When it rains HARD, cruising boats often find leaks that didn’t exist last time it rained hard! Because everything on a sailboat is in constant motion, caulk and sealings are constantly moving, flexing and over time, cracking. We thought we had fixed all the leaks over the summer and were sealtight. Until we got almost three inches of hard rain!
As it was raining, we marked wherever we found a drip with blue tape. That way we know where to look when it’s sunny and dry. The starboard side long window has been a source of many leaks over the years and the tape marks where the drip was found — mind you, not a source of concern … yet… just one drip. But better to get it while it’s one drip than when it gets the settee cushions below all wet!
Lucky us, we also had a drip over the pullman berth … our bed! Unluckily, this time it wasn’t the hatch gasket, it was the actual seal between the acrylic and the hatch. Bummer. But worse was David’s idea to use a pillow to catch the water rather than a bowl or bucket. And it did get more than just a drip, the pillow has a slightly soggy spot which I dried in the sun the next day.
Once the boat dried out, David set out to find the leaks. We were getting ready to untie dock lines for a few months & didn’t really want to worry about new drips we could fix while we were still at the dock.
First, David worked on the starboard window. He cleaned out all the previous caulking in the spots where he suspected the drip was originating. Note that drips can be notorious for coming from somewhere other than where they’re showing up down below! But we’ll start with what we hope is the obvious.
First the infamous blue tape, then David’s using a dental tool to get behind the window casing and extract as much of the previous caulk or silicone or whatever it was as possible.
Now he’s using Permatex flowable silicone, primarily used on cars or trucks along windshields. This stuff supposedly flows into wherever the crack or void is that’s causing the leak. We’ve had good luck with it in the past, we’ll see this time.
He decided to clean and reseal the entire top of the window in hopes that the flowable silicone will do it’s job and flow into wherever those tiny drips are originating. We waited a day, removed the tape and doused the window with the hose. No leak. Unfortunately, it’s our experience that just because it doesn’t leak with a hose test, doesn’t mean it won’t leak the next time there’s a hard long rain!
Moving on to the more serious leak above the pullman berth originating from the connection between the glass and the aluminum hatch frame. First David cleaned out all the caulk that he could reach with the dental tools from the topside. Realize that the acrylic is bedded and to do this job right, we should have removed the acrylic from the frame, completely cleaned both the frame and the acrylic and reseated it completely. But we’re hoping to stop that leak and attack the acrylic removal and reseating when we decide to replace the crazed acrylic, which was on the list for last year, but other more urgent items keep getting moved past it on the list. 🙂 Imagine that!
Once the area is as cleaned out as possible since we’re not doing it 100% correctly, David uses leftover black caulk from our teak project the week before to try and reseal the leak.
Then he pushes the caulk as deep down into the void as he can just like he did with the teak black caulk project. We have no idea if this will work or not, but it seemed like a good way to use up the black caulk before it hardens and can’t be used for anything but trash. After letting it dry overnight, he sanded it level … trying the hose test yielded no leak. But as I said, the hose test doesn’t necessarily yield real world hard rain results. So we’ll see.
Anyone have other ways they seal minor leaks? Please leave a comment and share. We know our attempts may just be bandaids, but hopefully the bandaid will last until we move the replacing the hatch acrylic and reseating the starboard window up on the project list. 🙂 Cheers — Jan