VCP custom bulkhead and foot pump ??

Thank you to previous respondants for your firsthand experience with VCP custom bulkheads. Several cited inch measurements. From the bulkhead to what point within the cockpit is this distance?

Is the custom, flat unit sturdy enough to support rigorous bracing? And foot pumping?

Does anyone have a Henderson unit installed by VCP? Any comments pro or con as to its performance, location, installation, discharge, etc? How far off from the bulkhead does the foot pedal stand? Distance for typical stroke?

foot pump etc.
i have all my boats built with a custom bulkhead fit to my specifications. i have it installed such that i can reach my footpump as follows:

essentially, i measure the distance from the edge of my seat to that point where i want to be able to lift my foot off the foot brace and push the pump pedal with the ball of my foot. in my case, that’s 33 inches to the bulkhead (i have a 30 inch inseam).

this allows me to then place minicell on the bulkhead with a circle cut out around the pump so i can access it with my foot.

the end result then, is the bulkhead placed at 33 inches from the edge of my seat, the pump installed on the bulkhead, the foam foot brace and pump pedal placed at 30 inches. 3-4 inches of minicell foam will be perfect for most applications and can be purchased as a large block from

the pump i’m using was factory installed by VCP with the discharge to the right side (at the seam) and the pick up running down the center of the hull to the pick up right in front of the seat.

Custom Bulkhead and Footpump
If you are getting a footpump you will need a custom bulkhead, so it will be a flat cutout. It will be glassed in strong enough by VCP to withstand the rigors of pumping. Because the custom bulkhead is flat and has a small surface area that meets the deck and hull, the deck and hull will be more susceptible to cracking if a significant load is put on that area than with the standard bulkhead. The standard bulkhead has a curvature that increases the contact area and spreads the load for more structural rigidity.

If it were me, I would get the standard bulkhead without the footpump. I almost never have to pump out my kayak while on the water. The footpump adds weight and you will most likely have a hose and strum box assembly that may get in the way of your feet.

The standard bulkhead is sturdier, will allow you to stretch your legs out straight for relaxation, will enable others to paddle your kayak and will probably increase the resale value. Plus I like the option of changing the pedal position depending on how challenging paddling I’m doing.



Reasons for a footpump
Paddling in conditions where a failed roll and standard pump might mean you are dead.

sturdy bulkhead …
i’ve got three kayaks, all of which have a “non-standard” bulkhead. they all have a foot pump, minicell foam foot “brace” and heel pads.

this set up in my experience is far more comfortable than foot pegs/pedals. in the latter case, only the balls of your feet contact the pedals … pretty small surface area compared with the entire bulkhead covered in foam.

as for sturdy … c’mon, we’re not having an elephant sit on our decks are we? two of my boats, an NDK Explorer and a VCP Pintail have been with me for over ten years without any hint of bulkhead problems.

as for the need for a pump … i suppose you don’t “need” one. but there’s no better way in my opinion, to dry out your boat after a day surfing and rolling and having your cockpit slowly become watery, nor is there a better way to maintain control of your boat with both hands on the paddle, to empty your cockpit after something like a reentry and roll after a few missed rolls.

Footpumps / Footpegs
During rescue classes, we usually used a T-rescue to empty the kayak. If it was too rough for that, we had someone steady the kayak while we pumped it out. I believe the hand pump moves water faster than the footpump.

Each set-up had its advantages and disadvantages, which most of us are familiar with. It all depends on your personal preference. As a side note, most of the guides from MIKCO have been ordering their kayaks without footpumps.

I prefer the versatility of footpegs. I can pull them forward if I plan on paddling rough water or push them back for flat water. I can straighten my legs all the way out on a long paddle. If we need to swich off, someone else in my group can paddle my boat. I don’t find the footpegs to be uncomfortable. My footwear has quite a bit of padding.



that’s why the old saying …
different strokes for different folks applies so often. as far as what the MICKO guys use … i don’t hold them above my personal preference. like the MICKO guys, i’m also a BCU 4 star, level 3 coach … does that make my opinion better than yours in so far as what i prefer in terms of foam or pedals or foot pumps? hint – the correct answer is NO.

hands free bailing is required
by my Australian club, Victorian Sea Kayaking Club ( on certain levels of trips. Some opt for battery powered bilge pumps which are very fast. Others prefer a foot pump. Its relative simplicity appeals to me. While slower than its electric version, it is a much faster method than a hand pump. I have emptied the same full cockpit by hand and foot, and I would rather have my spray skirt fully sealed and both hands on my paddle to stay up right and get underway.