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Checking for Leaks on Your Kayak

by Preston Ong October 30, 2014

Checking for Leaks on Your Kayak

Nothing is more aggravating than launching your kayak only to bring it back to shore 20 minutes later with 5 gallons of seawater in it. You've checked your hatches and drain plugs, and nothing seems to be wrong. Where could the leak be? 

Here's how to properly find where your kayak is leaking.

Step 1: Elevate your kayak

Elevate your kayak

Put your kayak on a pair of saw horses or two milk crates in order to elevate it as shown above. Be sure that all the water inside is dried out, and that the boat is balanced so it will not fall off the supports once you fill it with water. Clean the outside of your boat so that it is dry and free of dirt.

Step 2: Fill the kayak half way with water

Fill your kayak halfway with water

Open a hatch and use a garden hose to fill the boat half way. Filling it completely is unnecessary and will make the next step more difficult.

Most sit on top kayaks do not have bulkheads inside the boat, so you can fill the boat through one hatch. If you have a sea kayak or a boat with multiple bulkheads, you will need to fill each of the bulkheads separately to test for leaks. 

Step 3: Move your boat around to find the leaks

Move your kayak around to find the leak

Once your boat is half full, close the hatches and move your boat around to find where the leak is. Lean the boat forwards and backwards so you can test for leaks on both ends of the kayak. 

Scupper holes, hatches, drain plugs, grab handles and the keel of your kayak are often suspect locations for leaks. Look for even small drops of water emerging from a part of your boat. Even a tiny leak can let in gallons of water when you are paddling for 2 hours! 

Before you attempt to fix a leak in your kayak, it is important to know where it is located. If your boat was bought recently, you should demand a warranty replacement. However, if your kayak has been through many paddling seasons, finding and fixing leaks yourself may be necessary.

Stay tuned for an article on fixing leaks!



Preston Ong
Preston Ong

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