Bell Yellowstone seat height

I raised the cane seat on my Bell Yellowstone since I like to kneel in class II. However, it has become clear that the raised seat produces an unstable boat when seated so I need to make an adjustable height seat. Unfortunately I have misplaced the wooden spacers that originally came with the boat so I don’t know the original seat height anymore. Can someone tell me the length of the original spacers or the original height of the seat from the floor or below the gunwale? Thanks.

I’m going to make something like the Wenonah adjustable seat. A plate of aluminum on either side hanging down from the gunwale with slots for bolts to ride in and angled slots to hold the seat in at least two different positions.

Think twice
before you imitate the Wenonah adjustable seat. There was a thread, I believe at Solotripping, in which people expressed their frustration with that design. The seat rattles, does not stay in the slot where you put it and will send you swimming if you try to adjust it on the fly.


adjustable seat design
I’m certainly open to other options if someone has some that can be made in my basement. Ideally, it would be a spring loaded pedestal type seat that would pop up with the push of a button if you wanted to go from sitting to kneeling and vice-versa but that is probably beyond my engineering range.

Moving from kneeling to sitting in my current configuration can sometimes be an adventure. I’m thinking that some strong shock cord would pop the seat up from the lower to the top position and only require a tug forward to latch into the slots, although this is strictly theoretical at this point.

wenonah seat
OK, I read the thread over on solotripping. Looks like part of the problem is with multiple seat heights and mismatched heights on either side. I’m just planning on a bottom position and top position so that problem should be resolved. I was also planning on using washers (although metal not nylon as was suggested in the thread–perhaps I will use nylon) so that should help also.

People didn’t like the rattling when on the car racks but that’s a simple problem to solve with a strap or shock cord.

I’m not ready to give up yet.

You don’t state how high you have the
seat now. Nine, ten inches? There is another approach to getting more stability while sitting, without lowering a seat that is at a reasonable height (like 9"). Think of what makes sitting in a kayak stable. It isn’t just the low center of gravity. The kayaker has his back end firmly located. The kayaker has his feet againsst a proper footrest, at the right distance. And a kayaker has his thighs braced also, against the sides of the boat and with at least some restraint keeping the thighs from lifting. You may need to fabricate partial thigh hooks.

With these things done, if the boat tips, your bottom is properly located so that your torso can stay upright. If something throws the boat over, you can raise one thigh and push the other down to correct the angle.

In a tandem canoe, some of this might be unnecessary, but in a solo canoe, I don’t know why “sitters” try to get along without it. It isn’t so much the height of the seat. After all, changing from kneeling to sitting does not change the vertical body weight distribution that much. It is the sloppy, loose nature of the sitting position that allows the boat to squiggle around underneath without the paddler being able to exert proper control.

I would caution you to sit in a wenonah and see how you like their adjustable seat bracket before trying to make your own. I tried one and didn’t care for it at all. It’s noisy, clucky, and does pop out of place regularly.

current height
Front top of seat is 10 1/2" and back 11 1/2".

I agree that the issue is not simply seat height. Being locked into the boat somehow increases control. I have thigh straps in the boat for the kneeling position. Maybe thigh straps like IK’s have when seated would also be useful. However, height alone is relevant having paddled the boat with the seat at OE height and it’s current height, the difference in stability is noticeable.

I need an adjustable seat of some kind to get my feet under the seat to kneel so I have to invent some system. I understand there will be drawbacks to any system, but the Wenonah system seems pretty simple to mimic and I’m willing to experiment. In my whitewater solo boats I have fore/aft hanging saddles which I built and like. I could make a system like that which would adjust but it doesn’t allow for good placement of your feet when seated.

The standard drops are 4"

The kneeling drops are 2"

I have both, but never use the 4" drops. For flatwater I can sit OK with the higher seat. In rougher conditions, I kneel down.

I tried a Wenonah with the adjustable set - didn’t like the way it rattled.

Even the 2" drops are too low for me to easily slide my feet under the seat. Currently my drop is 3/4" in the front and 1 1/2" in the back. I had looked at their product pages and somehow missed those descriptions. I’ve removed my seat now, made some oak runners for either side through which the bolts for the adjustment system will go and ordered some sheet aluminum for the sides.

Discussion question about height—
why does one feel more stable and secure standing with a pole than sitting “loose” in a seat?

Because your feet are on the bottom of the canoe? Does a person feel less stable standing on the seat with a pole?

The YS is tough to set up for kneeling

– Last Updated: Jun-02-11 12:04 PM EST –

... at least for me. A seat that is high enough to get my feet in and out yields a seat that is awfully high for sitting and too high when shifting my weight back to lighten the bow while kneeling. I've concluded that the boat just doesn't fit me. I'm 6'2" with size 13 feet.

Wouldn’t similar circumstances apply in most boats with size 13 feet? I’m thinking a pedestal seat is your solution. That way you can slide your feet along the side of it. Making an adjustable height pedestal seat is more of an engineering challenge but I’m sure it could be done with enough ingenuity.

Something about relative flatness

… of the YS bottom and the relative narrowness of the RX inside dimensions. The more spacious and rounder-bottomed composite version doesn’t give me such trouble.

On a pedestal, yes. If for some reason I really wanted/needed to paddle a YS, I’d probably put a saddle/pedestal in it. But there’s really not much point in doing it since it’s too wet in WW to justify it.

Agreed, it is too wet for whitewater but I do use mine as a class II tripping boat so I need to be able to both kneel and sit. Even on flatwater, I like to switch positions.

I looked at one of your previous posts

You said your seat is currently 10 1/2" and 11 1/2 inches. I then measured a YS that has had it’s seat raised for kneeling. Yours is a full inch higher. Are you sure you need that much room?

I tried various heights in the process of making changes from the original set up. That height was necessary in order to easily slide my feet underneath the seat.

ok, I can see that
The one I measured was set up as a compromise between easy entry-exit and stability. But nevertheless, in the words of Johnnie Cochran, I had to acquit.

Good point. Though I think the real
reason for poling is the pole as a balance rod and support, plus the focused interface provided by the feet on the bottom.

My point remains that part of the problem with the high seat position in modern “white man” canoes is that the feet, thighs, and butt are not held in place like they could be.

Feet can be placed widely in the boat, as can knees, whereas buttocks have a limited ability to spread:)

I am seriously considering adding IK style thigh straps for the seated position. A foot bar adds a fair amount of locking ability but holding the knees and thighs at the gunwales is not something I have experimented with as a locking mechanism and it may be worth a shot.