rowing seat inserts for canoes : LUSENET : Open-water rowing : One Thread

Does anyone have any information on a drop-in unit that makes a canoe "rowable"? Any help would be appreciated.

-- Dwight Romagnoli (, March 13, 2000


Three manufacturers of drop-in sliding-seat units in North America are

Alden Rowing Shells, Inc. P. O. Box 368 Elioit, ME 03903 800-477-1507, e-mail:, visit at They sell the Oarmaster sliding-seat unit.

Piantedosi Oars Inc. P. O. Box 643 West Acton, MA 01720 978-263-1814 I don't know their website or e-mail. Them make the RoWing sliding-seat unit.

George Odell 4 Neptune Street Newburyport, MA 01950-3121 E-mail at George makes the Onboard sliding-RIGGER drop-in unit.

It may be possible to use standard seats and tracks for shells, which could be lighter than the drop-in units, which weigh just under 20 pounds each, but you'd need to build supports for the tracks, riggers and stretcher.

There is a photo and discussion of a canoe rigged with two drop-in units in Issue #20 of Open-Water Rowing. The boat, with the two units, weighs only 85 pounds.

-- David Stookey (, March 13, 2000.

I have converted a Wenonah 18'6" kevlar Minnesota II with two Row Wings, and found them to be a good match. The Minnesota II is a large kevlar canoe with a rigid foam sandwich floor designed for the Boundry Waters region of northern Minnesota where large inland lakes and long portages are the norm. Thus the canoe is designed to be both fast, seaworthy, and light. It is not designed for surf landings and rocky rapids. Details of the process and a picture of the result of my conversion can be found in the Open Water Rowing issue #20.

I was originally concerned about the possibility of the Row Wing feet damaging the floor of the canoe, and contemplated a support system to spread the load, but I decided to install it with its standard rubber pads on the bottom of the stands and see how it went before committing to a supporting base. After one season of rowing I've had no damage to the floor of the canoe with the standard feet installed. My and the Row Wing's weight seems to be well enough distrubuted by the standard feet and the rubber pads.

I returned the gunwale clamps that came with the conversion kits after using them for a few days and instead made my own gunwale mounting system with some aluminum angle. The clamps were very large and heavy, and though they let me experiment with rowing position, were a real pain if left on the canoe when I tried to car top it, or paddle it. Also, my brother and I happened to collide with a channel marker at full tilt one day, striking the end of the fore Row Wing arm. The Row Wing was unmarked and unbent, a tribute to its durability, but the clamp punched a nice rectangular hole into the side of the canoe. It was cosmetic damage, and easily patched, but I'd prefer it didn't happen. The primary moral of this is don't run into things, but when I made my own mounting system, I attached it directly through the aluminum gunwales, instead of just grabbing the thin kevlar directly below as the gunwale clamps did.

If you are used to rowing a longer shell, you will notice reaching hull speed, beyond which pulling harder just makes more wake, sooner and more suddenly than in the shell. But with two rowing, the "feel" of the double rowing canoe is similar to a good rec shell, which makes sense, given the total weight of canoe with row units is about 85 lbs, or 43 lbs per rower. You will also notice that you can stop, look at the fish in the water, stand up and stretch, read a book, and jump ashore without much wading while still going faster than any normal canoe. It's a great family and touring boat.

Because the boat weights so much less than the combined weight of the rowers, the hull moves more than the rowers through the stroke, and I've had passengers comment on the regular jerking of the ride. Some don't like it, some don't mind. Of course, if the boat is brought up to its full capacity of 800lbs or so for an overnight tour, this won't be an issue.

So far, I've rowed many times in the 24 mile Keweenaw Waterway and on Lake Superior here in Michigan's upper penninsula, and been very pleased with its handling and seaworthiness. I haven't had a chance do any overnight touring with it yet, but hope to give that a try this summer.

-- jeff parker (, March 13, 2000.

You may need to take out a thwart to put in a drop in unit. This can be replaced with a fitted plywood frame that is open in the middle and angles down at from the sheer. Some lighting holes can be put in same. I found I needed to glass a couple of cleats to the canoe bottom ( an old Jensen Comp Cruiser) to keep the seat locked in place, mostly when getting in and out. The Jensen plus drop in is lighter than many rec shells; it also has more windage.

-- Ben Fuller (, March 13, 2000.

Dear Dwight,

Most of my professional life has been devoted to the design of human- powered craft, specifically canoes and rowing craft. While there are many similarities between the two there are subtle and important differences. It is possible, to convert a canoe that you already own into a satisfying rowing craft. This is an excellent and economical way to sample some of rowings delights, but if you decide to get serious about rowing, especially openwater rowing, you'll want to get an honest to goodness dedicated rowing craft. Put simply, a canoe is typically optimized for paddling comfort and efficiency while a true openwater rowing craft is designed to play to the strengths of oarpower in that environment. In a well designed craft how it is to be used and propelled should directly affect how volume is distributed throughout the hull. This is not the place to address the minutiae of hull design, but there are good reasons why canoes usually look different from rowing craft.

Of all the rigs mentioned in the above responses Piantedosi Oars Inc. probably offers the most, best, simplest and neatest installation options. I don't think anyone mentioned Aquamotion's Frontrower- forward-facing rowing system. It's unorthodox and it's not for everyone but it may be the perfect solution for someone who's used to facing where he's going, someone like a paddler. I know that Frontrower designer Ron Rantilla has a good deal of experience installing his device in canoes. Aquamotion Systems can be reached at 30 Cutler St.,Warren, RI 02885, phone 401-247-1482.


Andre de Bardelaben

-- Andre de Bardelaben (, March 14, 2000.

Dear Dwight,

While looking through my files I came across yet another option for making your canoe "rowable". Essex Industries sells a device that they called their Adjustable Rowing Rig. It's fixed seat only and looks very basic, but should work and, heres the best part, it should cost less than $100.00 sans oars. Buying from them could also help to favorably balance your Karma as they are a sheltered workshop which employs developmentally handicapped persons. I have no experience with this particular item, but I've bought other products from them and they're always good values. You can reach them at: Essex Industries, Box 374, Pelfisher Rd., Mineville, NY 12956, Ph. 518-942-6671



-- Andre de Bardelaben (, March 15, 2000.

I row a Wenonah Fisherman in kevlar. I had a wonderful set of wooden 8 foot oars, so built my own drop-in. Wish it was lighter, but it works wonderfully. If anyone has ideas about skegs, to keep the boat on the straight when rowing, especially in wind, I'd appreciate it. I cut one out of sheet metal and inelegantly "ducktape" it to the bottom. It was a great improvement, but is buttugly out of the water. Thanks in advance for any ideas.

-- Al Karel (, November 06, 2000.

The "Front Rower" fits in canoes and you can see where you are going. I use one in my Alden and Appledore and have tried one in a canoe. If you are interested in this device, not cheap, but beautifully engineered and built, I will look up thir number for you. They also have a video that shows how the device works. Ed

-- Ed Rogers (, December 10, 2000.

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