Sunday, June 28, 2009


Why do we tempt the gods. A short while ago I published a piece about quality control in the kayak industry. Not long after I took possession of the Romany S that I paddled around the Isle of Man last year. When it arrived the hatches were missing. I borrowed hatches and discovered the front hatch had a leak.

Odd as the front hatch was bone dry through some tumultuous waters in the Irish Sea.

After some good advice from Doug Lloyd I built a pressure hatch by drilling one of the spare hatch covers I now have. I cut a valve out of an old bike tube and squeezed it through the undersized hole. I added lots of Sikaflex around the valve stem.

Next I attached my bicycle foot pump and pumped it up to about 3 BARS. Then I applied soapy water to all the obvious places and low and behold there are bubbles burbling up from one of the deck fittings.

I removed the hatch and stuck my head in and what should I find but a inch and a half seam where the epoxy had flaked off along the edge of the fibreglass tape that holds the fitting in place. This allowed water to seep in around the fitting and then out under the tape and into the hull.

I went back to the tube of Sikaflex and applied it to the outside deck fitting and I am about to apply some wetted glass to the inside seam.

I suspect the epoxy chipped off when the fully loaded boat was dropped onto the cement parking lot at the end of my trip around the Isle of Man. It's not surprising that something like this could have happened. The drop was high enough that the hull was cracked through to the glass.

I have a friend who has been critical of these round deck fittings. A hole is cut in the deck then the fitting epoxied and taped in. I have the same fitting on my Explorer and this is the first to fail. Nevertheless I believe SKUK has gone back to the old style fittings commonly found on Valley boats. They are mechanically attached in recessed moulded pockets. I have never heard of them failing. I now concede the arguement to wiser kayakers and recommend sticking to the older style of fitting.

To date I've spent about six hours hunting down this leak. Previously I applied Sikaflex to all the bulk heads fore, aft and centre, and to the outside rim of the forward hatch. Then fruitlessly filled the compartments with water in the hopes of finding a seeping leak.

I don't know if hatches are pressure tested before leaving the factory but it seems like a good idea. Water tests will follow as soon as the glass is dry.

1 comment:

Doug Lloyd said...

I've heard that Valley tests all their boats just before leaving the factory. A good retailer will duplicate the pressure test upon delivery.

I test my boats prior to summer expedition season and before winter storm season - and any time I've had a hard encouter, etc. Seaworthy is as seaworthy does.