Seat ideas for Sportspal 11?

My girlfriend and I just picked up a '74 Sportspal 11 that had been originally setup for rowing (pic: It doesn’t seem to have the gunwale seat mounting points, so I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions of either an inexpensive pre-made seat, or ideas for building seats.

I’d like to keep the weight down (we love how light the boat is) but have something semi-permanent and stable.

Any ideas, pics, DIY guides that you know of are appreciated, thanks!

Seats for rowing or paddling?
You say the boat had been set up for rowing. I don’t see the oarlocks in the photo, but I know a lot of these canoes (maybe all of them) could be rowed.

For rowing, you need the seat to be quite low so that there’s room for the oar handles to clear your thighs on the recovery stroke. Typically, you’d want the seat roughly 4 or 5 inches off the floor on a boat with sides that are 12 inches high. There used to be an avid canoe rower here who used a bean-bag cushion for a seat when rowing. I don’t know where the oarlocks are, but for solo rowing, I’m sure that thwart will be in the way.

For paddling, you can order traditional seats from some paddling shops, and I think the shops usually get them from a place called “Ed’s Canoe”, or some such thing. You can order direct from Ed’s Canoe too. Normally such seats are hung from the gunwales, but I can’t tell if that’s possible on your boat. Ed’s Canoe sells various brackets or dowels for making seat hangers.

The guy we got it from used it with oarlocks, and included to the two foam seats that sit on the floor, which aren’t going to do us much good as we intend to paddle.

Thanks for the link – its given me a few ideas at least. I am thinking of making a wood frame and stretching nylon webbing over it, then attaching it directly to the sides of the canoe with a good sized washer at each mounting point. Is there any risk to the integrity of the canoe?

More on seats

– Last Updated: Jul-16-14 5:36 PM EST –

If you are handy and don't mind the work, building seat frames and stretching webbing over them isn't too hard. From my perspective, seats from Ed's Canoe are cheap enough to more than offset the time I'd otherwise put into such a project.

I put webbing on an old seat frame once, and found that it helped to pre-stretch the webbing (I put the full length of the strapping under tension between two cars overnight), and then to use tools to "pry" the last-connected end of each section of strap into place, rather than holding it in position with just the fingers. I gripped the end of the strap with the kind of Vice Grips that's used to bend sheet metal, and pried against that tool with a screwdriver. You don't need extreme tightness, but providing the amount of in-line pull on the strap that's possible with just your fingers while fastening it to the wood may leave it looser than you'd like.

Oh, by the way, when connecting the webbing, attach all the pieces in one orientation first, rather than switching back and forth. When you weave the second set of straps through at a right angle to the first set, you will increase the tension already existing in that first set (the increase in tension is due to the slight "zig-zag" path being imparted to the previously straight strap sections). If you weave them as you go, there will be no increase in tension provided.

I can't comment on your proposed attachment method because I don't know what the gunwales on that boat are like, but when seats are hung below the gunwales, it's normal to anchor the seat hangers to the gunwale with a washer being placed on the top surface of the gunwale, below the bolt head.

Original Meyers Sportspal
The early Sportspals used the two foam pedestal seats that stowed in the ends of the canoe, secured by a pair of bungee cords attached to the seat bottom. The seats were very low for paddling, but great for sitting fishing and on the beach. The later Meyers Sportspals came with aluminum bench seats that were covered with a 3/4" layer of foam. You can buy those seats to pop rivet into the canoe from Oak Orchard Canoe in Waterport NY. 585-682-4849. I say Meyers Sportspal to indicate this is the US version of the Sportspal. There is a Canadian version made by Radisson that looks the same, but is made differently. It is lighter, but thinner skinned and less sturdy. And little interchanges between the two.


Drop-In Clamp from Spring Creek
I haven’t tried these yet, but have been considering them to drop in a center seat on a canoe without drilling the gunwales or riveting the hull. I’m not sure how far over the gunwales they extend on the outside and if they’d run into the built in sponsons on the Sportspal. But they look simple enough. Just add a seat cut to size and it’d hang between the gunwales without being permanently mounted. You’d need two pair per seat.

I have purchased other Spring Creek manufactured items and they’ve been well made and of high quality. It’s hit or miss sometimes reaching them with questions. I think this time of year they get pretty busy, which is, of course, when I have questions. But when I have gotten in touch with them, they’ve always been very helpful and had great service.