A good, inexpensive, solo, flatwater can


I paddled with a group yesterday and one guy, paddling a borrowed kayak, asked me to recomend a good, inexpensive, solo, quietwater canoe.

Since Mohawk stopped making the Solo 13 & 14 I can’t think of one.

Anybody got suggestions for someone who wants a boat to dance with for not much money?

Here and Now

Wenonah Vagabond
I might also suggest the Wenonah Vagabond. A royalex Vagabond should be available new for around $900.00 and used in the $4-500 range. Flexcore, Kevlar and Kev-lite will obviously be more.

good suggestion
I’ve seen them offered at Oak Orchard pretty frequently for $600 brand new.

The part that caught my attention…
…was “…wants a boat to dance with…” Is he into FreeStyle – or want to be? If so the Vagabond is not much of a “dancer”. While it does have decent stability, it’s not very maneuverable – at least compared to the Mohawk Solos or a Bell Yellowstone Solo.

FWIW, either the 13 or 14 foot Mohawk Solo actually makes a slightly better FreeStyle canoe than a Bell Yellowstone Solo.

For a relatively inexpensive solo canoe for quietwater dancing I’d say a used Bell Flashfire or Wildfire would be the best way to go. …assuming one can take the time to locate one.

The Classifieds here at P.net often turn up some treasures…

…but maybe I read too much into the “dancing” part. If so please disregard my comments. - Randall

As the owner of a Vagabond
If freestyle is his interest then the Vagabond is definitely NOT the best chice. If he truly wants flatwater paddling with possibly an occasional overnight then the vagabond will do well.

Totally agree…

– Last Updated: Oct-09-06 5:29 PM EST –

Totally agree with arkay & jerryohare's comments.

I own a Wildfire, a Flashfire, and a Vagabond.
If you're looking for a freestyle boat, the Vagabond ain't it! Not a bad little boat for dayfloating, overnight, or multi overnights, on class 1 & 2, with a reasonable load of gear.

I actually think you could do freestyle moves easier in a MR Guide than you could a Vagabond.

I'll bet Karen Knight could make em all spin 360 in a heartbeat, and look good doing it.


So is the only objection to the Vagabond that it’s a hard tracking boat? That might not be a bad thing for some uses.

I’m just trying to get a line on what boats to recomend. The dancing part is more me than anybody else.

Thanks guys.

I haven’t paddled the Grumman 129 solo, but I thought someone who had said it was a decent boat. A quick google search shows prices in the $700-800 range for a brand new boat.

Vagabond is the thinner R-84 I believe. Mine did real well down here in South Florida coastal estuaries that are strewn with oyster reefs and shallow tidal waters. Yes, it does scratch badly if you are not careful.

It is a fine boat and lightweight perfect for day trips in flatwater. It responded well to canoe or even kayak paddle. It tracked well but turned easily. I wouldn’t think it would be good for freestyle moves though.

Royalex comparisons
I have had 4 royalex boats from 3 different manufacturers; Wenonah, Old Town and Nova Craft. The Royalex on my Vagabond does seem to mark more easily than that on either the Nova Craft or the Old Town. However, I use my boats a lot and often times scrape rocks, logs, stumps, etc. While the royalex seems to mark, I have never actually torn the skin on the royalex. I wouldn’t worry to much about a royalex Vagabond not holding up.

More comparisons
I have a Vagabond, a Mohawk Odyssey 14, and a Supernova, and honestly, I don’t see any difference in how easily they get scratched. As far as I can tell, Royalex in general is pretty soft stoff. DURABLE, but soft. I think the stuff might get a little harder as the boat ages, however (anyone else think that is true?).

Not R-84
The hull on the Vagabond is not made from R-84, more commonly known as Royalite. There are different specs on the Royalex sheets that are used in different hulls, some thicker, some thinner. Always the trade-off between weight and durability.

I asked why it was so light for the size compared to other royalex boats. I was told that it was R-84 same as the royalex used in the Mohawk canoes by the dealer… Anyway, it will be the last royalex boat I’ll ever buy because it doesn’t hold up well to sharp oyster reefs I have some very deep thin scratches all over the bottom and some areas the royalex outlayer is sliced off. A shame really as it is light, durable and inexpensive would be perfect for other environments.

I am having better luck with the white gold from Bell or the gel coat on my kayak. At least it can be repaired.

Are longer boats an option?
I’m still looking for a reasonably priced Wenonah Advantage ultra light for efficient flatwater paddling in a sitting position and easier carrying. My royalex Wildfire, carbonlite 2000 MR Slipper and goldenglass Sawyer Summersong aren’t as light or efficient as I’d like for daily use on larger lakes, though they are good for other uses.

Does your friend prefer sitting or kneeling? If they prefer kneeling, and could get to a boat located in Illinois, they might consider my 16’6" Mike Galt Lotus BJX if they don’t mind a lively feeling boat. It seems pretty efficient and turns pretty well, but is definately better suited for kneeling and I prefer sitting.

I’d have a hard time recomending the Lotus to someone who has not paddled one. IMO it’s a special boat and not for everyone.

OTOH If I had the funds I’d take it off your hands in a heartbeat.

I agree BJX not for everyone and maybe
not for beginners. I bought it without test paddling and it doesn’t seem to be a goo match for me.

try Northwest canoe shop

Amazing thread. BJX and Advantage are pretty extreme choices.

I’d suggest a used boat and if dancing is the goal you can’t go wrong with any Wildfire or Yellowstone derivative. Flashfire is very hot if you are small and light.

Or a Swift Osprey or Blackhawk Zephyr or Ariel or Mohawk or Merrimack Baboosic…ever so many used bargains.