Canoe seats are available with a tilt mechanism, allowing the paddler to sit or to kneel. The leading edge of the
seat tilts down (the rear edge is hinged to allow this), so the paddler can kneel on the hull, sharing weight
between knees and backside. This lowers the centre of gravity, thus offering improved stability in windy conditions
and waves. (And some paddlers prefer to kneel anyway.)
A characteristic feature of my canoe designs is the accentuated recurve: the bow sweeps backwards above the waterline
(and is mirrored by the stern). My reasoning is simple: what affects water performance is from waterline down; what
affects response to wind is largely above the waterline. For a given waterline length, the greater the recurve, the
lower is the area presented to the wind. It's good to know that this design performs well in wind, confirming the
theoretical considerations. As with probably all design features, this entails a compromise: the reduced flare at the
bow sheds waves less effectively than other shapes.
Scuppered gunwales provide a number of benefits: they allow easy drainage of water fom the canoe;
they help keep the weight low whilst sacrificing negligible strength; and they provide a place to tie packs, watch,
compass etc, or a tarp to cover packs. The sizes of the scuppers depend on the canoe length as well as on the
number and placing of seats. Rounding of the ends of the scuppers complements the smooth curves of the hull design.
Every Otter Creek Smallcraft boat includes a feature strip of the illustrated design, a series of chevrons
pointing towards the bow, a group three amidships, groups of two fore and aft of this, and single chevrons nearest
to bow and stern. The colour may vary because of natural variations in wood tone.
I use western red cedar for all stripping on account of its excellent strength:weight ratio. Where possible tones are
selected to create a visually appealing end result. During ripping of the strips adjacent strips are kept as matched
pairs to use left and right, so creating as symmetrical an appearance as natural products allow. The edges of strips are
routed with bead and cove finishes so they fit together closely, offering more area for glue, and largely eliminating
show-through of light. For especially light construction the strip thickness can be reduced from 1/4" to as low as 1/8".
Gunwales, thwarts, seat frames and seat hangers are all made of native cherry. It has excellent strength and its tones
complement those of the red cedar. Decks, which are primarily decorative, are of cedar strip construction.
The inside and outside of the hull are sheathed in 4 oz. fibreglass cloth, using epoxy resin with a clear hardener. The
resulting laminate structure has high rigidity (I have yet to have a hull go soft, even with heavy use), and the clarity
of the finish allows the wood to show through as if nothing but varnish were coating it. The stems have extra fibreglass
reinforcement, especially in the zone that is most likely to strike rocks. All boats are finished with a marine spar varnish
to provide UV protection, primarily for the epoxy, and also to give the lustre that all wooden boats deserve.
Canoe seats are hand-caned using 3mm polypropylene "cane". Although this lacks some of the aesthetic appeal of natural cane,
it is more resilient to UV light and to moisture, and so lasts longer before re-caning is required. A cane seat moulds itself
to the pelvic bones, reducing the incidence of "pressure point" pain for any shape of backside, and also allows air circulation,
reducing the sweatiness associated with solid seats.