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Paul Roberts

Kayak Outrigger Question...

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Would "pontoons" close to the hull make any difference? How far out from the gunwales might you get stand-up stability? I know this is boat length, width, and hull design dependent. However, just thought I put it out there for fellow DIY kinda guys who've tinkered with this kind of thing.


My boat is an entry level, 10ft / 31" wide (Lifetime Tamarak). It's reported to be a stable design. I'm 6' 150lbs. Will be adding pontoons (big 4" foam) to the gunwales to see what I get, before I build actual outriggers. I'd much rather not have them sticking out too far.


Comments? Advice? (Even, "get a different boat" lol. If I have to sit, I'll sit. :))

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The farther out they are the more stability you will get. IMO you won't gain much from having them that close. 


If you do end up building outriggers I'm on my second design right now and maybe this will spark some ideas for you.


My original design I used 5x11" floats, two per side and had a PVC pipe permanently mounted to my kayak which had a coupling to attach the PVC arms on each side. It also had adjustable notches so I could control the height of the outriggers in the water. It worked, and my kayak was so stable I;m convinced I couldn't have tipped if I tried, but it also had a TON of drag. It probably cut my max paddling speed in half at least. 


Ultimately I decided the drag was too much and that I didn't need that much flotation. I scavenged the floats and now only have one 5x11" float on each side. The PVC couplings on the old ones would start to come lose throughout the day and could be a pain to tighten and loosen so I scrapped that. Instead I used 3/4" square aluminum for the arms, the whole system is far lighter, has less drag and I can still stand. It's not the rock solid unsinkable stability of the first design but it's plenty. 


For both design the actual floats are about 36" (more on original design, slightly less on current design) off the center axis of the kayak. No matter what you do MAKE SURE they are not going to interfere with your paddling stroke. 


Sorry pics aren't great shots of the actual outriggers. If anyone is interested I can document exactly what I did for the new design. 


Original design: 






Current design:


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Thanks, MassYak. I like the trim minimalist design you've done there. Interesting that single crab floats are offering some stability. Would be nice to be able to use something that small.


How do you adjust height off the water with the second design?

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