Kayak Style Paddling Seat Plans PDF

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It was clear that the Michael Storer designed Viola 14 sailing canoe deserved a nice seat for touring. Or rather, I wanted to use this lightweight canoe style sailing dinghy for raids and camp-sailing and needed something to sit on when the winds were not cooperating and having to paddle longer distances. The Viola 14 hull has some rocker to it (makes for quick tacking) and does not track very well under paddle power. As such a double bladed kayak paddle is easier to use that a single bladed canoe paddle since it avoids having to steer much or making correction strokes. In stronger winds it is certainly the better option for this boat.

So I set to work to create a kayak style seat:


  • that could easily be stored out of the way in the boat when sailing;
  • something very light weight (finished weight is around 1350 grams);
  • that would be relatively easy to construct; and
  • that, above all, would be very comfortable with a proper height to clear the gunnels on this relatively wide boat (the Viola 14 is 100cm – 40 inches wide).
- The top of the seat is appr. 200mm high. The seat top is appr. 370mm wide and 300mm long.
- Folded down it is appr. 275mm high, 370mm wide and 415mm long.

Much time was spent on figuring out the ergonomics to get the right amount of curvature in the back and front of the seat’s top as well as the backrest. The upper part of the seat’s base as well as the frame of the backrest were not to interfere with sitting (i.e. digging in your back). I wanted the backrest to be adjustable allowing one to find the best position for comfortable paddling or lounging.

The backrest was kept low enough as not to interfere with most buoyancy aids (Personal Floating Devices) when sitting in the seat and with the twisting of the upper body when paddling as to engage the large and strong core muscles. The backrest is however still high enough as to allow a proper support of the lower back. The seat doubles nicely as a camping chair on longer tours.

Since making the seat, it was extensively tested and it works very well. So well that I feel comfortable publishing these plans for it.


This seat was specifically developed for the Viola 14 sailing canoe, but should work for other canoes and kayaks. The height of the seat's base is easily adjusted to suit your boat (i.e width of the boat as well as gunnel height).

The seat uses some 4mm and 12mm okoume plywood and is put together with epoxy glue and screws. The plan describes in 23 pages how to create your own seat and includes many photos covering each stage of the building process. The plan further contains 8 drawings of the various parts that make up the seat which can be printed full size and used as templates.

Joost Engelen

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