Canoe Center Seat Advice

Recently taken possession of an 16’ OT Penobscot. This is a tandem boat which I would like to leave with that setup.

However I expect to solo it frequently. Now I could sit in the bow seat and paddle it reversed like I’ve done in other canoes. However my weight is still a good ways behind center when seated.

I am considering buying a center seat with a portage yoke built into the seat frame. Would appreciate some feedback from anyone with experience taking this approach. Thanks.

3rd seat
I put a kneeling thwart in just enough behind the existing yoke to be comfortable getting in and out. Like this.

Kneel or sit?
Do you paddle primarily kneeling or sitting? I recently put a kneeling thwart from Ed’s Canoe in my canoe. Its wide and sturdy enough to sit on to stretch my legs. But its not so wide that it interferes with my yoke setup. I like it.

Another setup I’ve seen is having a center seat replacing the stern thwart (where I put the kneeling thwart) and then turning the yoke around. That way, the yoke is facing the open part of the hull and the center seat doesn’t interfere with carrying the canoe. You’ll just be carrying the canoe backwards, but so what.

The centerseat/yoke combo never looked good to me. Where I want the seat and where I want the yoke aren’t really in the same place.

How about this?

– Last Updated: Jun-13-12 1:41 PM EST –

I know I have a better pic around here somewhere, but I haven't found it yet.

Normal seat mounted 6-8" aft of center, with truss-style hangers. Yoke with quick-release kit at center. I added a couple thwarts for good measure, but that boat had been pretty beat-up and you may not need to do the same.

QR kit was a Wenonah part, but it's really just a pair of small gate hinges and matching clip-pins. Long end under end of thwart...short end riveted to hull just under gun'l. You can see the loop of the clip-pin on the far side of the yoke in the Penobscot.

edit: Wish I had taken that same photo after installing the kneeling thwart in the Prospector...

Kneeling thwart
I put a kneeling thwart behind the bow seat of my 16 penobscot…about halfway to the portage yoke. With foam pads for my knees. I’m 6 ft. and found that I’m not quite wide enough to be right in the center of the boat and easily clear the gunwales. But, moving me a bit closer to the center helps balance the boat quite a bit. I can just toss my gear up front and the canoe sits nearly level.

Thanks…good ideas
here. Due to aging knees I prefer to sit whenever possible so, while a kneeling thwart is good solution, I’d much rather have a conventional seat and kneel only when necessary.

Q - re the QR yoke in your photo. Do you remove that when paddling and only use it off the water to lift and carry the canoe? Otherwise it looks like it would be a hinderance while paddling.

Positioning a conventonal seat 6-8 inches aft of center would be perfect for me and I imagine it would substitute for the structural support the yoke thwart provides. While I do not paddle portage type trips, I still need to get the canoe up on my shoulders for loading on/off my truck. That is only reason a yoke thwart is of use to me.

So a QR release yoke thwart and conventional seat might be a solution.

I put a minicell pedestal stuffed under
the center thwart. The thwart serves for thigh control. If I have to sit, I can put my legs over the thwart, but kneeling is comfortable enough.

A minicell pedestal adds flotation, and provides support to the hull against oil-canning or getting wrapped on a bridge piling. Unlike a kneeling thwart, there is no issue about getting your feet free if you have to bail out. However, the foam pedestal does not make it easy to slide over to heel the boat the way a kneeling thwart does.

minicell pedistall
I have a pedistal in one of my boats too (glued to the floor). But I was told that confining the pedistal under a thwart GREATLY increased the wear on that section of hull because it couldn’t flex over rocks. Maybe you don’t ever hit rocks…

Fill a dry bag with water
Dear waterbearer,

Before you go modifying your canoe buy a large dry bag at Dicks or Campmor or where ever you can find one. It doesn’t have to expedition grade it just has to be about 55 liters in size.

Fill it, fold it down and bind the top and then place it to the rear of the aft seat. Now turn the canoe around and paddle from the bow seat.

Trim problem solved for $ 25.00.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

That’s a wild exaggeration. I’m heavy,
and when paddling my most-often-used whitewater open, a Mad River Synergy, I can often feel the rock through the bottom of my pants as it passes under the boat. But it was over ten years before the vinyl began wearing off under the pedestal. I don’t think that can be credited to my skills.

I skimmed the vinyl off with a chisel held at a low angle, and put on a two layer S-glass wear patch with West epoxy. In the course of the repair, I saw no evidence of damage to the ABS under the pedestal. It is possible that being backed by the pedestal keeps the ABS from being deeply dented as it passes over rocks.

The S-glass patch has stood up very well.

In my old age, I don’t paddle over class 3, and mostly do class 2. I use the USGS gauges and don’t paddle rivers that are too low. Maybe that does contribute to low wear. But I don’t see evidence that a pedestal damages a boat enough to outweigh its advantages. And it may save the boat from getting wrapped in a serious incident. Unbraced pedestals can’t do that.

QR makes it easy to remove yoke for solo paddling from the center seat.