Whitewater bench seat

I love my Probe12 but find that I just can’t kneel for very long. After 30-40 minutes I have to get out and stretch. Hate getting old. I’d like to find something where I can kneel securely in rapids and sit and stretch out in the pools. I paddle fairly non-technical class 2 water when I can.

I’ve looked at outfitting a tandem whitewater boat with a bench seat but they seem too wide. I like the ability to get a vertical paddle angle in the Probe (and my Bell Yellowstone solo)and of course there is the entrapment hazard. River touring boats like the Rendezvous and Supernova seem pretty long for tight streams.

Any thoughts are welcome.

Some options
I would probably just install a cane or webbed seat slightly canted that could be used like a kneeling thwart, or a kneeling thwart that could be utilized as a seat for short periods of time. I know a lot of folks don’t like having their feet under a kneeling thwart or seat but I have used both in mild to moderate whitewater and in my opinion the entrapment risk is not great. I would angle the seat a bit, but if you cant it too much you will tend to want to slide off of it toward the front.

Although I haven’t done it in a whitewater boat, you could probably enhance your stability considerably in the sitting position by installing some footpegs (like the plastic Perception “Keepers” that can easily be mounted with stainless steel hardware to the sides of the hull in front of the seat or thwart by drilling a couple of holes through each side of the boat. Minicell foam knee bolsters glued to the inside of the hull just below the gunwales will allow you to use your knees to brace against the sides of the boat more comfortably and effectively.

I have mounted blocks cut from 3" thick minicell to the tops of each side of a kneeling thwart to function as hip pads and found that they really helped to prevent me from sliding around on the thwart.

I had a minicell pedestal installed in one canoe which was “backed up” with a wide kneeling thwart suspended a couple of inches below the gunwales. I could periodically get up on the thwart and stretch my legs. It wasn’t too comfortable for long stretches but it provided a break for the knees and ankles.

The Perception rotomolded polyethylene saddle has a contoured seat molded into it just aft of the kneeling pedestal position. Most folks find that the seat puts their center of gravity too high to use it, especially in a smaller canoe like a Probe. I have found it possible to use the Perception saddle that way when paddling through pools or calm stretches, but you have to pay attention.

The problems that arise are that any kneeling thwart or seat that you use like a kneeling thwart will need to be mounted high enough to provide comfortable clearance for your feet. If your feet are smallish and you don’t wear footwear with thick heels, that might work, but if you have big feet the seating surface might place your center of gravity too high for stability.

When you go from the kneeling to the sitting position your center of gravity also shifts significantly. I would position a thwart or seat such that when you use it to support your butt kneeling your boat is trimmed neutrally. When you sit up and move back onto the seat, your center of gravity will likely shift back some and the boat will be bow light, but for stretches of placid water that might not be so bad.

I saw something that could work

– Last Updated: Mar-12-12 12:18 PM EST –

Of course, you already said you don't think a boat having the length of a Supernova would work for you, but you did mention the possibility of converting a tandem for solo paddling, so I'll mention something along those lines. Someone at our local paddling shop had a Supernova set up with a pedestal AND the original factory bench seat. I've never met anyone who's paddled a Supernova who didn't think the seat was mounted way too far behind center, and standard procedure is to put the seat one seat-width farther forward than the factory position. Still, you can paddle the boat from way back there. Lots of people seem to believe that the seat is placed so far back so that a single large pack can be placed in front of the paddler to provide proper trim. Whatever the reason, there's room to put a pedestal in front of the factory seat without being bow-heavy, and with that setup you can switch from sitting to kneeling pretty quickly and easily. The rear edge of the pedestal will most likely be touching the front of the seat, which makes the seat less than perfect, but it's still quite useable. Setting up a shorter boat this way probably wouldn't work, because proportional to the overall length of the boat, the seat would be much too close to the stern.

I suppose you are paddling some pretty tiny creeks if the Supernova seems too long, but in case you are actually worried more about maneuverability, rest assured it's actually more agile than a Yellowstone solo, which is much harder tracking on account of that skegged stern. The Supernova's rocker is continuous to the very center of the boat, unlike, for example, a Mad River Guide or Freedom Solo which has most of the rocker concentrated within 2.5 feet of each end, so the Supernova is an able spinner even without any lean. However, there's a lot more "heft" to the Supernova than the Yellowstone Solo, and you'll feel it in tight maneuvers or even when keeping it pointed where you want it. I suppose a whitewater paddler would consider it a barge compared to your Probe though, and it's also not at all well suited to short paddlers. Food for thought though, maybe.

A foam block pedistal seat.

I believe you can get them at NOS or you can carve your own out of a high density foam block.

Kneel in front or straddle it, and then sit when ever you want to.

Jack L

Perception saddle
The old Perception whitewater saddle had a small tractor seat up at the back.

If I wanted to sit in my whitewater boat I might try something like that.

Having been pinned (in my river tripping boat) with my calves trapped under a bench seat with the current pushing me back, I would never put a bench seat in a whitewater boat. I was lucky my head was above water and I had time to think. Then lucky again that the current was not too strong and I could grab my gunnels and pull myself forward to where I could get out from under the seat.

Thanks all
Good comments all around. I may look at adding a lower thwart behind the saddle to see if it will be stable enough to unbend my knees, I’ve tried sitting on top of the back of the saddle at the existing thwart level and it’s too unstable. The Probe 12II is pretty narrow and requires a lower center on gravity.

I looked hard at the Supernova as an alternative. I had a Mad River Freedom Solo that I didn’t like. It was hard to turn and the seat bolt washers caught my thumb. I sold it and got the Probe. I’m thinking maybe a bigger whitewater solo might better able to support a combination sitting/kneeling paddling position. I do think I prefer a shorter boat for whitewater. I may come around to the Supernova in time.

Thanks again.

I took my WW boat out on Sunday after a couple of months of not paddling it, and it was painful until I got the muscles stretched out. Even so, I only lasted about 45 minutes. The best way to stretch out those muscles is to spend time in the boat. There is also nothing wrong with taking breaks – between emptying out the boat, stopping to take pictures, and taking a break at a play spot, I’ll bet I get out of my boat every 30 – 45 minutes.

Another thing you might try is a higher pedestal. I currently have mine at 11” which is pretty high – some would call it a “tower of terror” level, but it is comfortable for me, and I don’t find it unstable. You can tape down a piece of foam on a temporary basis to see if it helps. I’d try a higher pedestal before replacing with a bench seat.

Super Nova

– Last Updated: Mar-13-12 7:02 AM EST –

I just had my Super Nova out Sunday. I can not catch the very small eddys that I can put my Prodigy in. But that boat spins on a dime. If You are not paddling class 3 the Super nova is a nice boat.The seat on mine has been moved to the proper position.

As for Your pain while on the pedestal. We all have to stop often for a stetch. It,s the joy of being 50+.

I would also like to ad a Probe 12 to my fleet.

ww pedestals…can be the way to go

– Last Updated: Mar-14-12 9:49 AM EST –

Think you mean a ww pedestal. They're terrific, can be carved by experienced shop personnel...but not that difficult. One layer of thick foam, then trace it out and saw the other side layers. In conjunction with glueing to floor layer/hull..its backing can often be fitted under a new or existing thwart for solidifying. Kneepads and ankleblocks to finish the outfitting. With a properly adjusted height...there's NO pressure on your knees = use them to adjust your pressuring whatever side you wish.

sitting on pedestals
Like most whitewater open boaters I have occasionally sat up on my minicell foam pedestal and stretched my legs during the calm stretches. It can be nice for a break, but I wouldn’t want to paddle a whitewater boat any distance like that.

For one thing, the seating surface can be rather narrow for comfort and the minicell can be a little wobbly if not backed up by a thwart, when so much body weight is put on it. The bigger problem is that if the pedestal is placed so that the canoe is trimmed neutrally when kneeling, if one sits up on the same surface and puts their legs out in front, the boat can become bow heavy and hard to control.

That’s not to say one could not modify a minicell pedestal to provide a wider seating surface a bit farther back as with the Perception saddle (but a bit lower).

DIY = more width/shape= comfort
Yes…imho the stock pedestals off the rack are essentially made, width-wise, for teens. Contact cement on side layers and trim with saw/band-sander to personal dims…