Curtis Vagabond for first solo?

-- Last Updated: May-14-13 9:10 AM EST --

I will be test paddling a Curtis Vagabond in Kevlar in the next couple of days. I am 5' 10" and weight about 185. I have read the one review and done a search. Those that gave height and weight were 5' 6" and 160. Am I a bit big for this solo?

I see it is reviewed as a mostly flat water canoe capable in class1. I enjoy weekend camping and wonder about this solo for me and camping gear. I also suspect it may feel a bit tippy at first since I am more use to paddling a tandem solo. I have good enough balance to do a cowboy reentry in a sea kayak with an ocean style cockpit which requires sitting on the back deck and entering legs first. I intend to use a single blade paddle most of the time.

Just looking for some feed back on this boat if anyone is so inclined to do so.

I should add I can either sit or kneel
When paddling my tandem as a solo.

Here is the original catalog page

As you can see, the hull was designed as a tripping canoe for paddlers in the 100-150 lb. weight range, but can be paddled as a day boat by heavier paddlers with experience and skills. None of that means you won’t like it, or that you will.

Test paddling is the best idea to find out for yourself. What does it matter if I do or don’t like a particular boat? That’s specific my personal situation, size, skills, needs and goals.

The thing about test paddling a boat that is very different from what you are used to is that sometimes you need several hours to become familiar with it, not just a few minutes.

Thanks Glenn
Your post is very helpful. I do plan on test paddling the boat even though it may be a bit small for my needs. It may prove fun and also allow an old backpacker weekend getaways.

…and try to remember how you did,

– Last Updated: May-17-13 5:37 PM EST –

and with what boat, when the wind and chop were up...OTHW...grab the boat(imho).

As fo performance
there aren’t a lot of solos that are better at all around performance. You should be fine at your weight/height provided you don’t pack the kitchen sink. Take an appropriately weighted pack to the test paddle.

Good speed, stable, very maneuverable as the rocker is symmetrical as opposed to the larger Nomad which has less in the stern. Heel it over and it will play…bent shaft it and it will go! Great hull. If you have intermediate skill on flatwater you will learn to love this boat and your skill level won’t outgrow it.

Sounds like what

– Last Updated: May-14-13 1:50 PM EST –

I am currently looking for in a solo. I figure a RX boat like a yellowstone or mohawk odyessy might fill in on rocky ww rivers, and can be found used for a reasonable price down the road.

Go for it - it’s a fine canoe.
I’m selling my fiberglass Vagabond that weighs 40 lbs, because I have three other solos that weigh 33 lbs or less.

I’ve only paddled mine on lakes, but it’s got a lot of flare up front, which should do a fine job of shedding waves.

Mine has an adjustable foot brace and I paddle it mostly sitting, but it’s fun to mess around in whether sitting or kneeling.

For someone your size, it’d be nice & sporty.

Well I test paddled today.

– Last Updated: May-15-13 7:34 PM EST –

On Lake Tuxedo, NC with the owner and his labrador paddling an 18' Kevlar 49 Mad River tandem which had a sliding bow seat. Brian told me he was given the canoes after his uncle passed away. Both boats were in simply fantastic condition. In fact except for the ash gunnels needing a new coat of varnish the 1987 Curtis Vagabond could have passed as new. We paddled for about a hour and a half, and would have paddled longer expect we were asked to turn back as we were paddling into a movie being filmed at the upper end of the lake. I tried to talk them into including us in the back ground, but they said it wouldn't fit with the script that it was on a private lake. The movie title will be Honeymoon. No we didn't hear any banjo music!

I even put 40 pounds extra in the boat to see how it would handle with the extra weight. I was even able to let a one foot boat wake hit me from the side which did splash a little water into the boat, but very little and the boat handled it well. So I now own it and bought it for less than a few used RX solos I have seen for sale.

I used my wife's 49" bent shaft paddle, and please forgive me Glenn as on the way home I put in on the Enoree River which in some sections as I paddled up stream had to used my double bladed monster! Only because the water was very shallow in some sections, and I could only get about half the blade of the bent in the water before hitting the sandy bottom. You might want to add that as a 5th reason to use a double!

I have one complaint so far and that is now I have to buy a couple more paddles as the ones I use with my tandem are too long for the solo. Oh my it seems to never end, and now that Carol has seen it and lifted the 30 pound canoe, I am afraid to let her paddle it. I believe her look was covetous, and I don't want to try to find another! Where does it all end?

Congratulations and . . .
. . . don’t forget to go to confession.

We usually, use longer paddles on solo compared to tandem because we’re using cross strokes from the center of the boat?

A lot left for me to learn
I would love to make it to the Adirondack symposium!

I had my 60" grey owl guide with a 24" x 5 3/4" blade with me and used it on the deep water lake about half of the time. I also had my wife’s 49" foxworx standard bent. I found that since I sat closer to the water the throat of both paddles would often be several inches below the surface. I have long arms for my height if that means anything in this context. On the shallow river i couldn’t use the grey owl.

I did hit and switch with the bent paddle. I also did a J stroke with a partial in water recovery on the lake with it. Paddling up stream I found I could just paddle with a straight forward stroke on one side if I offset the bow in the current to auto correct any tendency to turn away from my paddling side.

I did use a cross bow rudder a few times. Perhaps long arms are a factor but it seemed to work ok for me even with the 49" bent. I normally use a 52" bent when paddling from the stern in our tandem where I sit higher above the water.

I have no experience with freestyle other than watching some utube videos. I have no idea if my paddling style is lacking, but it seemed to work. Thanks for questioning my conclusion that I needed to use a shorter paddle. I am now conflicted and don’t know if I should be glad or sad at the prospect of not buying more paddles! ;0)

yes you need to improve your paddle
wardrobe. Its a common phenomenon when you have multiple boats and paddle multiple places.

The shaft should not be submerged. For your next paddle , note the inches of submersion. Also measure the whole shaft length.

Subtract the former from the latter. Next paddle should have that new shaft length. Take a tape measure. Store paddles never are sold by shaft length. For fit, the blade length does not matter.

That was what I thought
Given the throat was swallowing water. ;0) I figured 1-2" off the 49" bent and about 4 off the guide would work for the solo. I am headed out to padle this morning, and will pay close attention to this. It also means my lady will/might need to do something similar. It depends on our physical geometry and the boat it seems.

I had figured out the shaft length for me and the tandem, so now I will do the same for the solo. Thanks for making this clearer for me.

I always wanted to paddle one to compair it with my Kestrel. I use a longer paddle or longer bladded paddle(otter tail,voyeger) when stern paddling a tandem because of a higher seat position relitive to the water,and the help it gives in steering when you carry the paddle aft of the stern.


Just got back in from paddling on a pond
If you are ever paddling here in SC you are welcome to paddle the vagabond, or if I get to NY with it the same offer stands.

I could probably get by with the 49" bent paddle though I think a 48" would be perfect. I think a grey owl guide at 56" would work well and give me a decent narrow long blade paddle.

My top hand is high on my forehead with the throat of the 60" guide paddle at the water surface.

Paddle length
At 5-9 I can adapt as a solo paddler to a variety of paddle lengths if necessary, but I do have preferences. With the blade buried, these preferences are different for:

(1) whitewater-straight paddle: top hand around forehead, ~58-59"

(2) flatwater-straight paddle: top hand around chin, ~54-55"

(3) flatwater-bent paddle: top hand slightly below shoulder (to push slightly down on the forward stroke), ~48.5-50"

I just want
To thank y’all for your input, sharing, knowlege, and humor. I hope to paddle with you someday.

a bit top heavy 4 the vagabond
so I remove the seat and sit two inches lower. This is comfortable and stable. I can kneel with the seat in place, but have to add about a one inch cushion to be comfortable. When I do it decreases the stability. I really enjoy the boat, even though I may be a bit tall for it. I am using a minicell seat I made for a kayak I built and stack up foam under it to change the seating height. I want to be high enough to use a single blade paddle.

Comfortable seat
Sitting on foam blocks is reasonable. I’ve been sitting on three foam PFD cushions for 35 years in certain boats.

However, you can get a webbed seat that is comfortable under the thighs for kneel paddling, unlike the cheapo sharp-edged cane seats from Essex or Ed’s that are commonly used in canoes. Here is a picture of a lightweight, laminated Conk Comfort Curve seat, available from Hemlock Canoe Works:

This is actually an 8" deep seat, as opposed to the usual 10", which I bought directly from Conk for my SRT. I could be persuaded to sell it.