Improperly mounted hatch by builder resulted in major core damage as well as ruining the finish below

Properly Installed Hardware Could Save You From Visiting Our Cabin & Deck Leaks Page

Quality Care for the Finest Yacht. Yours.


Serving Long Island Sound to the Caribbean and Beyond, since 2001

Installing any sort of hardware on a boat, particularly on deck, is far more involved than simply drilling a few holes, slapping in some caulk and bolting or screwing the piece down firmly. If done incorrectly, serious damage can occur. Understanding deck composition and how it affects the structural integrity of the boat is an important part of the process.

Water that finds its way into the cabin through a leak in the deck, or hatch or port light can be an annoyance, at best. Water that gets through the deck, but doesn't actually make it into the cabin can be a far worse scenario. (See our cabin & deck leaks page.)

Since water can so easily find its way into a boat's deck through an improperly mounted piece of hardware, we take extra steps to avoid that from ever happening. As stated earlier, just drilling holes, adding some caulk and screwing down the hardware will not be very effective for very long, if at all. It might work for a short time if you are lucky, but certainly not for the long haul. 

There are a number of factors that will affect how well water will be sealed out where a piece of hardware has been mounted. Keep in mind a boat is constantly flexing. Most pieces of hardware take on loads--sometimes very large shearing loads--that are not always constant. There is expansion and contraction of the deck. Caulk is not always permanent. Hardware on molded non-skid can be difficult to seal well. We take all these things into consideration and add extra steps to the mounting process to keep the chances of leaking down the road very slim, but more importantly, if they were to leak due to uncontrollable circumstances, any damage caused to the deck would be extremely limited. 

Some of the steps we take are simple steps that every manufacturer should do when they mount hardware. Unfortunately, most don't. These simple steps only take a few extra minutes and help to create a far better seal. Other steps are a bit more involved and admittedly can take much more time. A few high-end manufacturers incorporate these steps. In our opinion, it would be smart for all manufacturers to do so.

One area where we see drastic problems is the deck areas around the lifeline stanchion bases on sailboats, particularly around the boarding point or boarding gate. Crew members will typically grab the top of the stanchions to help pull themselves up onto the boat from the dock or dinghy. The leverage created will certainly put added stress on the mounting area in the deck over time. Eventually, the sealant will break down and water will find its way through the deck surface, down the fasteners and into the deck core. It will continue to get in, even at greater rates as everything continues to loosen up, which it will. Over time, the deck core will begin to rot and become structurally compromised. We have done many repairs to various decks (see Cabin & Deck Leaks) due to inadequate mounting practices, in most cases, by the manufacturer. These factory mounting jobs are usually fine for the first few years, so they don't need to worry about warranty coverage for damage resulting from these inferior mounting methods. 

We have designed a solution for this stanchion area problem that has been effective in both keeping water out of the deck core over the long term as well as dramatically reinforcing the area under the stanchions.

There are any number of reasons why decks and cabins might leak or be compromised in areas where hardware has been mounted. Using the wrong fasteners, not drilling the correct size pilot holes for screws, not getting enough sealant where it is most necessary, and just the simple effects of movement and/or loosening over time, to name a few. At DAKOTA MARINE we understand the demands of a harsh marine environment and the sometimes excessive loads that may be put on all types of hardware. We see often how leaks get in and the damage they can do to a deck. When we install or replace hardware of any sort, all these factors are taken into consideration and the mounting is done accordingly.

In addition to deck hardware installations, we mount hardware just about everywhere else you might find it necessary aboard a boat. In all cases, everything we install, from a simple piece of hardware to a complete and complex system of sorts, is executed to the highest of standards.