How structural is the cockpit?

Last fall I bought a fiberglass CD Solstice SS. It is about the same as the Solstice GTS, only the hatches and hardware aren’t as nice and the bow doesn’t do as well in rough water.

I love paddling it, but the cockpit is too small. It was designed for someone a bit smaller (and more agile) than me, but I don’t plan on putting any gear into it, so I figure the size is fine.

I have a little trouble getting into it, and a lot of trouble getting out of it.

I bought it pretty cheap ($850 IIRC) and I am thinking of cutting a new opening with a jigsaw, just outside the old cockpit opening; and gluing some plastic trim around it.

Obviously I will destroy the resale value and can never use a spray skirt with it; but I can accept the first and don’t expect to use it in rough water. I am concerned that maybe I will ruin the structural integrity of it. Any ideas?

There would be a relatively small loss
of structural integrity, but can’t you just sell it and choose another boat where the cockpit is right for you?

I cut out a small rim on a ww decked boat, and laid up a new rim over Tygon tubing. Not that hard to do, but I would not recommend your doing it unless the hull in general is just irreplacably good for you.

Cockpit customization
I’ve been looking diligently for a kayak for maybe the last 4 years. I have bought half a dozen and then sold them for about what I paid for them. This is by far my favorite to date. So I am not optimistic about something as good with a bigger cockpit coming up. If I have to “customize” it a bit…

I live on a lake and take it out nearly every day for an hour.

Are the thigh hooks getting in the way?
I have that problem on some kayaks, and have dealt with it to some degree by cutting back the thigh hooks. They can then be reinforced and padded if needed.

Or is it that the cockpit is a bit short, fore and aft? I see that they have the front tilted up relative to the rear, which helps.

Because my legs are long and crooked, and my hip sockets far apart, I need a fairly long cockpit opening to slide my legs in and out.

If you make a bigger opening, but have no rim for a skirt, you will be vulnerable to taking on water.

It is possible, though not likely, that the company could supply a larger cockpit rim. It would be a little easier for you to cut an aperture for a new rim, and glue one in, than for you to lay up a larger rim from scratch.

If you hope to end up with a skirt rim, be careful about how you deal with the front part of the existing rim, where the rim is most recessed.

If the rim is not recessed at the back, you might be able to cut the rim at the sides, open the cockpit aperture backwards, and epoxy the rim in place, gaining maybe an inch of cockpit rim. Then you would have to lay up rim to fill the gaps at the sides. Better to start with a larger rim.

a wood rim glassed to the new opening
Could work and look good. Check out how it is done for kayak kits. Pygmy and Chesapeak Light Craft make kits. It would allow the use of a skirt.

what is the seat location?
I am not very limber with disproportionately long legs, making most kayak openings to small to easily fold up my legs and insert them while sitting in the seat.

I have moved the seat pan and back band rearward in many of my boats a small amount. Small rearward seat movements can make a huge difference in being able to fold your legs in and out of a cockpit.

I have moved the seats in an Alchemy S backward 1 1/2", in a Valley Avocet backward by 1", moving the seats did not effect the handling in any major way detectable by me. Moving the seats did make the boat cockpit much easier to get into.

Moving the seat
I will look at that. Even an inch would be a huge help. I know there are a couple inches behind the seat, but I didn’t note how the seat is secured.


Could work, if the surface of his
kayak presents a workable surface after he cuts out the old rim. This can present problems for the Tygon tube method also. On the boat I worked on, once the original small rim was cut off, I had a pretty smooth surface to work with.

It’s a tricky project, but if he really likes the boat, worth doing.

Build a coaming…

– Last Updated: May-11-14 1:22 AM EST –

Easier than you may think if you are a little handy with wood. If you can get some plans from a Pygmy or CLC they will give you an idea of what's involved.

I missed Castoff's reply... Great minds think alike..

Yostwerks has free plans for DIY SOF kayaks with multiple coaming styles that you could look at. The individual boat designs include offsets to draw up the coamings in detail. A coaming built up of thin plywood layers could be laid up in place on the boat after the existing coaming was removed.

Or you could ask Current Designs about buying a coaming for a Solstice GT Titan, which is quite roomy. But if going that route, I would look into having a pro do the installation, either at a boat yard or auto body shop.

Now that I look at it more carefully…
The seat hangs from the rim, so if I cut the rim off, rehanging the seat would be a challenge. I only need more room in the from, but cutting off just the front off the rim would be too ugly even for me.

The seat can be moved back a half inch without anything too drastic. There is a foam block between the seat and the bottom, but that isn’t a big problem.

However, I can’t figure out how to undo the bolts.

Anyone recognize it?

I can move the seat back an inch or two, but it would require removing material from the seat support. I would have to think hard about that.

Pop rivets
Those are pop rivets. To remove, you have to gently drill them with a bit just slightly bigger than the hole - go easy. You can replace with pop rivets of the same size or stainless steel bolts sized to the holes in the fiberglass. A rivet gun + rivets is pretty inexpensive and not hard to use.

Structure issue is present
The cockpit coaming is extremely structural - the coaming, upstand and immediately adjacent deck act as a small structural “C” section ring beam surrounding the large discontinuity of the cockpit opening.

So whatever the process used, make another coaming.

The wood kayak analog suggestions are great, but another that I/ve used to save mental work is to cut out the existing coaming at the base, lengthen the opening to the size desired and then cut the old coaming at the extreme sides, bevel the cuts to 1:8 slopes and lay in new glass pieces, and then wrap some glass layers from the deck underside around the top of the old coaming. That way the character and appearance, and seat of the original boat is retained. (replace the rivets to achieve adjustability).

If that sounds awkward, the next easiest is to cut everything off, enlarge the opening, place ¾” to 7/8” high foam piece(s) all around the opening, and lay 8-10 lyrs of 6oz glass cloth from deck underside to over the top of the foam. Let set up and shape. Afterward make and attach a foam seat for extra comfort and to fit your particular shape.

Using those approaches, any shape that thick (ply)wood might have difficulty conforming to can be overcome. Also, strip built upstands and coamings can easily follow kayak shape oddities as well. So one has many choices.

Whatever approach you eventually use, make sure that the opening has a good ring of strength added back to it. In the simplest sense, just imagine how it might deflect around the opening while getting in if one didn’t’ reinforce it. Good luck.

They are pop rivets
and aluminum, so they should be pretty easy to drill out. I actually have a good quality pop rivet gun.

I will have to cut away an inch of the strap the seat is attached to, but the seat is actually resting on the bottom of the kayak, so I don’t think that will affect anything.

Since you are supposed to have gear in the back, moving the seat back should actually improve the balance. (or so I am telling myself.)

Cutting it was a terrible idea. Thanks for giving me a better way.

I have the boat on CL for $1,200. Someone came out today tried it and capsized getting out. (I am not sure he has ever been in a kayak before) He offered me $600 for it, which was easy to turn down.

If you do decide to make a new coaming
You might look here:

Vaclav has about 3 pages on the construction.

Enlarge the front only
To avoid ll the hassle with the seat, why not cut the cockpit towards the front of the opening where it starts to taper and add on more cockpit rim. There’s loads of information on making a cockpit rim and lip. Or find a wood boat hobby builder and have that person help you make one. You might be able to salvage the front section, move it forward, re epoxy in place and patch in the missing section.

right. I was thinking
of how rec boats can collapse or fold on the paddler if caught in a strainer. Now imagine that boat without a coaming.

I would try moving the seat before
I would do any modification to the combing other than reducing the size of the knee/thigh braces if they are restricting entry.

Can’t say enough about the quality of
information on that site.

I chose bias cut overlapping strips of glass and Kevlar rather than glass and carbon, using a 4:1 glass to Kevlar ratio. Kevlar may make the rim less likely to split through under (stupidly applied) stress, and indeed in one case where a crack began, the Kevlar kept it from propagating.

Building up a rim on my boat added considerable strength to the cockpit area, even though the cockpit is Prijon sized.

Why didn’t you make a counter offer
of $900? if you only paid $850 for it?