feet on bulkhead

The custom bulkhead in my Valley Aquanaut is close enough that it’s comfortable for me to brace on it without any foam on it. Is that ok? Is it important to have an inch of minicell on the bulkhead to distribute the foot pressure? (I could remove some of the foam the previous owner put on the thigh braces to allow me to add an inch of foam to the bulkhead if that would be better for the boat.)


Glue some Minicell wedges on that fit
the natural angle of your feet. You will really like them.

then I can’t straighten my legs, or move my feet to different parts of the bulkhead. I like a flat wall, so I can use different positions on a long day.

Some foam

– Last Updated: Oct-07-10 1:47 PM EST –

Nate, some foam is far more comfortable than none. I have 1 inch plus a thin (1/4"?) piece on my bulkhead of my 'naut and pull out one of them at times when I have thicker shoes such as mukluks or felt soled kickers. The foam on my bulkheads on all three Brit boats is flat to the bulkhead as I too like to be able to move my feet around and stretch my legs out flat on the floor of the boat. It is also how my first Brit boat (Aquanaut)was outfitted by Tom Bergh for me - so I am accustomed to it.

I’d agree that it’s more comfortable with some foam, but do you think there’s a structural problem with bracing directly on the fiberglass bulkhead? I may mess with the outfitting down the road and add stuff for comfort as I get more of a feel for the boat, but immediately I’m just wanting to make sure I’m not putting too much pressure on a small area of the bulkhead with the balls of my feet. I’m probably going to go to Sullivan tomorrow for the big spring tide, and just want to know if I should make some quick changes before going into big water this way.

My other boat has always had a few inches of minicell on the bulkhead, and it seems that would probably distribute the pressure over most of the bulkhead better, but not sure if that’s necessary.

Ancecdotal evidence only…
It would only be definitive if there was an inventory of all users of bulkheads as the footbrace, but here is my experience-

I am on my fourth kayak with a custom bulkhead- I much prefer them over footpegs.

I also paddle my sea kayak much like my race boats, with knees together and pushing firmly off my feet. I have never had a problem with cracking, joint fatigue, or anything.

This includes many pirouettes/pitch poles in the surf zone, where, for brief moment, my entire body weight is on the bulkhead.

One thing to consider in regards to foaming. I no longer glue the foam in. I have a choice of several thicknesses and angles to choose from. If I am playing in the surf, using thin neo booties, I use a thicker and more angled pad for a snugger fit and full contact. For touring over many days, using thicker soled shoes, I use a thinner, flatter pad.

foam needed?
So I feel pretty confident that the bulkheads are designed to be braced on by the manufacturer (this boat was built without foot pegs installed, so it’s clearly the intended use). But I’m wondering if the foam is an important part of that design. Stuff like pitchpoles in a tide race is exactly what I’m thinking about.

Contact the mfr?
Is it an option to contact the manufacturer directly?

I would think
it would only be a problem if you were a really big guy say 230lbs and up. I wouldn`t think a paddler in the 160- 200lb. range can apply enough force to effect the the integrity of the bulkhead in boats such as Valley.

my bulkhead leaked as a result
It was wilderness sealution. great boat. Bad rudder and no place for footrest.

Go ahead
Foam won’t change the way the loads from your feet are transmitted to the bulkhead and subsequently to the hull in any appreciable way.

Should be fine without it.