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8/21/2019 10:29 am  #1

a solo boat opportunity

I've been slowly looking at solo canoes for a while now, and there's one available within semi-reasonable driving distance of my house (3.5 hours) that I wanted to bounce it off you folks.  I think (but don't know) there is water there to do a test paddle, but if this thing is a dog from the start I'm not that interested in driving 7 hours.

What I'm looking at is a Wenonah Vagabond, royalex.  $750, about ten years old.  Asymmetrical hull, 27" wide, 14'6" long.  Seat adjusts for angle, but not up or down.  Seat position looks reasonable to me, maybe a bit low I can't quite get a read on that.  This particular boat has a foot brace, and the owner has a portaging yoke for it.  It was either 40 or 42 pounds.  The hull design is supposed to be reasonable in terms of stability, and in terms of both tracking and maneuvering, based on reviews I've read.  Some people complain about hitting their tailbone on the thwart behind the seat, I don't know how you'd sit far enough back to do that, but that's a repeated complaint I've seen.

Here is what (I think) I'm after in a solo boat:

1) I'm a sitter.  Knees just can't take it.  I would prefer single-blade paddling.  That eliminates a lot of solo boat models.  Seats are either right at the gunwale height or on the floor like a pack boat.  The Vagabond looks like an in-betweener; low enough to be reasonably stable for a seated paddler (hopefully), high enough to allow a foot to be tucked under (hopefully).  I think the depth is 12", which appears to be pretty typical for a solo.  

2) I've got to keep it under 15' to have a prayer of storing it.  I just don't want to go so small that I end up paddling a bathtub around.  I weigh about 195, gear....probably 40-45, so capacity is rarely an issue in any solo model. 

3) Lightweight.  I don't have to get down to the 25 pound boats here, but solos are typically a bit shorter than a tandem, and more narrow, so there's less boat.  If I can keep it to 40 I'm happy enough.  Plus, the materials to get super-lightweight result in expensive boats, which leads me to point 4....

4) I really need to keep this under a grand.  There are lots of wonderful boats out there, but I'm not spending $2,500 on a boat that will go on one or two canoe trips per year.  At the same time, I don't want to pick up a boat on the cheap and be annoyed by it on one or two canoe trips per year.

5) Hull design.  A LOT of solo canoes seem to be intended for river travel and are kind of performance canoes with respect to maneuverability (big rockers) but maybe not built for tracking/cruising a lake line so well.   Some are going to be ok for Algonquin-type tripping, some not so much.

I feel like I might have found an inbetweener model in the Vagabond that strikes a balance on all the above.  My ears are open to comments on this model or other suggestions.  Right now I've got a Novacraft Pal (56 pounds) and an Old Town canvas lightweight (60-ish pounds).  I solo in both of them, just turning around in the front seat, so standing pat is an option here....but it would be nice to knock weight out of portaging....



8/21/2019 10:51 am  #2

Re: a solo boat opportunity

There is no way that a Royalex Vagabond is coming in at 40 lbs. Check the Wenonah site, they list the Tuf-Weave composite version at 40 lbs. A Royalex version is probably going to weigh more than your Novacraft Pal. 


8/21/2019 12:58 pm  #4

Re: a solo boat opportunity

I too find it hard to believe the Vagabond in Royalex comes in at 40lbs.

This in no way helps the poster with their question, but I've taken SmedleyCo's post as an invitation to post this solo boat that is currently available in the KW area, because it sure is pretty!



8/21/2019 1:21 pm  #5

Re: a solo boat opportunity

Both Mike and Martin Step are really really good canoe builders. Martin also happens to be the person who sells the plans for pretty much all of the John Winters designed canoes.

The Kite that Martin is selling is an updated version of the Osprey that Mike is selling. The only difference between the Kite and Osprey is that the Kite extends the shoulder tumblehome the full length of the boat. 

Either of those boats would be worth the price, the only downside is that both builders know the value of their work. :-)


8/21/2019 3:29 pm  #6

Re: a solo boat opportunity

I looked up the weight from multiple sources.  A posting from 2007 in the "Songofthepaddle" message board shows a catalog photo with the Vagabond in various layups, Royalex was 43 pounds (with standard equipment.).  Adventuresportsnetwork in 2010 did a "Boat Book" for each manufacturer, listing all models, the Vagabond is listed at 45 pounds in Royalex.  Found online copies of the Wenonah catalog for 2010 and for 2011, both show Royalex at 45 pounds. 

This boat is a 2008 model, the owner says it is 42 pounds.  Knowing that the 2007 model was 43 pounds he seems to be close if not right on. The foot brace is probably not included in the weight since that seems to appear in some Vagabonds but not all.  I conclude that the boat in question probably weighs somewhere between 42 and 45 pounds, and it looks like the model gained a little weight between 2007 and 2010.

     Thread Starter

8/21/2019 6:46 pm  #7

Re: a solo boat opportunity

shaggy wrote:

I too find it hard to believe the Vagabond in Royalex comes in at 40lbs.

This in no way helps the poster with their question, but I've taken SmedleyCo's post as an invitation to post this solo boat that is currently available in the KW area, because it sure is pretty!


My god that Kite is beautiful!


8/21/2019 8:18 pm  #8

Re: a solo boat opportunity

Purchasing a boat makes absolutely no sense for me right now, but those solo boats are so beautiful....

Also the designated cutouts for the yoke attachment is a genius idea. I hate starting a portage and feeling off-balanced and thinking "crap I think I put the yoke a tiny bit too far forward"

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8/22/2019 8:08 am  #9

Re: a solo boat opportunity

Looks like you have good reason to accept that the Vagabond is a 42 lb boat. That is really light for a Royalex boat so make sure you give the hull a good going over. 

The other dimensions are fairly typical of solo boats. Myself, I'm still dreaming of a Swift Osprey but might get talked into a Keewaydin. Wenonah has a great reputation but Royalex would not be my first choice for a solo tripping boat. Royalex, or T-Formex as the replacement for Royalex, would be my choice for a solo whitewater boat. 


8/22/2019 9:55 am  #10

Re: a solo boat opportunity

I was surprised by how light it was as well, but when you consider the dimensions - not just length, but width especially and depth, it translates to a pretty small amount of material.  Unfortunately for me, my proposal did not meet with a high level of enthusiasm within the I will continue to solo trip by sitting backward in a tandem.  But one day I do hope to enjoy the benefits of tripping with a boat that doesn't weigh 55-60 pounds.  

If this is a boat anybody else might have interest in - search craigslist for the Cleveland, Ohio area and it will turn up.  It is in North Canton, Ohio.  From the Peace Bridge, that is going to be just a little under four hours drive time, and a pretty clear drive.  Rush hour in Buffalo is not overwhelming but annoying due to some ongoing construction south of the city, rush hour in Cleveland is more substantial, but neither of them is like the four hour window of rush hour Toronto has.  My recommendation is to play Rush in the car the whole way.

     Thread Starter

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