Pimp My Ride

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:15 am

Okay, I want to strip out the inside of my sea boat and refit it completely, with comfort and control the priorities. At the moment, I rattle around unnecessarily and the installed fittings are utterly minimalist (budget boat). My short term solution was to glue camping mat over everything, but now I want to do it all properly.

So...any advice please, on the building and installing any of the following...

> Sawing out the fibreglass seat and putting in a foam seat...what are these like?

> Fixing a big playboat backrest....attached to what???

> Knee braces/ padding under the deck.

> Replacing or integrating the rubbish plastic sliding pedal footrests with an ethafoam full plate.

> Other ideas?
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capsized8
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fitting out !

Post by capsized8 » Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:44 am

If you have some sort of idea as regards shape etc, give me a shout. I should be able to sort out your problem. Regarding closed cell foam that is !
Last edited by capsized8 on Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
peace and good padlin.

Chris Bolton
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Thoughts

Post by Chris Bolton » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:33 am

When you cut out the seat, think about leaving the verticals at the sides, to fix the backrest to.

In terms of how much you rattle around, there are two approaches. River paddlers taking up sea kayaking usualy pad the boat to a close fit (as a river boat!). Marathon paddlers put enough in to grip when necessary, but leave enough space to move their legs when paddling, and to allow them to "sit" the boat upright, but let it rock with the waves. Decide which philosophy you want to use.

Chris

CaileanMac
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Post by CaileanMac » Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:34 am

Mark,

Try out paddling a boat fitted with a foam seat before you rip your glass seat (?). Some bums fit foam seats better than glass and vice versa. it's down to the profile of your 'cheeks' - you might find that foam seat leads to pins / needles in your thighs due to the lack 'up turn' in the seat at the front (bit closest to footrests).

Foam seat will lower your centre of gravity (useful if you are top heavy and padding often in rough & confused waters) and reduce possibly the length of forward stroke as would lowering any seat. Thoughts from others on that?

Foam knee thingys - http://www.knoydart.co.uk/display_acces ... s=5&id=267

Knee tube for storage of items on your trips? Old school piece of kit but very, very useful in my opinion.

Backrests - have a look at the valley backband, snap dragon (USA) and rockpool one. Have been using the rockpool one for 4 months now and I think it's the simplest and most effective out there (wouldn't be a mage faff to retro fit either). Snap Dragon one looks good and uses same rachet system as you see on WW boats these days. As to attaching backband, Chris B says it all.

Thigh grips / padding - essential for getting the most of boat in rough-ish water, edging and rolling/bracing.

Discussion here about seat pans and backbands on NDK yaks:

http://www.nigeldenniskayaks.com/forums ... 0&start=15

Foam footrest idea - try this little exercise first - sit on the floor in a kayak related position (knees under deck/braces/etc) and body in upright paddling position and then point your toes straight up to sky so they are at 90 degrees and then relax them and let them slope to a 50 degree-ish angle and feel the difference and then imagine that over a multi day trip. Sloping footrest vs 90 (vertical) one?! Get a sea boat with keepers or vertical full plate footrest and a Rockpool boat with one of their full sloping plate footrests fitted and feel exactly what I describing in that exercise.

As I said on another post a while ago keepers/yakima footrests are very poor value for money in a sea kayak costing anything from £900 - 2K as they aren't comfy.... simple thing but very important to us sea kayakers spending long hours in our kayaks and they don't encourage a dynamic, useful body position for efficient and effective paddling. All your foot is braced on something the size of your palm of your hand verus your whole foot supported by a full plate, but remember you then can't wiggle your feet around as well. Trade off's......

Buy the best closed cell foam you can as you more than likely know, so it can tolerate the salt water abuse and Pete Kaya is more than likely the man to source some 'good stuff' for you unless you already have a 'dealer' for outfitting your WW kayaks ;-)

CaileanMac

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tpage
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Post by tpage » Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:58 am

Hi CaileanMac, How do those knee bump thingies work. Where do you stikh them? Are the for under the deck inside the knees or outside the knees?
Tony

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Geoff Seddon
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Post by Geoff Seddon » Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:25 pm

The knee bumps are for under the deck between your knees. I've paddled two HM's, which have them, one of which had an original glass seat and bar footrest, the other had a foam seat and keeper footrests. the difference between the two boats was significant and in the keeper footrested one the knee bumps realy worked, in fact I even took photos in that boat .

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mharrall
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Post by mharrall » Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:54 pm

Foam seat will lower your centre of gravity (useful if you are top heavy and padding often in rough & confused waters) and reduce possibly the length of forward stroke as would lowering any seat. Thoughts from others on that?
Yes you are right, lower seats also reduce forward power. It's a trade-off, stability against optimal paddling position for cruising speed.
Martin

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Geoff Seddon
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Post by Geoff Seddon » Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:05 pm

I don't want to seem unecessarily picky, but a foam seat can be packed up to any height.

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Zoe Newsam
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Post by Zoe Newsam » Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:41 pm

OK, so how do you fit a sloping foam footrest to a boat with keeper footrests?

Until recently I'd only ever paddled sea kayaks, and didn't realise how comfortable it was possible to be in a boat fitted out properly. Having tried one or two WW boats, they are SO much better fitted out and more comfortable- even in boats that I haven't specifically fitted out for myself.

My Valley Argonaut came with keeper footrests and no padding anywhere- and nowhere to brace thighs / knees. I thought this was normal until on my 5* training Nigel Dennis suggested it was the reason my roll didn't always work- my knee slipped out from under the deck!

Is it possible to buy & fit thigh braces to sea boats? I see Knoydart advertise 'Thigh Grips' on their site, but there is no picture / price for them.

Why are Sea Kayak manufacturers so far behind in this respect?

I've fitted some padding under the deck, but failed to manage anything that feels 'positive' in the way a WW boat does. I asked Valley for help in this, and their response was basically 'buy a different boat'. Not an option, and not terribly helpful!

Zoe

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Post by Owen » Wed Nov 23, 2005 3:11 pm

Hi Zoe,
How far is it from your front bulkhead to your footrests?

If its just a few inches you can fill this space with ethafoam make it wedge shaped, so that the thick end of the wedge fits under your heel.

If its too big a space to fill this way then you may have to make a full plate footrest or maybe buy and adapt a rockpool one; depends on how ok you are with DIY.

The stick on knee pads make things a bit more comfortable but do not give much grip; karrimat and evostick is just as good.

Why are Sea Kayak manufacturers so far behind in this respect? Keeping the cost down/penny pinching; depends which side your coming from. It does seem shortsighted to spoil a £1-2000 boat for want of a bit of thought.

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Post by Dave Thomas » Wed Nov 23, 2005 3:30 pm

Owen wrote:If its too big a space to fill this way then you may have to make a full plate footrest or maybe buy and adapt a rockpool one; depends on how ok you are with DIY.
Or use multiple layers of foam. I have two full width layers of 3ins etherfoam plus a third layer* at the sides where one's feet press - the space between these 'footpads' giving room to stretch one's legs on the centreline of the boat. Not a cheap option, given the price of etherfoam, but works fine.

I haven't angled the pads, as has been suggested here - haven't really felt an overpowering need - but might get round to trying this one day.

Incidentally, Zoe, my boat hasn't got particularly 'agressive' thigh grips, but the shape of the deck plus the thin foam glued underneath gives me a reasonably positive location. Certainly can't blame deficiencies there for my roll!

Dave Thomas


* I think Kajaksport boats are built for Norse giants!

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Post by Richard Seaby » Wed Nov 23, 2005 4:33 pm

I am not sure tight is good - I find I like quite a loose fit that I can tighten by changing the way I am sitting rather than padding. Just pushing on the foot rest will lock me in quite tight - If I am going out to play in rougher than normal ( I LIKE millponds.....), I move the foot rest up a bit. In a chop I dont want to be too tight to let the boat move under me.

I am about the right size for my boat to begin with which helps. I have pegs and a foot pump so a full bulk head would not work anyway. Getting some good foam under you deck does improve things no end. The ability to move my leg positions is one of the pleasures of paddling a sea boat. In my WW boat it always hurts after an hour or so no matter what. I have found that i need to move the pegs from summer to winter - shorts etc to full winter gear means moving the pegs one click away.

As for seats - although foam is more comfortable to begin with I always find it become embedded with sand and grid and becomes, literally, a pain in the arse. I have removed the padding from my seat again now and use better shorts etc.

I have never really got round the sore heel issue - especially in summer - sand and wet bare flesh is not a good combination

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Zoe Newsam
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Post by Zoe Newsam » Wed Nov 23, 2005 4:34 pm

One other thing- my boat's got a footpump. Incidentally, if I bought it now I wouldn't bother.

Cailean- can you explain how the foam thigh braces / knee bump thingies work? Are they worth trying?

Zoe

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Post by RichardCree » Wed Nov 23, 2005 4:43 pm

Custom boat fitting. cover lower half of body with vasoline climb in to boat and get yourself comfy, empty the contents of 2 tins expanding foam in to cockpit- wait 4 hrs till it sets- voila custom fit!

p.s. please dont try this at home ;-)

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Post by CaileanMac » Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:06 pm

Zoe & Tony,

Knee bump things work really well on ocean style cockpit kayaks not really that applicable to modern keyhole/big cockpits in sea kayaks.

Here's how they work - your knees in a ocean cockpit are braced about 2-5 inches from the front of the cockpit rim under the deck. Nothing there apart from shiney material for your knee's coated in some nylon based fabric to slide around. So the knee bump things were invented. Simply glue them in with some Evostick and then use them to brace your knee off them and because they are made from foam, they provide a better point of contact for your nylon clad knees.

Richard Seaby made a very valid point about foam seats, they do become infested with grit and sand....ouch! As the foam degrades with age and abuse it starts to absorb water which then in turn gives you a wet bum unless your wearing suitable clothing to prevent that on every trip. Swings and roundabouts... as being tight fitting in a sea kayak will suit some people and be a torture device for others.

We aren't all the same shape and don't go paddling in exactly the same way, which makes the sport interesting and inclusive for all. Zoe you may need extra foam padding in your cockpit and their is no shame in doing that, as that maybe just the thing to get your roll to being 100% reliable?

Fully agree with the points about sea kayak cockpit outfitting falling short of the mark. Some manufacturers are making an effort to improve their level of outfitting but simply transferring WW fittings to sea kayaks doesn't work and sea kayakers need something designed for them. We should be expecting a better level of outfitting as standard when you are paying almost £2K for a composite sea kayak these days, especially give the price of foam....pennies... Maybe dealers and retailers should be offering all people buying a new sea kayak an hour of their time to outfit the new kayak with some foam provided by them or manufacturer?

Richard - I thought the vaseline was only for 'activities' in your garden shed ;-)

CaileanMac

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Post by RichardCree » Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:09 pm

Mr Macleod, do tell what "activities" you have been up to in my garden shed?

CaileanMac
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Post by CaileanMac » Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:20 pm

The best kayaker's garden shed in Ayrshire for kayaking related 'activities' ;-)

CaileanMac

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:00 pm

Behave!

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:02 pm

Richard Seaby wrote: As for seats - although foam is more comfortable to begin with I always find it become embedded with sand and grid and becomes, literally, a pain in the arse. I have removed the padding from my seat again now and use better shorts etc.

I have never really got round the sore heel issue - especially in summer - sand and wet bare flesh is not a good combination
I had a foam seat - nice and comfy, and warm! No issues with grit etc. For sore heels I've seen people using karrimat, and somewhere someone suggested using old mouse mats - - -

Mike.

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Post by RichardCree » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:04 pm

He means chart planning practice

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Zoe Newsam
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Post by Zoe Newsam » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:10 pm

I've seen said shed too- lovely! (full of boats...)

So how do I get 'positive' thigh braces? There's nothing to stick foam to- if you look at the thigh braces on river boats, a lot of them seem to be bolted on afterwards and protrude inwards from the cockpit rim. I think that's the effect I need in my boat, but how do I achieve it?

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:45 pm

The problem with me giving advice is that I have an ocean cockpit, but for my tuppence worth, you don't need THIGH braces in a sea kayak. I may be wrong on that if you use a keyhole cockpit. I don't have the knee grips Cailean describes but have used them in another boat long ago - they (and knee tubes) give you something for the insides of your knees to grip on rather than the outside of your thighs. I am mainly a river boater so do have my knees spread most of the time even in an ocean cockpit (not easy!) but I would say it's still knee pressure under the deck rather than thigh pressure that gives me control - and I've found karrimat glued up there to be quite adequate.

Due to my stature I am tight in all my boats, but much more so in my river boats. My sea footrest consists of a 3" block of ethafoam, cut to shape with a shallow slot in the back to allow me to part fit a large BDH bottle into it. The BDH bottle provides extra storage in front of my footrest and holds it the right distance off the fixed bulkhead. It wasn't cut sloped but if I press hard the top will rotate a bit, I tend to only have the balls of my feet against it paddling which leaves space to stretch a leg out letting the foot go flat against it. I have considerably more space for wiggling my feet than in my river boats and plenty of space to spare around my legs - I sometimes inadvisably have a dry bag rattling around between my legs with stuff I want reasonably handy but not on deck. In contrast my thighs and knees are fairly tight in the ocean cockpit :) In fact squeezing the aforementioned dry bag in can be a challenge if it's got much in it, it doesn't do the drybag any favours either!

BDH bottles are pretty crappy, if you want to make a good job of a footrest I would suggest if you have plenty of space in front of your current footrest that you build a sort of box frame structure out of wood with the footrest face sloped at whatever angle Cailean recommended above and faced with 3" foam. By making it "hollow" like this you can still use the storage space - dont forget to attach some kind of lanyard so you can pull the footrest out easily to get to that stuff!

If your boat has keepers now, unbolt them (or drill the rivets out) and patch the holes. You might get a few pence for them on ebay but don't be thinking about putting them in another boat unless you have a spare to use as a "lender" - LOL!

Backrests are important, mine is OK but a pain - it looks like the one my Corsica S had which was brilliant in that boat but the sea kayak seat is relatively higher to the cockpit so the straps to hold it up and back are not very effective and it usually rolls up as I slide in and I have to faff with it before getting my deck on (launching into surf = bad news!). Look for a backstrap that is quite stiff to avoid this. If you go for a fixed (but adjustable) style you can just use the flanges from the glass seat as Chris suggests, if you go for a ratchet system that looks like a great place to mount the ratchets, BUT I think they will dig into your hips! With my ocean cockpit I have no scope for fitting ratchets and being able to operate them, in a keyhole I would look for some sort of bits of plastic or grp that can be bolted to the deck or rivetted to the seat flanges (or laminated to either) allowing you to mount ratchets forward and outboard of the seat flanges - in fact I'd probably make a simple mould from plywood make a couple of bits of shaped grp and them trim them to fit where I need them! The other option for ratchets is to fit a single one on the strap part behind the backrest (my glide has a "canoe strap" buckle here and I can tighten it a bit after getting in) - you have to feel around blind to tighten/release it an if you stack a lot behind the seat like me - well you can work it out :D

JIM

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:59 pm

I suppose I should have said...I have a lot of experience in making boats as snug as possible for playboating and creeking, and am fully aware of the implications of outfitting for comfort and control...and I know exactly what I want from my sea boat.

- I want very snug hip pads, so the boat moves precisely with me. This however makes quick entrance and exit tricky (landing and launching in surf), so I might not sculpt the pads to 'cup' over quite so much at the top as my WW boats.

- A backrest that can be tightened infront of the paddler's legs would be good, but probably isn't practical with what I have to work with.

- I want to be able to be super-tight with my legs but also relax them when paddling forward. This isn't an issue really, full plate footrests allow this. I used to like paddling with knees up, but it isn't very comfortable with a keyhole cockpit.

My problem really is with the technical side of making it all work. I'm used to working with boats designed around paddlers from the cockpit outwards (e.g. WW boats), sea kayaks mostly aren't close to that yet.
Mark Rainsley
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Zoe Newsam
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Post by Zoe Newsam » Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:28 pm

Sounds like I need to pick your brains, Mark.

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:29 pm

I'm guessing you have found that there is loads of space between the hull (where you might glue stuff in a river boat) to where your legs are.

Ideally you want one of those minds that can think in 3D and visualise the shape of doohickey you need to make and/or install as a base for gluing padding to. Alternatively you might be able to get an old set of thigh grips out of a dead river boat and cut them about to make them fit in the sea kayak. They won't be perfect and you will need to drill holes to fix them.

Ability to laminate (it's easy when you know, intimidating if you don't) would make a difference to your approach. The sort of tools you will be using will be drills, jigsaw or hacksaw (fine teeth for gutting grp, helps to tape over the area and then mark on tape and cut through it to stop chipping), sandpaper, stanley knife, and if laminating a paintbrush!

Materials could be polyethylene bits salvaged form other boats, or glass fibre and a resin - polyester and epoxy are the most popular, stainless steel screws or bolts, or aluminium rivets (if attaching to seat flanges I would suggest attaching to the outboard side by drilling through both with a drill 0.5mm bigger than your rivet, then riveting from the inside so the relatively flat head of the rivet is the bit you have to pad over, not the clenched bulbous bit. Countersunk screws could also be used.

How you put it altogether depends on you the designer!

I'm not sure if a foam seat would work well with hip pads, may be better building off the GRP seat flanges. If the seat angle/position seems wrong you could cut it leaving plenty of flange on both sides and use another piece of material (wood, GRP , aluminium, steel) to act as an intermediate hanger between the flange and the seat (rivetted to the outboard side, or countersunk screwed).

It's a real DIYers sport this!

JIM

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Post by Richard Seaby » Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:30 pm

If you know what you want in terms of a backrest - then it is easy to glass in D rings and the such. This should allow you to have you back rest adjustment infront of your legs. You can glass in a D ring or use open boat fittings such as http://www.northwater.com/html/d-rings_ ... ories.html
or
http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_list ... rentPage=4
which simply glue in.

Other fittings can be found here

http://www.paddling.net/buyersguide/acc ... tml?cat=15

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:34 pm

Richard Seaby wrote:If you know what you want in terms of a backrest - then it is easy to glass in D rings and the such.
I do know that fibreglassed fittings would rip right out, the very first time I threw into a Donkey Fl...no, hang on...

Seriously, for the degree of tightness I ratchet into boats, it wouldn't work. Would need to be drilled through something.
That...is an excellent link.
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Jim
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Post by Jim » Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:40 pm

I missed the point didn't I?

JIM

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Post by Fast Pat » Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:11 pm

RichardCree wrote:Mr Macleod, do tell what "activities" you have been up to in my garden shed?
I suggest you should be more concerned with whats going on in his "shed"

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/3-pairs-of-Purple ... dZViewItem

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Post by John W » Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:19 pm

Mark

You wrote:

"I do know that fibreglassed fittings would rip right out, the very first time I threw into a Donkey Fl...no, hang on...

Seriously, for the degree of tightness I ratchet into boats, it wouldn't work. Would need to be drilled through something."

--

There is no reason why you cannot use glassed fittings for backrest etc. (no drilling reqd!) If you prep it correctly first and do a good job it will hold. Look at any competition slalom/wwr canadian boat and you will find all their fitting glassed in, those fittings take an enormous amount of stress - that is all that holds the paddler in place. I have yet to have one 'pop' in... well, a rather long time. Likewise, modern competition backrests are usually glassed in rather than being fed around the seat mountings.

To fit a backstrap; glass a loop of nylon cord or thin webbing to each side of the hull by the seat and attach your backstrap to that - do it well and it will last longer than your backrest!

If it is of any use I can pm you photos and a few directions etc.

John

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