# Importance of bulk heads

Cleopatra’s Needle…
Sew acute comparison of an obtuse structure with a pointy end that looks the Thame as an obelisk bobbing in the water there can be no D Nile.

@Medawgone said:
Thanks, for posting that recovery.

Ditto thanks to @Medawgone

That was a great read - but I’ve no idea how to do a T-rescue on a boat without deck lines. Kayaks are slippery when wet.

I like that Cleopatra’s Needle recovery.
An important thing that I have found in recovering swamped boats without bulkheads is that if you have the ability, you want to lift the boat up from the water on its side as far as you can before doing the T-rescue piece. You have to lift the kayak, but you don’t really have to lift water. Imagine sitting in the water next to the swamped kayak with your hand on the cockpit coaming - after the kayak is floating parallel to the water, and also parallel along side your kayak… Imagine it’s 4/5 full of water, and all you have is the top edge floating. If you can very slowly raise the kayak beside you, the kayak will raise into the air, but water level will remain even with the surface of the water. It will just flow out of the cockpit opening and maintain the same level as the lake/river as you go. Once you get it out of the water to the level of the cockpit opening on the lower side, you would have to begin lifting water, and it couldn’t spill out anyway. But you’ve gotten down to a reasonable amount of weight at this point. Flip the kayak upright, and proceed with the t-rescue.

You can do a lot of leveraging in this process. Grab the flooded boats coaming, and edge your kayak to get some lift. Maintain the held height as you quickly lower that edge again, and then repeat, pulling the kayak up against yours as you go. Keeping your elbows on your kayak as you slowly lift the swamped boat can make it easier.

This does take the ability to lift the weight of the boat itself. But if you can do that, it’s easier on yourself and the boats than trying to get an overfull kayak pulled on top of your own and struggling with all that weight for the t-rescue part.

While these are certainly valid techniques under the conditions shown, the truth is that they’ll only work on flat, calm water. Add wind and waves and you can pretty much forget about rescuing a swamped boat with inadequate flotation.

If you go out and practice trying to re-enter your swamped boat it might motivate you to master braces and rolls.

Wow, come back to see a ton of responses! Love it.
In the class I took, we did self rescue with a float bag, which I have one. We also did the T-Manuvre for a two man.
I do plan on practicing some wet exits with my yak once I get out at the lake on a nice day. How hard is it to make a The now into a bulkhead?

Grey hawk and castoff: thanks, good info.
Last summer in the many hours I spent in my kayak, I never once thought I was going to flip it… that was me being a complete rookie… now after months of reading and watching videos on kayaking and taking the course, I feel far better prepared now.
I’m not anticipating any problems, but wanted to get everyone’s 2 cents on it.

Thanks.

To make a closed cell foam bulkhead you will need to make a template first. I would take several pieces of cardboard to make the template. The reason you need multiple smaller pieces ( say 4-5) of cardboard is it would be very difficult to place one large piece and shape it to fit properly. One piece at a time trim one edge to fit a section where the bulkhead will be. Then do the same with another piece, but let it overlap the first piece section. Tape the two together, and then do the same with the next until you have a template that is continuous all the way around where you want to place the bulkhead.

Use a large enough 3” thick piece of close cell foam so that the template will fit on it. And trace a line on the foam. Use a keyhole saw to cut your foam a bit proud to the shape of the template. Use a rasp to bring to shape checking the fit as you do so. Use coarse sandpaper to smooth the edge. After cutting the foam you may have to taper the edge a bit front to back to fit it. I used a can of H2 glue to glue the foam in place. A white water kayak dealer should have the foam and glue.

You will want a small hole through the center of the foam bulkhead to allow for air expansion and contraction to escape on hot and cold days. Say 1/16" to 1/8"

The problem with adding a bulkhead is that his boat does not have a forward hatch, which means there is no way to access the compartment created by a bulkhead. Any water that gets in there will have no way to escape.

For venting a foam bulkheads, I just poke a stiff wire though it about an inch above the center, then insert a piece of the thin plastic tubing that comes with spray lubes. It provides all the ventilation necessary while minimizing the possibility of water getting through.

Someone needs to be the devil here and since my photo is a skull…

Photecs, you simply need to sell that boat and get a better one. Also, if you get a reliable brace and roll you won’t need paddle floats or help from other folks.

@Rex said:
Someone needs to be the devil here and since my photo is a skull…

Photecs, you simply need to sell that boat and get a better one. Also, if you get a reliable brace and roll you won’t need paddle floats or help from other folks.

I agree with Rex, but the cash outlay may be more than you can deal with. Nevertheless, note that Eddyline makes some very short boats that (maybe in all cases) have fore and aft chambers with hatch covers. REI carries Eddyline and you get cash back as a member.

@Rex said:
Someone needs to be the devil here and since my photo is a skull…

Photecs, you simply need to sell that boat and get a better one. Also, if you get a reliable brace and roll you won’t need paddle floats or help from other folks.

I thought that was your real face.

This it directed to the OP. Your described usage was “100% recreational, very slow rivers and lakes”, and for that usage your kayak is absolutely, perfectly fine. As recreational kayaks go, it is considerably more efficient and better constructed than the majority. So get a different boat if you want to, but unless your intended use changes, there is absolutely no reason to do so.

A kayak with a great, big recreational-sized cockpit is not appropriate for paddling whitewater, or out onto the ocean or big lakes where sizable waves might be expected. Even if you don’t capsize, waves will tend to splash water into that big hole, and fitting spray skirts to those big cockpits can be problematical, even when an appropriately-sized skirt can be found. Nor will you find a sea sock that will fit around that big cockpit coaming, so you can forget about that as well.

But, once again, with the flotation provided by the air in the stern compartment, and the minicell pillar in the bow, your boat will not sink out of sight, even if filled to maximum capacity. Nor will the bow sink out of sight, so you can forget about the Cleopatra’s needle stuff. That is something that could happen with heavier than water, long kayaks without any bow flotation. I have seen many whitewater kayaks completely soused without any bow flotation other than the foam pillar, and none of them have ever done that.

And I would forget about trying to fit a bow bulkhead also. With the central bow pillar, you would have to remove the pillar first, which I would absolutely not advise, or make two separate bulkheads, one for each side. And these would have to be placed forward of your foot brace tracks. If you want more bow flotation, and more flotation is never a bad idea, the only thing that makes any sense to me is a pair of short bow bags like this one:

http://www.harmonygear.com/products/9723/Harmony-Short-Float-Bow-Bag.html

If you look at the volume of space that is in front of your foot brace tracks that is not occupied by foam, you will see that it is not very great. A pair of short bags will more than fill that space. Furthermore, unless you need to adjust your foot pads to the absolute forward limit of travel, you can inflate a pair of bow bags until the backs of the bags come right up and touch your foot pads and feet, unlike a bow bulkhead. Just get a pair of bags, secure them with paracord through the back of the foam pillar in the manner I described, and you will be good to go.

By diligent watching on Craigslist and the local sales posts on Facebook it is amazing how inexpensively one can upgrade a kayak.

There were two for sale in my area last week – if I had anyone nearby I was helping to outfit I would have jumped on either. One (which is still for sale) is a Current Designs Storm with rudder for \$400 and the other was an older Perception Monterey 14 for \$250. I got a similar Monterey with skeg for \$400 a couple of years ago for my sister in law – the sale included a Werner paddle and an Ultrasport PFD.

In the past decade, fully equipped used touring kayaks I have picked up for under \$400 have included a Dagger Magellan, an Aquaterra (Perception) Scimitar and an Aquaterra Chinook. For under \$600 I have found 3 Necky Lookshas (a 14’ and two 17’s’) and a Venture Easky 15. Most of these boats came with a paddle, usually a basic FG model Werner or Aquabound and about half came with a sprayskirt or PFD or both included with the price.

And you can always sell whatever boat you now have to offset the price of the upgrade, provided you post it for a reasonable discount. Your Kestrel is a quality boat for which you should get a decent return.

By the way, another tip for establishing the dimensions of a bulkhead if you choose to install a foam one is to get a length of 10 or 8 gauge SOLID copper wire which you can form into the shape of the cross-section inside the hull. We used that technique to build a bulkhead for the aforementioned Chinook. You can get hatches that you could install yourself in the hull for access to the cavity thus formed, but IMHO that would be throwing good money after bad. Just sell the boat and upgrade to something more suited to your ambitions. You won’t regret it.

I like the copper wire idea, but I don’t think a bulkhead is really necessary for the boat. I agree with pblanc.
I also agree with willowleaf that if Photecs wants to expand his paddling ambitions that used is a good way to go to keep the cost down. All my boats have been purchased used, Repurpose, recycle, Reuse and keep money in the bank.

@castoff said:
I like the copper wire idea, but I don’t think a bulkhead is really necessary for the boat. I agree with pblanc.
I also agree with willowleaf that if Photecs wants to expand his paddling ambitions that used is a good way to go to keep the cost down. All my boats have been purchased used, Repurpose, recycle, Reuse and keep money in the bank.

And have your body composted.

It seems to be doing that very well on its own!

@castoff said:
It seems to be doing that very well on its own!

The composting has been retarded by the frying for now.

@Rex said:
Someone needs to be the devil here and since my photo is a skull…

Photecs, you simply need to sell that boat and get a better one. Also, if you get a reliable brace and roll you won’t need paddle floats or help from other folks.

I won one of those many years ago and I was going to sell it because it wasn’t a seakayak. I thought I should paddle it at least once before I put it on Craigslist.
I liked it a lot and kept it for the mangroves and as guest boat. I had it 14yrs before it was crushed in hurricane Irma.
A fine rec boat…

Getting a good spray skirt and learning to roll would probably be better than putting up with the space needed to make a front bulkhead work. The boat isn’t long enough for a bulkhead to do better than the higher flotation foam. I once tried one of the float bags and it was worthless for flotation.

One of the other problems is that all bulkheads leak, even factory installed models. After some time in the sun the hatches also get wonky. Stay in flat water and you should not have a problem. The Kestrel is a very stable boat.