Friday, November 18, 2011

A back is a terrible thing to waste . . .

I've been going through any number of attempts at creating a comfortable backrest for my Point Bennett. It started off as a solid foam pillar. This worked for a while until I found that it was creating pressure points on my back and the coaming was digging into my back whenever I tried a layback roll.  As a result I found the boat a pain (literally) to roll and my roll actually suffered because of it. I did very little rolling in this boat this summer and I never even attempted a butterfly as I knew I could not get back on the deck enough to be successful.

After suffering through the "pillar" phase, I just yanked the thing altogether and went "backless" - oh la la!!  This forced me to have a bit better posture in the boat but I soon found myself leaning all the way back to the coaming lip. It also exacerbated the problem with layback rolls as there was nothing between my back and the hard wooden lip!!  Ouch!!

This all lead me to concoct some pretty drastic remedies to lower my rear coaming to help facilitate laybacks. The most "involved" was cutting off the rear deck, dropping the sheer line and replacing the deck!! Ughhh! But I was ready to do this if it meant easier rolls!!

Thankfully I decided to try a new approach for my backrest - a full foam affair that slanted back nicely to accommodate laybacks. I whipped up a prototype (sorry no pictures) and tried it at the Tuesday night pool session. Voila!! An hour of rolling and no pain plus I was getting my back right onto the back deck!! I managed to even get my butterfly back - on both sides.  The stage was set for the "real deal".

Flash forward to Thursday night.

I whipped up a laminated wooden back band using some scrap 4mm ply left over from the hull.

Test fitting the laminated back band.
When it comes to foam, I always rely on the garden variety floor tile foam found at your local hardware store. 12.00 gets you an amount equivalent to a 2' x 2' x 2" piece of minicell foam!! Not a bad deal. You just need to laminate it if you need thicker stock. I use Marine Goop for this.

Foam tile with back band cut out.

I went with an angled foam pillar for a single support for the back band. I cut 6 pieces and glued them together. The lip of the seat plus friction holds the pillar in place.

Dry fitting the pillar pieces.


I used Marine Goop to glue the back band to the pillar. This stuff is very tenacious and with a large, flat gluing surface, this will not let go!! I added Gorilla Tape as an extra to keep the whole thing together. For those wondering, you will not see this tape as it's inside the hull and behind the seat.

From the back.

From the right side.

In place.

Initially, I had the back band snug to the rear coaming but this would severely hamper the self-bailing capabilities of the boat. One lift of the bow completely empties the hull and I did not want to mess with this at all. The whole assembly can be removed in seconds, if need be.

Showing the gap.

Of course it's too wet and cold to be doing this all outside, so the work was performed in the comfort of the living room - complete with woodstove that often made the heat unbearable. Great for drying the glue and paint, though.
Typical Friday night at my house!!

I have yet to test the new setup in the water but it's mighty comfortable sitting in it here in the living room. I also re-did my thigh and hip braces so I'm all ready to go. Sunday looks like a windy day on the water and may be just the time and place to give 'er a test!!


  1. Jesus yer a handy guy to have around! Nice job.

  2. yes he is... his alias is Kayak MacGyver... if you leave him on the shore of Little Bell Island in the morning with nothing but a pocket knife, 3 feet of string, two shotgun shells, and a pack of gum he will make a kayak, two greenland paddles, find and take down a moose, kill three ducks, and catch a dozen trout, and be home with his new gear and meat by supper the same day...

    He certainly is a handy fellow to have around...

  3. That sounds like a challenge Dean!

  4. "Handy" is one word to use. "Cheap" is another!! Although I do admit I like the odd challenge!!