Kneeling ina Rob Roy?

Is this a practical idea? If so it seems like it would be a good fast boat for windy lakes for a person who needs to kneel.


seems doable
I’ve wondered this several times, but I’ve never convinced anybody to outfit one as a kneeler, so I’ve never tried it. I would love to have a skinny, 15’ decked canoe! (Charlie, as you listening?)

It’s not clear to me whether production Rob Roys have enough strength in the sides to hold a paddler on a hung seat. If not, you would have to use a whitewater-style pedestal seat.

I can kneel happily in my RapidFire for hours, and it has roughly the same dimensions as the Rob Roy. It felt a little tippy at first, but I got used to it soon enough. It’s still a little tight for my size 13s in winter, because the seat is necessarily pretty low.

– Mark

Yes, with a Wenonah sliding seat.
Chad19 and someone else have the Wenonah sliding seat in their Rob Roys and I think use only single blade bent shafts when paddling. My recollection is that they can kneel with this set up. I can kneel in my Wenonah Advantage and Wenonah Whisper with this set up.

Kneeling in a Rob Roy
Certainly with a Wenonah sliding seat this should work pretty well. The 15’ Bell Rob Roy is essentially a lowered, decked Merlin II, and the lay-up of the hull is the same. So, if you can get around the question of hanging-seat strength by using a slider, then you should be good to go. By kneeling, you will probably be raising the center of gravity (since you are not sitting on the bottom any longer), but with a good trade-off in single blade efficiency. Here in Wisconsin we’ve found the Bell Rob Roy is a particularly good boat for bird watching in grassy areas near bigger water. Its low profile keeps the paddler less obvious, the single blade allows close-in work difficult with a double paddle and the decking helps when the winds blow across the lakes. It is a cool little boat that surprises almost everyone that gets to paddle it. It also seems to appeal to a lot of folks who like to paddle with small dogs (which doesn’t usually jibe with the silence of bird watching!)

Kanulife, paging Kanulife?

– Last Updated: Oct-16-08 11:40 AM EST –

I believe the paddler currently known as Kanulife has a Bell Robroy outfitted for kneeling.
IIRC he likes it.
I'd love to try one myself.


Edited to include links to this subject.

nice, i’m being paged
at least i’m needed for something. i guess that’s the way it goes when you’re one of a handful paddling a duckbilled platypus type of boat.

i do kneel in my rob roy, especially on big water.

most of the time it was with a wenonah slider, the small kevlar seat. but it’s pretty tight with the gunwales and tumblehome.

i’ve recently taken it out and started playing around with a pedestal. at the moment i’ve got a huge sleeping bag in a dry bag. i just put that down and use it as a pedestal with my sleeping mat under my knees and feet.

it helps to prop up your ankles a bit.

and no, you shouldn’t mount a kneeling thwart without major reinforcement work.

in the end, i’d like to put a proper pedestal in the boat. i’ll update if i do.

kanulife, aka chad19

Your voice (in my head) has changed
since you changed your handle. You sound different.

One can do almost anything, but…

– Last Updated: Oct-16-08 10:50 PM EST –

RobRoy is a Swede-form hull like Magic. It responds pretty well to a bent shaft paddle, better, of course if you can get higher than the stock seat position.

Normally, we kneel to improve balance and to reach farther forward to increase the sweet spot where straight paddles come square to the stroke and to improve bow draws/cross draws to control the hull.

None of this works very well with a delta shaped hull, as the bow doesn't draw as well as with symmetrical or fish-form hulls.

Especially as the semi deck offers about a six inch toggle; a significant mechanical advantage encouraging deck collapse. The potential for failure is furthered by the siliconed H seam that joins hull to deck. Adding struts to re-enforce the deck will keep the knees from the chine and obviate the balance part of the reason for kneeling.

All in all, there are lots of better canoes to kneel in.

it’s not just you
the voices in my head have changed as well. …weird.

seriously, i’m a little older and possibly less of a jackass than i was three or four or six years or eight years ago.


I’ve done it on several occasions…I’ve paddled it stradling a large drybaglike pedestal on large Great Lakes waves and it worked fine. I’ve also paddled two Ron Sell modified Rob Roys outfit to kneel. One was a seat hung from the rails that a friend of mine owns, and the second was a cool adjustable seat that could be used to kneel at any angle, or it could be used as a back-brace for sitting on the floor. Both worked real well. I don’t personally own a Rob Roy, but I would outfit it with kneeling thwart or half seat.


Thanks and…
PK,Do you know where your friend got the neat adjustable seat?

Charlie,My reasons for looking into this boat are that I need to kneel because of my back,but want a boat that is fast and low effort across lakes and less affected by the wind than my solo canoes.Although I love manuverable boats like my Flashfire,turning would not be important to me in this case.Because of health issues I an not a strong or high enurance paddler.


tight with the gunwales and tumblehome?
I’m curious.

Are your thighs getting sqeezed under the gunnels. Or between the gunnels and the seat?

Are you able to get your knees out into the chines or is the cockpit too narrow or too low?

I’m envisioning a saddle, roughly 7" high, thigh straps, knee cups out on the chines and maybe toe blocks. Surf City!

Just dreaming for now.


it’s mostly the feet
it’s tight for feet placement. with a bucket seat on a slider, i slip my feet beneath the seat.

but it surfs like mad when i’m kneeling. i can heel it over to the point that it takes in water and it doesn’t budge, and that’s with a bent shaft.

it feels bombproof when kneeling. i’ll paddle way out in the gulf of mexico on windy days, look back and realize that i’ve went a mile or more without batting an eye.

a real pedestal would be sweet.

i’d order one of those fancy ones now if i had the money

He built it
Yep, Ron Sell built it. Ron is a local Bell Dealer here in Michigan, and he does a variety of interesting outfitting for canoes including canoe sailing, integrated decks for canoes, adjustable seats, etc. The one I paddled was the only adjustable seat like it in existence.


I’ll bet you know this Charlie
When they mold the deck for the Rob Roy, do they mold the cockpit opening or is it a solid top and they cut out the opening?

The reason I ask is that not only do I dream of whitewater seating, I also dream of a whitewater cockpit like the one on my Dagger Atom and Cascade so I can put a skirt on and really stay dry in the surf.

If that meant retooling the deck mold it wouldn’t be likely to happen but if it only meant a different cutout and building a coaming it might be possible, No?


decked canoes
Just want to mention that Ron Sell also builds custom decked canoes…I think he built a decked Flashfire.

and i dream of . . .
winning a NASCAR race in a mini-van. Why would you want to use a boat for surfing that’s so poorly designed for the purpose? I wouldn’t even waste my time as one, the cockpit isn’t cut out, and two, there’s no bulkheads to stiffen the boat so the first piton will fold the thing in half. Not to mention it was designed for lightweight cruising and not surfline durability. That brings me back to the original post, the hull deck seam isn’t built with the strength needed for a hung seat of any kind. That’s why a pedestal is your only option. With the amount of tumblehome the deck creates, the boat would have to be 10-15 pounds heavier to be strong enough to support a seat without using the ribs that Charlie mentioned before and he pointed out the drawbacks of that approach.

You got another ?

– Last Updated: Oct-17-08 12:01 PM EST –

OK Nermal you answered my question about the deck so the point is maybe moot but do you have another option for a fully decked kneelers touring/playboat?

Maybe I'll deck my Independence. ;-)

Oh yeah, if nascar on had scooters a minivan would look pretty good. I'm only dreaming so far.


Pictures of Ron’s boats?
It seems as though at one time I saw a web page with pictures of some boats that Ron modified.

Any idea if that is still on line somewhere?



Not a Flashfire
I don’t thinkm Ron has ever decked a Flashfire. The short boat that he decked and called Kestrel was a Bucktail. I’ve played around in that one a few times, and it’s real fun to see how far you can lean that one over. Ron has also decked a Magic, a Northwind, and a couple Northwoods.

Finally, Ron doesn’t have a website but does have email. He’s an artist, so production really isn’t something he does. He will do custom work if you want, but it’s good to be patient and have something that he’s also interested in doing. Tommy I have a couple pictures of decked canoes that Ron has made… I can send you pictures.