No matter where a fixing is installed on a kayak it should be sealed to ensure the integrity of the hull is maintained. Some cheaper brands of kayaks are well documented to have used fixings without sealant and as a result leak like a sieve, potentially putting the user in a dangerous situation when out on the water. The more well known kayak brands will either use moulded in inserts for the attachment of fixtures and fittings such as D-rings and handles etc. or use bolts/washers/nuts or rivets that are sealed in place.
When it comes to retro-fitting accessories and equipment such as pad eyes or a cleat for an anchoring system, or a mount and transducer for a fish finder, it is down to the user to ensure the installation of a water tight fixture.
The ideal sealants and adhesives need to be flexible when cured to prevent cracking and splitting when the plastic hull of a kayak flexes, or a load bearing fixture moves under stress. For this reason, solid adhesives, such as epoxy resin, are not recommended for use on plastic hulls. There are 3 sealants that are commonly used when installing kayak fittings and equipment, and these all remain flexible to some degree once cured: General Purpose Silicon, Marine Goop and Sikaflex. They all do the desired job of sealing a fixing but each have their advantages and disadvantages so lets take a closer look at each in turn....
General Purpose Silicon
Despite being a bit tricky to work with neatly, this stuff really does stick well to polyethylene and gel coat. It is therefore great for sealing and sticking fixtures and fittings and also for sticking down a transducer in the same way as the Marine Goop method mentioned above.
Whilst i prefer Marine Goop to work with, Black Sikaflex looks really good on black surfaces, such as the hull of my Tempo, or the centre hatch of my Rytmo. Its tricky to work with on light coloured material as its hard to achieve a neat finish but with patience and persistence it can work well.
Sikaflex-291i can be brought from several online websites for around £10 a tube.
So there we have it - 3 sealants that can be used to waterproof any kayak fittings and fixtures you may want to add to your kayak. Marine Goop is my favourite and It is definitely worth having a tube of it in your kayak tool box as it will always come in handy for both little and big installation jobs. I like to have Goop, Sikaflex and Clear Silicon at my disposal and i can be confident that all my fixings are fully waterproof and that the fixtures i have used are not going to compromise the hull. Providing you are working above the waterline and use plenty of sealant then your fixtures and fittings will keep the water out and not let any in!
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