Chester Yawl modified bench seats - your thoughts?

Hello all!  Sorry this is long, but I feel I have to explain in some depth...

I am in the process of looking for the next boat to build.  This will be my second boat, the first was a small 10' dinghy I built from plans.

I want to build a boat more suited for more than one person.  My 10' dinghy is fine for me alone, but add a second person and it's kinda small.  Also, the aesthetic properties are extremely important to me.  I want to build a boat with the appearance of a traditional rowing craft.  This is where my interest in the Chester Yawl begins.  Also, although I feel confident that I can build a boat from plans, time is always tight and the CLC kits are very appealing.

So I love the way the hull of the Chester Yawl looks.  It's exactly what I'm looking for.  Lapstrake, wineglass transom, beautiful lines... and the size is just right.  However, what I don't like about the kit are the seats and floor.  I know they provide a lot of flexibility, and from a practical aspect make so much sense, I want to build a boat with a more traditional craft look throughout.  So I'm thinking - can I have the best of both worlds?   Can I buy the kit, build the hull, but add my own custom bench-type seats?  

I think the hardest part would be finding the right position for a fixed bench seat.  Mayb even two bench seats - one about midway for a single passanger, and another just behind the front compartment, which would serve as the rowing station with a passenger sitting in the back... 

 I've taken one of the images from CLC's website and photoshoped a bench seat in there to illustrate my idea.  I hope I'm not infringing on anyone's rights by retouching their photo, but I wanted to see what it would look like...

I would love to hear feedback and thoughts and opinions about this approach. 

Thank you all in advance!


8 replies:

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RE: Chester Yawl modified bench seats - your thoughts?

Hi Matt,

What you are proposing is certainly possible (in my opinion).  John Harris may see this and give you his expert opinion, or better yet you can send the question to him via

I think that a major recommendation for the CY as designed, is the flexibility that the 'stool' seats offer.  Unless you know that you will always have the same crew and gear weight in the same positions in this boat, it will be difficult to know exactly where best to position the stationary thwarts.  This hull looks like it is pretty subject to changes in trim as weight placement is varied.

 Also... If you replace the forward seat with a traditional thwart, you would need to account for the floatation that is provided by the seat and bulkhead configuration.

 - Ron Paro

RE: Chester Yawl modified bench seats - your thoughts?

Thank you for your reply, Ron...

I retouched another photo from CLC's photo album to better illustrate what I'm thinking:

I agree, the stool seat does offer a great deal of flexibility... and you know, the more I look at it, the more I like it.  But going back to my original hair-brained idea, I was thinking of a forward bench seat just behind the existing forward seat/floatation compartment.  I don't intend to replace the existing front seat.  This would provide a rowing station while a passenger could sit on the back seat to maintain an even keel.

My daughter and I like to sit in my 10' dinghy side by side on the center bench seat, each with an oar... I know it's not efficient, but we're not in a hurry and we have a good time. 


RE: Chester Yawl modified bench seats - your thoughts?

There may be another alternative that would meet all of your goals, and it is traditional to boot!  If you add rails along the sheerstrakes, you could fashion a set of removable thwarts.  They would not be interchangeable, unless the rails were straight and parallel, but you could make a set that would include the ones that are needed for any given crew configuration.  You could do the same for the foot braces.

I have some pictures of this type of arrangement which I can post later this evening if that would help.


RE: Chester Yawl modified bench seats - your thoughts?

Here are a couple of pictures that I took at this year's WoodenBoat Small Reach Regatta.  - Ron

RE: Chester Yawl modified bench seats - your thoughts?

Ron - Thank you so much!  That's exactly the type of thing that I'm wanting to do!  I could add thwarts for my bench seats, that would be removable, and still have the kit-provided stool seat as an option.  This really does look like it can be done, and will satisfy all of my goals.  The more I looked at the stool seat, I can see how it would be very nice for fishing, because it keeps the boat so open inside.  Okay, I'm motivated now.  I'm going to do some budgeting this weekend and see if I can't get in on this kit sale while I can!

Thank you again,


RE: Chester Yawl modified bench seats - your thoughts?

The forward seat of the yawl is rather high, and I'm not too keen on letting

my young nephews sit there.  So I modified the bulkhead and dropped the

forward seat down 5 1/4 inches.  Now it looks more like the back seat.  Less floatation, but it fits my needs.

RE: Chester Yawl modified bench seats - your thoughts?

I am considering building the Chester Yawl and putting in a Gig Harbor style sliding bench seat (rolls on inline skate wheels) and using the GH articulating forward facing oars system.Could concieveably row facing forward or backwards depending on solo or with a passenger by simply turning around on the bench seat. Seat sliding on rails that extend the full length of the center of the boat would enable total flexibilty nfor rowing position. Any thoughts on this?I think the sliding seat would ge great exercise but I cant imagine craning my neck backwards to see where I am going.

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