Outfitting Johncanoe



  • Seats

  • Be kind to your body

    The first few times we used Johncanoe we just sat on the bottom using the spare PFDs as cushions. After a while, it became obvious that this was not good enough for long trips. When an 11-mile trip resulted in 3 weeks of back and leg pain, it was time for seats.

    The seat type was dictated by the boat and how we use it. Because of various past injuries, and center-of-gravity issues, canoe-style kneeling while leaning against a portage bar is out. The seats need to be easily adjusted and moved because the seat positions have to accomodate a large center-of-gravity excursion. For transport, cleaning and repairs, the seats need to be easily removeable. They also have to be waterproof and comfortable.

    We finally settled on the
    Creature Comfort Seat. It met all the requirements and was even locally available. At $90 or so per seat, some might consider it pricey, but compare it to 3 weeks of back pain and/or doctor visits and it's a real bargain. With the new seats, I've been able to go on 14-mile, 7 hour paddles with no resulting pain. The mounting method shown here is different from what the seat manufacturers recommend since the seat was actually designed for use with kayaks and single person cockpits. I adapted it to a multi-person pirogue.

    Seat installation

    Back seat installed in boat
    The Creature Comfort Seat consists of a closed-cell foam seat and a backrest. The bottom of the seat has 2 velcro strips which stabilize it. Your bottom is what actually holds it in place. The backrest is stiff with a yielding surface, and loosely attached to the seat. A line from one side of the boat to the other holds the seat back upright and provides the actual back support for the paddler. The whole thing is covered in some kind of a loosely woven black plastic shell.

    Those who balk at the price should be able to easily rig something similar.

    This shot shows the multiple velcro strips and bronze padeyes that allow flexible seat placement. The seats can be moved back and forth along the velcro. Different padeyes can be used as anchor points as appropriate. Since the boat is symmetric, bow and stern can even be switched if necessary. This allows almost any weight and balance combination to be accomodated.
    Empty boat showing velcro seat stabilizers and padeye anchors

    Back seat installed in boat
    This is a closeup of the seat attachment. Bronze padeyes are attached to the boat with bronze screws that penetrate into the rubrail for security. A bronze snap makes the actual connection between the seat and boat. The combination of snaps and velcro allows the seat to be installed or removed in a matter of seconds.

    The black nylon strap passes through a cam cleat (like an airline seatbelt buckle). This allows quick adjustment of the seat back angle. The fixed end of the strap is threaded through a buckle to keep it from passing through the cam cleat. This arrangement avoids any stitching and is neater than a knot.

    Seat back support details. The line that came with the seat is tied into a loop using your favorite knot (I used an angler's). It is passed through the seat back to the front where the snap belts are attached.
    Empty boat showing velcro seat stabilizers and padeye anchors

    The bronze hardware, black nylon straps, buckles and cam cleats are not included with the seats. They come with a stainless steel screw, a jam cleat and some other miscellaneous stuff, instead. If you want multiple seat positions, you also have to provide some additional self-adhesive velcro hook strips (available at many different types of stores).


    Copyright © 2004 László I. Mórocz. All Rights Reserved.