A common issue that boat owners face is dealing with leaking hatches on a boat. Hatches are located in a multitude of areas on a vessel, and all of them are subject to water intrusion. As a captain, I was faced with fixing hatches that developed leaks over time. Without question, it is imperative to repair it before long-term damage occurs. Without question, boat owners should know the consequences of failing to repair a leak in a boat hatch. 

Why Do Boat Hatches Leak

Unfortunately, there are a multitude of reasons why boat hatches begin to leak. Here are the primary reasons why your boat hatch may be facing water intrusion. 

The Seal Fails

Likely the most common cause of hatch failure is the failure of the seal over time. Hatch seals typically extend around the entire perimeter of the hatch. The seal is positioned between the hatch base affixed to the deck and the top that can be opened away from the base. 

Some of the primary reasons that boat hatches fail is due to sun exposure, heat, and salt if you’re boating in a saltwater environment.

Damage To Hatch Housing

Unfortunately, hatches’ housings easily become damaged as a result of their location. Remember, most hatches are affixed to the deck. With that said, they are stepped on, banged with scrub brushes, and have heavy objects placed on top of them. 

For this reason, they can easily become damaged, which makes them prone to leakage.

Improper Installation

Remember, the surface of a boat is designed to be waterproof but the layers beneath are not intended to get wet. 

Unquestionably water intrusion occurs as a result of improper installation. One of the primary culprits is failing to adequately seal the hatch in place. The sealant prevents water from seeping in between the mating surfaces of the boat and the hatch. 

Implications Of Leaking Boat Hatches

One of the biggest culprits of damage to boats are unrecognized hatch leaks. Furthermore, some boat owners are aware of water intrusion but fail to address the necessary repair. On a Cabo that I used to run as a captain, the bow cabin hatch was weeping water. Once I identified the problem I quickly pulled and replaced it with a new hatch. 

Understand the implications of failing to replace or repair a leaking boat hatch. 

Mold And Mildew

It should be mentioned that boat storage lockers and cabins are stuffy places with minimal airflow. With that said, a long-term leak can lead to the formation of mold and mildew in interior spaces. 

Unfortunately removing mold and mildew can be challenging especially when it is hidden behind ceiling panels and other hard to reach places. 

Water Damage

As obvious as it sounds, water damage is a major concern when it comes to leaking boat hatches. However, the extent of water damage can reach areas that you did not consider. 

The flow of water saturates upholstery, foam, wood structures, galley equipment, electronics, and more. 

No doubt about it over time wood can rot leading to structural concerns.Once the damage has reached this level, the repair cost will be significant. 

Furthermore, water will invade bedding, cushions, and curtains, causing them to smell and grow mold. You’ll be less than thrilled to climb into a mold-covered bed. 

Electrical Wiring Issues

For the most part, vessels are fitted with a breaker panel that controls power to various areas of the boat. Extending beyond the breaker box are wires traveling to everything requiring power to operate. 

That being said, electronics are susceptible to being exposed to moisture when leaks are occurring. As you know, water and electricity don’t mix. Not only are you more likely to experience corrosion especially in saltwater environments but your chances of frying expensive electronics such as navigation equipment is elevated. 

For this reason, water leaks need to be repaired to prevent the need to replace onboard electronics prematurely. 

Health Concerns

Lastly, health concerns are a major issue, especially if the hatch has been leaking for an extended period of time. 

Exposure to mold and mildew puts your health at risk. Some of the minor symptoms include runny nose, watery eyes, itching, sneezing, and coughing. However, they can be as severe as causing prolonged fatigue, headaches, and breathing issues. 

Fix A Boat Hatch Leaking Before It’s Too Late

Remember, the longer the hatch continues to leak, the more extensive the damage. For this reason, you’re going to want to fix the issue as quickly as possible. I recommend hiring a professional to complete the job if you’re concerned that you’re not going to do it properly. Lastly, inspect your hatches for leaks on a consistent basis.