Thwart question

This might be a stupid question, feel free to ridicule me. ;^)

Is it a bad idea to move the thwart behind the bow seat and put it in front of it? I’d like to be able to paddle from the front when solo and swap it back when paddling tandem so I would have to have a set of thwarts to swap between. Will it compromise the structural integrity on a 15’6" Bell?

How close is the thwart
to the front seat? If its less than 18" you may want to consider leaving it alone and replacing the yoke with a middle seat when you want to paddle solo. It would probably require a few extra holes be drilled, but then you could just swap out the yoke with the seat when you needed it.

Absolutely ridiculous!!!

– Last Updated: Mar-23-06 5:48 PM EST –

Just kidding!!!!!!!

Based on boat length; I'm betting you have a Yellowstone tandem. If so, that boat has the following: 2 hand holds, 2 thwarts, 2 seats, and 1 portage yoke. I won't hesitate to give Bell the benefit of the doubt; they know more than I do about canoe building, but that is a "lot" of lateral support for a boat under 16' in length.

That being said; I doubt that the removal of the thwart in question, and you paddling it solo, sitting backwards in the bow seat is going to create any "dramatic" structural problems. But, they put it there for a reason........

My suggestion would be to purchase or make, and cut to fit, a thwart that you could mount behind you(when you're sitting/paddling in the bow seat backwards). The distance between the one you remove & the one you put in would be negligible; I don't think any major stress on the gunwales will result. The time to make the changeover might be 15 minutes tops. The cost; the price of a thwart.


P.S. Paddlinpals has a good alternative.
Solo seat in/solo seat out.....maybe 20 minutes.

Do as Bob says because…
…you will probably find that you can’t simply “swap” the thwart from one position to the other. The difference in width between the gunwales at those two locations may be slight, but it will probably be enough to prevent you from using the same thwart at either location.


– Last Updated: Mar-23-06 7:04 PM EST –

I was planning on making a new one and changing between the two depending on the social environment of the canoe.

Yellowstone is a good guess, wrong but very close. It's a "made for" type Bell called a Drifter, very close to the Yellowstone or like a short version of the Vermont.

I was thinking the easiest way is a drop in seat just forward of the stern thwart but with the 65 lb dog in front I think it might be a bit too far forward to trim out right and not leave me a lot of lounging space.

I did write to Bell and asked them what they think but I generally have little faith in corporate email response. I hope they surprise me.

This canoe will not be put through major torture while solo, little chance of me running heavy water alone so I'm not really worried about wrapping it around some vengeful boulder. I'm not sure what Bell uses in their gunwales for support but I assume it's beefy enough that moving the thwart a foot or two won't make a big difference. But then again I would hate to be proved wrong.

EDIT: Forgive my manners. Thank you one and all for your help here and everywhere on this forum. This place is a great resource.

My non symetrical
swift dumoine has 3" pieces of wood which drop the rear center thwart down. They are cut at an angle to make a semi comfortable butt-rest out of the thwart when I kneel solo.

Another thought
Daggermat’s post reminded me of something else. If this is a Bell, odds are it’s assymetrical, right? In that case, you may find the handling to be better with an add-on center seat than if you paddle it backwards from the bow. Can’t hurt anything to give it a try, though.


– Last Updated: Mar-23-06 11:02 PM EST –

I would almost bet that it is symmetrical but it is worth a second look. The only problem is it's out in the garage and it's chilly and dark out there. I'll wait till it's chilly and light.

I use a drop-in box seat just behind
the center thwart, and my dog is just forward of the center thwart on a piece of carpeting. I’ve done this in several tandem models, and this placement seems to work well for trim of the canoe. A drop-in seat offers some variance for front to back placement, which usually is enough for trim adjustments to match paddling conditions. I haven’t used a bow seat backwards for solo paddling since my first few years of canoeing, and that was a long time ago. I have not heard of any hull warpage stories from thwarts being moved a bit, and have done some of that without any problem. I’m not into rock bashing, though. Happy paddling!

I have a great time moving things
around on my aluminum Grumman. Of course, you can’t compare the two boats but I’m speaking in general terms. I’ve taken out thwarts, added a center seat, moved thwarts back and forth to position one as a yoke. I shortened the beam by removing all the seats and thwarts, cutting them down and putting them back in which gave the boat a little tumblehome. I’ve ever gotten minimal rocker by cranking down on the rachet ties with the canoe over the roof rack.

If I ever find another 13 footer, I’ll do it all again with better craftsmanship.

I checked and the canoe is indeed symmetrical. But while I was whining about the sloppy job I did on the replacement thwart I looked at the original. The belly in the center was a good two inches off center. Wanna bet it was made on a Monday? Or is this a special left handed model?

I’ll probably remake the thwart in the future. I made this one out of maple because that is what was handy but that’s hard stuff to work. It would be worth it if it was some fancy quilt or birdseye but I’ll just keep my eye out for some nice ash.