Solo Setup for Old Dagger Legend?

Senior, 6’1", 200 #, beginner+ Flatwater paddler (W-Vag-KUL) looking to try some day river running and mild I-II WW in central NC, but reluctant to tear up my Vag. Have a good shape old Rx Dagger Legend tandem (15’10", 2.5” rcker, 36’W) that I’m thinking of adding a center seat or saddle for solo. Bit of a heavy beast (64#)but tough and stable. Would the center seat be ok,(cheaper & less permanent), or would a saddle & braces be needed and a good investment? Thanks, Rick

your call
like you said, each has it’s advantages.

personally I would go for the down/dirty center seat unless I was dead ‘serious’ about my WW paddling.

I too have a Legend and it’s a pretty fair boat for mild ww.


I have a Dagger Legend 16

– Last Updated: May-27-09 11:06 PM EST –

At one point I set it up to paddle solo using and old Bob Foote rotomolded Grand Canyon Saddle that could be easily installed and removed.

You are right, it is a beast to paddle solo. Just about the same as paddling a Blue Hole OCA solo, but plenty of whitewater boaters in the Southeast cut their teeth doing just that, so it certainly can be done.

I would recommend not using a saddle, however, but either a kneeling thwart or a center seat so that you can slide a little closer to the gunwale to make it easier to reach over the side since the boat is rather wide.

a couple more thoughts
A kneeling thwart is easy to install and remove and does not interfere with the canoe being used as a tandem. It provides a quite decent degree of control, not as much as a pedestal, but not bad. Given the volume of the Legend, you are probably not going to be heeling (leaning) it a lot, but given its stability you won’t need to.

Is your boat set up as I believe most were, with a center portage yoke/thwart, tandem cane seats, a carry handle near each deck plate, and an additional thwart about midway between the center yoke and the stern seat?

If so, you could add the kneeling thwart between center and the bow seat such that you would paddle the hull stern first. The hull, I believe is symmetrical, or near enough, so it doesn’t matter which end goes first. If you install a kneeling thwart in this location, you could remove the center thwart/yoke to get it out of your way. Unfortunately, this would make the boat harder to portage, but if you need to carry it any distance unassisted you could get a clamp-on-the-gunwales type of removable carry yoke for that purpose.

A center seat or kneeling thwart should not go in the center, however. You need to place it far enough from the center so that when you are in your kneeling postion your navel is about at the center of the boat when your torso is upright, which will put your hip bone about 4 inches behind center. This will put the canoe in proper trim. If you use a seat, angling the forward end downward a bit will make it more comfortable to kneel against. Hang the seat high enough so that the heels of your feet can easily go underneath it.

Bell canoe sells a decent kneeling thwart and set of hanger hardware, if you are interested. In the canoe I have set up with kneeling thwarts (a whitewater tandem) I glued blocks of 3 inch thick minicell foam to the top of the thwart at each side so that I would not inadvertently slide all the way to the gunwale. The thwarts still allow for several inches of lateral movement, however, which can be useful when paddling a big boat solo.

I would definitely add some kneeling pads (Bell also sells a decent set of those along with Vynabond adhesive). You could always add thigh straps later if you felt the need.

The Dagger Legend will ride out some pretty stout rapids if you can maneuver it and keep it aligned.

Bow Seat Backwards
I’m not real familiar with the Legend but plenty of folks paddle similar boats solo without modifying them at all. Just sit on the bow seat faceing what would normaly be the stern which now becomes the bow.

That will put you a bit aft of center which is not a bad place to be to run rapids in that sort of boat.



– Last Updated: May-28-09 10:27 AM EST –

I set mine up solo and it works fine. Bear in mind that it is a wide boat though.

I put the back of my center seat in the holes used for the rear thwart and drilled two forward of that for the front of the seat.
That may put you a bit closer to the yoke than you like, but it balances pretty good there.
For long river trips I remove the front and rear seats and replace them with thwarts, which turns it into a super freighter.

That will work
for paddling flatwater in the Legend and for running very simple straight line rapids where absolutely no maneuvering is required. But the 16 foot Legend is a real pig to turn if you can’t get your paddle blade well in front of the centerline.

Eddying out? Well maybe if your timing is good and you can get up a real head of steam, but if you are bow light and confined to steering with just stern prys and draws and unable to plant a bow draw or Duffek, the odds are high that you will just skate on down the eddy line, in that boat.

"For long river trips I remove the front and rear seats and replace them with thwarts, which turns it into a super freighter."

ya think?


problem then is all your friends wanna put all their stuff in your boat!


Works in my Explorer
I don’t know how different the Explorer is from the Legend. Seems like they might be similar.

In class II paddled backwards from the bow seat the Explorer is a competent though not agile solo. I do look for BIG eddys :wink:

Pretty much all you can ask for from that sort of boat IMO.


The Legend properly set up while certainly not nimble, is a competent whitewater boat paddled solo.

Before I had a real solo whitewater OC1, I had the Legend and my wife had an Impulse. I would paddle the Legend solo on the Nanty, a couple times on Chattooga III, once on the New River Gorge, and once on the Lower Yough.

I have a Kevlar MRC Explorer 16 and I most definitely would not paddle it on any of those rivers.

Might make a decent poling boat.
Doesn’t draw much water, stable. So when you set up the center of the boat for solo paddling, try to keep enough space to stand and move around with a pole.

I agree with pblanc that to manage a large boat with little rocker, a solo paddler needs to be able to reach well ahead of the center line, AND to be able to shift his weight to temporarily trim the bow down.

Thanks all for the guidance and ideas
Contemplating some combination of the suggestions and hopefully won’t come up with a little of all but not enough of either :-). Something like a slightly forward canted center seat, or a kneeling thwart, just aft enough to get a somewhat bow high attiude for rougher spots and blocked on each side a bit to prevent shifting too far to either gunnel. Thanks agn, Rick

When the Legend was my only canoe, I put in a saddle using marine grade velcro. I knew that I’d eventually get a solo canoe, so I didn’t want the saddle to be permanent. Adding the saddle did make it much easier to handle this boat solo in ww. It was still a handful due to its size but was manageable.