Gasket Maintenance In Opening Ports

Most reports of leaking windows received at Beckson have turned out to involve other manufacturer's ports. There are too many reasons why other ports leak to cover here. You are welcome to call Beckson for advice in solving your problems with non- Beckson ports. We will cover here the occurrences that are relevant to Beckson ports. The Beckson name is located between the hinges on the top face of the window frame.

Leaks In Older Ports

As a general rule if a leak starts in or near an older window, it has either a dirty gasket or deterioration of the caulking. The first step is to find exactly where the water is leaking. Signs of improper or deteriorating caulking are; the bottom front of the window frame is dry but the area below it is wet, or a leak is occurring at the screw heads, or the window frame or the cabin "above" it is wet. Refer to the Beckson article on

Improper Caulking

If the trail of a leak is not readily apparent, you can use the following logic as a short-cut in finding the cause without dismantling the cabin. A hull and deck are caulked together to form a water-tight assembly. Holes are then cut into this assembly for fittings and accessories. To find the source of a leak look for these holes in the general area above the leak. For example, leaks in deck fittings can run down the inside of the hull or behind the liner and drip off the window frame leading one to conclude that the port must be leaking. Likewise, a window caulking leak which emerges at the bottom of the window frame will cause some to swear the window gasket has failed. Only when water is "visibly" leaking between the gasket and the lens it is not a caulking problem.

Over-Tightened Gaskets

If someone has over-tightened the knobs on a port and left it for a long period, the new style grooved gasket can take a compression set; effectively it becomes a solid piece of rubber and loses most of its resiliency and ability to repel water. Wiping the gasket with a very light coating of petroleum jelly and leaving the port open for a few days will rejuvenate the gasket. Over-tightening should not occur in ports using cam latches.

Older Gaskets

You may have an old design smooth gasket. A smooth surface can allow capillary action to draw water across though tightly sealed. It should be replaced with a newer design that has parallel ridges that stop capillary leaks. Wiping an old style gasket with a very light coating of petroleum jelly will rejuvenate the gasket and its water repellent nature will help resist capillary action. This is a temporary solution to stop the leak until the gasket is replaced. Do not use silicone grease as it attracts and holds dirt like a magnet. Other lubricants may adversely affect the gasket or lens material.

Gasket Installation

Should you remove the gasket and screen from the window frame, remember to re-install the screen with the smooth side of the face toward you (so it will be against the gasket). The legs on the screen fit into the groove in the port frame. The gasket should be placed with the seam at the top of the window. Push the leg of the gasket into the groove at the two corners of one end and then slightly stretching it, do the two corners on the other end. Then press in the rest and you are finished.Make sure the gasket is in correctly. The gasket should be placed with the seam at the 12:00 position. All manufacturers use an extruded gasket which is bonded in a loop. Since the bond point could interfere with the seal, we place this at the top of the window. A person removing and re-installing the gasket may not have noticed this. The resulting leak will be a rare drip but why have any at all?

Other Helpful Hints

Many boat owners have worked so hard for so long for their boats that they feel compelled to do some maintenance on the ports. Involved in another project? Resist the urge to share it with your ports. If you find yourself using an aerosol can of CRC or WD-40 or other lubricant, don't spray the hinges. If you are cleaning the galley with a spray cleaner, don't clean the lens. If you're anointing the boat with an aerosol spray of CUTTER or other insect spray, don't spray the screen or lens. A good rule of thumb is, if you won't put it on your face, don't put it on the window. (Avoid a toxic safety hazard and don't use aerosols in the closed environment of your boat.) If you really must work, try reading a chapter on celestial navigation! Cover the window when using teak cleaner, such as Liquid Gold, paint stripper, teak oil or paint on adjoining areas. Do not clean the window with hydrocarbons (petroleum products) or solvents. This will prevent accidental damage to the window and a lot of clean up time. If you are using the tightness in the hinge to hold the lens open then you might hear a slight chirp as you close the window. This is a necessary result of the friction needed to hold the window open. Do not lubricate the hinges to eliminate the noise as that will eliminate the friction. If not using the hinge tension, merely loosen the nuts on the hinge pins to eliminate the noise. Beckson offers a variety of port holders and chains as an alternative to hinge tension to hold the lens in the open position.


If an opening port has been providing adequate service and a leak suddenly develops, it is a deterioration of the caulking or a problem with the gasket. With only minimal cleaning you will be assured of satisfactory service and long life for your Beckson opening ports.