DIY Noodle Sponsons


I’m wondering what people think of this idea. Would it work or would it be a waste of time? I do a lot of bird photography from my canoe and I would like to feel a little more secure about its stability. (Old Town Pack Canoe)

I thought about buying a pool noodle and slicing it down the centre to make two sponsons that I could glue on the sides just below the gunwale.

Any thoughts?

…it wouldn’t cost much to try it, but… you probably won’t like it. Something that will stabilize you on flat water will destabilize you when the water is not flat.

Alternatively, see what you can do to
standardize and stabilize your position in the canoe when you take pictures. Some minicell glued in the right places can brace your feet and knees. Another distraction is when the wind, current, or boat momentum take you out of position. Try to anticipate that and time your activities accordingly.

When going down the Dolores, I was kneeling, so I had a stable base, and because the rapids were spaced and easy, I could keep the camera out and ready on its strap. But because the current was moving me along almost constantly, shots had to be composed and taken in haste. I used 400 film when I would have liked to have used 100. But once I got it into a drill, I got about 200 excellent shots taken on the run. There really were only 4 o5 5 I might as well have thrown out. Now that I’m using a digital camera, I again have it down to a drill, though I admit not liking to work with an LCD screen in bright daylight.

Maybe Too Little, Too Late?

– Last Updated: Jul-02-07 7:22 PM EST –

A pool noodle isn't all that thick - cut it in half, and that's not a heck of a lot of foam. If placed just below the gunwale, it would come into play (displace water) only when the canoe is already sharply heeled - if it had heeled quickly, I've got a feeling the momenteum would tend to carry you right on over. The old Sportspals had foam sponsons on the sides, but they were much bigger and set considerably lower. I think they were meant to keep it afloat when swamped, not prevent capsizes.

I’m a rookie…
…very new to paddling a canoe, so I can assure you now I won’t be in white water. Mostly I paddle around in ponds and small slow moving rivers.

OT Pack
isn’t friendly to heeling over very far. The sponsons wouldn’t come into play until you were well on your way to splashville. Why not just sit on the floor when in position to click? That’s a very stable position. Lowers your visibility to the birds a bit, too.

Not going to help
You get a Pack that far over you are getting wet anyway. If you want sponsons, get some regular canoe stabilizers. You need to get them away from the hull a bit so they have some leverage to hold you upright.

Pool noodles work well as sponsoons.

– Last Updated: Jul-02-07 10:17 PM EST –

If you search the kayak fishing web sites, you'll find pictures of them used as such. They may not be all that thick, though they come in two sizes, one that is pretty thick, but they have tremendous ability to float heavy will flat a two hundred pound man., however, sells a kit using fishing floats, think they're lobster floats, for building your own sponsons. Lots less expensive then the commercial sponsons and will take wear and tear better than noodles.

There are also foam cylinders called "backer" rods. They are used often to chink log homes. Backer rods should be good for sponsons. they're denser than pool noodles.

Canoe outriggers…
Allow me to reccommend canoe outriggers. I use them when sailing, but fishermen and photographers use em’ as well:

I can stand up in my canoe and walk around without fear. They have clamps so it’s an easy mount, and you don’t have to drill. They have a couple of extension and retraction distances which can be adjusted on the water if neccessary.


I’ve looked at those
They’re a little more expensive than the noodles. :slight_smile:

If there was a place in Canada that sells them, I might consider it.

Thinking outside the box here
A trick I use when photographing or using binoculars in my touring kayak (23" wide) is to extend my Greenland Paddle out to the side. It is bouyant, and the addition of this small amount of stability is enough to overcome the jitteryness associated with looking through optics. You might make a simple outrigger - a section of pool noodel on a 5 or 6 foot pole - that you could extend and hold in one hand, or hold in one hand while resting the optics on the near end of the pole with your other hand. Amazingly, this works wonders for me.

Another possibility is to use a couple flat slabs of 1" foam (either ethafoam or minicell) to make a sleeve to slip over your paddle blade. The whole thing can be held together with duct tape.

And lastly, I have found that higher-powered binoculars ampliafy the jiggles. I use a set of 6X now.


Build you own
from pvc pipe and pool noodles…I did…

Use the 4" noodles, 1.25 inch PVC(AKA) and 3/4" PVC (bent with a heat gun or hair dryer to soften it) in the AMA’s to keep the noodles bent up front and back. That’s a 4" PVC pipe cut lengthwise on top of the noodles to add strength to the AMA…

Interesting sailing kayak rig. Thanks for the pics.

Putting the outriggers that far aft tends to make the bow dig in when the boat rolls. Do you notice this? Is it bad? Is it common in the type?

How far off downwind can you run?


the sail design eliminates much more of the Heeling action than a standard sail. MANY Commercial Kayak outrigger systems place the amas to the rear.

I AM in process of building a double AKA set of outriggers that will extend 2/3 the length of the boat…but I tend to like the Aft mount better because I can remove the outriggers easily and store them on the back deck when the water narrows.