QUESTION: I have a 14-foot decked canoe/kayak homebuilt. Can I add floats fairly close in to main hull, i.e. only a foot to 16" of open space between hull and inboard edge of floats? Everything I see has very broad overall beam, with big space between hull and floats.
ANSWER: In practice, for a small kayak like this, you can place the amas (floats) wherever you wish, but the price is that you could add a lot of extra resistance if they are either too big or too close to the main hull.
I would aim for at least having the max. width of the central hull as clearance between the hulls — probably about 26" in this case. This might 'just' allow the use of a short <6' kayak paddle. For such a small boat, I would arrange the X‑beams so that your amas are 'just' in the water at all times, otherwise you'll find it rather unsettling. I would also go for a narrow, veed, banana type hull for the amas in this application — as this is for a relatively slow boat—where you need the gentle progressive immersion of the veed banana shape. If planning to still paddle the boat, you might want to have the amas towards the rear—clear of a kayak paddle, or perhaps switch to a canoe paddle.
But more preferably. if you just want to add a little stability to your kayak, I'd consider just adding about 3" of extra beam on each side… directly to the topsides of the existing kayak; starting at the present waterline and immediately flaring out to the larger beam. Take a look at the Hobie Mirage series to see how this can be incorporated. It would be less resistant and add less weight than adding exterior amas with X‑beams, although admittedly, less stability than adding new amas. It all depends on what you want to do with the boat and how you'll use it.
Good luck… Mike
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