Why no bailers in sea kayaks?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen any sea kayaks with bailers; why not?
Seems like it would only enhance safety.

Too slow to be effective.

Depends upon what bailer you are talking about. Surf skis have bailers. Essentially they are a SOT with bailer that uses speed to suck the water out.

SOTs have scuppers to drain the water out of the cockpit which is above the water line.

Sea kayak cockpit floors are below the waterline. Sea kayakers have skirts that keep the water out of the cockpit. In the past there have been some with foot operated bilge pumps. Current trend is for lightweight so foot pumps don’t make lightweight. .

Bailers like on sailboats,and surf skis often leak at slow speed when closed. You could install one, but why?

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C2 Marathon race canoes have venturi bailers near the stern paddler to drain out paddle splash, etc. They need speed to work and are placed and designed so that the stern paddler can open or close the vent with a quick move of the paddle. Can’t do that under a skirt in a sea kayak and most are not often moving at a speed differential to the water to act as drains rather than holes. Some sea kayaks (Brit boats maybe others) have some form of a pump. I’be seen pump handles just behind the cockpit. I have heard of people installing battery powered pumps but haven’t seen them.

In Canada, there are various safety related items required for a kayak. One of those is a bailing device. This could be a manual bilge pump or, less often, a battery powered pump. Note that the bailing device is not actually defined.

I have 2 kayaks, both of which have manual bilge pumps accessible from the cockpit. In one kayak, the pump is under the deck fore the cockpit. In the other, the pump is stored behind the seat.


Bailers like on sailboats, and surf skis often leak at slow speed when closed

Not really. Bailers have improved a lot in the last years. The bailer on my Epic v8 won’t leak if it’s clean and properly shut. It does require about 3mph to suck water properly though. Stellar and other ski manufacturers are now offering “unidirectional” bailers that are supposed to not let water in but I have never actually tested one to say if it works or not.

For a sea kayak, a major problem would be the amount of water in the cockpit. Would one be able to paddle fast enough to make a venturi bailer work? On skis you can paddle with the bucket full of water - getting wet in skis is part fo the game anyway.

Yeah, but both sea kayaks and surfkis are immersed in the water to the same degree.
True, a sea kayak may be slower, and with a venturi, more speed would be required to drain, but the latest trend is towards adjustable Debrito and Anderson bailers which drain with much slower speeds.

The reason why:
I would think it would be fantastic as an option if you wet exit and are in turbulent water.
I would hate the idea of being off the coast and have to remount a waterlogged unstable boat in big water and then try to slowly remove water with a hand pump under duress.

Be way easier to just jump in the boat and start paddling away.
No need for assistance from another paddler either.

The ski cockpit sits higher than a kayak cockpit. A kayak has bulkheads so you are only dealing with cockpit water that you can almost empty when righting. Even rolling without a skirt will not fill the cockpit.

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The ski cockpit has a raised seat area and a lower base area in the footwell.
The raised seat area rarely gets much water in it because it sits higher by design.

Sea kayaks usually don’t have a raised area, but rather a have a seat which water can get underneath.

So a sea kayak could actually carry more water in the cockpit.
The lower area would be at the same level as a kayak–which is where the water would be draining from.

Also, where a sea kayak has bulkheads a ski is usually closed off–so they also don’t get water in the front and rear compartments either.

I have a hand bailer that looks like an ice scoop. My hand pump is faster but does require 2 hands. Sponge gets the dregs from both. I have used the bailer to pee into and then over the side.

Back in the 1990’s and earlier, integrated manually powered bilge pumps were available on British Sea Kayaks, either on the foredeck, or just behind the cockpit. I knew a bunch of people who had them. Haven’t seen one in a long time.

I have built an electrical pump into one of my sea kayaks. Works very well. Self rescue becomes much easier when you can just make a reentry roll, put on the sprayskirt and continue while the boat is emptying itself.

So take the challenge. Put one in your boat and report the result.

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I don’t think you understand how self rescue works or the nature of a proper sea kayak.

First thing you do if you can’t roll is flip the kayak upright. My NDK boats scoop virtually zero water when l do that. The others not much. Likely get more water in the cockpit getting back in than from the capsize.

In assisted rescues you dump the water put before helping the swimmer back in.

Amount of water is limited by the cockpit being bounded by bulkhead and a smaller deck opening than for rec boats.

Methods to bail faster can be installed, either the chimp pump like someone described above or a pump installed that works via a foot pedal. But you can also carry a battery powered unit that just pumps the water out via a tube that runs out under the skirt.

But frankly most big water paddlers find these other options work fine with less fuss.

Rec boats are not set up to dump the water. But they also are not supposed to be used anywhere that this could make a life or death difference. Many kayak fatalities are people who took a recboat somewhere it should not have been, then have a problem they can’t solve.

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I had open venturi in a ski and only the foot wells would take on water when stopped.

@Celia “First thing you do if you can’t roll is flip the kayak upright. My NDK boats scoop virtually zero water when l do that. The others not much. Likely get more water in the cockpit getting back in than from the capsize.”

I’d like to follow up a bit more on Celia’s comment on the NDK kayaks. I have an NDK Explorer which has the slanted bulkhead behind the seat - I think initiated by Nigel in the early Romany. This is lovely … raise the bow and the water drains from the cockpit, whether in a self rescue or an assisted rescue or when back on shore. Why don’t all kayak manufacturers do this ?? I also have a P&H (classic?) Cetus. It has also copied the slanted bulkhead. A built in bilge pump.

The ‘chimp’ pumps were quite slow (hand pumps much quicker). On my early Nordkapps (had chimp pumps), I would practice pumping out by filling the cockpit, bracing with one arm on paddle - sculling, while pumping with the other.

A Paul Caffyn design (based on Nordkapp) - the ‘Arctic Raider’, had a sort of ‘pod’ design. The seat acted as the bulkhead for the day hatch (more storage area in day hatch, less volume in cockpit).

Overstreet—All of my current boats with the exception of a racing K1 have bailers,
And I can report that they work fantastic–never had a problem.

I’ve gone offshore and out into big water, sometimes alone and never had a problem when I’ve fell in.
If I had a kayak in the same conditions I’d like to to feel the same confidence.

That’s why I’m trying to understand why they don’t put them on sea kayaks.

Until recently, I had considered buying one for touring. This is an aspect of their design I don’t really understand. Not having this option seems to result in a reliance on hand operated bilge pumps, fellow paddlers assistance or other gear needed to remove water. I would imagine this would also take up valuable space for boats that are generally used for touring and require gear stowage. It seems like having one installed from the manufacturer would only enhance the experience–am I wrong?

Celia–so are you saying that because of the design of your boat and your self rescue skills you do not need any form of secondary water removal in deep and turbulent water situations?

I don’t think they are necessary in a sea kayak. A spray skirt will keep water out. (not so in a SOT) I consider a spray skirt more important than a pfd (for the type of paddling that I do).
If, for some reason, you don’t have a sprayskirt, the bailer would help, but if you flip w/out sprayskirt, the volume of water in the cockpit will take quite a while to ‘paddle’ out.

Also, there may be other adverse reasons, but, one I can think of is in surf:
I would jam or break the thing (it protrudes below the hull) every time I launch in the surf. I think surf-ski folk enter the water and go. Us, heavily laden sea kayaks set the kayak down on sand, get ready (spray skirt, etc), then launch on a wave reaching you

Mountainpaddler you don’t paddle a Sea kayak do you?