Boat interiors can get wet from spray and also when you wash down. Keeping that water from draining into the bilge and lockers requires hatches that are watertight. Most new boats today feature foam-rubber-like gaskets that, when battened with a compression latch, seal out water. They also help reduce annoying rattles.
Yet many boats of yesteryear didn’t feature these seals. Or, if they did, the seals may have worn out by now. Installing a fresh seal is easy, as we demonstrate here on a bilge hatch of a 1986 center-console using a closed-cell medium density rubber seal from Taco Marine, which features a durable self-adhesive backing. This seal is made for Taco by Trim-Lok, a leading supplier of seals for cars and boats. Trim-Lok’s marketing director, Dan Whitener, helped us with this project.
Quick Tip: On vertical hatches, start and stop the seal installation at the bottom of the hatch or frame, since this is the least likely location for water leaks. Apply a few drops of cyanoacrylate adhesive (i.e., Super Glue) to all seams to bond the two butted ends.
Skill Level: 2/5
Time to Complete: 2 hours per hatch
Tools and Supplies
*Taco Marine No. V30-1333 adhesive weather seal ($18.99/10 feet, westmarine.com)
*Caliper with depth-measuring blade ($36.97, homedepot.com)
*Putty knife (to scrape off old seals)
*Denatured or isopropyl alcohol
*Modeling clay ($4.99, officemax.com)