Too Low in the Yak

I have a Perception Sol`e, 14’ kayak that I purchased used. I am a TOTAL novice, only having experience in canoes and one rental kayak this past summer.

After watching several kayaking “instructional videos” and going on a couple of paddles, I have (finally) realized that I am sitting too low in the boat. I am 5’6" around 170 ish. Not much torso. This makes it very difficult to use a paddle on the rear coaming to assist in getting in and out. (Not to mention other physical ailments)

The seat cushion on this boat is glued to the sole of the boat. Is there a replacement seat that will sit me up at least a couple inches higher? I suppose I should try some various thickness pads or cushions before I settle on any on height.

I am not a white water guy, just recreational and light touring. Maybe a bit in the ocean and inlets near me.

Any and all suggestions are welcome!



You sit low in a kayak, that’s the point
The sole does not have a high cockpit, and if you have a factory seat, it is probably at a good seat height to provide stability and control of the boat. If you raise the seat height a few inches the boat will become very tippy and hard to paddle, as a beginner you would find yourself upside down a lot of the time.

Practice getting in and out of the boat on dry ground, then take a lesson on paddling from a qualified instructor. After you know what you are doing you can replace the seat with minifoam and carve a seat to fit how you like, but I suspect you need to learn the basics first. You may also need to work on developing new muscles to get in and out of the boat, if you have back or flexibility problems folks here can help you out if you explain what the problem is .

Lifting the butt cheeks
Proper paddling involves physically lifting

one cheek, then the other, over-and-over again

as you rotate the torso using technique.

It truly is a whole body exercise :slight_smile:

thicker peel and stick
If you want to sit a little higher the Harmony Techlift pad might be the ticket for you:

As mentioned above, you don’t want to go too high in the cockpit, but at 1 inch thick this pad will give noticeable lift and extra cushion without raising your center of gravity too much.

Please note, this person said they do
not have much torso. I believe they mean ‘short’ torso which would not allow their arms to be high enough to paddle efficiently.

For me, this is why I have boats with lower deck heights.

I’ll get you into a whitewater kayak,
and then you’ll find out how those slalom racers go so fast without leg and butt work.

I wouldn’t bother with it even in my touring kayak, because I’m in tight in case I have to roll, and to control the boat in turbulence.

Yeah, this was the fix for me: low decks. Test drive first, etc. But, like all of us, this is the stuff you learn by experience.

Is it getting out or paddling?
I can’t tell whether your perceived issue from watching videos is in getting a good forward stroke, or just getting in and out. So are you having a problem with the boat inhibiting getting a good bite in the water (and rotating), or is it in extracting yourself from the kayak?

Raising the seat will impact the stability of the boat, and not in a way that most new paddlers find comforting. So it matters to nail down exactly what your issue is before acting on any suggestions.

If it is getting out, ditch the paddle as an aid as soon as you can anyway. That is how they start newbies, but it is a time-consuming and, once you have time in the boat, unnecessarily convoluted process.

The boat is for a smaller paddler, but the page of specs I found did not include deck height. It might help if you could get that. That is the height from the hull to the deck, somewhere just ahead of the forward edge of the seat? Can you get that measure?

but willi’s right

– Last Updated: Oct-31-13 11:27 AM EST –

Torso, core, legs, back, arms. If you're not using them all you're not paddling as efficiently as you could be. Forget slalom racers, watch a K1 race:

An anecdotal note, I know a sea kayaker who competed in a downriver ww race, he left the ww paddlers behind on the flats. Because he knew better than to arm-paddle.

It has a low rear deck
as far as entry level boats go.

That’s why my question
I looked at the side photos from Perception on this boat, and even being entry level it just didn’t look like it should feel particularly high to someone two (or so) inches taller than me. But unless you are standing there looking at someone in the boat, it is just guessing.

That leads me to suspect this is more about getting in and out of the boat than the height inhibiting paddling. About half of the replies in this thread go to the paddling part, and aren’t likely to do much for the OPer if it is the extraction issue.

He isn’t talking torso rotation, he’s

– Last Updated: Nov-01-13 12:28 AM EST –

talking rotation of the pelvis on one's butt, like Greg Barton. Even top flight slalom paddlers like Scott Shipley are not going to try to get power by rotating on their butts, because they are tightly locked into the boat.

I have no idea what Willi paddles, but I'm sure he isn't locked into kayaks the way I am.

A further note. Really tall-in-the-torso people like me discover that we do NOT have to rotate as much as little squirts. In fact, it is stupid to do so. I see Bob Foote rotating in a rather exaggerated way in his videos, but he's a small guy and he has to. I use about the same cab-forward stroke he does, and there is no way on God's green earth that I can fit in as much torso rotation.

You should watch advocates of rotation when they are racing slalom, or just cruising across a lake. You'll see that the rotation is very hard to see. Your comment about ww racers being arm paddlers is simply ridiculous.

You'd be surprised how much power I get from just a small amount of torso rotation.

Think about the mechanics. The goal for kayaks and canoes is a short stroke in the water, exiting before the blade passes the hip. Watch the slalom racers, and the downriver racers for that matter.

ok my bad
I don’t lift my ass cheeks either, my pelvis doesn’t rotate that way. My sea kayak is padded out more like a ww boat (I think) in that it fits like a pair of jeans.

FWIW though it wasn’t my comment regarding ww paddlers “arm-paddling”, it was an accomplished sea and ww paddler.

Paddling not the issue
Once I am in the boat, I am golden. Paddling is not the issue or problem. Getting in and out is the issue, particularly the latter. When I sit in the boat the cockpit coaming is only a three inches or so below my armpits.

It is nearly impossible for me to get my hands and arms around behind me to use the paddle as an outrigger it assist me in getting out.

In my total novice mind, I think I need to get my butt up about an inch or two possibly using a throwable seat cushion. If that works and is comfortable, I will just use that as a permanent solution. If not comfortable I will get some high density foam, building up the seat, matching the contours of the original. Then I can rig the throwable seat cushion to use as a paddle float.

Keep in mind the seat on this boat is flat on the sole… Maybe I should just add a few pounds onto me arse!!!

Paddling also is (will be the) issue

– Last Updated: Nov-02-13 12:04 PM EST –

You are new enough to not have noticed this yet, but you will as you get some work on your skills. It is only your newness to things that it is most felt in getting in and out. Once you start going for stuff like a good brace - advisable since you indicate some interest in getting out on the ocean - that height will make it harder.

If the coaming is really 3 inches under your armpits and you are seated properly, the boat is way too high on you. I am guessing that you have atypical proportions for a guy, where the torso is usually relatively longer than for a woman. So even the relatively low rear deck of this boat could be an issue.

But I have to get back to the seated properly part - that could be a couple of inches of the problem right there. It doesn't mean that this boat can be turned into a good fit from a poor one for you, but you might as well get the position right in this boat before trying others.

I just found the .pdf for the Sole again, and it appears to have a backband rather than a high seat back. That is often an issue, but not one this boat has. It also looks like the seat is heavily molded to try and be ergonomic, with deep recesses for your butt cheeks and a higher forward seat edge.

I wonder if you are being tipped back by how all of this works on your body, leaving you more in a barcalounger than the erect position that is better for your paddling and your back. Being tipped back could be taking a couple of inches of height out from you.

I found an issue with a seat that had those characteristics in a boat I had, and after a couple of seasons of getting a cranky back two hours into every paddle I finally spoke with a guy who was on team P&H or whatever. He suggested that I flatten out the seat - I did and it was instantly better. I cut away froam from the front to get the leading edge down and filed in the butt cheek recesses with minicell foam. The boat has been comfortable ever since.

I would suggest that you start by getting that seat surface flatter, and cinch up the backband as forward as you can. Then get into the boat erect, and see where the sides fall on you. If you are still just inches above the coaming, you probably need to start looking for a boat with less depth.

Of course, this is all difficult to get ewxactly right without seeing you in person in the boat. But I suspect messing with the above things will at least improve your situation. You may need to get more creative than anything here to solve the getting in and out part. I've known people who just invested in more expensive layers that would keep them dray and solved it by tipping the boat onto its side on shore so the fall out.

chest high coaming?
3" under your armpit would make the coaming chest-high. Is that true? If so, nothing you do to the seat will fix your issues. It is just too deep for you.

Are you sitting up straight or slightly forward? Feet on the footpegs?

Post of picture of you in your boat
It’s kind of hard to imagine 3" above the cockpit rim.

Lifting butt cheeks when rotating.
I’ve had lots of instruction on paddling technique, but I have never heard anyone suggest that raising alternate butt cheeks would do anything other than rocking the kayak.

Rotation involves the legs, torso, and upper body muscles, and done properly propels the kayak smoothly without excessive rocking of the kayak.

Something doesn’t compute here
This boat is made for small people, and a photo I found of it doesn’t look deep at all. Perhaps a previous owner, who may have been too big for the boat, removed the original seat and just glued a pad on the bottom of the cockpit on order to fit under the thigh braces and lower his/her center of gravity. I may be wrong, but I can’t recall seeing any Perception touring kayak with the seat configured like that.

Pumping legs

– Last Updated: Nov-03-13 1:33 AM EST –

Pretty hard to actively engage those legs and thighs
without asking the pelvis to "press down" in an
alternating motion on one butt cheek and then the other.

Sure I'll concede it's all about a smooth motion that
doesn't cause excessive rocking or bobbing of the kayak.