I have a Wenonah Vagabond, which I love. The only problem is I have a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, whom I also love, and who has become my favorite paddling buddy. He generally does quite well, sitting or lying immediately in front of me. But he could ride a lot more comfortably if I moved the front thwart a foot or so forward. Any thoughts on whether this would totally screw up the canoe?
Should be OK
You'll have to measure the gunwale spacing and shorten the thwart(or make a new one) to keep the hull dimensions the same. You may lose a bit of stiffness but it should be fine for normal use.
I moved a couple of thwarts on my canoe with no apparent problems.
If you made a new thwart(any hardwood, or http://www.edscanoe.com/standardthwart.html), the change would be 100% reversible.
would the company give any insight to what they thought? Or would the worry too much about liability if they gave an opinion.
not any hardwood
Use a hardwood that resists rotting and spalting. For example - Ash is good, White Oak is good. Maple is a waste of your time.
but worth a try. I just emailed them, so we’ll see what they have to say. Thanks for the suggestion.
You might be better off putting in a sliding seat arrangement…that way you can make room for the dog and still keep the trim correct. I paddled many solo canoe miles with a 70 pound lab and she didn’t mind being scrunched for space, but if you get too much weight too far forward the boat may get bow-heavy, hard to control and no fun.
Swift makes nice sliding seats for solo canoes, I bet you could adapt one to your boat.
You could consider moving the one
thwart forward, and then putting in another thwart behind you. This will greatly reduce any loss of stiffness. Try to think functionally when you place the thwarts. What position would allow each to do something useful besides just being a crossmember.