace Hardware. Could not find it at Home Depot or Lowes. Lexel takes a long time to fully cure, but it’ll definitely be dry enough for use in day, maybe two.


What I really want to do is pull out the ABS and put in glass bulkheads.

That’s gonna take some time, and I’d rather go paddle. I’ll do it some day.

It is still being made in Poly as well…but the workmanship has been poor this lately…leaky bulkheads are very common and the plastic is far, far wekaer from the older ones.


It’s not silicone
CD does not use silicone sealer. The material they sent me for doing a bulkhead repair is called Kop-R-Lastic. While it contains amorphous silca, it does not contain silicone. Silicone sealers are far too weak for any structural application in an kayak. The residue they leave behind can be problematic as well. IMO, they should not be used in a kayak at all.

Lexel is widely available
Several of the hardware and paint stores near me carry it. It’s good stuff.

BTW, when it comes to pressing Lexel or GOOP into cracks or molding it to shape, a little spit on a finger works just fine and prevents it from sticking to your skin. Plain water will work, too.

The worst that can happen is…
…that is soaks up water and falls apart. Insulating foams are not waterproof.