Missing Buoyancy in Old Town Twin Heron

I’ve seen some Old Town Twin Herons – flat-bottomed, recreational, tandem kayaks. None of them seemed to have any bow or stern buoyancy. Certainly no foam blocks or storage holds. Am i missing something or is that a serious safety issue?
I think foam is sometimes sandwiched within the layers of certain canoe hulls, to provide inherent buoyancy, but i’ve not heard of it being done to kayaks.

It is a 3 layer poly construction and the center layer is foam and provides some capsize flotation. IMO it should keep the boat from sinking but will not be enough if swamped to flip drain and reenter. It will also be hard when full of water to swim it to shore.

We bought a solo OT rec-kayak this year that had a sealed hatch and bulkhead behind the seat that provided some flotation and then I took out the foam piece in the bow and put a 18” yoga ball in there and blew it up. It conformed to the hull and deck and dash area and locked itself in place.

I think you could do the same with this kayak and it would IMO make it much safer.

Yoga balls come in different sizes and shapes and they make them called peanut balls that are oblong. I used two of that shape in the proper size in my canoe for flotation bow and stern. The balls are about as thick and tough as a car inner tube.

I have a thread showing all of this if you are interested.

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Lack of bow and stern floatation sufficient to allow a self or assisted rescue is a serious safety issue. There are probably float bags that will fit these boats.

Personally, I think that manufacturers should be required to provide adequate floatation in all kayaks. Many people buying these types of boats are unaware of the safety issues involved. A swamped boat of this type will weigh hundreds of lbs. and will be extremely difficult to empty on the water or swim or even tow to shore.


@MartinF what you describe is how many recreational class kayaks come. Only a safety hazard should you paddle the kayak some place where you can’t swim to shore, as that is what you most likely would do should you flip.

The boats are made for calm, protected water, so the chance of flipping should be small if you stay in these conditions.

The kayaks shouldn’t sink sink, as in disappear below the surface. But they won’t have enough flotation in them to allow for a deep water recovery in most conditions. You can add float bags (something like this: https://amzn.to/3eMntlx) to front and back, but truthfully even doing so likely won;t get you enough flotation to allow for deep water recovery.

Thanks for the replies, so far.

I’m well aware of the dangers of rec boats being used in the wrong conditions, or the safety of them being used in the right conditions, and that they often don’t come with good buoyancy, and that pilates balls or swedish balls can be good customer additions.

I wanted to know if OT Twin Herons, in particular, are known to have some secret/invisible buoyancy.

In the same kayak fleet, i saw some Old Town Heron 11XTs – which you’d think would be very similar to the Twins – and they did have their own pre-attached foam blocks, bow and stern.

I’m going to advise the owner to add some of their own floatation.

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Some new owners think the flotation is packaging for transport to the store and remove it. There should be a warning on the boat not to do this , but I suspect there is not that.

I think I was the only one to mention that particular boat is a layered poly and the center is foam. That in itself will keep the boat from sinking 100% but is not enough if swamped and righted that it will likely be able to be bailed and reentered. To then move the boat even 100 feet to the shore and easing it out of the water and dumping that water will be a real job and might be more than some people could do alone.

Adding flotation like the balls or proper wedge shaped floats will surely aid in that process.

We thought about a tandem but decided against it for a couple reasons and one was with two people in a tandem opposed to two solo boats you are not putting all your eggs in one basket and if one person goes over the second boat can help out in lots of ways.

It should go without saying proper PFDs are essential along with understanding water / air temps, safe swimming distances, current, boat traffic, etc.

The blocks you see in the solo Herons are also there to preventing it from crushing if pinned and preventing leg entrapment. I would think there would be some in a Poly Link or Cross Link tandem as well. I know I have seen them in Loon tandems, but a call up to Old Town could probably answer the question.

Some of the rec-kayaks have a more restrictive cockpit than others. The Twin Heron is more of a canoe than a kayak in many ways and I don’t see leg entrapment being a big problem. I haven’t seen a Solo Heron but from the photos the cockpit seems a little more restrictive than most rec-kayaks. One of the things I liked about the OT Trip 10 and any of the ones they call fishing kayaks is the longer cockpit opening. The OT Loon also is quite open.

The ball I put in hers she uses as an alternate foot brace so her feet are barely under the dash area.

Having removed that foam block and seeing how it is held in place with one screw from the top and nothing on the bottom and not that strong a material or thick. I doubt it would do much to hold the hull and deck in place if something were crushing it.