I spent quite a bit of thought trying to determine what to do for foot braces for Paige's kayak. The usual suspects were:
- Build an extra cross section for her to rest her feet against
Because she's growing like a weed, putting an extra cross section that is properly fitted now would render the kayak useless next season.
- Pad out the cross section with pieces of minicell foam
Because she's still quite small for the kayak, I would have to buy a LOT of minicell foam.
- Make foot braces out of wood + stuff
Because my building abilities aren't very good nor precise, I really wasn't up to the task of building my own foot braces.
- Buy + install commercial foot braces
Through a process of deduction, this is my winner.
Once the solution was identified, the next obvious question is what to buy? And where will I buy it from?
The 2 commercial foot braces that come to mind are Sea Dog foot braces and Keepers foot braces. I've read nothing but wonderful things about the Sea Dog foot braces, but the average price was about $60 plus shipping. I've read a few poor reviews of the Keepers foot braces – mostly that they're flimsy; but, I found them for $25 and, as a bonus - locally. I'm not overly concerned about them being flimsy because the kayak is for a kid and she shouldn't be stressing the foot braces even if she does (one day, far away) learn to roll.
I did some quick research on how others have installed foot braces and found that the common solution was to install blocks between the stringers for the 2 mounting points on the foot brace tracks. That was my idea, as well and I decided that's what I was going to attempt to do.
First, I wanted to install the foot braces as far forward as possible – giving us the most flexibility for how long Paige can continue to "grow into" this kayak. I set the kayak on the ground and had her sit in it properly. I put the foot brace in the most forward position. I brought the foot brace only as far back as required (ok, plus a little for her to be able to change her leg/foot position a bit). I marked the position on the gunwales at all 4 positions (fore and aft on both sides).
I then measured the distance between the stringers and grabbed pieces of scrap wood. I had to use pieces of pine because the pieces of WRC weren't large enough to work. Some quick 15-minute epoxy and were in business.
I also decided to follow a trick that I'd read about. I installed the foot braces at an incline. I figure that as she gets taller, her feet will get bigger. As her feet get bigger, the balls of her feet will get higher. This is another of my ideas that only time will tell.