Prospector Seat Placement for Solo??????


I have a Prospector that I sometimes paddle solo. Am thinking about putting in a center seat for such use rather than paddling from bow seat.

What is the optimal placement?

I know that with most solo canoes you are looking about maybe four inches or so behind center; however, it a boat as big as the Prospector farther back seems it may be better as to allow you to better dominate the stern and provide slightly narrower gunwales for better paddle stroke.

What do you think?



One mans opinion
I wouldn’t do it. I’m pretty happy in boats like that just turning them around and paddling from the bow seat. I heel the boat and paddle Canadian style.

When I run my Explorer through bigger rapids I come off the bow seat and kneel with my belly at the center thwart. I shift side to side as needed but don’t heel except for turning.

If I was going to I’d set the center seat so that my belly was over the center of the boat while kneeling. AKA 4" back from center. I would plan on heeling the boat and paddling Canadian style.

Why not …
put in a sliding seat so you can adjust the trim as need be? Maybe Swift’s bow seat or another can be reversed on the rails or somehow retrofitted for the wider location.

Center Seat.?

– Last Updated: Nov-22-09 9:46 AM EST –

You will have far better control if you learn to heel the boat Canadian Style. You can get a nice vertical stroke with a short shafted paddle.

Kneeling thwart goes about a foot or so aft of center though purists just reverse the boat and snug up to the chine behind the center thwart.

A Budda Bench..( a T shaped bench with a base can take the pressure off the knees).

With the boat in the reversed position you can back up and sit up on the bow seat for a break.

You lose however lots of fine control back there. Best control is always from near the pivot point where you can reach ahead and aft of it.

Bear in mind that heeled over a 16 foot Prospector is about 12 feet long on the water. It becomes quite turny. Also sitting on a seat in a heeled over boat is quite hard on your back as one hip is highter than the other. A friend of mine insisted he could do it..having never heeled a boat over before..Three face plants later he relented and knelt.

Subbing an angled kneeling thwart for the third thwart seems to work pretty well for soloing tandems.

Budda Bench
What is a “Budda Bench”. Is there a picture of this somewhere on the Web?

What Charlie said
is what I did when I drove a MRC Rx Explorer solo. But after a while I installed an ethafoam saddle between the center thwart and the angled kneeling thwart (in the third thwart position). Put me half way between center and third, and semed to balance out quite well for me. YMMV


Another vote for the kneeling thwart
Seems to me that “kneeling” and “Prospector” are two words that go together. What the Prospector does best, is best done from some kind of kneeling position.

I’ve paddled many a mile alongside PJC in his Novacraft Prospector, and his boat is equipped with a kneeling thwart that’s a bit farther behind center than a normal center seat would be (though it’s probably in the “normal” location for a Prospector-style boat). It works well for him, and I’ve tried it out and I liked it.

Kneeling in the center and against the edge of the hull, Canadian-style, should be great for some types of paddling, but forget the option of cross strokes when doing it that way. A rear-of-center kneeling thwart keeps the cross-stroke option open and doesn’t clutter the interior with un-usable space when tandem paddling.

Those of us with giant feet are
not inclined to put up with kneeling thwarts. Fortunately, most people with giant feet also have giant reach, and so can lean a boat as much as necessary from a minicell pedestal.

When I bought my slalom c-1 from Adam Clawson, one of our Olympic reps in '96, he had a kneeling thwart in the boat, about 5" off the bottom. Adam is not a small guy. But he had grown up paddling with kneeling thwarts, from about the age of seven, and he had the drill down for sliding his biggish feet under that board. And, he had a 99.44% reliable roll, so he didn’t worry about wet exiting under pressure.

But that was the first thing I did to the boat, to remove the kneeling thwart and install a minicell pedestal leaving plenty of margin for extracting my feet.

When I “invented” the foam pedestal seat in '73, I should have marketed it. Most pedestals I have seen are less comfortable and less versatile.

we are in violent agreement…
I agree…kneeling absolutely…heeled over too, yes.

I am just asking where the optimal location is for the seat, thwart, saddle or whatever it is that I use to support my but when I kneel. I just prefer a seat for but support but may be open to trying an angled thwart of some sort if someone can tell me where to find one.

Just an ordinary thwart does not quite provide me enough purchase while kneeling…especially in Prospector since it is so deep that the thwart end up being way high for me.

Want to determine optimal location to kneel in the boat to provide best boat handling. Then I will figure out whether to use a seat, thwart or saddle in that location.


the center of the boat should
be directly in front of your knees.

That is why usually we snug up to the center thwart or yoke.

True Canadians can do this with no kneeling thwart. They are not hard to make though for us that are tenderer in the knees. The thwart tends however to raise you too high for really good control.

I cannot give you x inches since I dont know your size…you can figure that out better than anyone.

Because I dont like to feel entrapped, I use a movable butt support.

Here is a picture. You can custom it to any size feet but mostly depends on thigh length and the height that makes you comfortable.

Drops for kneeling thwarts
Come on guys and gals! Kneeling thwarts are usually dropped in with angled drops, and as most tandems are 13- 14" deep in center, and deeper 30 in aft of center where the Kneeling thwart would go, we’ve plenty of clearance for the odd pair of size 14 sandals.

I like mine better
Thwart is too high…

The idea in Canadian Style is to for your boat to shine and you be insignificant.

The Paddle Canada instructors would have never certified us if we used kneeling thwarts.

And the dang hoola hoop would have hung us…

Charlie, you must kneel higher.
My odd pairs of size 14-15 sandals would be death trapping snaggers under a thwart 7 or 8 inches off the bottom of the boat. In my (decked) c-1s, even with a foam pedestal seat, foot entry and exit can be a bit hard, because the total depth of the hulls is not that much.

Anyway, minicell pedestals are more comfortable, and placed under a thwart, they keep the bottom of the boat from waving around. Better than a foam sandwich.

Thwarts won’t trap most feet anyway
Cramming feet under a seat can be uncomfortable for some people when wearing stiff shoes, but except in that case, all the kneelers that I know point their toes toward the rear of the boat, a pose that makes even the most enormous feet just a few inches high. With a kneeling thwart, the feet can be placed any old way, and it’s only the last little bit of foot removal where the foot might get stuck, and at that ONE spot, simply rotating the foot a little (and even then, only needed if you have stiff boots and can’t extend your ankle) will let it fall right out of there. I can imagine foot-entrapment being a potential problem in extreme whitewater, or for people with extreme lack of mobility, but NOT simply due to big feet.

Anyone have a good source for where to buy a kneeling thwart with appropriate drops?



kneeling thwarts? drop in seat? IN A PROSPECTOR!?

my good man, you paddle a Prospector solo from the bow seat facing backwards, which isn’t backwards at all of course- it’s forward for a solo paddler- it is a Prospector! the other positions are on your knees or on your knees and heels up at the yoke, when you need to negotiate rapids or high winds.

and you don’t use carts with canoes, they are carried over yer head!!

Build it

– Last Updated: Nov-23-09 12:21 AM EST –

Without knowing what sort of gunwales the boat has, it would be tough to recommend what kind of drops to use. I'd say just copy the kind of drops that hold the seats.

The kneeling thwart is nothing more than a board, and typical drops are just semi-rounded pieces of 1x1, or something similar. Even if you buy a thwart and drops, you will have to saw every part to the proper length, so why not saw your own wood bought locally? The number of sawcuts will be about the same either way.

Update: Forget what I said about using standard seat drops. If such drops will work, just use properly cut sections of the same board that the thwart is made from to make your drops. That means, there will be one drop on each side, of the same width as the kneeling thwart. It will be more sturdy, and you only need to buy ONE piece of lumber to build the whole thing.

I’d say as far forward as your stature

– Last Updated: Nov-24-09 8:57 AM EST –

... and flexibility allows you to get a vertical stroke without too much effort. I don't see how this is a fixed number. When placing a solo seat, the position is about trim. But when placing a kneeling thwart or seat, we already know the trim is out of whack, so trim doesn't determine the position. Seems to me what determines it is how close to center you can comfortably manage.

For me in a NC Prospector 16, it's about 10" or 11" (something like that) forward of the bow seat when the boat is spun around and paddled stern first. But, I haven't pulled it out of storage to measure. Like g2d, I use a removable pedestal rather than a kneeling thwart or seat. I guess if I install a kneeling thwart, I could manage a little farther forward because I would have the freedom to shift to one side.

I would experiment with your comfort zone based on your sizing.

Famous Canadian Quote…
“Anyone can make love in a canoe, it’s a Canadian who knows enough to take out the center thwart!” - Philip Chester