Ideas for float bags?

Any clever ideas for cheap flotation?  My Jimmy Skiff, a large, open boat, with enough tank flotation to keep her gunwales awash in case of flooding, is about ready for sea trials.  Especially the first couple of times out, I would like to fill all the interior space that I'm not personally occupying, with flotation.  For a small and narrow boat like a kayak this isn't a problem---plenty of companies will sell you high quality bladders that are convenient to inflate, and fit in the kayak's spaces.  But I want different shapes and a lot more volume, and in this case, am willing to trade off sturdy construction for filling a large volume cheaply.  Basically, if one of n bags breaks, it's still better than putting to sea with no bags and having a miserable swim to shore, likely sans boat.  So, any thoughts on the topic?  I can see screwing a set of plastic pad-eyes under the sheer clamps, and having convenient lashing points in the future.

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RE: Ideas for float bags?

Just my opinion, but I would look at this problem from a different angle. Having been a user of just about all kinds of boats I would advise you to spend your efforts to ensure that the likelihood of swamping your boat is minimized by evaluating the conditions you are about to get yourself into. Then make sure you have a way to get water out of your boat in the unlikely event that you do get swamped, i.e.; bailing bucket, hand pump etc. PFD of course. And if you're really cautious like me, carry a waterproof floating VHF radio. I do. The boat is designed to have enough floatation to accomplish self rescue, don't over complicate it. As I said, just my opinion, for what it's worth.

RE: Ideas for float bags?

I've had the Jimmy Skiff out a few times and even a 2-ft boat wake didn't come anywhere close to getting water into it. As long as you do as McCarty J says and only go out in sane conditions (at least until you get to know the boat), you shouldn't need float bags.

Kayaks are a special case in that water can easily get in through an open cockpit and be next to impossible to get out. The JimmySkiff is easy to bail as long as the daggewell slot is above the water.

Have fun,



RE: Ideas for float bags?

Do it the easy way, you will learn 1st hand about YOUR boat.  Pull boat into 2 or 3 feet of water, run bow and stern anchors.  shift your weight to one side and try by shifting further outboard not rocking to get your boat full of water.  It can be difficult to do.  Or you can stand in the water and put your weight on one rail and fill the boat.  Get into the boat, rock back and forth, see how she handles full of water.  NOW you know a whole lot more about YOUR boat, bail her out and your test is over.  I am betting your boat will still float with just you and the water in it.  If not get out and it will float.  When you decide to put in more floatation it needs only to float the heavy things you put in your lovely boat.  One cubic foot of foam should float 60 pounds of gear if I remember right.  Good luck and use her well.

RE: Ideas for float bags?

Inflatable fenders come in all sizes, are super tough and are probably cheaper than kayak/canoe float bags.

I don't know about a Jimmy Skiff but recently capsized a canoe and half way through the 20-30 minute baling process began to seriously wish it had more flotation! Admittedly a canoe is easy to capsize so the risk / frequency of this is much higher but flotation is a good thing, especially if you can tuck it out of the way or incorporate it into useful functions, say inflatable cushions, watertight storage...

 cheers Dave

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