solo canoe for both sitting and kneeling

Joined
Apr 4, 2014
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Are there solo canoes that are suitable for paddling both kneeling and sitting in a 14 or 15 feet length?
Many many years ago I owned a Bart Hauthaway 12 ft sugar Island rob roy type decked canoe that had a fiberglass t shaped cross thwart molded to the deck and hull that I could paddle kneeling with a single paddle or sit on the floor and use a double bladed Hauthaway paddle with the thwart as a back support , but I sold it years ago
About 15 years ago I bought a Bell Rob Roy 15 ft decked canoe that Bell told me I could mount their kneeling thwart to but the thwart height was too low to properly get my feet and heels under or out of so I sold that also.
I am now looking for a lightweight solo canoe that tracks well for open water that I can paddle either kneeling or sitting on a low seat but most models seem to be set up for one position or the other. I did own a kevlar Wennonah vagabond solo canoe briefly but want a faster narrower solo canoe.
 
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I'm no expert, but I feel that most kneeling solo canoes can be paddled seated. Pretty much set the seat for kneeling and deal with a little instability when sitting and use different paddles.

The only real issue that I know of is stiffness. Some true, very light kneelers are built without the extra reinforcement needed for a sitting paddler. Apparently if they are flimsy enough they can creep over time and distort the gunwales. And actually on the other extreme, most pack canoes aren't stiff enough to hang a seat from the gunwales for sitting or kneeling.

My current, and only solo boat is a Hemlock Peregrine. It's set up with a kneeling seat, but I sit on it too. I go about half and half for what I've been using it for. I don't feel comprised sitting but I can definitely feel the tendency for the boat to flex more. It's kind of on the edge for someone my weight sitting without some reinforcement. If my knees and ankles would tolerate it, I'd kneel all the time.

Are you looking for new or used?
 
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Apr 4, 2014
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Probably used but I live in Florida where used better quality composite canoes for sale are a rarity
Is there plenty of room to slide your feet and heels under the thwart on the Peregrine?
 
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Jan 22, 2012
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I kneel and sit comfortably in my Wenonah Wilderness. Being a long legged and moderately big footed fellow, I have the seat at its highest position and angled forward. Even with the seat in a lower position I can easily get my feet under and out from the seat. In colder weather boots require more attention to ingress and egress.

I'll usually paddle from a kneeling position for 45 minutes or so and then take a 15 minute break sitting. If I taking pictures I often spend more time sitting due to the greater vantage point.

Being a skinny due I find a seat pad of immense value. Have always made my own from minicell foam but this year I splurged and got one of Dan Cooke's nice seat pads. Liked it so much I bought one for one of my other canoes. A simple 1/2" foam pad sewn up in a cordura sheath with buckle straps to keep it in place. Really helps to make an angled seat comfortable for a bony bum :cool:

I'm fortunate that at 60 years old I'm still rather flexible. Knees still work most of the time and the metatarsals stretch without much complaint. I do use a kneeling pad. Used to pad each boat but now I just swap a commercial-made piece from boat to boat.

Still need to work up some McCrea-style knee/thigh braces for the Wilderness. I'm working on a design that will work for both the kneeling and sitting position. Don't know if I'll be successful but I've a ton of foam scraps stashed in the garage to work with.

Having a solo canoe set up for both kneeling and sitting may require some modification to get it just right for you as an individual but the end result will be well worth the effort and time invested.
 
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Two solos that I feel respond well to either a sitting or kneeling posture are the Bell Merlin II and Swift Osprey. It depends partially on how big your feet are or how high you need to position the seat to allow comfortable heel clearance. If you have to move the seat up quite a bit, some boats with a relatively narrow water line beam (like the Merlin II) can become too tender for some paddler's comfort.
 
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A Wenonah Wilderness with an adjustable height seat is a great idea and reasonably available, but I am not sure if it is all that much faster than a Vagabond. If you plan to kneel some of the time and want speed, you need a larger length to width ratio canoe. Pretty much any non rec canoe will qualify. How to outfit is the question. When my knees worked and felt better, I really liked the Wenonah adjustable height seat. It is the only alternative that I know of for big footed folks other than having the seat set too high for relaxed sitting, fishing, birdwatching, eating in a performance canoe. Most posts I've seen, however, seem to indicate a dislike for the Wenonah adjustable seat because it rattles and can be squirrelly to adjust when out on the water. Wenonah canoes are generally fast and designed to go straight ahead on flat water, but like any design, there are trade offs. It would take some effort to adapt the Wenonah adjustable seat to some other brand, and they are designed for an aluminum rail, not a wood rail.
 
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Probably used but I live in Florida where used better quality composite canoes for sale are a rarity
Is there plenty of room to slide your feet and heels under the thwart on the Peregrine?

Yes. But it's not a thwart, it's a seat.

Looks like this:

4983747338_57ccc6ef88_b.jpg


The curve in the front makes it more comfortable, for me, for kneeling and the height at the sides gives enough room to slip the feet under. It feels a bit like a kneeling thwart.

I rolled in one of these too that was lower than my current one. It's only one instance but I came right out. Never even thought about my feet being caught.

For sitting it's pretty comfortable too. Again the curved front crossmember keeps pressure off the backs of the thighs.
 
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I sit and kneel in all my solos. I the ability to change positions it a big advantage to this type of boat. One thing that makes this much more comfortable is the Swift solo seat. It has a turned down front crosspiece,but is flat behind that. I always felt that I was sliding foreword on flat slanted solo seats. I have installed one in all my solos!
Turtle
 
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I should add that seat I posted is made by a member of this forum named Conk.

I too like the Swift seats but I've never tried the solo version. I don't like that it is on sliders - you lose too much connection with the boat that way.
 
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When I bought my Bell Magic it had a high seat set up for kneeling and was more than a bit twitchy when sitting. I dropped the seat to it's normal sitting position and don't kneel in it, I think the seat would be too low for that. I'm more comfortable sitting and always use a foot brace, which makes a huge difference. I can't imagine sitting without one. Actually, I guess I can, because most of the time when I get a new boat it doesn't have one installed so I usually paddle it a few times before adding one. Without one sitting is much less comfortable and I feel too loose in the boat.

I do kneel at times in my woodstrip Kite (Osprey) and when I built it had anticipated that I might so I built a sliding seat on a narrow pedestal that would allow me to kneel around it. I made the seat the same height as my other sitting boats (around 7" if I remember correctly) and figured that when I wanted to kneel I'd just add some padding to it to raise it up to a more comfortable height. That works ok but it's not ideal. It would help if I got some good pads for both the seat and my knees instead of using a life jacket and 4" building foam or whatever else I find laying around.

But what I've really found out when kneeling in the Kite is that with the seat raised with foam to a comfortable kneeling height it's also stable enough for sitting. So I think one of this winter's projects will be to cut out the pedestal and install a seat at gunwale height or just below that should be good for both sitting and kneeling.

As for fast kneeling boats I guess that's a matter of perception and what you consider fast. I'd call my Magic a fast solo and I would say the Kite (Osprey) is slow. I've also owned a Vagabond and think of it as a slow boat too. But I've also heard people praise the Vagabond and Osprey for their speed. So I guess it's all a matter of what you're used to and what you're idea of speed is. I do think my Kite is faster than my old Vagabond but I'm also a much better paddler now.

Can I ask why you want the option of kneeling? You said you're looking for a straight tracking boat for mainly open water. The kneeling position is generally associated with more maneuverable boats and water conditions that require maneuverability. Is it for comfort or just to try something different? How often to you plan on kneeling and for how long?

Alan
 
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Heresy: All canoes are slow... compared to motor boats. Some seems to depend on the paddlers as well. Good racers seem to be able to make boats go a lot faster than I can or want to.

I think a good solo should be able to keep up with a tandem. Maybe someone could post some GPS data but cruising for me, I can't. I'm a tick slower. I also seem to calculate our tandem will cruise a little over 4mph with medium effort and no stoppage. Side by side it takes me more effort to keep up with the tandem.

A half day on the water I average maybe 2 mph in a solo boat but that includes stops, switching styles, etc... The same type of day in our tandem is 2.5-3 mph. I've also seen on windy days where we've been covering little more than 1-1.5 mph (maybe actually better speed but taking a significantly longer path staying sheltered) on the water and with current going like 5 or 6 mph.

So in reality.. I think a lot of things come into play. Race boats seem to have some trade offs that you may not want in a tripper. Good designs have a nice balance between speed, stability, seaworthiness, and stiffness/mass.

Comfort is a bit key as well. I will cover more ground being comfortable at 3mph that I will be if I'm miserable at 5mph.

Do a search. The specs for recent solo canoes have been discussed ad nauseum.

As for sitting and kneeling. I get that. I do it to keep the blood flowing. Kneeling, even on lakes with flat water feels much better in a solo canoe... and sitting for a long time gets uncomfortable as well.
 
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Heresy: All canoes are slow... compared to motor boats. Some seems to depend on the paddlers as well. Good racers seem to be able to make boats go a lot faster than I can or want to.

I think a good solo should be able to keep up with a tandem. Maybe someone could post some GPS data but cruising for me, I can't. I'm a tick slower. I also seem to calculate our tandem will cruise a little over 4mph with medium effort and no stoppage. Side by side it takes me more effort to keep up with the tandem.

I've paddled with a GPS and heart rate monitor plenty. Like you alluded to much of it depends on the paddler and their technique and conditioning. I took up canoe and kayak racing a few years back but have gotten out of it now. I thought I was a pretty strong paddler before I started hanging out with strong paddlers. Even after a couple years of what I thought was pretty hard training I wasn't even close to competitive. When I first started I thought I was maxing out my kayak at 5.3mph for a 6 mile race. By the end of the season I could keep that same boat close to 6mph for the same distance.

I think 5 mph is about as hard as I can push my Magic without going "all out". Even 5mph isn't easy and it takes concentration to keep that output. If I go all out it's a lot more work for not much more speed, about 5.3 mph. I can maintain that for 6 miles or more but that's real work. Sprinting I can push it to 6.4mph.

A fast cruise in the Magic is somewhere between 4.5-5mph. That's the speed I can keep up without feeling like I'm working too hard and my mind can wander without me dropping the pace. A relaxed cruise would be a little over 4mph and I'd probably start throwing in a Canadian stroke at that point. The rest are all paddling hit and switch.

I've only checked the speed of my Kite a couple times and I'm a little fuzzy on remembering. The best I could do without switching sides was 4mph if I remember correctly and that didn't feel very comfortable. I'm a lot better at using a J or Canadian stroke now but I don't know if I could better that by much since the cadence is so much slower than sit and switch. 3.5 mph felt a lot more comfortable and easier to maintain. If I started switching sides and pushed hard on the Kite I could get it up to just over 5mph but the boat didn't seem too happy about.

Can't help much with tandem speed since on the rare occasions I get to paddle tandem it's not with someone interested in seeing how fast the boat is over distance. I don't know what's wrong with some people. ;)

Alan
 
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A fast cruise in the Magic is somewhere between 4.5-5mph. That's the speed I can keep up without feeling like I'm working too hard and my mind can wander without me dropping the pace. A relaxed cruise would be a little over 4mph and I'd probably start throwing in a Canadian stroke at that point. The rest are all paddling hit and switch.

My 'cruise' is purely single-sided Canadian or J/C Stroke. Same goes for cruise in the tandem. Hit and switch I can go faster in either. But I never do that for more than a few minutes at a time. I'm not much into the racing aspect of canoeing.

My guess is that's about 3-3.5mph in my solo, 3.5-4mph in the tandem. But those are purely estimates based on short timed distances.
 
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Apr 4, 2014
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Thank you for all your replies
In the last 40 years I have mainly owned and paddled kayaks that are considered efficient including an Epic 18 and two surf skis
I bought the Vagabond for fishing knowing it would be slow, but it came with the Wenonah adjustable seat referenced in one of the posts which I hated . I found this seat uncomfortable loose and installed the wenonah sliding bucket seat which was better.
I have owned a few wenonah tandem canoes over the years ( Jensen 17 and 18 and Escape and in all of them I swapped the cane flat seats for adjustable bucket seats. However the Swift Keewadin 17 i recently bought used has very comfortable curved seats that I like.
Given this I was looking for a lightweight ( low 30 lbs) solo canoe that is relatively narrow and efficient that I can paddle with my straight and bent shaft canoe paddles and possibly occasionally a kayak paddle. I already have Kaskazi kayaks specifically made for fishing so I don't really need a wide canoe for fishing. i would prefer a solo canoe that I can kneel and sit in to paddle , but if i can't find this I may just buy a canoe that you sit on the hull like some of the longer pack type canoes.
 
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joebh were in Florida do you live? I am in between Orlando and Daytona on I4. Could let you try a Bell Wildfire at Katies Landing. Constantly change from kneeling to sitting in it. About once an hour or so on long trips. The Wildfire is the fastest boat I have been in that also turns reasonably well. In central Florida (six hours in any direction from Disney) most of the paddling requires you to be able to turn easily.

Now as to finding a good composite solo used in Florida. Hens teeth are more common. Three years of almost daily searching of Craigs list found "ONE" under $600.00 and it needed all new gunwales. Was lucky caught the add minutes after it was posted, called, got directions. through the racks in the truck and ran out the door. There were about four others. Most over $1000.00 Looking for a Magic or another Wildfire or some other now. Don't really have the funds but when some thing comes along down here you have to grab it fast.

Was thinking of saving up for a new high end solo but just trying to buy/demo it is a large problem. Shipping cost/damage from the factory or northern dealer is another problem. Colden, Northstar canoes (Ted Bell), Hemlock canoes (Dave Curtis) and Swift canoes all have models that cover what you are looking for. You might want to try Canoe Country Outfitters in Tampa to see what they have. If you have any wood working skills at all it just might be better to build a stripper. Hey I was getting desperate when I finally found my solo. Looked at all the local options. So much great canoeing so little amount of solo canoe describes Florida.
 
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Apr 4, 2014
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Thanks cflcanoe
For the offer
I live in Port Orange east of Daytona
I may look you up
 
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Jan 22, 2012
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The Wenonah adjustable seat is a rattly little booger. Once I decided how I wanted my seat to be I removed the adjustable hardware and bolted her up nice and solid.
 
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Sep 13, 2013
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I had a Vagabond and replaced it with a Swift Keewaydin 15. The Keewaydin has the sliding, adjustable for trim, seat and I raised it up by shortening the hangers so I could fit my feet under it for kneeling. It is a bit tender - fine for paddling while sitting but most likely too tender for fishing after my modification.

As to speed - I've gone faster in the Keewaydin 15 than I've ever went in the Vagabond. I've also always felt more confident in the Keewaydin 15 when faced with challenging wind and water conditions than when in the Vagabond. I'm very pleased with the Keewaydin 15.
 
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It sounds like we have similar tastes in boats. I've also owned some fast kayaks and surf skis(WSBS Thunderbolt, Epic 18x and V8) as well as my share of Jensen designed solo and tandem canoes. I'm still curious why you're wanting a boat that you can kneel in as well as sit. Not trying to convince you that you shouldn't but it sounds like your normal boat and paddling preference would be for sitting.

I like the ability to go fast and something like the Magic provides that. It tracks well but has just enough rocker to provide some maneuverability. Judging from the other boats you've owned and what you say you're looking for (slender and efficient for lake paddling) I think you'd be disappointed in something like an Osprey. I like my Kite (Osprey) more and more all the time but I only use it when I want to take a lazy float down the river or around the lake shore. The Magic handles the river fine and also allows me to paddle upstream 6 miles and then float back down, negating the need for a shuttle. You can always slow down in a fast boat but you can't go fast in a slow boat. At slower speeds keeping them straight isn't bad but once you start putting the power to a more highly rockered hull it takes a lot more effort and skill to correct for the yaw with each stroke.

I've thought about setting my Magic up for kneeling as well as sitting but decided it would be too much of a compromise.

Alan
 
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