What's up with Bell seats?

I recently had the opportunity to paddle both a Bell Yellowstone tandem and an Alaskan. Both were very nice boats; however, both also had the same strange seat mounting. Basically, the cane seats are canted forward as though for kneeling, but mounted so low that one’s feet don’t fit underneath them. I can see them being mounted awkwardly low if the boats were tender, but neither struck me as being unstable, even when sitting up on a thwart instead of on the seat.

So why do they do this? Am I missing something?

Seat hangers riveted?
Are the seat hangers riveted like Bell does in their latest composite canoes? If the seats are on wood truss hangers it’s a simple matter to take them off and shorten them to raise the seat. If they are riveted to the hull (UGLY!) then you may have to start from scratch and install seat drops from the gunnels, and just ignore the riveted hangers, or drill out the rivets and fill the holes with epoxy…also ugly.

when you were sitting in the seat did the cant feel too aggressive, like you were sliding out of your seat? Just curious, cause I’m using the 2" Bell drops to install a seat in a Dagger Sojourn, and am concerned the cant is too much. the cant on my Wildfire was about 1.5" and felt pretty good sitting or kneeling.

Yeah the front is dropped for kneeling alright. Bell did away with metal hangers in 2004, so all hangers on new boats should be wood… as already mentioned you could shorten to your taste.

This is one of those catch 22’s I have when paddling my Yellowstone Solo. Sitting on the seat is possible only on the flattest water, so I kneel 90% of the time. The problem is that foot entrapment is a reality for me. I remedy that situation with my footwear. A heel-less low profile shoe like Chota or NRS Mukluk types or water shoes for summer work well and slide right in and out of the seat. The drawback for me with these is the lack of real ankle support. A lot of pain in my ankles develops after hours of kneeling with the instep of my foot flat on the floor.

Ankle support…
2 possible solutions:

Purchase a kneeling pad; Bell has an excellent pad that is large enough to provide some padding/support for your knees, and your ankles.

A little effort & some closed cell foam can result in some custom made pads to assist in padding & supporting your ankles when you are in the knelling position.


Been there done that. I have foam glued in for both knees and ankles and it’s fine for day trips, but during multi-day treks after many hours of paddling its necessary to switch to sitting for some blood flow.

riveted metal brackets
The boats I paddled had riveted metal brackets - no way to change seat height without replacing them. If I owned the boats, I would do that in a heartbeat.

The angle seemed reasonable enough, but the height made no sense, especially with those unadjustable metal brackets. Nice to hear that they’re no longer using those.