Stopping Deck Hatch Leaks


When I searched the internet for advice on repairing a small leak between the lens and sealant on a 20-year-old Lewmar Ocean 60 hatch, on my 1996 Valiant 42, I was dismayed by the dearth of information. Even the Lewmar site does not provide a schematic of the hatch or a service manual. You can purchase a new gasket but that is not what is leaking. There is no mention of the sealant. Hatchmasters quoted a repair cost 1/2 the price of a new replacement with a greater than four-week turnaround. I would still have to remove and replace the hatch. I will wing it, but thinking that if it came to that, I would definitely not want to replace it with a hatch I could not readily service myself. In my subsequent search I found a reference to a PS July 1, 1994 comparison of Offshore Deck Hatches. I was then dismayed to find that the PS archives stop at year 2000. Fortunately, after some rummaging I found the print version. It was still relevant and useful. In fact as far as I can tell, it is the most recent hatch comparison out there.

Bomar hatches

Photos by Drew Frye (top); Darrell Nicholson

There are two issue here.

One, it has been over 20 years since you reviewed deck hatches. Please consider an update with ease of maintenance one of your considerations.

Two, I had planned to discarded those old issues of PS thinking that they would always be available in the PS archives. I would encourage you to extend the archive back to the first issue, so that people like me could trade several feet of shelf space, for instant electronic access from our boats or anywhere else we might be. Also these early issues are full of relevant information on equipment found on many fine boats dating from that era.

Bob Rohwer

Voyager, Valiant 42

Annapolis, MDl

Were glad you find the archives useful. We often find ourselves diving into the past for answers we need today. The 1994 test of offshore deck hatches is now available online (a link will be posted with the online version of this article), and well start posting others that are still relevant.

In addition to the 1994 test report, youll find several hatch-related articles online that might be help.

Essential Sailing Gear that Lasts (PS October 2017)

Tech editor Ralph Naranjo lists Bomar hatches among the handful of equipment that sailors can count on for the long haul. Bomar was named among the gear of the year in 1998, so if you were looking for a different brand to replace your existing hatch, wed check their sizes.

Repairing Leaky Portlights (Inside Practical Sailor blog March 22, 2017)

This blog article focuses on repairing fixed ports and reminds do-it-yourselfers that the sealant failure is often a symptom of a structural issue that is causing flexing at the joint. The recommended sealant is butyl tape, used as a gasket.

PS Advisor: Goo vs. Gaskets (PS December 2012)

This 2012 article suggests several possible adhesive sealants for bedding new hatches, with a big thumbs up for butyl tape (available from Bomar and others). It also suggests sealants to use between the glazing and the hatch frame.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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