Advice on displacing water

Hi, gang. I’ve been practicing rescues and just haven’t been able to get enough water out of the boat if I’m alone. T-rescue, no problem…but I paddle alone occasionally, so I need to figure out how to get the water out by myself, hopefully without spending 20 minutes pumping. When I try to lift the boat to drain it, mostly what happens is that the boat pushes ME down.

Do you have any recommendations for a way to displace water in front of my footpegs? I’ve got a bulkhead further forward, so a standard tapered bow bag won’t do much for me. The space is trapezoidal. I’ll bet if I could put something there, I could keep a good 3-4 gallons of water out when the boat inverts, and that’s 25-32 pounds I don’t have to hoist when I drain the boat. I considered placing a garbage bag there and pointing a can of expanding foam into it, to create a tailor-made chunk of foam. I’m nervous, though, because the stuff that expands a lot is RIDICULOUSLY strong and would easily blow the boat apart if it chose to expand sideways instead of back toward the seat.

Ideally it would be something removable. I don’t want to do anything that would prevent the footpegs from moving forward if someone taller borrows my boat.

Many people build up the front bulkhead with layers 2" thick minicell foam until their feet rest on the foam, not the pegs. It will be expensive and fiddly, but better than spray foam which does not behave well and is not necessarily light or particularly water resistant - you really shouldn’t use that crap in a kayak IMO.

Thanks for the reply. I wouldn’t have thought spray foam had much weight at all, and the closed-cell version would be impermeable to water. But the possibility of it damaging the boat makes other options more attractive. I found this place at first google:

That seems pretty reasonable, price-wise. If it’s the stuff I’m thinking, it would still have a bit of weight to it, although obviously less than water.

If you want to lift the bow, you should first put your paddlefloat on your paddle (and inflate it if it is inflatable), then put your paddle shaft in your armpit. And then you can try to lift the bow with the other arm.

It will of course also help if you are willing to have your head under water for some seconds while doing this. That will add to your buoyancy.

Also make sure that some part of the cockpit coaming is above water so air can get into the cockpit before you try to lift it. It will often be necessary to tilt the kayak a little to achieve this.

What about the sides of your kayak? I have been thinking about putting foam there in my kayaks, between the seat and the hull, so the kayak will not scoop up so much water when I turn them around.

The photos on the kayak outfitting site do not load, but the foam is very likely minicell foam. Cutting a tailored block of foam is certainly an option, and might be the best option, but can be rather time-consuming. If you go that route, measure the longitudinal distance you need to fill to determine the thickness of foam you need. You can glue together multiple layers of foam with contact cement, and the foam is easily gut with tools like a fillet knife or coping saw (band saw is best) and can be shaped using sandpaper and/or surface-forming tools. If you want to fashion a foam block, I would suggest making a cardboard template corresponding to the cross section of your hull at the bulkhead location, and another at the location you want the foam to end at further aft. These will greatly facilitate cutting and shaping your foam. Minicell foam will add some weight, but is pretty light.

You might take a look at Jackson Kayaks Happy Feet footbag system. If this fills the space adequately, you might consider removing your foot pegs and using this as a foot brace:

This is a great forum. Thanks, you guys.

Most people get in trouble trying to get too much water out too fast. So instead of trying to lift 5 gallons of water(40#) lift slow and just a “quart” (2#). Then another quart, repeat, repeat. Etc.

I tried this technique a couple of times:
Didn’t work well the first time, but second time around it did.

20 minutes of pumping? That long? I think it takes me maybe 5 minutes with my narrow 14’ boat.

Maybe you need a more effective pump. Both of mine (a Feathercraft and an older Harmony) pump out a stream like a fire-hose.

Actually, if you are going to paddle alone and want to save yourself a lot of hassle, learn to roll.

@willowleaf said:
Actually, if you are going to paddle alone and want to save yourself a lot of hassle, learn to roll.

I’ll second that!

By the way, you could use a longer tapered float bag in that space in front of your footpegs by simple rolling up the tapered end tightly and pinching it off with a couple of those strong plastic spring clamps before inflating it. You don’t have to fully inflate a float bag, just plump it enough to fill the space from which you want to exclude water volume. You could also cut several pieces of hard foam pool noodle a little longer than the width of the kayak, tie them together with cable ties, and wedge the bundle behind the foot pegs.

Another option would be a sea sock – kind of like a “lower body condom” made of nylon that you slip your legs into that fits over your cockpit under your sprayskirt. It keeps water inside it when you capsize and all you have to do is reach in and pull it inside out to purge the water. But they are hot in warm weather and kind of a pain to get arranged to reach your footpegs. And they can increase the struggle to get your legs out in a wet exit. More useful if you have a good roll, but if you have a good roll and a decent sprayskirt, you wouldn’t get much water in the cockpit anyway. We use sea socks sometimes with skin-on-frame kayaks that don’t have bulkheads.

SpaceSputnik, that looks like an interesting method. I will try it.
willowleaf, I was exaggerating with the 20 minute thing, and I do plan to learn rolling next.

Get a Greenland paddle and learning to roll effortlessly is a piece of cake. Watch Dubside at the 1:50 mark in this video. He was teaching this at kayak camp last weekend and it really is as easy as it looks.