Here’s another poorly designed feature on Harpoons – the bailers. A bailer on a sailboat is designed to drain water from the cockpit of a moving boat when it is open and keep water out of the boat when it’s closed. I’ve also read that the bailers used in Harpoons can be left open while moored to limit the water in the cockpit. That I’ll want to try.
My boat came WITHOUT the masks (see item #23 on the exploded drawing). At first, I thought I needed to replace these but they’re impossible to find today. Without them, you can easily see the extent of damage that has been done by water penetrating the hull. I’m not sure if these were ever sealed in – so I would assume they’ve always leaked. In my case, water has penetrated the foam under the cockpit which has now become soft due to delamination and the foam breaking down.
After watching a YouTube video of a bailer repair job on a Harpoon 5.2, I decided to repair mine in a similar fashion by closing in the sides of the openings. I started by removing the bailers. I was surprised, the wood was pretty solid so I decided to just clean it up. I also wasn’t expecting to find a large gap between the wood and the cockpit floor.
Before starting, I used some JB Weld Wood Restore to seal the remaining good wood. I found this new insulating foam from Loctite and decided to give it a try. I filled the gap and squared off the sides of the holes. Next, I mixed up some TotalBoat 5:1 Epoxy and layered in some fiberglass on the sides. I then used TotalBoat’s TotalFair to smooth out the area and reshape the recessed openings in the hull. Instead of trying to gelcoat this area, I plan on painting the area inside the openings with the same Interlux Interprotect e2000 when I paint the hull in the spring.
For the bailers themselves, I completely disassembled, cleaned and replaced the gaskets before putting them back together. I ordered some 6 mm, self-adhesive neoprene on Amazon and cut out my own gaskets. Once the hull is painted, I plan on reinstalling the bailers with some slightly longer screws and lots of new silicone sealer.
I’ve seen where some people have used through bolts instead of screws, but that would make maintaining the bailers more difficult. AND, they will need maintained to work correctly.