Bulkhead for Pungo 14?

I just bought a Pungo 14 last week, and I would like to install a bulkhead in the bow in order to make it a little more seaworthy. I know I can put a floatation bag in the bow, but I would prefer to have a bulkhead. I have read some posts that say Wilderness Systems makes a bulkhead (or pattern for a bulkhead), and others say they don’t. Wilderness Systems apparently isn’t too keen on the idea of speaking with their customers, because they do not provide an email for contact. So I thought I would ask here before I send them a letter asking about the bulkhead.

Does Wilderness Systems sell a bulkhead for the bow? Or do I need to make one myself? The place I bought the Pungo 14 from doesn’t know if Wilderness Systems offers one.


I might have something that will work
Do you have a front hatch cover?

How to measure for a DIY bulkhead?
My #2 piece of safety advice is to avoid kayaks without front and rear bulkheads (we have some anti-PFD sentiment here on P-net so I won’t mention my #1 safety rule). :wink:

This brings up a question: how would you measure the dimensions if you wanted to make your own bulkhead? For replacements I’ve just used the old bulkhead as a template to cut out the new one, but how do you make a template for a bulkhead from scratch?

Bulkhead for Pungo 14

– Last Updated: Dec-11-08 1:32 PM EST –

"Do you have a front hatch cover?"

Yes, the Pungo 14 comes with a hatch cover. I think it's kind of strange considering it doesn't come with a bulkhead.

"This brings up a question: how would you measure the dimensions if you wanted to make your own bulkhead?"

Yes, that's the question - and the primary reason I am posting here. Making a custom bulkhead without a pattern is what I am trying to avoid. I have a few ideas of approaches I can take, but why bother if Wilderness Systems already has one?

As far as Saftey #2 goes, I understand that some people use these boats for fishing on ponds, small lakes and want the room to slide fishing rods there, etc. - so don't want a bulkhead. Others want the space for easily sliding camping gear in/out of the boat. I plan to use this boat for camping someday, but I still want the bulkhead.

I may have a piece of foam that will fit

– Last Updated: Dec-11-08 3:38 PM EST –

and work as a bulkhead. Let me know if you want it. Bulkheads are really just an option. Flotation bags with seasocks are just as secure as bulkheads. Boats without bulkheads are much easier to take on airplanes too.

Hunt down Flatpick here.

– Last Updated: Dec-11-08 4:06 PM EST –

He sent me one thru Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe for about $30-40, all said, a couple years ago. If I remember right, Wildy gave him a template. With install instructions by Bnystrom here, it worked like a charm. If you have questions, email me.

Install instructions:


Bulkheads versus flotation
Trillium - I tend to agree with the principal that you’re expressing (at least what I’m reading). I have found w/ my Dirigo, that with a properly fitted & sized flotation bag, it has PLENTY of flotation.

I built a float bag for my Dirigo 140 that completely fills the bow of the boat, back to the foot pegs.

I test flooded it. I had to turn it on it’s side and then STAND on the end of the cockpit coaming to get it to go low enough in the water to fill it.

So, I agree with your principal - however, I disagree that bulkhead-less kayaks should be avoided.

Where will this boat go?

– Last Updated: Dec-11-08 6:19 PM EST –

By "more seaworthy", do you mean taking it well out onto the ocean? If that is your goal, you may want to consider a used starter full sea kayak for that purpose rather than spending a lot of effort tweaking the Pungo. Your profile says southern CA, so I am not sure how close you are to big water.

I bought the Pungo specifically to…
paddle around the local harbors (Newport Beach and Dana Point), and some nearby lakes like Lake Irvine. If I get the opportunity, I would love to float down the Colorado river and camp. As for the open ocean, I might venture out there provided I have a spray cover and it’s a calm day. That may be a while though, or possibly not at all.

I might just take you up on that. But I’m going to go back to Southwind Kayaks first to ask them about a pattern/form available for the Pungo. I bought the Pungo from them, so hopefully they will help out in that regard.

Btw, aren’t you also over at foldingkayaks.org? I bought a Cooper, so I visit the forum there too. I think I’ve seen some of your kayaking pics.

Thanks for the link.
Very informative, and I will have to remember to look for lexel if I wind up making a bulkhead.

I live in Orange and paddle the coast alot. I have some foam that may fit

If camping
Depending on how the bulkhead idea develops, or doesn’t, you can also get float bags that are dual purpose - float bag portion plus a dry chamber for gear. Not the cheapest by dry bag standards, but getting two functions for one bag makes the price more palatable.

Clarification(s) of #2 Safety Rule
Sorry, wasn’t trying to be dogmatic (heaven forbid with a name like Cat!) :slight_smile:

I didn’t go into much detail about my #2 safety rule because I didn’t want to distract from my real question (which, by the way, I’m going to post separately since it hasn’t been addressed here).

BUT, since you asked, let me clarify.

Flotation bags don’t take up all the space in the bow, and if the kayak swamps, the bags still allow a good amount of water in (just watch how often WW kayakers/canoeists empty boats that are fully outfitted with bags).

This water in the bow does two things: it increases the weight you have to lift, and it makes the swamped end ride lower in the water (negative buoyancy), so you have to raise it more than if it were floating on top of the water (positive buoyancy), as with bow & stern bulkheads.

Granted, the possibility of swamping is much lower on still or quiet water than in a coastal/ocean area with wind and waves. But you can still swamp; say you paddle onto a submerged log or rock, which as you try to get off it, tilts the boat sideways and dips the lip of the cockpit under water.

Another tried and true flatwater swamping method is to broach in current and instinctively lean the boat upstream. Even a gentle current can flow quickly into a cockpit with enough water to weight down the bow. And in this case a stern bulkhead just makes it worse, because that end of the boat stays above the water and creates a downward angle toward the bow.

The other thing about float bags is they can deflate and move around. Kayak flotation bags are triangular, but they generally only have attachments at the wide end. So the pointy end in the bow is not fastened in, and the only thing that keeps it in place is air pressure.

I’ve seen it happen that the bags deflate enough so when water gets in the bow, the bag swings around its fastenings at the wide end, and ends up in the cockpit instead of displacing water in the bow. It’s truly amazing how easily leaks develop, whether from punctures or from delamination around the filler valve.

The 2007 Save The Bay Swim had 3-4’ waves, and the channel between Newport & Jamestown was littered with swamped kayaks with flotation bags. There is no way we could rescue these boats in our sea kayaks; it took 3 big hunky Coasties in a patrol boat to physically lift the swamped kayaks out of the water to empty them.

I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture.

Did these boats have sea socks?

they gots 'em.


Making a bulkhead template . . .
1. Locate where you want to place your bulkheads, fore and aft, then run tape (vertically “bisecting”)around the circumference of the boat where each bulkhead will go.

2. Do the following steps for both templates, fore and aft: Take some wire that you can bend easily-enough to wrap around the boat, yet will keep its shape once bent.

3. Wrap the wire around the boat, lining it up with the pattern made by the tape. Be sure to shape it exactly to the boat, and when you come back around to where you began to run the wire, cut it and tape it together at that point.

4. When you slide the wire “template outline” off the boat, you will have the shape you need for your template, minus the thickness of the kayak skin at that point.

5. Lay the wire template outline over your foam (or other material)and mark it, running your marker around the inside of the wire shape, allowing for skin thickness.

6. Cut out the shape and test-fit it to the inside of the boat, trimming any as needed to get the template positioned properly.

5. Secure and seal the templates to the inside of the boat, using a method appropriate to the materials in the boat and template.

6. Paddle and enjoy.

Sea Socks???
For a Pungo? You’re kidding, right?

I am referring to the boats
that you were unable to rescue in your account. Sounds like folks were lacking the #1 safet measure and that is knowledge of conditions and how to handle them.


They have the minicell foam that can be cut to fit, or the actual pre-shaped bulkhead for a Pungo 14? Thanks.