Kayak Side Flotation: Why Use It, and How Does It Work?

Most W Kayak models come equipped with one, two, and even three pairs of detachable flotation modules. A flotation module is a 5 ft long plastic foam ‘noodle’ with a bungee cord going through its core. The bungee hooks at its ends enable attaching the module to Nylon eyelets around the cockpit.

The flotation modules are essentially recovery accessories: In case you capsized your W kayak, flotation modules attached to its side (see figure below) can help preventing it from overturning, and if your kayak is overturned they help keeping it afloat, and by that make it easier for you to turn it back.

In some cases, when your W kayak is laying on its side, the presence of a single flotation module or better – a pair of such modules under the top side of the lower hull can lead to the boat righting itself, and this is how it works:

The top part of the lower hull is prevented from sinking by the presence of the side flotation module ‘A’.

The flotation module helps keeping water from from getting in by pushing the cockpit rim above the surface.

If water gets into the lower hull through the cockpit opening it will flow to area ‘B’ and make this part of the boat heavier. By making it increasingly heavy it would make it tilt and regain its normal position – that is with the cockpit opening facing upward.

fishing kayak side flotation module in action

If your W Kayak doesn’t right itself in such a situation it’s easy to right it by unbalancing it.

It’s clear to see why in any case outfitting your W kayak with two pairs of such flotation modules is more effective than outfitting it with one pair.

In sum, if you’re taking your W kayak on a paddling, camping or fishing trip, it makes sense to take preventive measures that can minimize the severeness of a capsize accident by outfitting it with side flotation modules.

Whether you’re taking with you on board fishing tackle, camping gear or other stuff – it’s always a good idea to secure this equipment by attaching it to the boat. You will find there are plenty of spots inside the cockpit that you can use to attach bungees, carabiners, hooks and rope to secure your gear.


How to use detachable flotation to right a capsized Wavewalk kayak »

11 thoughts on “Kayak Side Flotation: Why Use It, and How Does It Work?

  1. Just bail out as soon as you feel you’re losing control and you’re not going to be able to stay in the boat.
    Mike M

  2. Indeed.
    If you bail out do it quickly and decisively: catapult yourself out of the cockpit and disconnect yourself from the boat (think like an aircraft pilot)… :-D
    Preferably, don’t do it sideways but rather backwards – if possible and safe to do it this way. This would minimize the chances that you’ll overturn your W.
    With some practice you can prevent the boat from overturning by bailing out on time and with precision, and that’s a useful trick – especially when you’re surf playing.
    Yoav

  3. Hi, can I make this kind of side flotation myself? — thanks, Mark

  4. Hi Mark,

    It’s easy:
    All you need are hollow pool ‘noodles’ that you can get in any department store, or online, a long bungee cord (preferably 1/4″ in diameter), and bungee hooks.

    You insert the bungee through the ‘noodle’, attach a hook to the end that’s popping out, cut the bungee at about 1.5″ from the end of the noodle on the other side, pull to create some tension, and finally attach the second hook.

    Yoav

  5. it would make sense to outfit the boat with noodles that are as wide as possible… How would I know if they might interfere with my paddling?

  6. Hi Mike, It goes like this: The the taller you are the less likely the side flotation foam is to get in your paddle’s way.
    Mike H.

  7. I really like this design. I’m wondering if there’s room between the hulls for a swimmer to board the kayak by using a ladder, which I would keep rolled-up and attached for use.

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