Re: Waterproof bulkheads?

Posted by Kurt Maurer on May 17, 2004

Johnnie, bulkheads aren't necessary at all, though I consider them a *really good* idea in the S&G hull for structural purposes. And as a structural member, they ought to be "connected" all the way around for maximum effectiveness. But even then, you may certainly include gaps without compromising their contribution to the solidity of the boat as a whole.

In my Mill Creek 13s, I purposely left gaps around the sheer clamps so that any water in the compartments could drain into the cockpit for easy removal. Of course, you must always be sure that all wood everywhere, particularly end-grain, is perfectly waterproofed with epoxy. Anyway, having provided those "weep holes", I made no effort to seal the hatch covers, which greatly simplified their installation.

But if you include sealed hatch covers and watertight bulkheads in your finished boat, then you get a ton of flotation in return. Which means, of course, a huge safety factor is built in. (But you must remember, the boat can still be blown away from you in the event of a capsize and wet-exit, in which case all the flotation in the world doesn't help you... Wear a PFD.)

Boats without bulkheads are recommended to include flotation bags, or whatever they're called (look in the upper right corner of this web page for a quick look at one). The idea is to provide flotation by stuffing kayak-shaped airbags into the ends of the boat.

We never used 'em on our MC13s. Those particular boats are so extraordinarily stable and dry that all these safety measures were deemed superfluous. But please understand I DID NOT SAY THAT.

Cheers, Kurt

In Response to: Waterproof bulkheads? by Johnnie Mac on May 17, 2004