Adding Flotation

Any “cheap” tips for adding flotation to a rec. kayak that doesn’t have built-in bulkheads or any other flotation? My kayak does not sink to the bottom when swamped, but it won’t float me while full of water.

Could I jam an extra PFD, foam blocks, pool noodles or empty plastic bottles in the ends? Flotation bags are out of reach financially. I’m an incurable dumpster diver and I have some pieces of foam blocks. I also have a PFD and a couple of pool noodles that I picked up off the sides of the road leading to a local lake.

I think that if I could displace enough water the kayak would float high enough that I could re-enter and bail out any remaining water.

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pool noodles
Sure pool noodles will work. It is best if you can find a way to secure them to the boat. If your kayak has a minicell pillar down the center, you can take a short length of PVC scrap tubing about 3/4" diameter and push it through the pillar. Knock out the foam “plug” and pass a length of parachute cord through the PVC pipe and ties both ends around your noodles.

Be careful with foam. Open cell foams soak up water. Ethafoam varies a lot in quality. The original stuff wasn’t bad, but some of the cheap stuff used as packing material today soaks up water and gets very heavy. Minicell foam is good, but costs as much as float bags and weighs more. Styrofoam is OK but tends to “shed” and leave fragments in the water.

I used those cheap blow up toy beach balls and air mattresses in earlier, poorer days.

Make your own?
Using “Tom Yost” instructions -

I created these:

Occasionally, sierratradingpost
has decent float bags for low prices. Keep an eye on their paddling section.

Beach Ball
After my Split Flotation bags somehow disappeared from the bow of my Necky Manitou 13 I bought a 24" beach ball and wedged into the bow area for some flotation.

I found some styrofoam 2"x4"s at Home Depot for a couple bucks each. I cut them up into blocks with a couple pool noodles I had at home. I stuffed everything into a trash bag to keep it all together then stuffed it into the stern.

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Beach balls and mesh bags
You need the mesh bag so you can tie it into place. If you cannot tie it in place is is worthless.

After you add your flotation try it out first in calm water and then in rougher water.

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Thank You
Thanks for the advice and tips. I had no idea so many people were basically in the same boat as I am.

Empty 2 liter bottles should work
fine and can be fitted in tight places more easily han solid materials, like foam.

added buoyancy
My wife and I have a Pamlico Lite kayak. After getting swamped by a fast moving boat and scaring the heck out of my wife, I decided to make the kayak more buoyant. First I stuffed 2 liter bottles into both the bow and stern. I then filled the space between the bottles with closed cell spray foam to several inches further out. In the stern I cut up a boogie board to fill the rest of the space up to the rear of the seat forming a wall closing off the area. I sealed the boogie board wall with silicone caulk. In the bow I did the same but only filling to the end of the foot peg rail. After it had cured for a week, I put the kayak in the pool and with me in it, I filled it with water. It was fairly easy to bail out the water and make it maneuverable. My wife feels much safer. Can anyone tell me if I have done something wrong?