Swift Osprey Seat Position????

This is a follow-up to another post I made last week about sliding seats.

I got my new Swift Osprey out on the water and experimented with the sliding seat a little and now have a lot more questions than answers about seat position for this particular boat and would like any additional feedback that you guys can give me.

When I got out on the water there was a bit of wind. Maybe about 15mph. A rain storm actually rolled through so I got a little paddling with wind and a little when it was calm.

The handling of the boat changes very drastically with the seat position. Enough to where I really am scratching my head about seat placement in this boat since there are lots of variables with wind and what direction you are heading relative to wind. Even with what works best on flat water.

I called Swift today and the guy I spoke to said that for my weight at 200 pounds that optimal seat position might actually be a few inches FORWARD of center.

Most boats, from my understanding, have optimal seat position a few inches AFT of center.

So while I like the idea of the sliding seat and it may really be a great thing, it also adds a lot of variables and I am going to have to really mess around with this to figure out what works best and during what conditions.

Then of course there is the varialbe of kneeling vs. sitting where when kneeling I would want more maneuverability and when sitting you really want better tracking and less maneuverability.

So I guess I need to figure out the best seat postiion for paddling in calm conditions both seated and kneeling and then how to position the seat for going across wind, down wind, and up wind. I have gotten some much appreciated feedback but seems that much of it is conflicting as to what works best for varying conditions.

Again I would think that sliding farther back would tend to stake the stern and therefore act like a skeg in the rear…but this boat seems to have much of its maneuverability in the bow so I don’t know.

Any more comments would be appreciated.



sliding seats
I have a Mad River Traveler with a sliding seat. It is a long boat (not as long as the Wenonah Voyageur) with a relatively straight keel line.

If you want to have your boat in relatively neutral trim and you are kneeling, postion the seat so that your hip joint winds up roughly 6 inches aft of the balance point of the boat when you are in the kneeling position. Your navel will be right about at the boat’s balance point (center for a symmetrical canoe) and your knees will be in front of center.

It may vary a bit for individuals with very long thighs, etc. If you sit and your legs are stretched out in front of you, your center of gravity may move forward a bit and you can compensate by moving the seat back a tad.

The sliding seat allows for easy trim adjustments when carrying packs and gear.

For paddling in wind you can set the seat so that the boat weathercocks or leecocks. If you want to paddle up into the wind, you would prefer to have the boat weathercock (point into the wind). You want the center of gravity ahead of the pivot point so slide the seat forward. The lightened stern tends to get blown downwind.

For running with the wind you would prefer to have the boat leecock so do the opposite.

Long boats like the Wenonah Voyageur can tend to get “locked onto” a beam wind. They don’t want to point into the wind or downwind and would prefer to simply side skate along. You can use the sliding seat, as Darryl described in the other thread, to make it easier to get the canoe to cooperate.

Its a little trickier for Bowlers boat

– Last Updated: May-24-10 11:44 AM EST –

the Osprey is markedly swede form and the bow quite loose.

I can understand the rep from Swift coming up with that info. The Osprey was never designed as a day tripper. Its a tripping boat and a load is built into its design..with the load distributed over the boats length.

Perhaps its time to get some camping gear that you can shove around.

No I would not go any fatther aft. Sit in the boat and kneel in various seat positions and have a friend take pictures. They will be revealing.

BTW the act of sitting alone puts your weight back some anyhow as opposed to kneeling with the seat in the same position and skegs the stern. Some boats show the effect of changing positions faster than others. Peregrine does. Nomad does not

Tracking is best a function of the paddler.

All the way back
Assuming that your rear thwart and therefore your all back location is in the same place as mine.

I go 180 lbs and find the Osprey pleasently loose unless I load up a fair bit of gear. With 60 + lbs of gear she tracks a little better but you will always have to watch your course.

I mostly leave the seat all the way back unless I’m paddling into an apreciable headwind. With a strong tailwind I can’t get back far enough and I fight to keep her from broaching.

I’ve messed around with sliding up a few inches when it’s calm. I think the boat gets a bit faster but I don’t gps so it could well be my imagination.

what the heck

– Last Updated: May-24-10 10:13 PM EST –

The easiest way to adjust the seat position is to take the canoe out in a light to moderate wind and adjust the seat so that the canoe is neutral, that is, it neither turns into the wind or away from the wind. If you just sit on the seat, it will turn sideways to the wind. That is where you will want the seat when you are paddling the boat empty with no wind - your weight will be centered in the boat. You can adjust the seat from there if you want to change the handling characteristics because of weather conditions. You can also just move a little forward or back on the seat for minor adjustments.

IME the best trim for the Osprey
varies with the amount of weight in it too.

lightly loaden, that is with only me (160 lbs) aboard

the best trim for speed on the flats is a bit bow heavy.

With a load, a neutral trim works best for speed.

For easy paddling I trim a little stern heavy,

in following wind and waves even more so.

Like C2G implies the seat placement theoretically ought to be a no brainer, but for whatever reason this boat is “interesting” to me in terms of its handling with the seat in various positions. It doesn’t react as I would have expected.

Teh other reason I am asking this question is because I am going to install a foot brace so really kind of need to know where to set it. That is the main reason I asked the question in the first place really.


Trim and sliding seats

– Last Updated: May-25-10 10:16 AM EST –

I have two solos with sliding seats. The way I set up, with or without load, is to get in the boat and get into whatever position I plan to paddle from for a while.

When I have a bit of water under me, I do a draw or pry from a location along the gunnel that is comfortable and natural for me. If the boat moves straight sideways I'm trimmed. If the bow slips more than the stern, I move the seat forward to "peg" the front a bit more. If the stern slides more, move the seat rearward. So then I'm trimmed without wind.

To adjust for a head or tail wind, I move the seat as described by others here from the already established position till it tracks manageably. I sometimes, if the wind isn't overly strong or gusty, even leave it as it is (a little more bow light that if I'd wind adjusted)in a headwind. Taking the wind a little (maybe 5 deg.) to the left or right of the bow, I then paddle on the side opposite the wind and let the wind, rather than J stoking, do my course correcting for me. In that way I can "tack" my way across a long open stretch.
In current having the downstream end of the boat just a tich heavy facilitates ferrys.

Its not a bad idea to stick one of those RV load levels - a small bubble level with adhesive backing - somewhere on the inside near the gunnel. Just float the boat empty and stick it on so it reads level. (I never get it exactly right and usually end up 1/4 bubble off, but it doesn't matter so long as I know which way its off in that boat.)

Hope this makes sense to you and enjoy your new boat. Those Ospreys are very nice canoes, in my opinion.

Great idea!

… side slipping to check trim without wind. It’s so basic, yet I never thought of it. Thanks!

side slips are an interesting idea
if you know the sweet spot to hit along the gunwale to make them work…its common for beginner slippers to put the paddle too far forward.

Find the place on your boat that the sweet spot is(pivot point) and mark it with duct tape if you want to remember it easily. Also remember that some boats have a bit of tolerance for error and some have none.

The pivot point you want to hit does move forward with speed moreover.

Trimming the an asymmetrical boat for the water “footprint” as PJC describes, and trimming the boat so that it is neutral to the wind as c2g describes may yield different results. A lot of boats are significantly higher in the bow and thus the bow will have disproportionate windage.

True enough
Especially the Blackhawks I paddle. Radically higher in the bow than stern and wind adjustment was the idea behind the design.

They were designed with the notion that by having only two high points to catch the wind (The bow and the paddler) rather than three (bow, stern, and paddler) they could be more easily trimmed for wind. Moving the paddler toward the rear is supposed to move one of the high points rearward and bring the bow into the wind. Of course that moves the weight rearward also, raising the bow so it catches more wind… (arrrgh!) so I don’t always think it simplifies things all that much.

In practice, I dink with it, moving packs around, till I get it right. Or I just put up with being mildly out of trim till I get across whatever it is I need to cross. Its not that bad.

But that wouldn’t be so much of a puzzle in an Osprey so I didn’t mention it.

"In practice, I dink with it, moving packs around, till I get it right. Or I just put up with being mildly out of trim till I get across whatever it is I need to cross. Its not that bad."

Yup. However, it doesn’t sound nearly as adjusting the pliometric barometer to the fifth quadrangle during the autumn solstice of even-numbered leap years, so we can’t use it as the basis for advice LOL

in that case . . .
If you are looking for a rough foot brace location, here’s how my boat measures:

paddler: 32" inseam, around 245 lbs.

seat location: front edge of seat is 9 1/2" back from the front of the slider rails. That puts the back of the seat about 6" from the back end of the rails.

footbrace location: The front end of the Wenonah footbrace tracks is 12" in front of the slider rails, but only because everyone else in my family is shorter than I am and I wanted them to be able to use it. The tracks are 16" long and the edge of the crossbar is right around 10" back from the end of the slider rails that is closest to the seat.

The only reason the footbrace rails are that close to the seat is because I wanted my wife and kids to be able to use the boat. They are all several inches shorter than me. If I had set the footbrace up for me, I would have set it about 4" further away from the front of the seat rails so that the potential adjustment on the footbrace would match the potential adjustment on the seat.

As for using the wind to help set the seat position, I’ve done the same thing on other solo boats and have also used it to help set the position of center seats on three tandem canoes. I don’t claim that it will give everyone the kind of boat handling they want, but for someone like me who likes their boat to have a relatively neutral feel most of the time it works fairly well.

Good luck getting everything set up how it will suit you.


– Last Updated: May-26-10 12:43 AM EST –

And if anyone has advice about some simple means of trimming high-bowed Blackhawk adventure series canoes to wind while underway in waves, I'll listen till the next even numbered leap year. Further, I'll listen till the next leap year after that if someone can explain how to set Blackhawk wind trim with a large dog that, sensing his owner's consternation (dogs know these things, of course) at seeing the RV level break into three bubbles, tries to console him by climbing into his lap and licking his face.

But using a sideslip to find the "sweet spot" for any boat as it is loaded on any particular day and adjusting it with a sliding seat is easier. Takes a couple paddle strokes, a scooch of the seat, and much less time than it takes an observer to see what they're looking at. It sure is easier than adjusting trim by moving the load around as is done with fixed seat boats.

As an aside, I did once get involved in a long-term relationship with a woman on Feb. 29. Although it was a bit like living in Brigadoon, we saved a fortune in anniversary presents. Though I did OK in differential calculus, I'm still not sure how long we were together.

What the fig is it with this Osprey boat

– Last Updated: May-26-10 12:34 AM EST –

I have said on this and other forums that the Osprey is one of the finest all-around solo canoes going. But recently on this forum the collective Osprey wisdom seems to be that it is impossible to:

-- sail an Osprey

-- paddle an Osprey in the waves of Maine lakes

-- paddle an Osprey in the wind

-- paddle fast in an Osprey

-- negotiate a Class 1 sneak route in an Osprey

-- understand the seat of an Osprey

-- decide where to slide the seat of an Osprey

-- decide whether to buy an Osprey

-- decide whether to sell an Osprey

Gadzooks! What can of worms. This boat was designed by John Winters, and perhaps only his pellucid prose, and a few equations, can clarify this Ospreyfusion.

I'll say this with scant authority: Trimming a solo seat in an unladen asymmetrical hull for optimal paddling efficiency on its design waterline is not the same as trimming the seat for wind neutrality. The seat may be in two significantly different places for those two purposes, depending on a lot of things about the shapes and masses of the canoe and paddler.

Then ... all of that will change, for both purposes, once an additional mass burden is put somewhere in the hull.

The only way to Osprey expertise is the same as the only way to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. If we all would get off our keyboards and into our boats, we could all then become expert paddlers about whom no one would no nothing. Just like the Indians.

Collective my rear end

A fair bit of your “collective wisdom” is your misinterpreting of my subjective reports from, yes, you got it, actually paddling and sailing my Osprey.

I agree with your point. Seat time is worth a lot more than keyboard time.

But I do not care to be intentionally misinterpreted so that you can make it.

Further, Matt (Bowler) asks intelligent questions about boats that are otherwise difficult to get opinions on.

His questions spark some interesting discussion to those of us who actually enjoy talking about canoes and paddling them.

IIRC you’ve posed similar questions and I’ve enjoyed those threads as well. Way better than where to put the apple core IMO.

Well the Osprey must
clearly be a defective boat.

If any of you poor souls would like me to take one off of your hands, I might be obliged.

I suggest that you
just put Patch in the boat and set him to “auto-trim”.

Keyboard vs. Seat Time et. al…
Thanks, Tommy for your kind words.

One thing that I can’t quite understand about this site though is the following. First it seems that people often get p/o that people have the nerve to actually ask questions here! The response is frequently one that implies that the person asking the question doesn’t spend any time on the water…or that spending time on the key board must mean that it is time that they could be spending on the water instead.

Well…I ask a lot of questions…and I also paddle pretty much EVERY DAY ALL YEAR ROUND. I live on the water and paddle after work almost every day. In the winter I paddle when it is in the 20s and in the dark since it is dark when I get home from work…although that is usually in a kayak. Weather doesn’t stop me either: rain, snow, 35 knot winds. I’m on the water (but again maybe in the kayak if the winds are above 20 knots). I’m not exaggerating either. Ask anyone who knows me. Heck I have had neighbors in my condo complex ask me if I was a professional kayaker (not sure what that is), if I work for a magazine and write boat reviews (since I am always paddling and comparing boats back to back etc), and have even told me they heard that I was part of a rescue squad and that I go out on the water during storms to rescue people. Someone said that to me just yesterday. I had to explain to her that I actually go out paddling in storms for fun because I like paddling in wind and waves…not that I am out rescuing people in distress. Kind of funny really.

So….can those folks who criticize me for not having enough seat time say the same for themselves???

So my questions and time on pnet is spent during periods when I can’t be paddling.

Some of my questions are aimed at mimizing the amount of time that I have to spend messing around and trying to get closer to a solution to a given problem so that I can get it figured out faster. Other times it is because I have messed around and just can’t quite put my finger on whatever it is that I am trying to figure out.

Every time I go on the water I am constantly evaluating or testing out something and learning a whole lot too.

The next assumption on this site is that the person asking the question is grossly unskilled and looking for some sort of a solution in a boat or something else to overcome his lack of skill, experience and his sheer laziness to get out and practice. I really resent that one too. I get it all the time. The ironic thing I that I often get it from people who probably paddle far less or who may be less skilled than I am…not trying to be immodest, but pointing out that it is a possibility. Just because someone asks a lot of questions doesn’t mean they are not skilled or that they don’t get out and practice a lot.

Tonight I plan to paddle my NDK Explorer to assess its fit and handling with some slight changes I made to the foam seat and to mess around with the Osprey and its seat position.

Then at about 8PM when I am done paddling I will go and get on pnet. Eventually I may decide to eat dinner after that.