Surveyor's Notebook: Stopping Portlight Leaks

Leaking portlights are a common sight on older sailboats, and they aren’t uncommon on newer ones. Often the owner does not notice small leaks, but over time they get worse and worse until they cannot be ignored.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
This boat’s owner is in for a lot of work, thanks to this long-neglected portlight leak

This boat’s owner is in for a lot of work, thanks to this long-neglected portlight leak

Leaking portlights are a common sight on older sailboats, and they aren’t uncommon on newer ones. Often the owner does not notice small leaks, but over time they get worse and worse until they cannot be ignored. This example is particularly bad: the interior wood trim is saturated, and there is no getting away from the damage that has been caused.

The visible damage is bad enough, but the damage you don’t see can be much worse, especially on boats with cored decks. The water seeping around the portlight’s mounting flange will eventually start to wick into the core material, where it will start to spread. In the parts of the country where freezing temperatures are common, the water turns to ice and expands, forcing the laminate apart and allowing in even more water, which will then freeze and force the laminate apart.

Sometimes owners will make a futile attempt at a “repair” by squirting a bit of goo around the outside of the frames, which looks terrible and does absolutely nothing. This portlight should have been removed and correctly re-bedded long ago. Problems like this, if left unchecked, will seriously affect the resale vale of the vessel.

Related

Meridian-X-Spin_2

MOB: A Whistle in the Wind

Mark Wheeler went overboard a few minutes before midnight. He was in the middle of Lake Michigan, 30 miles offshore in 40 knots of wind. As he fumbled for the lanyard to inflate his lifejacket he watched his racing sailboat, Meridian X, disappear into the night at more than 18 ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Slapper stopper  When I came on deck at 0800 to hoist my colors on a visitors’ mooring recently, there was an awkward slop running in. This doesn’t trouble my Mason 44, which has a traditional counter ...read more

Tilly-1

Gear: Tilley Polaris Hat

A True Blue Tilley Sailing is all about fun in the sun, but it sometimes doesn’t take long to get too much of a good thing, especially when on a prolonged cruise or offshore passage. Enter the Tilley Polaris, the latest lid developed by iconic Canadian hat-maker Tilley. ...read more

Sand-TOWEL_MODEL-3

CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel

Sand Be Gone! The summer is hot and full of terrors—not the least of which is the sand that sticks in your beach towel in the hopes of a free ride back to your car or boat. Fortunately, there's now the CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel, engineered in polyester to not only dry quickly ...read more

01-Blowup-Tiwal2_sailing-(3)

Gear: Tiwal Inflatable Sailing Dinghy

Blow-up Boating A few years ago, the French company Tiwal arrived on U.S. shores with that most improbable of products, an inflatable sailing dinghy that actually sails the way a boat is supposed to. Now, nearly 1,000 Tiwal 3’s later, the company is back with its Tiwal 2, an ...read more

Koozy

Gear: 22 Below Koozie

Killer Koozie For all that sailors love the warmth of this time of year, that same warmth can also wreak havoc on their otherwise icy-cold beers. (Unless, of course, you drink them very, very fast. But we won’t go there.) To help deal with this terrible hardship, North ...read more

Cool-Specs

Gear: Gill's Race Fusion Sunglasses

Wicked Cool Specs Is there anything in the world of sailing more fun than a cool pair of shades? Heck, no! And it would hard to find a cooler pair than these new Race Fusion specs from longtime weather-gear manufacture Gill. In addition to looking great, they include a number of ...read more

North_new

Gear: North Sails Waterproof Pack

A few years ago, North Sails made a big push into the apparel business with all kinds of sharp-looking button-down shirts, shorts and fleeces. That doesn’t mean, though, that the North Sails Collection isn’t still plenty practical, as is evident in its new roll-over waterproof ...read more