Canoe vs Canoe

would it be safe to say the Weenohna Vagabond is similar to the Bell Wildfire or merlin 2 ???

When I say similar I mean same use…

I have a bell Northstar and love it. I wish to own a solo and no Bells in the area. I have a chance to get the Vagabond and wish to hear from others.

Thanks in advance.


Some Similarity

– Last Updated: Mar-18-10 12:43 AM EST –

If you want to compare it to BOTH of those boats, I suppose the answer is "yes", but with qualifications. I had a Royalex Vagabond for a few years, I currently have a Merlin II, and have played around in a Royalex Wildfire/Yellowstone Solo.

First of all, a composite Vagabond will have a rather different feel from a Royalex model. Royalex Vagabonds don't have any rocker (I've seen enough examples now that I am certain that this is always true), and the floor pooches up (so it's flatter) when you sit on the seat or place your knees in the chines, while on composite versions, the rocker is very evident at a glance and the floor should "stay put" when the boat is loaded. Therefore, besides having sharper entries and a stiffer hull (both of which allow better speed), the composite version "should" be more maneuverable. Also, the Royalex Vagabonds I've seen are half a foot shorter than the composite models. Regarding differences in length and rocker, I can't say for sure that what I've said is still true, but it used to be true, and as difficult and expensive as it is to make a new mold, I'm betting it still is.

My Royalex Vagabond had similar maneuverability to my Merlin II, but I suspect the maneuverability of the composite Vagabond would be slightly better. Even with less rocker up front, the fact that the rocker is symmetrical allows the stern to "let go" more than what's easily attainable with the Merlin II, which has a rather sticky stern.

The Vagabond will feel like an aircraft carrier in comparison to the Wildfire/Yellowstone Solo when you first get into the boat. The WF/YS will also feel a lot more lively and respond to paddle strokes more easily. The Vagabond will be faster, especially if it's a composite model.

The Vagabond will behave better during back-paddling maneuvers than either the Merlin II or the WF/YS, though the extra craziness of the trailing bow when a sticky stern is leading the way could be an advantage in certain situations.

I have a Merlin II cedar stripper
that I helped Baldpaddler build and I love paddling it. It handles well in almost any conditions. It’s fast enough to race in a stock class, but is delightful for just day cruising too. I’ve also paddled String’s Vagabond which is about a foot and a half longer. The Vagabond is a great solo tripping boat that handles better when fully loaded. When empty, it’s like a sail and catches a lot of wind and you wind up fighting the boat a lot. This could be minimized with a spray cover though.

I don’t think you paddled a Vagabond.

– Last Updated: Mar-18-10 12:22 PM EST –

It sounds to me like you are describing a Voyager, especially since String used to have one. There is no similarity at all between a Vagabond and a Voyager. What I said about a Vagabond feeling as stable as an aircraft carrier applies double when comparing it to a Voyager.

Regarding the wind issue, I'd actually rate the Vagabond as more easily controlled in strong wind than a Merlin II. The difference between the two in that situation is that the bow of the Merlin II side-slips much more easily than the stern, making it harder to maintain a crosswind heading than in a boat that side-slips more uniformly. Oh, I should add that once you get the boat moving at a good clip, the comparison can actually reverse itself, with the Merlin II having the edge on direction-holding ability, but anytime you slow down or make sharp turns, the Vagabond will have the advantage in strong wind.

As long as I'm adding more thoughts on these two boats, I'd give the Merlin II a very slight edge over the Vagabond in large waves (though the wind issue is likely to cancel that out). The Vagabond may be wider overall, but in the Merlin II carries its width much closer to the bow and stern. The Vagabond has a sharp taper toward each end that starts dead-center, so averaged over its whole length, its a narrower boat (My Merlin II hangs in the same place as I used to store my Vagabond, but I had to re-build the rack because the Merlin II is a few inches wider at the support points, which are roughly one-third of the way in from each end).

Randy, Merlin II ?

I thought that the Baldpaddler’s solo was a strip built original Merlin, not the DY Merlin II.

And if String’s boat was a foot and half longer than your strip solo, it sure wasn’t a Vagabond, which is shorter than your solo. It struck me as strange that you would be blown around in an empty Vagabond. At your size, you should put a Vagabond down in the water enough that it won’t get blown around. A Voyager is so long that empty it might not like the wind even with your size, since it is meant to carry a big load quickly, which usually means having shallow draft with the load.

Now you have me wanting to get out and paddle a solo or two.


Thanks for the help. It is a Royolex and it is a Vagabond. Just hoping to get out on calm days. I have kayaks for the big water. Might trip from it up in the Georgian bay area of ont.

I think it will be a fine set up for that.