Bulkheads for a Strip built?

I am curious how many people put bulk heads/float chambers in their strip built canoes? My friend Marc

O recommends it, and uses them in his builds. What do other builders do? AND: how big do they make them?

bulkheads, considering
Hi Baldpaddler,

I’m working on a Passage right now(noticed your post on the other site) and have been considering bulkheads/flotation. While I have never paddled and, therefore, never had the opportunity to swamp a stripper to gauge how much buoyancy is inherent in the hull itself,after a quick peek at my Wenonah Sundowner 18, I’d guess that each bulkhead holds roughly .5-.7 cubic feet of EPS and all of it is below the lowest spot on the gunnels. All up, I’m guessing there’s about 55-65 lbs of positive flotation. Will your empty strippers keep the gunnels above water with a swamped but otherwise empty boat?



a swamped
stripper has slight positive bouyancy. It floats but very low. Unfortunately it does not float high enough

to be seen by an idiot on a jet ski. Of course some pontoon boats don’t float high enough for idiots on jet skis…

Glass over styrofoam
I would think that you could shave and cut a block of styrofoam for the ends that you could glass over relatively easily…

I used underlayment plywood about one fifth inch thick. It is luaun or some similar tropical hardwood and is made with waterproof glue. Available at the lumberyard. I shaped a big teardrop piece about 2 feet long to fit sloped from the stem just below the rails to the floor. I epoxied it two coats both sides and glassed them in with 1" tape all round.

any Magic
to figuring out the shape for the bulkhead? Do you use 1/2 teardrop as a template to match the hull from

the centerline? I realize you guys up north don’t get the sun we do. how do you allow for expansion?

Why not lacing and float bags?
Very effective, and when carrying gear, some can be shoved under the float bags.

Remember that polyester or vinylester
resin will “attack” Styrofoam. Epoxy won’t.

getting the shape
is strictly trial and trim. Start big, there can be alot of trimming.

I havent had any expansion problems but would suggest a 1/16 inch hole through the glass tape right at the top so it drains when stored upside down.

And about the air bags…you will need an air bag for serious floatation. the end compartments will be very low on volume. I put them in to conceal the mess inside the stems where craftsmanship cannot fit.

I am primarily considering bulkheads to spruce up the stems where it always looks poor. For serious floatation I willthrowin air bags

Another consideration…
If your stems are shear it will be difficult to reach in well enough to give a nice finish to the inner stems. Bulkheads will hide the difficult to reach areas, maybe a lot less stressful.

I fussed a lot with the finish of the inner stems on my Huron Cruiser. Looking back I might have opted to spend less time getting the inner stems just right and put in flotation bulkheads.

Good luck.