Questions on a Rock Star (which I own) and a Wilderness (which I don't)

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Ok, one more post should get me through spring.

Back story -

Me - been paddling for 40 years with a paddling style that can best be described as "unique". Numerous physical issues (all developed in the pursuit of my outdoor activities) leave me paddling with whatever way is the least painful. I am 6' 2" , weigh 270 lbs, have freakishly short legs, and bring tons of gear when I trip. Tandem trips up to 8 days up to this point in the ADK, BWCA, big water on the Great Lakes, and tons of twisty Michigan rivers were the norm.

Was looking to start soloing a couple of years back. The solotripping website responses and Charlies technical knowledge provided a short list of canoes that were appropriate for the Clydesdale class. With the Rock Star on the list, and Bell's issues pending, I jumped on a Royalex boat that hung in my garage for the last couple of years. Took her out for the first multi-day trip recently.

Rockstar -

In spite of a Wenonah seat my back was soon killing me. In my big old Grumman I can put my feet under the seat, and it turns out my back missed this arrangement in a big way. Now, here is my question, and I apologize for my feeble attempt at articulating it. Could I raise the seat without dramatically impacting the stability? My short leg/long torso configuration lends a high cg - if I raise the seat 1" I will have a decrease in stability. If I raise it 2" do I double the instability of the 1" increment or do stars and moon align against me with some multiplier effect and the instability increases exponentially?

Next, I was thinking of trying a kayak paddle. I borrowed on from a friend (I think it was 240 cm) and it felt too short. I have a long waist but also long arms (37" shirt sleeve length if that helps) so I thought this might work. I think this might help alleviate some shoulder pain I have with a regular paddle.. Thoughts on paddle length?

Finally, should I put skid plates on? I try to be careful, wet foot the landings and all, but you know how it goes.

Wilderness -

The short list mentioned above also included the Wilderness, and with the straight line ability it has I was thinking about getting one of these for the flat water.

The question I have is regarding the layup. I know has been discussed on another thread, but here is my question. With the Rockstar for the bumpy stuff I was thinking about going graphite or ultra-light layup for the lakes. Would my weight and heavy gear choices dictate a more sturdy layup (Tuf-weave or Flex-core) over the lighter models? Due to my back issues I still prefer to use a cart when possible for portaging. Is a cart recommended for for lighter layups if used correctly? I would be interested in using a kayak paddle here as well.

Thank you in advance for any insights.

Viking
 
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As for stability and seat height just find some foam, life jacket, blankets, or whatever to add to the seat to effectively raise the height and see how it feels for you.

I wouldn't bother putting skid plates on a boat until it needed them.

Ultra light Kevlar and Carbon layup can probably endure more than most people think. You don't need to baby them, just don't abuse them. I guess everyone has a different idea of abuse though. I try to wet foot my Magic every time but there's times I haven't. I also try not to run into rocks but it's hit its fair share. Lots of scratches in the gel coat but no real damage. This fall I took my Bell Northstar in Black Gold layup down a couple very low and very rocky rivers that would have been better suited for Royalex. I don't think I'd want to make a habit of it but it survived fine, just a few more scratches. The Black Gold layup however is heavier duty than the Kevlight. I don't think that's the case for Wenonah's carbon layup.

Alan
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Raising the seat will affect stability, and in some boats a 1" difference can be very noticeable.

The only way to really tell for any given boat is to experiment. You can do that by taking off the seat's drop blocks, leaving just the seat bolts. Then raise the seat up on the bolts incrementally by putting shims on the bolts under the seat. If you have woodworking tools, you can make wooden shims. Otherwise, you can just use a bunch of cheap washers. Spend an hour at the water using different numbers of shims to raise the seat higher and higher and feel the stability changes for yourself.
 
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Before raising the seat I would put in a footbar or footpegs. Your back is trying valiantly to keep you from getting pushed forward off the seat and with nothing good to brace against, it is doomed.

I take it you are exclusively a sitter. All sitters should have a footbrace. You do not see kayaks without them. Why canoes don't all have them is beyond me.

Raising a seat isn't going to do a darn thing for your power. You still won't have strong foot contact. You do need that to aid in torso rotation which will give you the solo power you need.

Arms are really a minor factor in powering paddling.
 
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I take it you are exclusively a sitter. All sitters should have a footbrace. You do not see kayaks without them. Why canoes don't all have them is beyond me.

Good point. I've installed them in all my boats and forget that many others don't have them. Mandatory, IMO. Sitting is so much more comfortable with them and it gives you more options for leg positions. Not to mention better power and stability.

Alan
 
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I was a bit hasty and overgeneralized. Footbars don't seem to be appropriate for boats that are meant to be knelt in such as the Colden canoes nor wooden canoes.

But anything with a tractor seat should ring the "footbar bell"

No I don't have footbars in all my boats. And those stay home on day sitting outings. My Peregrine is 31 lbs, used exclusively for multiportage trips in Ontario and Quebec. There is gear in the boat then and I can brace against it.. I don't want to add more pounds when the canoe trip is resembling a backpack trip.

You also have to consider the stability of empty boat vs loaded boat. Yellowcanoe will pitch the unwary out when seated and its empty. Its done so multiple times even by those to claim to be expert. With 60 lbs tripping gear its way more stable and will tolerate sitting..
 

Glenn MacGrady

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In spite of a Wenonah seat my back was soon killing me. In my big old Grumman I can put my feet under the seat, and it turns out my back missed this arrangement in a big way.

Viking seems to want more room to tuck his feet under the seat because that's most comfortable for his back. He doesn't need a foot bar paddling in this posture. And that's why I recommended shimming up the seat, so he could test both the elevated stability and the foot room underneath at the same time.
 
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I got that. But I doubt that tucking his feet in under the seat is going to be a happy outcome in a dedicated solo. And that position provides absolutely no stabilty at all.

I have done the same lotus like in a way position in a Grumman.

Backs hurt for a reason and one main reason is that they are fighting vector forces when paddling. I never said don't raise the seat. But put foot support in first. Then you have five contact points. Two feet, two knees and one butt. Rather than one contact point.

Glenn is correct when he points out that our aging backs require an extra phone book thickness ( manhattan) every ten years for comfort. Or was it DY who said that? I dislike kayaking on the bottom with age too.. I have moved the seat vertically up to sea canoe position.

But when you are top heavy to start..that torso length works against you for stability with a high seat and you have to be able to make yourself more stable! Otherwise every stroke will be an adventure...
 
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Viking1;
By tucking your feet under the seat, do you mean kneeling?
If that’s your plan you’ll actually increase your feeling of stability in spite of raising the seat.
My back is beginning to show its age too. I find that kneeling improves my posture significantly and thus makes my back feel much better then paddling with my legs straight out. I’ve also found that a properly adjusted, tilted seat along with simple knee pads doesn’t have any ill effect on my bad knees either.
 
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It has been a while - even lost my Viking handle. It's ok - my wife signed me up as Keeled Over and finds it hilarious so we'll let it ride.

Going back, I received a lot of great feedback on this site while building my solo quiver - thank you for that. Rock Star for the rivers still in the garage waiting. Was headed towards the Wilderness for flatwater, but I haul a ton of stuff. I can fill the Rockstar to the gunnels easily so I figured more volume. The Kevlar Solo Plus discussion came up on here (rigged solo) for flat water so I got it. Solo.JPG

CCS cover and I'm just about ready. My wife and I will use it tandem just occasionally, but I want to remove the front and rear seats for more volume, but of course there is that structural integrity thing.

Does anyone have any experience with removing the seats and using it for tripping? (I am sure any warranty would be voided) If I were to remove them, any thoughts on a way to improve the structural while keeping the volume?

I have no skills in the tool world - I mean none - so I figured I'd go to the Pro's, meaning you folks and the canvas guy who did the cover install.

Thank you in advance.

Keeled Over Viking?
 
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Removing the seats shouldn't be an issue structurally in that boat. They aren't serving as pseudothwarts. You have the wooden seats hung from the gunwhales with flat aluminum brackets, right?

If you want to remove the aluminum brackets you'll need to drill out a few pop rivets and replace them, which is not a big deal (need a basic pop rivet gun and some 3/16 aluminum rivets). Or you can just leave them, they don't weigh much.

Glad you didn't get the Wilderness -- I have one and it works great for me, but I'm 190 and tend to pack light. Also, it has a bit of rocker, not a sit-and-spin but more than you'd want in a dedicated flatwater boat. I use another solo for the wide open spaces.
 
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Viking,

You should PM me - I have a few canoes in my stable and can introduce you to Carl in Lone Rock. He has a Wilderness in his store. I also live in Dodgeville. I have a few canoes you could try, tandems and solos you may like to paddle and compare. That might help you to decide where you want your seats as well as how to move them.

Bob.
 
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Thank you, gentlemen for your replies.

Goonstroke - yes, they are the seats hung from the aluminum brackets. Good to know I can remove the seats, and I agree - the brackets can't weigh much. Anyway, if I was worried about weight I could leave my comfort gear home. Nobody needs a fish finder and a 25 Diet Cokes!

Bob, thank your for your generosity. Currently I live in New York, but Michigan's Upper Peninsula is home, and where I'll retire to in a few years. From there I will have much easier access to the Missainabi and Woodland Caribou PP. These bucket list trips are much of why I was putting the canoe quiver together.
 
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