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How to solve a leaking hatch

By January 23, 2018Working on the boat
Installing a hatch

During the summer I had the boatyard in Fajardo, Puerto Rico install two hatches I had bought to replace the almost 20 year old ones on the boat. These were the last two I needed to replace, before all of the hatches were new. unfortunately my busy schedule did not allow me time to get them installed myself like I had done on the others. Thus the reason the yard workers did it……and it leaked!

I had some time a few weeks ago, so I decided I would just redo it myself (if you want something done right…..). I am here to tell you how easy it is to do. First you have to get the hatch out and this can be done by taking out all the screws holding it to the deck. Next take a 2 inch wide chisel and using a hammer tap it under the front corner of the hatch frame. Make sure you have some cardboard (I use a cereal box) under the chisel to save the deck. I like the wide chisel over a screwdriver so it does not dig into the deck with the pressure.

Once the chisel is all the way in under the frame let it sit there as you take a blade and run it under the frame as much as you can and then take your flathead screwdrivers and wedge them under the frame on both sides of the chisel as far away as you can. Repeat this with all four corners and eventually the hatch should come right out.

Now that the hatch is out you need to clean up both it and the hole. I like using a flat blade to get the caulk off the edge of the hole and then I do a light sanding to make sure it is all up. On the bottom of the frame I use the flathead screwdriver and sandpaper to clean it all off.

Putting the hatch back in is the easy part. Take silicone caulk (I prefer it over adhesives, but there is an argument for both) and put it all on the bottom of the frame. Make sure to not get stingy with it (this is what happened in the first place, there was not enough sealant). I want to see the caulk squeeze out all the edges when I put the hatch in place and screw it to the deck. This way you know you have it under the entire frame. Leave the clean up until after the caulk dries and all you have to do is take your blade and cut off the excess.

Viola you are done. This project should be about a 30-60 minute job and is easy to do yourself. Remember professionals built the Titanic while an amateur built the Ark!

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