My Ideal Solo canoe?

There is no canoe that I know of that meets all my wants,but maybe somebody here knows of one? I’m thinking of a lightweight probible symetrical boat with significant rocker similar to that of a Curtis/Colden Dragonfly with the length and width of a Dragonfly,but with much less freeboard similar to a Hemlock Kestral. This boat would be for tripping on lakes and flat twisty flows and streams in the ADKs with no white water.I have or had or have paddled the following boats and none is ideal—dragonfly,kestrel,osprey,Merlin II, Flashfire,magic,Summersong,perigrine ect. The Osprey probible comes closest,but is too big and it is a bear in a quartering/tailwind. I probibly wouldn’t be able to buy another boat,but winter dreams are fun while I watch the snow.

My Kestral is my favorite lake boat but is a drag in the twistys. My Flash is a blast on the twistys,but a little load limited and slow for lakes. I really like the Dragonfly,but it gets blown around in the wind more than I would like and I don’t need the extra weight in the high sides. Before someone answers that one can “heal any boat to the rail and spin it in it’s own length”-- been there,done that, not with a load on a 5 day trip in cold water on each of dozzens of hairpin turns.


PBW Rapidfire?

More info
It must be a kneeling style boat.I know they have made kneeling Rapids,but doesn’t a Rapidfire track much like my Kestrel?-I haven’t tried one.


Start cutting wood strips
for when you find the right plans.

Esquif Echo?
Does the 14’ length rule it out?

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

I even know of one or two that could use a good home for the winter. :wink:

Stewart River Unity

Wildfire? NM

Rapidfire is pretty straight tracking -
at least for me with the middle height seat. I paddled Magicpaddler’s two days ago and it was pretty difficult for me to heel it much for any sort of quick turn. I wouldn’t choose it for what we call twisty streams here in central IL. My Curtis Vagabond, however, is quite maneuverable for river use, but easy to keep straight tracking. BTW, I preferred my paddle set to 215cm when paddling the Rapidfire - longer just seemed too long.

His Bell Rob Roy, which I paddled next, was much more maneuverable, but seemed less efficient when paddled straight with a kayak paddle. The Rob Roy’s skin condition was a bit rougher than the Rapidfire, so maybe that accounted for the increased drag at cruising speed.

The Rapidfire seemed much less fun to paddle with the single blade than the Rob Roy.

Both seats were about the same height (additional foam pad on stock Rob Roy seat.

My 48" ZRE bent shaft canoe paddle was a bit long for either of the boats at that seat height.


Any comments on the Breeze?
Not enough rocker for the OP, but I’m tall enough to make it turn the way I want it to.

No not them
I once owned an Echo. I loved to freestyle in it,but way too wide and heavy. A Wildfire would have more volume,but too much paddle effort and too wide. I have even thought of cutting down a Dragonfly,but that would eliminate the tumblehome and some people in PA would probibly lynch me! I guess as long as I’m dreaming I might as well be picky. Glenn, a what?


Langford Otter in KUL layup, solo seated

This from the OP who helped build my DragonFly!

You can put the seat a little farther back for those annoying stern quartering winds and take a Sawzall to the sides.

I can’t think of a boat that fills your current wishes. So there may be a market?

Seems you want a Kestrel with a little more rocker especially in the stern.

rapidfire kneeling
Hi Turtle, I have the sliding seat in my rapidfire, I can kneel, sit while using the foot pedals, single or double paddle the boat. I can kneel and heel it, it responds nicely. You know my skill level or lack of it. The boat is amazing in my opinion. You can try mine anytime your in my Colorado neighborhood or maybe I could bring it to a canoe symposium…jesse

with the list of nice boats that didn’t

– Last Updated: Nov-06-12 1:46 PM EST –

"cut the mustard"....imho I think I might want to ask oneself just one wants from a day of paddling. If the tripping aspect is handled can't expect that same hull to move like another hull. You need to fill the void by one's paddling skills. Paddling a canoe isn't like a straight forward kayak stroke(given the obvious difference in physical aspects to a forward stroke with different types of blades and techniques). It's hull is not made the's just not as efficient...efficiency isn't what the craft's design was born out of.


Curtis Vagabond?
I am definitely not knowledgeable about this, but I thought the Vagabond was similar to a symetrically rockered Kestrel? Finding a used one would be difficult, and probably too heavy for Turtle’s parameters.

Great call Tim
That boat is just what OP asks for…still sorry I sold mine

I don’t think you have met
Turtle…he does have fine paddling skills. I believe he uses quite good paddles by Marc Ornstein and paddles in the Adirondacks. He is like, Matt Bowler, looking for something extremely specific in a hull.

I would have suggested the Vagabond too, but the RapidFire is so close to the waterline shape of the Vag.

And as I have both the RF and the DragonFly and Turtle has either had a RF too and has paddled the DF, we can attest hulls do handle quite differently. So far there is not a cut down DragonFly…nor is there apt to be.

I don’t think that taking a existing Vagabond and replacing the stern thwart with a wider one would work either to give more symmetrical rocker.

I believe the Vagabond plug may have been destroyed.

Give it up, Rich
Just buy a kayak.

Looking for the “perfect canoe” is as futile as searching for the “perfect mate”.

I’m selling my Curtis Vagabond.
It weighs 40 lbs.

I love the handling of the Vagabond - easy tracking, responsive to paddle input and very maneuverable, but it seems a little more work to move along with just me in it than my smaller (shorter) solos seem to be.

I haven’t had it on moving water, but would expect it to be great for that. The bow gunwales are quite flared, which I would expect to aid riding over waves.

I’ve only spent about 30 minutes in a Hemlock Kestrel and that was at least 4 years ago, so I can’t compare the two.

It’s a really tough decision for me to sell my Vagabond, but I don’t do any tripping and My Curtis Lady Bug seems to require less effort for me to keep moving at a moderately fast cruising pace than my Vagabond when doing timed laps around our local small city lake. If I had unlimited space & money, the Vagabond wouldn’t be going anywhere.

I definitely prefer the squared off float tanks in the Curtis & Hemlock boats compared to the rounded off float tanks of the Bell & Placid boats. I feel that if you’re going to have something in the ends of your boat taking up space, they ought to at least have a flat surface to function as a little shelf to rest your spare paddle blade on. Another advantage of the squared off float tanks is that the vertical surface directs any water that’s in the boat out of the boat when you turn it over, rather than under the decks, like the rounded off float tanks do.

The Curtis Vagabond is a great handling boat.

The Rapidfire and Curtis Vagabond
behave quite differently for me. The Vagabond, with the seat high enough for kneeling is WAY, WAY EASIER TO HEEL for turning than the Rapidfire with the medium height seat is.

I’ve owned a Curtis Vagabond for a couple years and paddled a Rapidfire with a medium height seat for about an hour a few days ago and the Rapidfire proved VERY DIFFICULT for me to heel enough to feel like anything that resembled maneuverable, whereas the Vagabond feels very playful and fun to me. If I hadn’t already known that the hulls are reportedly very similar below the waterline, I wouldn’t have guessed they had anything in common besides similar length & width. The different seat heights makes the boats feel completely unrelated to me. YMMV. I would expect the Rapidfire with the kneeling seat to seem like a completely different paddling experience than the Rapifire with the floor mounted seat.

For double blade paddle use, I’d opt for the Rapidfire. It seemed more efficient (less effort) with the double blade paddle than my Vagabond and the gunwales are much narrower in front of the seat than in the Vagabond, which helps with double blade stroke.

For single blade paddle use, there’s no contest, I much, much prefer the Vagabond with the higher seat over the Rapidfire with a much lower seat. The Rapidfire seemed much less fun with the single blade than the Vagabond.

The Rapidfire & Curtis Vagabond feel like completely unrelated boats to me in the configurations that I have paddled them.

Others may have had different experiences in these two boats.