Is the foam at ends of my canoe necesary

I just bought a canoe and the fiberglass needs some repair. I need to reinforce the inside of the canoe at each end. The foam must come out. Do I need to put it back in? Is it illegal not to have it? Does it affect how the canoe maneuvers or does it just keep it afloat when filled with water?


Noting you do to your canoe
is illegal ?

Leave it there. It is for floatation.



float tanks
Resin-impregnated fiberglass is heavier than water. Without the floatation tanks, your canoe would sink if completely swamped.

Royalex and crosslinked polyethylene boats (like Old Town Discoverys) have inherent bouyancy due to the air trapped in the foam core. Rotomolded polyethylene kayaks generally have minicell pillars which provide flotation.

Most people prefer a boat that doesn’t sink to the bottom of the lake when it capsizes so you want to keep the float tanks. Of course, an airtight flotation tank would work as well as a foam-filled one, but the problem is that the volume of an airtight float tank varies with temperature and puts a lot of stress on the junction of the tank and the hull. You could have an empty float tank with a very small vent hole to allow equalization of pressure, if you really don’t want the foam.

the Coast Guard does NOT require canoes to be manufactered with floatation (for neutral bouancy). But…it’s a good idea to have it. Put it back in.

Happy paddlin’,


Someone has discovered the
Gray Thing of canoes.

No. you don’t have to have it
The foam is simply flotation.


Posted by: sloopsailor on Jun-30-09 8:38 AM (EST)

No. you don’t have to have it The foam is simply flotation.


I would have to disagree with sloopsailer. You will want some kind of floatation to keep your swamped canoe afloat.

Most organized events/races require a certain amount of floatation.

Personal safety requires a certain amount of floatation

Law vs. common sense
The law doesn’t require flotation. However, do you really want a boat that sinks to the bottom the first time you capsize it? Is it going to be named the “Titanic”?


Back in the day
All decent canoes had foam flotation and the USCG required a specific density. Grumman, Sawyer and Mad River were among companies that used sizable chunks of foam.

Then someone, probably Wenonah, figured that air weighed less than foam. I personally switched bell from Foam to air chambers in summer of 1994.

The trouble with air chambers is that they need to be sealed very carefully, because if they leak, the hull will sink if capsized.

Probably you should put that foam back in.