Canoeing is a way to sit still and pay attention.

HomeCanoeingConsultingPhotographyDharma Talks



Canoe Trips

Boundary Waters:

Boundary Waters Campsites

Bois Brule River

Flambeau River

Kickapoo and Mecan Rivers

Sylvania Wilderness

Wisconsin's Flowages

Wolf and Peshtigo Rivers


Boats & Gear

Boundary Waters Gear List

Bell Wildfire (Royalex)

Blackhawk Ariel

Mad River Independence (sold)

Wenonah Prism (sold)
-cane seat installation
-thwart replacement

Custom portage pads

Seat-mounted portage yoke

Outside canoe shelter

Inside canoe storage



Wenonah Prism

May 25-26, 2008

This weekend I removed the stock sliding seat from my Wenonah Prism and installed a cane seat. My purpose was to make the canoe more maneuverable and more comfortable kneeling, which calls for a higher and angled seat. Since I row this boat, I also wanted to be able to have the seat lower and flat. My wife gave me a set of seat hangers from Wenonah and I picked up a nice Bell cane seat - with a wider, sloped front rail - at Canoecopia in March.

Here's a phototour of what came out of the boat and how it ended up. Let me know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

This is how I have typically used my Prism. (Willow Flowage, Wisconsin, 2002)

Rowing Prism


This is the stock sliding seat after being removed using a Dremel Moto-tool. An orbital sander cleaned up the ragged surface that was left in the bottom of the hull.


A few years ago I made a 1-3/4" riser to make it easier to kneel in the boat.



I also lifted the back of the seat 3/4" to reduce the pressure on the back of my thighs when kneeling. It was better than sitting, but my legs were locked in one position so I couldn't lean the boat to improve its maneuverability.



Here's the right-side hanger with the seat in the lowest position. This is for sitting and should put my knees low enough for the oars to clear my knees when rowing (using the foot brace).

When I first installed the seat the underside of the leading edge, at the highest position, was only about 7" above the floor. That gave me too little foot clearance and too-closed knee and hip angles. The answer was to install small blocks, which raised it to 8-1/2". Without even seeing it, someone has already suggested turning over the angled brackets that the seat bolts to. That would enable me to eliminate one of the two levels of wood blocks. One of these days ....

Note the black cord with the barrel lock. In later pictures you'll see how the lock is snugged up against the metal support rail. That keeps the assembly from rattling, which it does if the cord is left loose.



Looking from the bow. The front edge of the seat is 3" aft of the geometric center of the boat and 4" aft of the balance point. The balance point is forward of the center because the stern thwart is closer to the center than the bow thwart, plus it has a foot brace. Any trim adjustments should be easy to make by repositioning items in the canoe.



Here's the seat in the top position, which should be good for seated paddling.



And now the top position with the seat canted forward. The fore-to-aft rise is about 1-1/2" - about double the usual setup and likely to require some kind of knee blocks to keep from sliding forward. But it's very comfortable.



Same position. The back rail is in about the same position as in my Bell Wildfire, suggesting that the proportions are appropriate.



Same position on the left side.



Because of the Prism's extreme tumblehome, the hanger's lower offset, which would probably touch the hull in most boats, had no support. That made the seat wobble badly from side to side, which would be a problem when paddling Canadian style, or even just leaning the boat. So I fitted a couple of foam blocks to provide support. I put holes in the bottom of the hanger to hold wooden braces but the foam made that unnecessary. There's enough compression to hold the foam in place with friction without putting too much inward pressure on the hangers. Here's the left side.



And just to be complete, here's the right side foam block.



And finally, where I look forward to spending some time soon.



The Final Word

I bought this boat in 2001 and sold it in October 2012 after not having used it for three years. Poor thing ... it was pushed aside by a Mad River Independence, which I prefer as a tripping boat because of its better handling. I wish the new owner many years of happy paddling and rowing.



Comments and suggestions welcome. Feel free to e-mail me.
Last updated October 13, 2012
Brought to you by Codabone Productions ©2009