Supernova seat position and trimming...

I have just purchased my first solo canoe, a new-to-me Supernova. I really like the boat, and am enjoying the new challenges it presents. I have been spending quite a bit of time out on the local lake getting acquainted with the boat, and have been having problems with the bow having a mind of it’s own. Finally it occured to me to try and change trim of the boat by sliding forward of the seat while kneeling on my heels. I found the sweet spot about 6-8 inches forward of where my rear would normally be on the seat, and handling improved dramatically. I am adding airbags to the boat, and it will spend most of it’s time without load on class I-II day trips. What do I do to keep the boat in trim on the day trips when I will not be packing the gear necessary to trim the canoe? Will I have to carry some sort of ballast container and fill it with water under the bags? Or do I just expand the weight of my day kit by adding extra car parts or something?

In my MR Explorer I carry a 5 gallon jug that I fill with water to trim it out when going solo. I thought I would be getting away from that when I got a solo canoe…

Seat position
Somewhere along the line it seems Nova Craft moved the Supernova seat back so that it is aft of where it should be for solo paddling without a pack.

I had a Supernova with true center seat position and loved it. It is now Pyker’s boat. Maybe he could measure the seat position for you.

If it were my boat, I’d move the seat to a proper solo position.

Great boat, congratulations.

Seat position SN
I’m not positive about this but I think the seats on Supernovas may have been placed in various positions over the years. Be that as it may mine is an early composite model (1994) and originally had the seat placed well back of center – as if to allow for tripping gear to be placed in front of the paddler. Personally I like a solo canoe to be in trim without the use of ballast or having to adjust a sliding seat fore and aft. I simply moved the seat forward a bit and that brought it in trim.

I just now went out to the boathouse and measured so I’d be accurate with the following measurements: I repositioned the centerline of the hanger bolt for the front rail of the seat 7 inches aft of the true center line of the boat. Originally the centerline of the hanger bolt for the front rail was 11 inches aft of center. My repositioning moved the seat forward 4 inches. This brought the boat into trim when empty (kneeling).

I hope that helped - RK

reposition the seat
If you really want to run Class II rapids in your canoe, I would definitely reposition the seat, and also put in a pair of knee pads so that you can kneel off the front edge of the seat. When repositioning the seat, make sure that it is not suspended too low to get your feet underneath it when kneeling.

To properly center your weight you can use several methods. First, find the centerline of the boat by swinging an arc from both stems to both gunnels.

Kneel in the center of the boat such that your navel is right at the center of the boat, or your hip bone (femoral head) is 4 inches behind the centerline of the boat.

Take your boat to the water with an observer. Kneel in the center and move forward and back until the observer tells you the boat is trimmed neutral with you sitting straight upright.

Balance your boat on a 2 x 6 placed right at the center. Get in and kneel in the center. Position your body weight so that the canoe is trimmed neutral to slightly bow light when sitting upright. If you lean forward the canoe may be slightly bow heavy. (That can actually be desirable since it allows the bow to “engage” during eddy turns, upstream ferries, and when carving circles.)

Once you know where your body should go, place the seat so that your rear is just touching it and propped against it while kneeling.

To trim the canoe with a load you just use multiple packs placed appropriately in front of and behind you.

was designed for extended wilderness tripping, not day tripping.

The intent was to have most of your gear available in front of you . Its more difficult to rotate around safely on large northern waters to access something in back of you.

By northern I mean Nunavut, Quebec that sort of thing. Sometimes it is not possible to exit the boat to get stuff in the stern for many kilometers.

For typical American day tripping just reposition the seat as others have said.

kneeling pads are a great idea also
Just be sure to position them as wide as you are comfortable in the Supernova’s chineless chines.

Because the hull is so round, the pads with a raised edge are a good idea, so you don’t slide down toward the center.

I understand the design intent
But I have to wonder how much stuff you have to access while underway. If you put one pack in front that has the stuff you may need to get to and another behind you for stuff you don’t need access to … But then you have two packs on the portage trail.

Thanks for the great replies!

– Last Updated: May-12-09 1:28 PM EST –

I just took some quick measurements, and it looks like the front seat bolts are ~12.5" aft of centerline on my boat. I was hoping that I could move the seat a full width forward so I would only have to drill one more hole in the gunwale, but this would be 9" which is too much I am sure. I am a bit hesitant to drill more holes in the gunwales, as I understand this weakens them, and the new holes would be very close to the center of the boat which I would assume is the most stressed point in the canoe. It sounds like this is common practice for this canoe though? Nothing to worry about?

My body ergonomics do not work well with seated paddling, so I always kneel. I have some edged knee pads here ready to install, I just need to make sure the seat is in the proper position first. I remember seeing some re-positionable knee pads on a Whitesell canoe some time back. They had a heavy duty velcro glued to the pad, and a stip of velcro glued to the canoe. You could position the pad wherever you wanted along this strip. This way, the seat could be moved to either position depending on how the boat would be used. Anybody have/used something similar? Do these work, or are they a hassle/bad idea? Know where to buy a setup like this?

Adding a pedestal seat would be another option since I never actually "sit" on the seat. A Northwater positionable pedestal seat could be used in conjunction with a moveable knee pad setup. This way you could have the best of all worlds. A trim-able pedestal seat, and the original seat also (not at the same time, but would have the option of installing it in the future, and you could adjusting the knee pad position accordingly.)

I just realized that I typed quite a bit here!

Thanks for reading and I appreciate your input!

Me gots…
de ability ta pop in a bench seat or a pedestal in both me MR Guide an’ me OT Cascade usin’ industrial velcro. Takes about 15 minutes ta make de switch. Ah’ll shot yer some daguerreotypes afterin’ ah’ gits back from de Adirondacks on Sunday.


Thanks FE!
I would appreciate that!

Drilling Holes
You are correct that it’s best to avoid drilling more holes than you have to, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I have a Supernova, and I moved the seat forward by several inches, and I seem to remember that I had to drill four more holes, but “maybe” I was able to get by with drilling just two - I can’t remember for sure. In any case, the seat at its new position has the front edge being a little behind center - again I can’t remember how far. I’ll try to check dimensions later, but the advice on seat position that’s posted already looks pretty good to me. What I don’t think has been mentioned so far (though I bet you figured this out already), is that you will need a new seat, unless you are pretty clever about making custom hangers for the old one, because the width of the seat’s cross bars won’t match the gunwale width at the new location.

For knee pads, you could delay their installation for a time until you are sure you have gotten the seat exactly where you want it. I just use a foam kneeling pad instead of knee blocks anyway, and you could use that method for the time being. I have a few of these pads, and if necessary, I coat the place where my knee makes contact using “plastic tool-handle grip” to prevent my knees from slipping. I also install friction strips on the hull, like the kinds used on stairs or in bathtubs, which keep the pad from sliding around once it gets wet (the interior-style friction strips are much nicer than the exterior ones because they don’t need to be “broken in” prior to installation (to reduce abrasion on the kneeling pad), but they don’t stick quite as well either (which might be a good thing if you plan to use this as a temporary method).

A minicell foam pedestal will give you more control, if you always kneel, although a simple kneeling thwart or seat that is angled downward at the front works quite well.

If you are always going to kneel, once you establish the position of the pedestal, there really isn’t any need to reposition the pedestal or the pads. Having your weight centered in the boat is better for flatwater paddling as well since it allows the paddler to use both stern correction strokes (stern draws, pries, J’s) as well as bow correction strokes (bow draws, cross draws, Duffecks, jams) and allows C strokes or box strokes to be optimally used. If you are sitting well sternward of center and can’t easily get your paddle blade well-forward of the center of the canoe, you are limited to stern correction strokes.

The only downsides of a pedestal (besides expense and need to glue it in the canoe) is if you want to switch between sitting and kneeling or want to allow other paddlers to be able to sit, in which case a removable pedestal (I believe North Water makes one) makes sense. The other limitation of a pedestal is if you want to paddle Canadian style, with the boat heeled over to your onside and both your knees in the onside bilge).

Knee pads could be made to be removable but they are not really in the way when paddling seated.

It sounds as if your seat is so far sternward that you could position a removable pedestal optimally and still leave the seat in, as long as the front of the seat clears the back of your pedestal.

If you need to remove the seat, you might possibly need to buy a thwart to mount in one of the set of holes that the seat mounted on, in order to maintain rigidity of the hull. That would probably only be necessary if the seat is functioning like a thwart.

In other words, if your canoe has just one thwart forward of center (not counting short carry handles near the stems) and the seat rearward of center but no additional thwart rearward of center, then you might need a thwart where the seat was. If the canoe has a thwart rear of center in addition to the seat, you wouldn’t.

If you plan to kneel a lot, you might find a pair of minicell foam ankle blocks greatly increases your comfort level.

I moved my seat.
A brought my seat forward one seat width, only had to drill 2 holes. I also lowered it as I prefer setting most of the time instead of kneeling.

I end up with my knees down, legs crossed at the ankles and my butt on the forward section of the seat most of the time.

It’s a 3 point contact, very stable and more comfortable than my kneeling with my feet under the seat. Its still kneeling I guess… just more weight on my butt than on the knees…

An interesting point is included here
This person mentions Canadian-style paddling. The Supernova actually handles very nicely when heeled to one side, though I normally don’t heel it as far as you see with “true” Canadian-style paddling (mostly because a Supernova, as wide as it is, is still not as wide as the big tandem canoes that Canadian-style is normally used for). In any case, being that it IS rather wide for a solo canoe, the ability to slide a couple inches one way or the other on the seat to make paddling easier might be a nice option (I like to do that when paddling mine). I’d say try it out and see what you think about that. The kind of paddling you describe does not in any way suggest a strong “need” for a pedestal, so whether you choose to use one, or just use a slanted seat, will be mostly a matter of personal taste. Good luck!

I think we are thinking BWCA here

– Last Updated: May-12-09 10:33 PM EST –

rather than Nunavut lakes.. which are often a hundred miles long.. and twenty wide..or James Bay where you sleep in your boat.

I would have liked a SN while getting dope slapped on Lac Seul in the middle of a crossing.

One thing people ought to think of is that canoes are often designed to fit their majority use. The SN came from a northern heritage.

And I am rapidly learning that Americans take different kinds of paddling trips and have different expectations.

Americans versus Canadians?

– Last Updated: May-13-09 12:12 AM EST –

Are we that different? Do THAT MANY Canadian canoers go places where they can't get out of the boat for hours or even days at a time (sleeping in the boat as you say)? I gotta wonder about this. All these stories people have told me, and stuff I've read in books and online, and still I've never come across the notion that it is "normal" for Canadian canoers to be out paddling miles from shore or that getting out for lunch, and rest breaks etc., is often not feasible. Nova Craft even claims that the boat's intended use is river tripping and whitewater (and I would tend to believe what they say about this). I agree with Clarion here: Day-tripping versus multi-day tripping for me doesn't affect what gear I might need while on the water - all I need to have handy is food, water, maybe some extra clothes, and rain gear (and yes, I always use two packs whether carrying a big load or a small load, but I don't mind kneeling on the floor facing backward in the canoe to get at the other pack if necessary, and I do that all the time in my guide-boat which is more tender than a canoe when you move around in it), but then, am an American canoer and I never paddle beyond sight of land either ;).

yep when you get to thinking
Barrenlands, there really is a difference. Because of the harsh environment, tents are different.(you need a heavier and beefier tent to avoid tent shredding in 60 mph everyday winds) Because the bugs are not just a nuisance but actually kill caribou, you have to plan for that.

Then of course there is the backup equipment to the backup. Because rescue is not quick and can be delayed significantly by weather you need redundancy. A sat phone may not be sufficient. Extra batteries are needed. A PLB for each canoe. Etc. It all adds up.

The waters up north are huge, menacing and beautiful. Its not uncommon for a solo paddler on a three month trip to have to plan for all seasons…including winter. Sometimes they occur all in one week. If you have not had the chance to attend the annual Wilderness Canoe Symposium in Feb in Toronto, try to make one. It will give you a whole new perspective on the wonderful world of canoeing (meanwhile I am planning my pilgramage to view wee flowers in the South by canoe!)

Thats where the big boat with the accessible gear is required.

The arctic and the subartic environment is incredibly humbling. For sure, it can put us in our proper place.

SN seat move
FWIW, on mine I did NOT need to purchase a new seat, old seat was wide enough since my seat only needed to be moved 4 inches – yours may be different. This in response to one of the posts above – actual width of SN seat varies – the further back seat was originally placed the shorter it will be. You get the picture.

Another FWIW, My SN came from the previous owner with knee pads glued in place. These had to be removed since after the seat move they were not in the correct position.

Proper use of seat while kneeling…
A few questions about the proper use of a webbed/laced seat while kneeling…

What is the proper way to sit on the seat while kneeling? Rear on the cushy part, or propped on the leading edge using it like a kneeling thwart?

Is there a rule of thumb for clearance of the seat leading edge to feet/ankles etc. (while kneeling) for ease of exit in a flip?

I am going to start the balancing act to find the center position tonight, and need to know this so I take the proper measurements. Initially I am going to flip the seat around, block the front to mock it in that position and give that a try. Hopefully (as mentioned above) this will be the ticket, and will only require drilling two new holes.

Thanks again for all the info!

Pedestal seat idea
I didn’t plan on having to move/change the seating configuration on this canoe. Now I found myself getting out of hand with ideas, and missing my original intent with this canoe, which was to leave it with the stock seat so it can retain it’s utility/multi purpose abilities. I agree that adding a pedestal would cause it to lose some of that flexibility. I will leave the pedestal and full outfitting for my next canoe, which will be a WW canoe when I am ready for a shorter more maneuverable canoe for more interesting water. Yeah, I am no where near seeing the full potential of this canoe, and am already dreaming of the next addition…this stuff is addictive!!!