Safe to remove front foam in rec. boat?

I’d like to remove the front foam pillar from my Dagger Blackwater 10.5 specifically so I can install a single floatation bag instead of having to mess with split bags.

The pillar is just a foam wedge held in place with a single screw in the deck and the boat seems extremely rigid without it; am I safe to remove it?



P.S. I already emailed Dagger this question, but they never responded.

Just make sure
You have flotation up there. If you loan or sell the boat you’ll want to advise accordingly. The foam also supports the hull/deck to some extent.

I think this is akin to taking out the air bag in a car to lighten it. Your reasoning makes sense, but the next person who owns or paddles the boat might not know it neads flotation and find themselves in trouble as a result. If you do take it out, please save and replace it if you ever get rid of the boat.


It may seem rigid without
but Dagger put it there for a reason. It cost them money to put it there, so they wouldn’t have done it if there wasn’t a need for it.

How much strength does it add?

– Last Updated: Feb-11-06 2:14 PM EST –

My reasoning is that they put the foam wedge up front and in the stern to add bare minimum flotation. Heck, the stern foam is just jammed in place. I figure if it was a structural piece, they would have secured it with something more substantial than a single sheet metal screw.

Actually, I'm going to fashion and install a Minicell rear bulkhead as well; the rear hatch is pointless without one. The boat is used and really doesn't "deserve" the upgrades, but I'm in the mood for a project.

I'll definately save the foam blocks I remove in case (however unlikely) I sell the boat.

My question is directed towards the structural integrity a loosely fit foam wedge may or may not lend and weather or not it's needed for that purpose. I'm looking to remove it so I can increase the boat's flotation more easily.


give it a go
it’ll be obvious when you take it out. I don’t know that boat specifically but I bet the structural issues are more along the lines of preventing the plastic from relaxing down from heat and not any failure/safety issue. If you put in float bag and after awhile you see the deck squish down a few inches you can always reverse the process by putting the block back in.

Have you seen a boat collapse on someone
I’d think twice about taking the pillar out of the boat. The people who designed the boat put it in for a reason. If it was only for floatation it would not be a pillar. You may think your boat is pretty sturdy but don’t underestimate the force of moving water. I’ve seen someone get pinned at a highway bridge abutment and it was not even a rapid… not something you would want to happen to you or somebody who borrowed your boat. Split floatation bags are no big deal, and you may save 5 or 10 bucks with a one piece bag. The two bags actually give you a bit of reduntancy in case you have a leak.

You Can Take It Out
if this boat is not used in white water. A full air bag will probably give the same rigidity while inflated. But you won’t be keeping your air bag inflated constantly. The issue then is to not to sit ON the deck, or to leave it out in the sun on a hot day. Without the foam pillar, you risk deformation of the hull shape.

Rather than taking the pillar out, your option (probably an easier one) is to just use split bags up front. Serves the same purpose. Just need to secure two instead of one.



if it was me
and i had enough in the rear storage area you are bulkheading with the mini-cell, i would completely foam in the front and make it a giant foot brace.

Much to consider

– Last Updated: Feb-12-06 7:19 PM EST –

Edited to add: When I say "pillar" I mean a stiff, 4 inch wide foam wedge jammed up into the last 1.5 feet of the bow. I'm no muscle man, but even without the "pillar" in place, I'm unable to flex the hull area it "supports" at all.

The (second or third) hand Blackwater is my first kayak and this past was my first season. So far, I've stuck to lakes, streams and a few mild rivers. Right now I don't see big water in my future, but maybe that'll change once I have more river experience.

I would welcome the extra storage a single float/dry bag up front would offer, but even so, it's not that much space and I'd still be hard pressed to carry enough gear for even a light overnighter. I suppose the 10.5 is just too small for that.

It's obvious my boat's been to battle many times before (the scratches, gouges and Upper Gualey/New River stickers are a clue) and I don't want to hasten it's demise by reducing it's strength.

Is there any merit to gluing the front foam pillar in place while I'm adding the bulkhead? That single sheetmetal screw holding it in doesn't seem very sound.


P.S. I already took the pillar out to make room while performing maint. this winter; the single screw was barely holding it in. It's easy enough to install and remove.

Go ahead remove it
As long as the deck and hull are reasonably rigid with the pillar removed, go ahead and take it out if you’re putting an air bag in. I would. Just watch how you strap it on the roof so you don’t end up oilcanning it.

blah blah blah ‘they put it there for a reason so leave it’ talk. yeah ok,it does nothing for floatation since boat won’t sink without it, and with it,you still can’t really climb back in and bail it out after capsize if you don’t have a rear bulkhead. With a bulkhead and airbag in front, it’ll be far safer(and versatile as now you can take it out in open chop if you want to)than the stock setup. By the way i had the exact same style pillar in my LL Saluda and knocked it out when doing re-entry practice. same single screw deal. except i put 2 big aluminum push in inserts into foam, with epoxy and it held then with 2 bigger screws.then i sold boat.

The Foam Pillar Is Not For
really for floatation since it provides minmal. It’s is definitely there to maintain rigidity and the height of the deck. I removed the front pillar of my son’s carolina 12 (old name - Umiak). I definitely noticed the sinking of the top deck, when the air bag was not inflated. Just don’t put it in the sun without the bag and don’t put weight or sit on it, when the bags not there. Otherwise you will crease the hull.


best of both worlds?
Here’s an idea to consider. You might be able to use the “creek float” from Jackson Kayak:

It’s a horseshoe shape float that you work up around the end of the foam pillar. Once inflated, it’s secured in place. This is designed to go around the STERN foam block in a creek boat, but it may work to go around the BOW foam pillar of your rec boat just as well. If there’s not space, you may have to cut away some of the pillar at the very end. I have the smaller version of these bags (the fun float) in the stern of my ww kayak, and they are great. Much more durable than other floats I had used in the past. Maybe a bit pricey, but to me it was well worth the convenience and the extra durability.

Anyway, if the size would work, this would let you keep the pillar as a rigid support, AND use a single float bag.

Good luck!