-- Last Updated: Oct-02-12 9:06 AM EST --
There is a bit of a learning curve for the canoe, especially solo. You can hop in a kayak and be an "Intermediate" paddler in a day or two. The canoe takes a bit more time. Lessons are nice and put you ahead, but I never had any myself (and it probably shows).
As for kneeling, the saddle is probably ideal, but I kneel with a seat. I have friends with the Freedom Solo/Guide and in the "Stock" position the seat is too low unless you're small with small feet. I would raise it an inch by removing the seat drop and cutting it. Then, if that's still too low, I'd continue to trim 1/2" at a time until it feels right.
A good kneeling pad makes a difference too. I've never found one thick enough for me without modifying. Here's a link to another website with a guy that made a really nice, cheap kneeling pad. When my current pad wears out, I will try this.
Also, it takes awhile to get comfortable kneeling. A few paddle sessions and you will no doubt feel more comfortable.
Also, as a long time paddler of Mad River Canoes, the shallow-V takes some getting used to. It will "Feel" unstable, but it will "Park" itself on either side of that "V." You will get a "Feel" for it, and it will be more comfortable and predictable with some boat time.
Hope that helps! Oh, here's the kneeling pad link:
YakCatcher Rod Holder
Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles
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