Why Do Kayaks Have Holes In Them?

If you’ve ever been kayaking before, you might have noticed that they have holes fitted into the kayak themselves.

However, if you’re new to kayaking, you might be curious to know: Why do kayaks have holes in them?

In this article, I will explore why kayaks have holes in them. So, next time you go kayaking you’re well informed on what the holes are for and any equipment you can take with you to ease your mind!

So, let’s get into it.

Why do kayaks have holes in them

Why Do Kayaks Have Holes In Them?

Sit-on-top kayaks, otherwise known as ocean kayaks, require stability and need to be less prone to sinking due to rough waves when you’re paddling on the ocean.

As a result, sit-on-top kayaks are made with a flatter bottom to make them more stable and holes known as scupper holes to drain the kayak of water efficiently. 

Water drainage can cause issues when kayaking, and there are a variety of different ways that water can end up inside the kayak. This can happen through:

  • Waves crashing against the kayak
  • Splashing when you’re paddling
  • Capsizes
  • Water falling from the paddle itself inside the kayak

In a sit-on-top kayak, scupper plugs cover the self-bailing drain holes. The purpose of the scupper hole is to allow water that splashes onto the deck to drain back out and as opposed to pooling underneath the kayaker.

Sit-on-top kayaks are generally favored by both beginners and kayak fishermen who require a kayak with a lot of stability. In the event of an accidental capsize, the scupper holes allow the water to drain out of the cockpit. 

If you’re worried about your kayak’s scupper holes causing your kayak to sink, you should know that scupper holes are designed to remove the water pooling around your bottom and your feet, not to capsize the kayker inside it!

While blocking these holes will prevent splashes from coming up into the interior of the boat, it will also prevent any water that makes its way onto the deck from draining back out.

Sealing your scupper holes completely could actually have the opposite effect and cause your kayak to actually flood and become too heavy to paddle.

If you are concerned about the holes as you’re getting used to kayaking, a better solution is to get a well fitting scupper plug that is easy to install and remove as needed as conditions change.  

Do All Kayaks Need Scupper Holes?

The answer to this question is no! For instance, a sit-inside kayak is slightly different to a sit-on-top kayak. Sit-inside kayaks are generally favored by both intermediate and advanced paddlers.

Water drainage doesn’t tend to be as big of an issue for sit-inside kayaks. This simply comes down to the fact that they are enclosed, and the walls of the kayak are what keeps the water out. As a result, scupper holes aren’t necessarily needed.

In addition to this, kayakers also have the option to attach a spray skirt to sit-inside kayaks.  A spray skirt is material that fits over the cockpit’s rim and works to cover up the exposed interior of the kayak.

Not only is this an effective barrier at keeping the water out of the interior of the kayak, but it also keeps your lower body warm when you’re out on the water for long periods of time. 

Alternative Methods To Get Water Out Of Your Kayak

While scupper holes are designed to keep interior water levels manageable, there may be times where the conditions mean that they’re not enough on their own.

Packing your kit with useful gear when you’re preparing for a kayaking trip could make the difference between an enjoyable paddling experience and a soggy and cold one.

It’s important to be prepared, especially if you’re worried about accidentally capsizing the boat or water filling up your kayak in other ways.

If you are worried about water getting into your kayak and you not knowing how to cope with it, you would benefit from a:

Kayak Sponge 

These types of sponges are relatively inexpensive and work to remove an unwanted pool of water that manages to collect in the hull of your kayak.

If you’re worried about water getting into your kayak, these sponges are great to have on hand in your dry bag. They’re super absorbent, and are specifically designed to soak up a high volume of water in a short period of time so you can get back to enjoying your kayaking experience!

Bilge Pump

If you find that you’re a nervous kayaker, a bilge pump is an essential to take with you on your kayaking trips. The purpose of a bilge pump is to remove water that collects in the bilge, which is the bottom of the inside of the hull.

A bilge pump allows you to pump water out of the kayak’s interior rapidly, which is incredibly useful in the event of an accidental capsize.

There are manual and electric bilge pumps available to buy. That being said, the electric bilge pumps, by nature, tend to be significantly more expensive.

While investing in these pieces of equipment aren’t absolutely necessary, they sure are useful to have on hand. Not only do they present you with a method to get excessive water out of the boat, but they also provide you with peace of mind knowing that they will help you quickly tackle the water filling up your kayak.

In Summary 

Sit-on-top kayaks have scupper holes to allow the water that splashes onto the deck to drain back out without it sinking. 

Once you’ve been out in your kayak a few times, you’ll be sure to realize that scupper holes are no danger to you or your paddling experience!

If you are still anxious about the holes in your kayak, there’s no harm in preparing for every eventuality with a kayak sponge or bilge pump to help you deal with the water that collects in the hull of your boat.

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