wenonah vagabond question

My friend just traded a royalex Vagabond for a used 2004 kevlar Vagabond. The boat has been garaged kept and used a couple of times.

I helped her get the Kevlar boat and carry it to her storage area and felt that the stern was heavier than the bow. We then picked up the Royalex version and it was equally balanced. Does anyone know why the Kevlar hulls are weighted heavier at stern? Or is this a defect in her “new” boat?

Is this a 'feeling’
or did you all actually place it in the H2o and paddle it? I’d think 2 folks holding a mid 30lbs boat at either end (is this how you made your assumption?) would have a hard time telling IF one end was heavier or not.

I never noticed anything like that on my Tuffweave version. Is there a skid plate or anything like a repair on the front that may cause it?

no not on H2O yet
I picked up the bow and then walked around and picked up the stern. It was definately heavier than the bow. No, there are no repairs or skid plates. The person we bought from hardly used it and kept it in garage.

We were just curious if this is something Wenonah did to weigh down the stern for better tracking.

The bow has less volume and less material than the stern. In a longer heavier boat you might not notice a 2-3# difference, but in a light short boat you obviously did.

The stern half may weigh more,but it will not sink deeper in the water, it will just support the weight of the paddler and canoe evenly.

The seat is aft of amidships and its weight will be more on the stern carrier also. Tandems have two seats and they are also more towards the stern. When a paddler is seated, the legs and arms are forward from the seat and the center of gravity is correct at the boats balance point.


Are you sure this time?

– Last Updated: Jul-08-08 10:25 PM EST –

I usually find your knowlege of boat specs to be impressive, but having owned and extensively paddled a Vagabond and having some photos in front of me off of which I can scale some dimensions, I can't agree with you this time.

You say "The bow has less volume and less material than the stern." The Vagabond is very nearly symetrical in profile, with the most notable assymetry being that the bow is higher than the stern (with more material there, not less). The degree of taper of the bow and stern is almost the same, as each is composed of a straight-line taper from the boat's widest point to the end, and the widest point is is only 8 or 9 inches to the rear of dead-center. Geometrically, that WOULD provide slightly more hull material (weight) to the rear of center if the height and flare of the hull were constant, but this would be pretty slight, probably slight enough to be cancelled-out by the bow being taller than the stern.

You also say that "The seat is aft of amidships and its weight will be more on the stern carrier also." when in fact, a COMMON complaint I've seen on these boards is that unlike the practice of any other major builder, Wenonah puts the Vagabond's seat halfway between the two ends, rather than one to 1.5 feet behind center as most solo paddlers prefer. This nearly-centered seat placement was true of my Vagabond, and looking at any top-down photo that I have access to shows the same thing to be the case (the seat is behind center by just a few inches). Even if the seat WERE farther to the rear of center than that, my doubts were great enough that a person could feel the resulting weight shift that once again I turned to logic and mathematics for the answer. I have a spare canoe seat that's considerably bigger than the seat in a Vagabond, and it weighs just 2.0 pounds. If that seat were positioned one foot to the rear of center in a 14.5-foot boat, that would create a total weight difference between the two ends of 0.36 pounds. Since the seat of a Vagabond is smaller and probably lighter than the seat I put on the scale, the weight difference between the two ends would probably be even less than this. I know my own muscle memory would never detect that difference by carrying the boat and then dowing the same again after switching ends.

You really need to put each end of the boat on a scale to see if there's a difference, and the point of support had better be the same distance from each end (or from center) when doing so.

If the boat were well-used, I would suspect that it has a damaged hull and water has leaked into the stern float tank. Since the boat has hardly been used, I'm out of guesses. Maybe poor workmanship, and too much resin in the fabric toward the rear?

I’ll try that
"If the boat were well-used, I would suspect that it has a damaged hull and water has leaked into the stern float tank. Since the boat has hardly been used, I’m out of guesses. Maybe poor workmanship, and too much resin in the fabric toward the rear? "

I suspect poor workmanship as well because there is no sign of use or abuse on that end of the boat. Next time I see my friend will get a scale out to test weight more accurately.

rear weight bias
with the seat mounted aft of midships, the total weight of the seat assembly moves rearward. In addition to the wooden seat, the hanger brackets also move rearward. If they were dowels, it wouldn’t mean beans weightwise, but the adjustable metal hanger plates might weigh as much as the seat.

This is all minor stuff, we are talking about a boat here that is probably under 30# and may be under 25# depending on layup and outfitting. So any of the items we are discussing are not like moving a bowling ball back and forth.

Slight differences in weight from end to end would not be detectable in an 85# Discovery, but at the light end of the scale, going from 12.5 to 14# would probably be detectable.

I’ll certainly agree with you that a lot of Wenonah solos have the seat position too far forward, but we don’t know where this seat is mounted relative to the center. Hopefully it is more to the stern.

I think there is more assymetry in the composite version than in the royalex hull. Will need to put a tape on both at the local dealers and find out. It is a short boat and will not be as pronounced as a marathon J-boat.

Just looking at possible factors to explain the detected weight bias.

Your idea about the float tanks is good, but I do not remember if the short solos get them. Even if the hull is solid, condensation can put water in a float tank over a period of time, depending on exposure to sunlight and temperature changes from day to night. I’d think if there were much water in the float tank, it would have been audible as the canoe was lifted and set down so many times during the weight testing.

Hopefully their scale test tells us how much difference there actually is.