Floats for outriggers?

Has anyone got an idea for making a light, economical outrigger setup for a 14 foot canoe? I need more stability for fishing shallow bays, etc,

I am planning on making the arms out of laminated basswood and red oak, but need ideas for the floats.

What material? How much flotation capacity would be required?

Might make them out of 1/4" luan plywood with 1 layer of fiberglass cloth - what do y’all think?


– Last Updated: Sep-14-09 2:46 PM EST –

hi..u could just buy 2 large sized,round boat bumpers and fashion a holder for them. nothing fancy, just a straight piece that you could fasten the bumpers to with stainless steel band-style clamps


“How much float capacity?”

– Last Updated: Sep-14-09 2:18 PM EST –

There's no "right" answer to how much float capactiy you need, since it depends on both outrigger length and "how much" stability you need. Here's a thought. First, decide how long your want your outriggers to be, and either build them or fashion a temporary boom of that length which can be clamped to the rails of your boat. Second, put the boat in the water - with you in it - and have an assistant hold up one end of the outrigger with a spring scale while you lean the boat over as hard as you think it will ever get leaned. The reading on the spring scale is the bouyancy you need for THAT outrigger length. Maybe double that bouyancy value as a safety factor if you use very short outriggers. Finally, take the spring-scale reading (or the scale reading multiplied by the safety factor you want), multiply that by 62, and that gives you the volume (in cubic feet) of the float you need. The longer your outriggers, the less floatation you need.

If you find some really nice floats before doing anything else, fiddle with the math to calculate the length of outrigger you need, or just experiment with different outrigger lengths on the water before building them.

Pretty sure you’ll have thought of this,
but how will the outrigger floats be out of the way while you’re paddling to your fishing location?

The Volume of a two liter soda bottle
is a good place to start … Not the bottle, but the size.

Thanks, Beau:

Those from Castle craft is exactly what I had in mind!

floats for outrigger
I have made a few outrigger canoes. It is important that the ama hull has some weight as that provides the stability in one direction. I laminate the amas out of redwood or pine with a air chamber inside. If you want to make it very light, include a cavity for adding water to increase the weight when in use. My amas are about 6 ft long and about 6 X 6 in in cross-section.


Pool Noodles
Formed, shaped, mounted with PVC pipe like this…