I believe most kayaks have the seat too far back. It is better to have the boat more balanced especially in high winds and quartering seas. Do you suggest moving the seat forward, or just adding weight in the bow to improve the handling of the kqayak?
move the seat
Definitely will improve sprint speed becuase nose is no longer rising out of water.
Depends on the boat
My Vela hardly needs to have the bow tightened up any more via trim or moviong the seat - it is already rail-tight to the water. The Explorer LV I regularly trim a little heavier in the bow to keep it a little less free up there, but there are also times that I want it to be as loosey-goosey as possible.
I have to believe that most kayak manufactures put a lot of thought into the seat placement. Considering the intended use of the boat, the average weight of the expected user and loading configurations expected to name a few.
Being over average/intended weight or having a lay-back paddling posture could make the bow feel light.
Belief Doesn’t Equal Truth
most kayaks weathercock (turn into the wind) which is considered safer. The way to offset weatcocking is to trim to the rear, meaning move your seat back or put some weight back there. If you move a seat forward, the weathercocking will increase to the point where you will have to drop your rudder or skeg even in a mild breeze.
Of course, you can be a big person relative to your kayak and therefore trimming to the rear already. So a move forward may actually improve the control.
BTW, if you finding control bad on quartering seas from the rear, it’s likely that your bow is diving into the trough and leading to a broach. Moving the seat forward will only make it worse by diving the bow more. What you likely should do is to lean back a bit going down a wave to free up the bow.
Anyway, nothing beats empirical knowledge. Try moving sea forward and go in 15 knots winds and you’ll find exactly how your boat will react. Just pick a place where you can bail out from relatively easy so you don’t have to deal with an unruly boat for too long.
You could move the seat…but
first you didn’t say what the boat is.
Trust me when I say that seat placement in a kayak is built into the design. The seat is placed for optimum balance and small movements to front or rear will make a big difference in how a kayak handles in wind and following sea. Do more research before hacking apart your boat. Weathercocking is a normal occurrence in any kayak and people who say different are fooling themselves. It’s better to learn corrective paddling strokes (first), or use a rudder or skeg to improve on boat how the kayak handles rather than redesign the boat. If you tell us what kind of kayak you are using it would be much easier to answer your question.
You could move the seat and the boat will feel better but what’s important is how it reacts in high wind.
"Weathercocking is a normal occurrence in any kayak and people who say different are fooling themselves."
Most kayaks are designed to weathercock slightly because it’s seen as safer than leecocking. There’s no reason you can’t build a kayak that wants to go downwind instead of upwind.
What is difficult-to-impossible is designing a hull that’s neutral over a wide range of conditions and loads.
Don’t want to argue
(I noticed that it’s that time of year) I think you know what I was saying. Weather it’s lee-cocking or weathercocking the wind is doing it. You can trim the boat or move the seat or get the rudder/skeg out. True there are all kinds of yaks out there and it would help to know what one we are talking about.
Based on reading, and experience
I read a lot on this, as I was having a problem with a kayak I used to own. I have been Canoeing and Kayaking for MANY years, so this was not “me”. Sorry this is a bit long…
“Most” kayaks will work better if they are sitting “level” in the water. I know this is a broad statement, and every boat/paddler combo will have it’s own optimum “level”. But bear with me.
I owned an 18’ kayak that the seat was too far front “for me”. My muscular legs (& weight) made the boat sit very low in the front. So much that the stern only sat about 1" or so into the water. This made a squirrely handling kayak. I would be paddling along in a nice straight line,(Calm flat water, no wind) and all by itself the kayak would make a hard turn either right or left. It didn’t matter how I paddled, or if it was dead calm, or windy. I mean a hard turn too! After a lot of research on the internet, and talking with people, I found out that this is exactly how a kayak acts if loaded for a trip, and too much weight is put up front.
I sat the kayak on foam blocks, so the bottom of the hull sat as level with the ground as I could. I put crayon marks on the hull, front and back, that showed where the boat might be sitting in the water if it was sitting “level”. I wanted to get a starting point for my next step.
Sitting in the water with me in the seat, I found it took a 5 pound bag of sand all of the way back to the stern, and my 5 pound Paddleboy Kayak cart in the back hatch to make it sit at my “Estimated Level”.
WOW, what a difference this made in my kayak! I could paddle all day in a straight line, and if I leaned the kayak, It carved a nice turn. It now acted like a performance Sea kayak should.
I then moved the seat back as far as I could (2-1/2"), and left my kayak cart in the rear hatch, and it paddled fine until I sold it. This combination with me in it moved the stern another 1-1/2" down into the water, and made a huge difference in how it paddled.
Just also note, that if you move the seat back too far, it will be harder to paddle a straight line, as the bow will want to wander from side to side more than it should (Per the articles I read on packing akayak for a trip).
Also spead and ease of paddling can be effected by front to back trim. You can experiment with ballast to see if changing the trim makes any difference. Take a Gallon, or 1/2 Gallon jug, and fill it with water to make a easy ballast for your tests. Vary the amount of water to try different trim changes. Water weighs about 8 pounds a gallon (roughly).
My current 18’ kayak now paddles well, when any puddle of water inside is just in front of the edge of my seat. Before when I paddled my other kayak, all of the water ran to the very front, and made my problem even worse.
Long Story Short…
you are agreeing with above that moving seat/trim up is probablyy not a good idea.
trim and pitch
"You could move the seat and the boat will feel better but what's important is how it reacts in high wind."
Actually, what's important is how it handles in the range of conditions that the poster finds himself in.
To the original poster,
Since the center of lateral resistance (COLR) moves relative to the water that is displaced, optimal seat placement in any kayak is a moving target (sorry for the pun).
When moving up-wind it's advantageous to have the COLR forward to provide directional stability. When surfing down-wind / down-wave the opposite is true and for the same reasons.
Most kayaks are designed such that at rest (and empty) they will lay beam to the wind. Move this same kayak forward and it will weathercock as the bow wave sets the bow moving the COLR forward in the process. Move this same kayak rearward and it will lee-cock. The desire to control the COLR is what led to the development of skegs and rudders.
You can easily control a boat's pitch by moving your body forward or aft but this requires a moveable seat or no seat. Conversely you can learn to load the boat to affect it's trim, bow-heavy for upwind travel, stern heavy for down-wind travel. Additionally in low wind conditions, loading bow-heavy will make the boat more maneuverable while loading stern-heavy will make the boat more directionally stabile / harder tracking.
Just saying …
I was just saying that each kayak is different, with different paddlers in it. To ask over the internet if a person should move his seat, is like asking what color kayak to buy next.
He can experiment with ballast, and see if changing the trim of the boat is to any advantage.
That advantage would be to him only.
I was trying to explain to him the reason’s to move a seat, and the train of thought needed to see if it worthwhile or not.
just too much tongue in my cheek. You provided a very good explanation, one that I was personally too lazy to write out. Having gone through a bunch of trimming trials with manufactured boats and self built.
Actually, the manufactured boat that I have and like best in this regard is my plastic mystic which has 4-5 seat placement adjustments. After several trials in 15-25 knot winds, I got the seat to where I like it (moving it back). Right now, it’s pretty neutral up to 20 knots and then starts to leecock a bit.
I learned this the "Hard Way"
I had to learn about this the Hard Way. You can read my review here on P-Net on the Boreal “Nanook” I once owned.
Another thing I learned the hard way was to never buy anythig made by Boreal. They tried to make a fool of me once, and they will not get a second chance.
But this has helped me with my Impex Assateague. I found that it is a little easier to paddle and handle if I put my home-made kayak cart in the back hatch. if I had not gone thru this with the “Nanook”, I would never have thought to experiment with the Assateague.
Small changes can make a big difference! Because water is a very dense medium.
seat too far back?
Thanks for the input. I think adding 1 gallon of water in bow or stern and check change of handling is a good start to optimize the trim of the kayak. On my boat the bow wanders very easily and photos show the bow sitting higher than stern, so I will start with jug of water in bow.
Those of us with longer, heavier legs NEED the seat further back. I had the local shop move the seat back in my Tempest. The guy who did it was sure I’d slow the boat down and screw up the handling. The boat behaves just fine. Probably made it more balanced.