Fixing a Leaky Boat - Again!


Lisa had been complaining about a leak in the cockpit of her kayak for some time.  I thought it might be her spray deck, but it wasn't.  Then I thought that perhaps one of the through hull or deck fittings was loose.  Or maybe , as in my own boat, there was a leak through the skeg controler mechanism.  (See my earlier report on finding and fixing a skeg controler leak)  To find out what was leaking, I set Lisa's boat on a flat spot in the lawn and filled the cockpit with water to see where water leaked out.  I saw that there was a substantial stream od water coming out of the skeg controler, primarily along the rod that the controler rides on, and no where else.  If this much water can come out of a full cockpit, its for sure that some will get in while paddling.    

I emptied the boat and set it on its side in my Talic kayak stands (see my gear review), tying it down with a nylon strap.  This allowed me to sit close with my head in the cockpit, looking at the place were the skeg control was located.  I peeled back the knee brace foam and found two locations that looked problematic.  I repaired them with epoxy and fiberglass tape.  Then it was back to the front yard to fill the cockpit once again.  The leak was still there and almost as bad as before.  

Back in the garage, I decided that the curves and angles around the rounded control housing inside the boat were to extreme for the glass cloth to adhere to adequately.  My next move was to mix epoxy with a filler and put a fillet of this material along the suspect part.  Then I overlaid all of this with fiberglass cloth.  Back to the front yard again for another test.  It seemed that the leak was fixed.  No, but wait; there was still a leak, small but still there.  

Once more in the garage I tried a new technique for pinpointing where the leak was.  With the boat still on its side but with the skeg control on the top edge, I filled the outside slot that housed the control with water and this time waited to see where the water leaked in.  Sure enough I found two areas that dripped small amounts of water into the boat.  Using silicone calk this time, I sealed the two areas that were still leaking.  After letting them cure overnight, I refilled the skeg control with water and watched for still another leak.  There was none!  I declared the problem solved and reattached the knee brace foam I had removed the first day.  


This video id fairly long (over nine minutes).  Fast Forward if you want.

Lessons learned that would have made this repair go faster:

  • Filling the cockpit to see WHAT is leaking and from WHERE is a good first step.
  • After an inspection of the suspect area, the second step should not be an attempt at a repair.  The second step should be putting water in the controler to see exactly where water is entering the boat.  
  • The third step should be to re-test by pouring water in the controler once more to see if the leaks have stopped.  Refilling the cockpit only tells you whether the control is still leaking, not where the leak is.
  • Be aware that stopping the leak in one place may just move it to another.  Check your day and rear hatches to be sure this hasn't happened to you.

 © Don Yackel 2020