Float bags & bulkheads


New here, to kayaking, etc.

I have a Dagger Axis 12. One of the features is a rear bulkhead / dry storage.

The other day, my son got tangled in a branch and rolled. The boat took on a lot of water, enough that we couldn’t easily get the water out and we ended up towing the boat back while he swam. There was enough water in the boat that it wouldn’t stay upright, and rolled over when I was towing it. This was in shallow flat water, close to shore, he was wearing a PFD etc. etc. so it wasn’t dangerous but it still served as an illustration that this would not be a good thing in chilly weather, further away from shore, etc. etc.

My first question… when I got back to the ramp, the rear bulkhead area was completely full of water. The hatch was tight, etc… It appears that the foam divider panel between the cockpit and the rear area of the boat shifted on the bottom and was no longer glued in place, allowing water to flood the rear compartment. I was a little surprised to see that this was just some foam, vs. something a little more structural. Is this type of failure common? This is a new boat, btw. If this is a common failure and you can’t realistically expect the foam to keep water out in a capsize, then I suppose I’ll have to put a float bag in there. Which is a little annoying, from a loss of storage standpoint as well as additional cost. Or perhaps I can fashion a more structural separator and glue it in? We have another rec boat that has a similar bulkhead (Third Coast Huron 100). It looks fine, but that boat hasn’t been capsized.

Second question… In terms of float bags, are they all basically equivalent, or is there a preferred brand? I see them from NRS, Harmony, and others in various sizes, split vs. not, etc. I’ve taken bow and stern compartment measurements and assume “a big bigger” is better than “too small” in that a bag will conform to the boat’s shape, right? Any issues with keeping them in place? I figured worst case, I could drill a hole or two in the top of the kayak as a lashing point, though it looks like probably I can just wrap them around foam blocks or perhaps attach them to foot rest brackets, etc.

We’re also planning on getting some manual bilge pumps. Again, recommendations here for “works well” and “not crazy expensive”?

Appreciate any guidance!


Hey marka, being a new boat I would contact Dagger about the flooded hatch. I’m not personally familiar with the axis but my own crossover (xp) hatch area leaks a bit but doesn’t completely flood out. I’m not sure what kind of foam an axis has- hopefully high quality minicell. I think some silicone caulking would help my situation and might work for you if you decide to go the fix it yourself route. I can not recommend tieing anything to footpegs, brackets etc- I would worry about entanglement ,. Bow float bags should conform to the space to stay in place on their own. While a hatch may not be bone dry (still requiring dry bags) it definately should not flood out. The hatch itself should provide flotation when swamped. You still may find it difficult to get the rest of the water out using a boat over boat rescue or reentering on the boat while on the water and paddling i tswamped back to shore may be tippy. Someone who owns an axis can actually chime in on that.

This is what I use. Haven’t had it long so I can’t speak for durability but it works


A float bag up front would not hurt.

My plastic sea kayak like many had a foam bulkhead, I refreshed the seal with Lexel here and there but it stayed put. I also suggest contacting Dagger. And I wonder if towing the waterlogged boat contributed…

In general with plastic, hatch covers may leak a bit anyway. I carry float bags even in my fiberglass boats in the bulkheaded spaces. Probably would be worth getting one for the rear as well as the front just to be sure. Just don’t fully inflate it when there is gear in there. Or get the fancy ones that are a dry bag in one compartment and the other is a float bag. NRS had them last I looked.


I wondered if towing it dislodged stuff too, but I don’t think so. The bottom of the foam was shifted forward in the boat, not backwards. I clearly never looked prior to the capsizing, but my suspicion is that it was that way prior to going over.

This is from the cockpit, looking back:


This is from the back looking forward:



My experience has been that, over time, foam bulkheads in plastic boats shift for a variety of reasons. I routinely re-seat and seal mine (NOT with silicone!) every 3 years. It does seem odd that this would happen on a new boat, unless you really cranked down on it during transport.


What do you use to re-seal the bulkhead?

Any input on float bags? regardless of the rear compartment on the Axis, I want to add bags to the front, as well as to the other two boats in the family.


Lexel, like the previous poster noted. In my experience, it is superior stuff.


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good to know there is something better than silicone, I’m pretty sure that’s what the last owner did from the looks of it. If I get motivated and do the repair I’ll trade up on the calk and use lexel. See, I’m learning something. Weldwood Contact Cement, liquid nails, shoe goo, and duct tape are my level of sophistication or lack there of. I’m not much on boat maintenance. I’ve actually got a split in the minicell rear bulkhead wall but my solution has been simple thus far. I just keep a sponge in the hatch- like I said before mine doesn’t flood out, just a bit damp and gets mildewy in the hatch which requires scrubbing with soap and water. Never mind if the skeg is broken in half, the tab on the hatch cover is broken off (use a screw driver to lift cover on and off) the back band on the seat is pushed down (a liquid logic design flaw) the webbing on the front end is fraying out, the criss cross cordage on the deck has a whole section missing. Yet the hull is still solid so the boat is good to go! The skirt tunnel is stretched out and edges of the skirt are shoe gooed to cover up the holes and thin spots- all that stuff is just details, perfectly good boat. Heck I’ll even loan it to you!

Lexel is wonderful stuff. Sticks to almost anything, even when wet. Cures crystal clear. However, be aware that once cured it is about impossible to remove, so be careful when applying.

Before it cures clean tools with mineral spirits, paint thinner or citrus-based
cleaners. Clean hands with citrus-based cleaners. Does not harden in the tube like silicone caulk after it’s opened, at least not for a long time.

Recommended by many boat manufacturers. Appears to be highly mildew resistant.

thanks for the tips on using Lexel

What makes Lexel work best for foam bulkhead in plastic boats is that it retains an amount of flexibility. And plastic flexes.

I have not had a crack in such a bulkhead, but if it was otherwise structurally sound l would probably lay a patch of thinner minicell over it and secure with Weldwood Cement. Any hardware store.

I don’t fully understand the question on float bags. They displace water and places like NRS have a variety of them.

Deck rigging is easy, normal maintenance is to replace any bungie cord as well as static line periodically.

I don’t think any major float bag brand is better than another.

The foam bulkhead should not have leaked like that in a new boat. Boats do over time tend to get leaky bulkheads from hull flex and adhesive becoming less flexible, but shoudn’t happen in new. I would contact seller or Dagger about that.

Along with the front, a float bag in the stern hatch would also help protect you. People doing more extreme styles of ocean kayaking, such as surfing or rock gardening, often have float bags inside their hatches and bulkheads as secondary protection. If something happens such that a hatch would flood, the float bags would still give you flotation. Could work here also.

There are tricks to help drain flooded boats. Look up T rescue and Cleopatra’s Needle rescues for ideas on how to drain boats.

If you’re willing to pay the premium price, Watershed’s Stowfloat bags are where it’s at!
They have two variants: the longer & narrower Futa, & the shorter, yet broader Salmon.
These bags are dual purpose; they allow for gear storage while also providing positive flotation.
I house two Futas in my Dagger Katana 10.4’s stern dry hatch (the design of which I feel is identical to your Axis 12.0), & a Salmon in the bow, forward of the Katana’s foot brace bulkhead.

Amongst the 3 Watershed stowfloats I have 61L of gear storage available for my multi-day, self-support floats, all the while providing sufficient boat buoyancy in an event of a capsize.

The Watershed brand makes BOMBPROOF bags for gear, boating, bicycling, photography, as well as gear for the U.S. military—all the while, Made in The U.S.A.(!).