I am new to kayaking (again) and bought a Feel Free Gemini.Recent took it out and it filled with water, ouch. So I am buying scupper plugs and a few other things. I would like to know if anyone has put air bags into the Gemini, what their used and what their experience was. I am not looking to save money by using milk bottles, pop bottles, ....
Look for tie points for the corners of
the bags. For example, the back corners of the front bag might be tied to the front end of the footbrace rail.
Why float bags?
Why is your SOT filling up with water? Is it just coming in from the scupper holes or from waves and not draining fast enough? Are the storage hatches filling up water?
Not really sure why you would add float bags to a SOT. If the kayak flips it will still float as long as the hull isn’t breached. You don’t really need to displace water the way a kayak or canoe does.
If the SOT is filling up with water from the scuppers then plugs could help out but you will have to drain wave hits and sprays by bailing or pumping. If lots of water is coming in from the scuppers then you may have way too much weight in the kayak.
Float bags come in various sizes and shapes
A little ingenuity for tying them in and you’re set
Water came just flooding in …
Thanks for the fast responses.
The combined weight and lack of scupper plugs brought water just up over the scupper holes. Combine that with waves and somehow one of the covers got just pulled back a bit. After paddling under what seemed like more and more resistance, read more and more water inside, the kayak started to rock right and left. I heard gurgilling and looked down. The cover was almost half way off with water pouring in. I slammed the cover back on but 30 seconds later we tipped over. Thank goodness for life jackets. As I had started for shore we were only 10 to 15 metres from safety.
So, I am buying scupper plugs but I would like to add some air bags just as a precaution. Many people will use this kayak and I will not aways be around to pass on my tale.
Any one add air bags successfully?
I have done it with and SOT
I have done it with an Sit on top but not a feel free sit on top. I did not attach them I just slip them on top of the gear inside the hatches and inflate them until they are tight. They hold the gear from sliding around and make it so there is less room for water.
I also recommend that you get your hatches to leak less if you can and check the boat for other leaks. I ignore the scupper holes because water always gets in from waves and I want it to drain out. Most sit on tops keep my feet wet when I have a decent load in the boat and I do not mind it.
If your float bags are to big then you cannot inflate them all the way, which is no loss. if they are too small them they will not fill the space and will leave room for too much heavy water. So I always go for the bigger sized bags. Right now I have a small float bag and two canoe flaot bags that I use on occasion.
Hmmmmm, how long are the …
How long are the tube for inflating the bags? Is there any way to extend them? I am thinking of the bow and stern area that are only accessable by going between the scupper holes inside the body of the kayak.
Going between the scupper holes? The only way I know to get inside a boat is through the hatches. The scupper holes are not open to the inside of the boat just from the deck to the bottom.
Okay, let me explain exactly …
So if you open the hatch and enter the boat (I’m playing 6 inches tall here) as you walk (remember I am very small) you go back about 8 to 12 inches and go between two posts which are the scupper holes (remember, we are inside the boat). Then you go back another 20 inches or so to reach the very stern of the boat.
So, going back to 5’ 10" size, I can squeeze an empty air bag down the hatch and in between the posts that are the scupper holes, then I continue to squeeze another 10 plus inches. Now I can only inflate it if it has a long hose. If I inflate it after I put it in the hatch and before it goes through the scupper holes then I can not push it past the posts which are the scupper holes.
Any ideas (orther than trade in for a sit-in???
From looking at picture
of the Gemini it looks like there are 3 sets of scupper holes. One set is at the front of the front foot rest, one set is in the front of the rear paddler foot rests, and the third set is behind the rear paddler seat in the rear ice-chest/milk crate holder indention.
I think you should get one bag for the area between the front scupper set and the middle scupper set. You should be able to put it in through the front hatch opening with the wide part of the bag to the rear without having any part of the bag have to go forward of the front scuppers or rear of the middle scuppers.
Then you can put another bag in through the rear hatch with its wide part forward that fills the area between the middle scuppers and the rear scuppers. In should be sized so it does not have to go between either set of scuppers.
You would not have air bags to fill up the area in front of the front scuppers nor to fill up the area behind the rear scuppers. However this should not be a problem since those areas are both narrow and shallow so they will not hold much water. The two bags I suggest would be more than enough to keep the kayak afloat even with the hatches off even though some water coud make its way to either the very front or very back of the kayak. With the small hatches in the Gemini I do not think you need to worry about tiedowns since once inflated they would not be able to get back out of the hatches.
You need to get approximate measurements for each of the bags from your kayak. From what I see the best fitt might me some of the small canoe bow bags. Check out NRS outfitters or Rutabaga.com which both have a large selection of various size bags to find ones that fit. If you do need longer inflation tubes you should be able to buy some tubing yourself and replace the shorter ones that come on the bag. NRS and or Rutabaga both have great customer service and might even do it for you free or at a small charge.
Maybe I haven’t paddled enough SOTs but why would you add float bags?
It seems from the OP that the hatch opens into the empty hull space. Is that a standard design? In all the ones I rented they may have had a cavity that you could install a storage container but still this did not result in breaching into the sealed hull of the kayak.
Several that I have seen
are designed for more storage (especially fishing models) by having the hatches open into the interior space of the kayak. This allows extra rods and large tackle boxes to be stored inside.
I am not sure how common or uncommon this type design is. My old (very old) Ocean Kayak Scupper was designed with this completely open interior accessible through the hatches.
The hull on mine SOT kayak is not sealed. You access it through either hatch
Also, there are 5 pairs of scuppers holes. One in rear storage and two pair for each seat
Thanks Mark for the suggestions
In the picture
I was looking at each seat (pad/backrest) must cover up a set of scupper holes right where the paddlers sit so I only saw the 3 sets.
I think what I suggested still would work. 1 air bag in the area between the 2 most forward set of scupper holes (with wide end of bag aft). Access would be from front hatch. Another air bag between the middle 2 sets of scupper holes. That is between the scuppers at the foot rest for rear paddler and the scuppers under the rear paddler seat.
Note that some of the air bags have triangular shape and the narrow end might even be small enough that you could place them so that at least some of the space between scupper holes and a little beyond was tacken up by the inflated narrow end of the air bag.
Hatch failure and subsequent flooding of SOT’s can be an overlooked hazard. Depending on the design of the hatch and the interior of the kayak it could be a major one or a minor one. A lot of the SOT’s I used to see had the hard plastic screw in type hatches. These were much less prone to failure and improper seating than some of the soft plastic pop-on type hatches.
Stay safe and have lots of fun.
Yes, these are soft covers.
Yup, flooding not good at all and it really is only “too late” that you notice you are flooding. Apparently South Africa regulations force SOT kayak manufacturers to put in a minimum of 3 separate air spaces so the whole boat can not flood.
I figure scupper plugs and good air bags inside and I will be fine.
Caution on the scupper plugs
If you are in calm water plugs are fine to keep you dry. Depending on how much paddle drip and splash gets into the kayak you may stay completely dry or only slightly drier.
However if you are out in waves (especially breaking waves) you probably do not want the scuppers plugged. If just the cockpit (seating area) fills up from a breaking wave you can have serious stability problems and the kayak gets so heavy that you have no control even if you do not tip. Even with all the scuppers open I have come close to flipping the kayak when swamped by a wave but luckily held it together until the water drained out the open holes. I would not have wanted to be in the situation of having to try to start moving around to get to and pull the plugs once the cockpit was filled up.
Feel Free hatches
If your hatches are coming off maybe you can install strap to help hold them in place. Some of my sit on tops have bulkheads, but even then losing a hatch in rough stuff is always an adventure I’d rather miss.