I have a solo Wenonah Argosy that I love. I use it on class 1+ rivers and lakes, and only in a kneeling position (it came with adjustable seat) . The trouble is, with size 15 feet, I have to kneel with ankles almost completely flat; and have to stop every 45 mins. or so to bend my ankles.

Since I’m presently recovering from a broken ankle - with screws attached, I’m looking to go with either a kneeling thwart or whitewater saddle.

Any advice/comments appreciated!


You can cut low wedges to lift your
ankles somewhat, but it will also reduce your knee angle. I have the same foot size, and I find that the more I paddle, the less ankle discomfort is a problem. Right now, in winter, I sometimes kneel on the rug while watching the tube, just to keep my ankles flexible.

You could also cut little holes under each foot and use your feet for propulsion.

Same trouble
with my Size 14’s. It’s hard to discipline myself to do the exercises to keep the ankles flexy. Mostly I give up and sit. But I keep a 16" length of pipe insulation (1.25" I.D.) in the canoe and put that under my ankles for kneeling. Not a full cure for stiff ankles but a big help to me.

Saddle vs Thwart
On the issue of installing a saddle vs. a thwart I would recommend the thwart, especially if you do not anticipate heavy whitewater paddling. The thwart will allow you to move about more in the canoe and will likely be more comfortable in the long run. If you do any freestyle maneuvers it will allow you to go transverse, something not possible with a saddle. Another option is what I refer to as a thweet. I have begun putting thweets in most of my flat water solo boats. A thweet is really just a narrow (4"-5" wide) seat. It’s almost as comfortable as a seat and much more so than a hard thwart.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom canoe paddles and cedar strip canoes

cool idea Marc!

Practice helps a lot
the more you do it, the longer you can stand it - as others have already said. Also a kneeling pad that extends under those feet and provides some cushion helps. With your ankle history, you may never be able to take long bouts of kneeling. That is okay. There is nothing wrong with occasionally pulling over to smell the roses.

sounds similar
to the 2x4 setup in my slalom boat,millbrook flashback. pair of 2x4’s glued together; top board cut out to somewhat lock my butt in place.

Perhaps 2 sets of minicell ankle blocks at differing heights, glued in sets adjacent to each other. The better your ankles are the worse your knees will be as g2d alludes to.Hope you heal up soon.

I think the reason that hasn’t been true
for me is that I am very tall, and don’t need to shift my butt in order to tilt the boat to any degree I find useful. I think a smaller person might well find a kneeling thwart better than a pedestal, except (as you noted) in whitewater.

When I bought my slalom c-1 from Adam Clawson, one of our two Olypic competitors back in '96, he was using a kneeling thwart in the boat. Now, Adam is a pretty big guy, but there was no way I was going to get my size 15 feet under that kneeling thwart, much less get them out in an emergency wet exit. So, I put in a conventional minicell pedestal.

Adam’s control and roll were so good, that I’m not sure he ever had to think about a wet exit.

maybe not foot size
I know several people, myself included, who have “normal” size feet and still experince numbness after extended kneeling. I think the anawer may be to strech more. Wish I was disciplined enought to test this theoty. Good Luck


– Last Updated: Jan-16-09 8:52 PM EST –

I'm 51, and I've never had durable knees. I've had three knee surgeries. I cannot kneel and it hurts to think about doing it. I'm not sure if it's a good idea for you younger fellers to be kneeling for long periods. No wonder ortho doctors are rich.

I've got an Argosy too, and I get my money's worth from the seat.

No idea
I have no idea what the answer is but want to give you support in your quest as a fellow big-footed (15) person! Strength in numbers!

thinking about it…
class 1+ tops, broken ankle, canoe with a seat. I think I’d sit, cross legged, kind of a basic yoga position. You can probably wedge your knees against the gunwales for boat control. Flat water I’d stretch the legs out. Getting locked into position is great when you’re in shape for it, and needed for rougher water, but for flatter water, I’d be shifting position a lot i’m sure.

Ankle Comfort Remedies
Whitewater, safety and entrapment are not the issues in this case. The OP is talking flatwater and class 1 rivers.

I’ve faced the ankle issue in all types of waters and ages, and suggest the following approaches:

  1. Raise your kneeling platform to ease the load on your ankles. Better yet, get or make a kneeling seat that can be raised, lowered and removed.

  2. Paddle seated. Better yet, get a seat that can be adjusted for kneeling and also used as a sitting seat. This way you can switch back and forth between kneeling and sitting. If your boat is not a good hull for both sitting and kneeling, get one that is.

  3. Practice sitting on your ankles and stretching while watching Oprah.

  4. Put a support under your ankles from time to time. I don’t like glued in ankle raisers in a flatwater boat, but the rubber tube sounds like a good idea. I sometimes use some small inflatable gear bags under my ankles.

    My favorite solution is my oldest, which I discovered quite by accident 30 years ago. I have three very firm rubber rectangular life preservers, each about 3" thick. Often I remove my seat altogether and simply put the cushions on the bottom of the boat.

    I can kneel on 3 or even 2 (like a saddle) or I can sit on them with my feet in front. This also allows me to sit at different heights and to use one of the cushions as a backrest against a thwart. With their shoulder straps clipped together, they also serve as an excellent source of personal flotation in flatwater.

    So, my answer has been to set myself up with the most flexible seating possible for adjustment on the fly: up, down, removed, kneeling, sitting, and/or cushioned.