Malicite "solo" conversion

I have a Mad River Malicite kevlar hull that I picked up a while ago. The ash trim was rotted off as the PO had lost interest and left it outside year round.

I have replaced the ash trim.

I am considering making it a solo canoe with only one seat. Has any one ever seen this done, any thoughts or pictures would be helpful.

I have tandem canoes, but a kevlar solo would be nice for tripping.

I’m 6’1" so I could handle the wider canoe, but I’m 63 and the lighter canoe on my solo trips would be nice.

I can live with minor flaws of converting this canoe to a solo compared to the cost of a “true solo kevlar” purchase.


– Last Updated: Feb-16-11 10:26 AM EST –

A lot of Malecites were set up with a wide center seat (plus tandem seats) for solo use.

As a solo, the Malecite is big and beamy, but you could certainly use it for tripping and it will carry a big load.

If yours has a center yoke and tandem seats, you will want to take out the tandem seats and install a thwart toward each end.

Near the center you will need to install either a seat, kneeling thwart or pedestal, depending on your preference. Your choice will depend on personal preference and whether you want to paddle sitting, kneeling or both. A sliding center seat is also an option worth considering to allow easy trim under way.

Figure out what you want to sit on and determine it's position. Then consider thwart placement taking into account your sitting/kneeling position and loading and unloading considerations. You may or may not be able to utilize some of the holes in the gunwales that were used for the tandem seats to mount your thwarts.

Center seat

– Last Updated: Feb-16-11 9:24 AM EST –

If you decide to go with a center seat I'd be happy to give you the precise measurements per Mad River factory installed center seat.

I have to replace the gunnels on mine too and I will be putting a center seat right back in the exact location as the factor seat. I've paddled the Malecite in enough wind and waves to have complete confidence in Jim Henry's chosen seat position.

Let me know if you want the seat location. I have to pull mine down to get the numbers and won't be able to do that till sometime next week.

Also, I know where there is a brand new set of Malecite center seat drops on clearance. If you shoot me an email I'll give you the details.


Solo Malecite
I started solo paddling when a group of us got to the river and my date didn’t show up. [That happened/s a lot!]

I knelt against the aft edge of the bow seat and had a fine time. That said, Malecite is a flared hull and too wide at center to allow most of us to paddle effectively.

IN a perfect world we drill the fron holes for a solo center seat 6" aft of measured center on symmetrical hulls.

With Malecite I’d drop the seat ~ where the third thwart would be, 18-24 inches aft of center to yield a narrower paddling station. And be careful to install thwarts to replace the bow seat cross bracing.

There will still be problems; the long, minimally rockered bow will not draw easily to Duffeks and the hull will weight ~ 45 lbs, about double the weight of currently infused solos.

I have a Malecite with the 3rd (center) seat.

I find it too beamy to solo from the center with the hull flat. Heeling that boat causes it to carve away from the low side.

So my preference is to to paddle it from the bow seat backwards.

Shove your gear to the back and
paddle it sitting forward on the bow seat. That’s “cab forward” !

Test paddle in the spring
Thanks for the input, greatly appreciated. I have almost finished the ash gunnels and decks and will wait for spring to set the seat.

Some clamps and a couple of different seats/thwarts will tell me what works while I paddle with gear/dog/empty.

Again, Thanks for taking the time to advise

K malecite is a sweet boat
I run my malecite sometimes with a center seat when I think I might go solo or if three people will be aboard.

Best to clamp the seat in place and check the boat trim before drilling rather than set it to factory specs. You can always have two sets of holes or plug the ones you rarely use.

If you don’t get the fixed seat perfect for the weight you typically carry, you will suffer. I tend to be spartan and run empty as possible and set my seat for that condition.

I’m 6’1" as well and paddling a malecite solo is tolerable but not fun, especially in variable conditions and paddling more than a couple miles. Love that boat but I have a fleet of solos when I want ot go solo. I’d scoop up an old malecite kevlar in a heartbeat. Just nessing around taking out where you put in type of paddling is fine.

Re trim and seat placement

– Last Updated: Feb-17-11 9:16 AM EST –

I think it would behoove the OP to do a bit of experimentation with seat placement choice.

As I mentioned, the Malecite with a gunwale width of 33" amidships is quite beamy to paddle as a solo.

Charlie and Tommy have suggested that it is too beamy to paddle solo from a seat in a trimmed, amidships seat position (for them).

I have paddled the Malecite from the stock center seat position and not noted any difficulty, but my arms are a bit on the long side. Some folks started paddling whitewater in tandem aluminum Grumman and Alumacraft canoes, because that is what was available at the time. Their width and volume was certainly not ideal, but it could be done. Some of the early Royalex whitewater boats, designed as dedicated solos, had a gunwale width as great as the Malecite. For example, the Whitesell Piranha was as wide, or wider, and the Blue Hole Sunburst was within an inch.

Charlie suggested placing the seat a bit aft of the balance point, and this might be a good option but it will mean that the empty boat will not be in trim. Placing it further aft will make it easier to get the paddle vertically out over the water because the gunwale width will be less the further you are from amidships.

Trimming the boat can be accomplished by moving stowed gear around a bit. If the boat is to be paddled empty, it can usually be trimmed with one or two gallon milk jugs that can be filled with river water and tucked into the bow stem of the boat.

Moving the seat back may sacrifice one's ability to make effective bow correction strokes (like a C-stroke, bow draw, or cross-bow draw) if the paddler is unable to get the paddle blade effectively forward of the pivot point. That probably wouldn't be a big problem for flat water. It might be a problem for moving water.

It would probably be best to try paddling the boat from a trimmed position at center before deciding where to place the seat. If it doesn't feel too wide there, personally I would place it at the balance point. If it feels too wide, move it back.

solo seat placement
Thanks again, great advise from all.

I will keep playing around with it and find that spot that will work for me.