Spirit ll solo from bow seat

Another beginner question. I have been told by someone with a lot of paddling experience that I could paddle the spirit ll in reverse on the bow seat, by simply removing the thwart behind the seat. Is this ok to do on this asymmetrical hull?

Thank You!

The canoe will be out of trim.

– Last Updated: Aug-11-15 9:41 PM EST –

So the hull can't perform like it was designed to. But then, it was designed for a tandem load.

The mild hull asymmetry is not an issue, compared to being out of trim.

What I did with a similar hull (Bluewater) was to put a kneeling pedestal right up behind the center thwart. Keeps the boat in trim and pointed consistent with asymmetrical design. Still too wide for good solo use, and blows around with only me in it.

Also, I'm not sure it is a good idea to remove the thwart behind your bow seat. That thwart has a structural purpose.

My Spirit II…
has a thwart in front of the stern seat. On the rare occasions that I paddle it solo, I either kneel in the middle, or use the thwart in front of the stern seat as a kneeling thwart. Neither is particularly comfortable, but either way I am more towards the middle of the boat for better trim. I agree that sitting on the bow seat will put you pretty far out of trim in this boat.

Spirit ll solo from bow seat
He did say to load gear in the front, even adding extra weight to trim the boat out. I guess not optimal but would work for some fishing and photography if there wasn’t great paddling distances involved?

Thanks for the input!

I would paddle a sheet of plywood if the distances were not too great and that is what it took to get on the water.

I have paddled my Spirit II solo 100s of miles in whitewater and flatwater. In whitewater I would turn it around and use the thwart behind the front seat as a kneeling thwart. In flatwater I didn’t want to mess with that, just paddled from the stern. Paddled that boat for years before I finally got a whitewater specific boat. Why? Because it was the only boat I had and it got me on the water. Just purchased a brand new (used) Spirit II to use only for downriver camping trips. Still have my old “abused” Spirit II that I am bringing to our whitewater park this weekend to teach and show beginners that 17’ boats can still surf waves and eddy out.

Enjoy your craft, however you see fit.


What will happen if you remove the thwart behind the front seat depends on several factors. Removing the thwart removes a major structural piece that helps maintain the gunwale arc from the bow to the center thwart/yoke. With the bow seat mounted to the hull below the gunwales, any side to side force from your butt to the seat will tend to flex the hull. On some Wenonah hull layups the sides of the hull are stiffer than other layups and would help minimize the hull flex and the gunwale flex.

I would not remove the thwart. Rather i would recommend creating a proper seat behind the center thwart/yoke. This can be any type of seat, permanent or removeable. It will put you in the proper position and be much better for the canoe.

The hull does not care if you paddle it backwards, but it will be a different boat if you remove the front thwart. Wenonah does not put anything in their canoes that adds weight unless it is needed.


Removable 3rd seat
I guess I can try those removable drop in seats and see how that works. That would work for a third passenger or as a solo seat.

Thanks everyone for the help!