Since I made my first removable fixed kneeling mat some 5 or 6 years ago I have had a few people express an interest in how I made it.
Well itís finally time to replace the existing one so hereís an attempt to describe how I created it in the event that someone might like to try it for themselves.
First of all I would like to say the idea wasnít mine but I developed it into what you see today. I had a few attempts at the first mat and this guide shows how I overcame some of the problems.
At the risk of pointing out the obvious this only works in plastic canoes or composite canoes with a gel coat inner surface. The reasons will become clear very shortly.
A foam mat (obviously). This is entirely down to you but I settled on a piece of 25mm thick closed cell foam measuring 100cm x 50cm. I bought a large sheet but I have come across these mechanicís mats which are the same dimensions. (They were available on Ebay but are not at the moment).
A bath mat. A very specific one in that it has to have a flat upper side as you will be sticking this to the foam and the underside needs the little suckers. The one I found is 53cm square. There is a lip around the edge but donít worry this needs cutting off to make the mat 50cm square. (See the image below).
Glue. I use spray on Evostik contact adhesive. Others are available.
If you do a trial fit of the foam mat into your canoe youíll find that it is very reluctant to follow the contours of the hull. This is not so much of a problem with thinner mats but I do like the level of comfort this thickness gives me. To overcome this on the sections at each end of the mat I cut a series of slits at 5cm intervals down to half the thickness of the foam (see below). For neatness I found using a metal strip as a ruler and a very sharp blade were required. Also aim to make the cut in one pass or you will end up with slivers of foam as you try to cut it again.
Hereís a picture of the sliced mat with the bath mat in its intended location.
The next step is to position the mat on the underside of your canoe in approximately the right location for your kneeling. The first time I made one of these mats I glued the bath mat to the foam on a flat surface and found it difficult to make the mat stay down in the canoe as it always wanted to straighten itself. Gluing with a natural curve in the mat overcomes this problem. Note the tape to hold the mat tight against the underside.
Mask around the mat to prevent overspray on the canoe and then clean both the foam and bath mat with white spirit. It may also be necessary to wash the bath mat in warm soapy water before hand as they often have a waxy coating when new.
Time to spray the glue onto the foam and the underside of the bath mat then wait for them to go tacky as indicated on the instructions.
The next bit I find very tricky and you may need an assistant as you only get one chance. Lower the bath mat down onto the foam in the correct position and try not to get any creases. Press down firmly all over and if all goes well they should bond straight away.
Remove the masking and leave the completed mat to dry out thoroughly.
Finally remove the completed mat from the underside, turn the canoe over, wet the inside slightly and push into place. You should find that the mat follows the contour nicely and the suckers hold firm. When going on trips I always dip the mat into the water before placing in the canoe just to get the suckers wet and help it stick in place.
I was never entirely happy with sticking mats down permanently into my canoe as it was messy and once it was there it was fixed. This solution allows a deal of flexibility and should it be damaged thereís no problem replacing it.
Using thick foam is not essential but does have the benefit of doubling up as a seat outside the canoe and protects your knees when in it.
One other benefit I have found using this mat is that you donít get puddles forming in front of the mat which eventually spill over and soak your knees. The suckers actually lift the mat slightly off the bottom and create a path for the water to pass underneath it. My first attempt had a slot down the centre of the mat but I found this weakened it and was unnecessary.
On the whole I am happy with how the mat has evolved and I now have a replacement which should last me a few more years by which time the suckers will have stopped being efficient and I will need another.
If you prefer the permanently fixed solution thanks for getting this far but if like me you like the flexibility I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own removable, fixed kneeling mat.