Incredibly versatile, fast, efficient boat. Put 200#s of gear in it and expedition. Put a rudder plus sail rig on it and sail it. Stand Up Paddle it! A rudder with a padded tube attached to rudder cables in front of your ankles (standing just behind thwart) is best setup for SUPing it. BTW, this is a "pre poke boat" design, poke(y) boats = short keeled and slow. This is my 4th 1970s era phoenix yak, did the Grand in the Slipper recently.
I have the kevlar Vagabond and love it, but found the paddling a bit difficult as one other reviewer here has said... with paddling on the right the boat would swing to far to the left and vice versa. So a made sort of a keel with one of those after market car/truck side bumper... You know the type that has a strong adhesive that attaches to the side of your vehicle to stop other car doors from denting your vehicle; it's less than an inch wide and can be long enough for the 2-person Voyager. It paddles much straighter now
Once you repair or get over the looks, the boat is quite usable. I find it tracks incredibly well for a decked canoe. A skeg could help it. My wife who weighs about half what I do had trouble keeping it going straight with a child in the front seat. I had a lighter child up front and weigh more and it tracked well but still easily steerable. Stern sits very low. Bow has some good wave cutting height to it, but not a heavy water boat.
Seats should be a class action suit. They are horrible. Sitting in the yard wasn't bad, but after about 5 minutes paddling, my legs were asleep. Fixed by moving my position occasionally.
Easy paddle. fairly fast. very stable compared to a classic canoe, but probably just due to the weight distribution. very little oil-canning. The "light weight paddles" they sell at Phoenix are well usable, but not something you'd want to keep if you used the boat much. Think West Marine "emergency paddle" quality. 3 way adjustable. 0~25~45ish. mine came with the foot rests... a must. Also has the buoyancy bladders to insert into the bow and stern. a nice addition for a heavier than water boat.
Overall, good boat but not at all for the money Phoenix wants for it. Its just too raw, ugly and un-finished. Not nearly as sturdy as other glass boats, though it is light. You can make hand built boats well and make them expensive or you can build ugly and sell it cheap.. you can't mix and match. The boat is about as nice as their web site. Functional and bare bones.
BUT NOW THE GOOD STUFF: The boat is durable and spacious. In the kevlar layup at about 40#, it's a dream double for an old guy with 'old shoulders'. Although keeless, skegless and rudderless... I find the tracking to be acceptable. I regularly paddle on sloughs and into narrow channels and the ability to spin a 16' boat in it's own length is sometimes far more critical that rail-like tracking.
I have a couple of singles, but I use the vagabond for 1) 'first paddles' with friends curious about kayaking, 2) touring with grandchildren and 3) when I want 'pick-up truck' capacity that a single will never have.
The forward seat can be repositioned for single paddling, but I prefer to simply paddle from the rear. Moving the seat is NOT that easy, and I think you end up with a trim that is a bit 'bow down'.
Last note: the boat is monoque shell without bulkheads -- don't forget flotation bags!
The adapted Vagabond works for me. One of a kind and ugly, but reasonably fast, easy to enter, and best- no one will steal it off the car when you stop for lunch on the way home
I removed the front seat, installed a foot brace at the back set of holes for the front position of the front seat. I sit on two 3.5" thick square boat float cushions placed with the back edge just on the front edge of the back seat. This is where I get the best response with the 48" bent shaft Zaveral paddle. The Vagabond responds quite nicely to control strokes with this trim. Single blading from the back seat also works, but the bow is a little too light without some ballast toward the front and I usually paddle with no added load. The Vagabond responds very, very nicely to control strokes from the position just in front of the rear seat.
Kneeling with knees on back seat and butt on rear of cockpit trim also works, but ballast is needed up front to improve trim.
I shortened a portage yoke to fit between the screw holes for the front seat and place it in the back two holes of the seat mount, secured with two of the seat bolts, to portage the boat with decent balance. I move the yoke forward one set of holes while paddling to secure the spare paddle shaft and whatever else needs secured.
The Vagabond is relatively unaffected by wind when compared with undecked canoes. The downward slope from cockpit to stems allows the car hood & trunk lid to open farther than with standard canoes, when it's on the rack.
It's an ugly, spartan boat, but don't discount it's handling capabilities without experimenting with trim first. Trim makes a big difference with the Vagabond.
I'm 5'6", 155 lbs and have 14 other canoes & kayaks.
Forget about sitting in the middle position in the boat for solo use. It makes the bow plow in the water and the boat wanders - big or small paddler. Sit in the rear position and it works out much better. Never tried it with two paddlers. Looked like it would be too crowded. But then I am 6'2" and 230 lbs, so with two smaller people it might be fine. My girlfriend uses the boat and likes it as she is a novice paddler and enjoys the stability.
Pros: Very stable, and quite quick for the effort expended. Canoe paddle or kayak paddle works well. Whatever you prefer. I tried both in the boat and to my surprise I like using the canoe paddle in it better.
Cons: Very uncomfortable seating. The seat is a nightmare, and the sides of the boat itself are too narrow. No room for your legs. Even less room in the boat for gear.
Final thought: My advice - get a canoe if you want access to gear, or a kayak if you want the efficiency.