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Foam Flotation for wooden boats?

Discussion in 'Serious Boat Building Questions' started by mikeinsrq, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. mikeinsrq

    mikeinsrq Member

    I haven't seen any posts about adding foam flotation.
    Growing up, the (aluminum) canoes we used always had flotation in the bow and stern.
    Is it even necessary in a wooden boat?
    I'm particularly interested in building a pirogue.
    I'll be using my pirogue on open saltwater bays in Southwest Florida.
    Seems like it could be useful to be able to bail out a swamped boat.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. doc

    doc Active Member

    I have never used foam. Instead I run a 3" board across the bottom of the hull parallel to the deck end. I run as well another matching 3"board up under the deck end from end to end. Then I put one of those big tough rubber playground balls I stole from my grandkids up under the deck and inflate. The boards hold the ball up under the deck. Of course you need to do the same at the other end - duh. And Viola! I have flotation in choppy crossings and can deflate the balls and remove when not needed, restoring storage space. I do drill drain holes in the boards where they join to the deck and hull bottom. It goes without saying that you'll need to build your boat with substantial decks. But if you want a boat with real balls....
  3. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    If you wanted to add flotation I would strongly suggest that you DO NOT use the expanding foam in a can. You know the stuff you squirt into a area and it expands.
    From past articles on here the guys who did that were really sorry they did. for some reason the areas they used it in rotted.

    One trick is to make a deck and seal the bow and stern with the deck and a bulkhead. Add some Styrofoam popcorn in the that sealed area. Make sure it is glassed ( or at lease epoxy saturated ) on the inside to protect the wood and have a drain hole at the bottom for ventilation and drainage.
  4. beekeeper

    beekeeper Well-Known Member

    I love pirogues, but will it be the best or safest design for "open saltwater bays"? By your floatation question you seem to anticipate capsizing. Generally pirogues are used in sheltered, slow moving water. I'm not familiar with that type water to judge. It may serve you well. Just asking.

    For polling a "marsh style" pirogue would probably work best. Check Keith and seedtick posts for info.

  5. mikeinsrq

    mikeinsrq Member

    Thanks for the replies.
    I anticipate most of my use being on shallow saltwater flats and I'd like to be able to pole the boat as I sight fish for redfish and snook.
    I think a pirogue would be ideal for this.
    There is usually some open water that must be crossed to get to some of these grass flats.
    Luckily, nothing treacherous but I would sit and paddle across those areas.
    I'm just wondering about floatation from a safety standpoint.
    Are there Coast Guard requirements for floatation in non-motorized watercraft?
  6. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    It does not appear that the boating laws have changed any from when I was out there enforcing them.
    I Put the ones that pertain to a canoe in bold print. I hope this helps you and the one that everyone paddling a canoe , kayak or any person powered craft always missed was the easiest one to avoid getting caught NOT doing it...... I highlighted it in RED. :wink:

    They might of changed the laws since I can not find where they required some form of anchoring the craft That was another one the canoes would not do. That's Including me and a Park Ranger at the Everglades Canoe trail caught me on it and reminded me of it. :oops:


    The owner and/or operator of a vessel is responsible to carry, store, maintain and use the safety equipment required by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).

    All vessels are required to have onboard a wearable USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each person. The PFDs must be of the appropriate size for the intended wearer, be in serviceable condition, and within easy access. The state of Florida urges all people onboard a boat to wear a life jacket.

    Vessels 16 feet in length or longer must also have at least one USCG-approved throwable Type IV PFD that is immediately available in case of a fall overboard.

    A child under the age of 6 must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II or III personal flotation device while onboard a vessel under 26 feet in length while the vessel is underway. "Underway" is defined as anytime except when the vessel is anchored, moored, made fast to the shore or aground.

    Vessels with built-in fuel tanks or enclosed compartments where gasoline fumes can accumulate are required to carry at least one fire extinguisher (depending upon vessel length) which is approved for marine use.

    All vessels are required to carry an efficient sound-producing device, such as a referee's whistle.

    Vessels less than 16 feet in length are required to carry at least 3 visual distress signals approved for nighttime use when on coastal waters from sunset to sunrise. Vessels 16 feet or longer must carry at least 3 daytime and three nighttime visual distress signals (or 3 combination daytime/nighttime signals) at all times when on coastal waters.

    The use of sirens or flashing, occulting or revolving lights is prohibited except where expressly allowed by law.

    Recreational vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc.). The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules specify lighting requirements for every description of watercraft. The information provided in the following link is for vessels less than 65.5 feet/20 meters in length. External Website.
    For additional info.............For boating laws in salt water I use to ask the Marine Patrol for answers.
    It's my understanding the Florida Marine Patrol has been incorporated into the Florida Fish and Game Commission.

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