Why do kayaks have holes?

Kayak scupper holes are usually found in the footwell of kayaks, and sometimes in the tank well. Scupper plugs are made to self-bail the kayak, meaning that they actually let water out of the kayak, not in.

Scuppers, or scupper holes, are found on the bottoms and sides of any open-air vessel. These holes actually help drain out water from the bottom of the boat or the deck. These are positioned at the ground level of the kayak, which allows the water to drain off the sides. These holes are self-bailing, so you won’t have to worry about them flooding your boat. They actually release water that could into your craft via waves or sloppy paddling, so they are helping to keep you afloat.

Don’t worry, these holes at the bottom of your boat wouldn’t leave you sinking. Most kayaks will have about four scupper holes as this is thought to be the safest amount. They are placed so that water will drain every time the kayak is at a standstill, so they won’t necessarily be working while you’re cruising at a decent pace. This is because if you become overloaded with water during a big wave, you want the kayak to be self-bailing without the need for forward movement. You are going to have a hard time paddling forward if you suddenly take on a lot of water. Some kayaks are designed to fully self-bail in as little as sixty seconds.

What is scupper plug and why it is needed?

A scupper plug actually plugs up the scupper holes. You may wonder why someone would want to do this, and the answer is that while scupper holes are self-bailing, they do let water in, usually in the form of splashes, especially when water is choppy or the boat is moving swiftly. If it is a chilly day or there is a lot of paddling left to do, it is probably not the best idea to get the cockpit and whoever is in it soaking wet. For that reason, scupper holes come with scupper plugs in order to keep everyone nice and dry during their journey.

Some of these scupper plugs will have adjustable valves, so that water can be released at a lower rate than if there was no plug. So, if you are in choppy waters and want to drain the cockpit somewhat consistently while still not allowing the scupper holes to be un-plugged, you will need to look for scupper plugs that have this adjustable valve. A little bit of water is going to come through your scupper plugs while you are in your kayak, and this is completely normal. There is no need to panic if there’s a bit of water coming through a scupper plug, even if the valve is completely tightened. Too much water is not a good sign, but you will definitely be able to tell the difference between a scupper plug leaking and there actually being structural damage to your vessel. A bilge pump is the solution in case excessive water is coming into your kayak.