Crazy floatation idea?

I am trying to find a way to add floatation to our “Mainstream Streak” kayak without spending a lot of money.

Let me begin by stating that we DO NOT use this kayak on fast rivers…only quiet lakes. Last summer our nine year old upset the kayak and it was extremely difficult to get it to shore and to empty out the water.

This is my idea…will it work???

I am thinking of using some double stick tape (like carpet tape) in the bow and stern of the hull. Then placing a garbage bag in the ends of the kayak to make them take on the shape of the hull. Next, spray foam insulation in the bag and let it expand. Then build a bulk head out of closed cell foam and secure in place with lots of duct tape.

I really don’t have the extra money to buy floatation bags. At the same time I realize we have to have something in place to displace some of the water in the event of a capsize because it was simply too difficult to empty out.

If you have another idea that might work on a shoestring budget I would appreciate it.

Thanks in advance ~ Kim

different ideas
I’m sure your idea will work but consider these as well:

Pool noodles are commonly used to supplement floatation in kayaks. They are pretty inexpensive and can be found at many discount stores. Some folks lexel them in, others find a way to tie them in.

Also, I have a buddy who simply wedges an inexpensive beach ball in the nose of his kayak.

I don’t know how any cans of that spray foam you might use for your idea, but I bet it would add up. These two ideas wouldn’t be as permanent (good, IMO) and might be cheaper.

If you want to save money
do it right the first time.

Spray in foam:

  1. Is not impervious to water. It will get wet and hold water, then get moldy and scuzzy.

  2. Is heavy.

  3. Is expensive. $5 or $6 a can. You will spend more on spray foam than a real float bag will cost you.

    Duct tape is not permenantly waterproof.

Duct Tape?
Do you watch Red Green on PBS? :slight_smile: It may work but I made a bulkhead for a Kiwi II from 1 1/2" closed cell foam (Gray stuff) and cut the outline on a slight taper so I could force it in tightly, then calked it with a good neoprene calk from the hardware store. That was three years ago, still works fine :smiley: The bag full of spray in foam sounds good too.

You can get the outline you need by using a wire coat hanger or similar to make a pattern for the bulk head. Good luck.

I second the noodle idea

– Last Updated: Feb-22-05 9:10 PM EST –

The expanding foam will just make a mess of your boat. The bag will eventually tear open somewhere. The foam will slowly absorb water and make it heavy as it is not closed cell foam. It is also very hard to judge how much to use, and will be a pain in the butt to get out when it gets waterlogged. (assuming there's a bulkhead in there.) Heck, some empty pop bottles in a mesh bag would work as a temporary fix.

milk jugs
I was going to say milk jugs but pop bottles would probably seal out water better.

Seattle Fabrics and sea kayaker

– Last Updated: Feb-26-05 7:28 AM EST –

magazine can hook you up wiht the material to make a couple of cheap float bags. Library to get the sea kayaker article (if you live near a good one) a five dollar iron and a few yards of fabric. If you are not out with kids and or all can swim to shore who cares you can always swim back for the boat. Real floatation is real floatation and must be secured. Double sided foam tape will not be secure enough. If it were, the bag would rip unless there were tons if it to distribute the force.

NRS catalog
Spring 2005

Page 73

NRS Rodeo Flotation

Designed for rodeo boats & other small kayaks.

28"long x 14"wide at top of bag x 3" wide at bottom.

Pair: $37.00

Sounds like a reasonable expenditure.

Cheap bilge pump would cost you about $20.00

How many pool noodles will it take to provide buoyany equivalent to a pair of bags noted?

Would you buy a second hand kayak with the bow & stern filled up with a lot of water logged, mouldy foam?


good ideas…
As always…lots of good suggestions. Thanks for the help.

5-gal collapsible plastic water jugs
Blow 'em up and close’em, you got flotation. Fill’em up with seawater (or whatever) and you got ballast. Fill’em with springwater and you got drinking water.

A couple of common beach balls or other inflatable pool toys might work… just din’t overinflate them…

Foam goo
My experience with spray foam in a closed area was not good. It never got enough air to cure completely. OK, here’s the gory details; after one of my “buddies” at work foamed my hand tools into my top desk drawer (on-going pranks many years ago) some of us got together and inserted his tools in a plastic 5 gal. water bottle. Squeeze the neck oval and in they went, followed by the foam. It never completely went solid, but still got the point across. The trash bag may provide the same results. I use float bags. They didn’t cost that much and are good cheap insurance.


Don’t do it…
…The foam absorbs water. And it needs air to

cure. What will happen is that the foam in the

plastic bags won’t set up, you’ll pull it out,

the bag will tear, and you’ll be inside your

boat for months with a paint chipper getting the

foam out.

Use the milk bottles or some cheap balls like

kids use on the beach.

(I’ve always wanted to try some really tough

balloons filled with helium, just for the hell

of it.)

Beachballs or rigid plastic + minicell
I’m the beachball guy…

My beachballs stayed in place for over a year, never lost any notable amount of air, and didn’t mildew. I secured them by running a strap between the end of the footpeg rails. Total cost involved was about $2. (I bought the beach balls @ 3 for $1 at the end of the season.) The one all the way up in the bow was barely inflated. The one behind that was mostly inflated. The one in the stearn was mostly inflated and the design of my particular boat secured the ball without me having to do anything. I considered, but never got around to fashioning a funnel shaped bag from old shrimp netting to put the beachballs in.

It wasn’t a perfect system because it only displaced about 80% as much water as my new bow bag does but hey… it has got to be THE most cost effective solution.

I’ve read about others who have used rigid plastic (3/16th" thick?) to fashion bulkheads from. An example might be the bottom of those 55 gallon plastic drums that hold various chemicals.

My wife’s OK Pro 129 has factory bulkheads made from similar plastic. There’s a minicell foam gasket all the way around the bulkheads. The minicell foam needed for this type of installation looks like it was 1/2" x 1/2" x 4.5’ for each bulkhead. They used liberal amounts of Lexel(?) or Marine Goop(?) to seal inside and out.

My lovely and talented wife bought me a proper bow bag for X-mas. I worry more about mildew on it than I did on the beachballs or the two small bags from an antigue Folbot that I use in the rear. The rugged old plastic bags from the Folbot do get mildew on them but unlike the “new & improved” materials it washes off easily with a stiff scrub brush.