Bell canoe which one?

I am looking at a used Yellowstone and a Morningstar.

Can anyone give me an idea on how each boat handles?

I have both canoeing and kayaking experience. I would like to use it for both tandem and solo river camping. I am planning an Everglades trip this winter which it would be used.

Similar specs - go light
I assume you’re looking at the Yellowstone tandem not the solo. I’ve never seen that boat, but it probably paddles very nicely. It has a bit more rocker than the Morningstar, so it may turn a bit more easily, which is more important for river paddling than open water paddling. A more turny boat requires a more refined correction stroke than a less turny boat.

The Morningstar is a popular boat for rivers and lakes, and is commonly used both solo and tandem.

They both have very similar dimensions and carrying capacity, so load carrying shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

As far as I know, the YS is only available in Royalex, which is heavier than composite weaves. I am a proponent of light weight, especially for flat water places like Florida. Is the MS Royalex or composite?

Personally, I’d test paddle each one solo to see how it handles. If it was a close call, I’d always opt for a lighter composite for Florida paddling.

Where else are you planning to paddle
The MorningStar is a bit quicker which might be a help when you find yourself going against the tidal current. However if you intend to solo backwards from the bow seat…the less bow rocker in this case might cause some handling difficulties. Plus the Yellowstone has quite a few thwarts to contend with.

Load is not a factor.Both have similar capacities.

I ask where else you plan to paddle as either boat is fine for the Everglades but if you plan to do some twisty creeks that might be a factor.

Be mindful. ABS doesn’t mix well with oyster bars. They can slice feet and boats.

I will be on the lookout for a Bell something when I go to the Everglades in a couple of weeks.

Best oyster bar in Florida …
… is Posey’s in Panacea.

I spent many a late night there in the early 70’s. Actually, I have never eaten a raw oyster sober, so I always get the smoked mullet, which is also the world’s best. I wonder if they still wrap it in the Tallahassee Democrat.

But yes, Kayamedic, I wouldn’t advise walking barefoot in Posey’s oyster bar. The rowdy FSU students and wild pig hunting locals may have smashed bottles of Busch on the floor.

Tremendous local paddling on the Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers and the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge for a Bell canoe.

I am looking for light weight
The Bell Morningstar is the blackgold (carbon Kevlar), but a bit more than I have to spend and a very long drive. However, it is the one I would like to go for. If anyone has something for sale that is similar feel free to let me know. How does the Kevlar hold up?

BTW I have eaten oysters from Apalachicola Bay for many years and hunted St. Vincent’s Island. I hope to paddle the big bend area in my kayak some day.

Thanks for the input.
I haven’t paddled the Glades but my wife and I are headed there this year. Sounds like you will beat us down there by about a month. I do have experience paddling the Ocklawaha, St. Johns, Silver, Santa Fe, Suwannee, Wekiva, Rock Springs, Juniper Springs Alexander springs, Salt springs, Hillsboro, and other central FL rivers and spring runs. I do like the twisty stuff. I live in SC and paddle the coastal marshes and piedmont and low country rivers class 2 at most. I have paddled WW on the Chattooga in a tandem canoe many years ago.

I mostly sea kayak these days, but my wife is a bit intimidated by rough open water so I thought a light weight canoe would be better for some paddling in the glades together. Maybe I can hook up with someone to paddle a bit on the outside or do a couple of over night solos in my kayak.

We might have derailed your initial
question. Thanks Glenn for the diversion…now smacking my lips thinking of visiting Deals in Perry.

Castoff if you would like beach camping with your wife and minimize the open water exposure, leave EC and to to Picnic or Tiger Key… Both voyages are relatively sheltered.

Another peek into the Gulf is possible with going down the Chatham River to Mormon Key. Watson Place is actually a fairly roomy camp if you do not mind company…(because it is big, it is often used by outfitters)

I too am adding to my Central FL repertoire… I have paddled about 3/4 of your list but the guidebooks I have tell me I ave just started.

Don’t know how long your trip will be but another consideration is how far sunk your hull will be loaded with the fresh water you need. I have had more fun with a more whitewater oriented boat when the water load is 100+ lbs. At least I can turn the darn thing. Less fun is a no rockered boat. But the Morningstar is not totally unrockered.

I guess I would go with the better deal :slight_smile:

What have you paddled previously?

– Last Updated: Jan-02-13 10:47 PM EST –

...and what type of water did you paddle in...and how did that/those canoe(s) do...? A good Royalex or expedition composite tandem hull is somewhat heavy on the portage end...but can come alive on the water...and is so stable what it comes to beaching up anywhere...but a stiff expedition kevlar, designed well is, indeed, terrific.
The Yellowstone continues to sell, although some of NovaCraft's and Wenonah's tandems look ok...add in a few of Esquif's Touring hulls...but pricey new.( ).
If heading for kevlar you might want to find the "expedition" tough kevlar cause two adults add a lot of weight for a light kevlar to take a hit and stay healthy...just my $.01 with years since my last stream tandem paddle. Have most always found kevlar tandem hulls leaning on the high performance end...usually feeling a bit twitchy for two to relax in...with something other than paddling performance/racing in mind.
*So Glenn....think they'd deliver to north central Maine..? Man you've got me wantin' something just reading that....but can't get out and throw a line anywhere...~5deg above right now.

I have jewel key as a possible camp
I have located a used wenona aurora and a reasonable price, and a mad river explorer in need of work on one gunnel for a very good price. The yellowstone is rollex.

I did most of my paddling in a fiberglass Mohawk, I used a Mad River in ww, but do not Recall the model.

I hope to get out on cape sable, but will use my sea kayak if I do that. I suspect we will do mostly day trips. We also plan on camping at juniper springs

Can’t go wrong
I have a Yellowstone, and paddle it frequently on fast moving rivers. It eats up class II water, and is easy to maneuver on the slow stretches. It doesn’t track well on flat water (not really meant to) but I have done some pretty long lake trips in it and it’s serviceable if you’re not in a hurry. I put a kneeling thwart in mine to solo, it’s asymmetrical, so turning it around isn’t a good idea. Morningstar is a very similar design, and would probably be a little quicker against the current. Certainly a LOT lighter, but don’t know how big an issue that is to you vs. the increase in cost for b/g.

You will like the Yellowstone
more for Juniper, though again they rent Grummans there. But the Y will help you avoid many of the clients that are stuck across the river or upside down.

There can be a bit of boat carnage on the J.

tough choice between these two boats
I can’t recall ever paddling a Morningstar. I have paddled Royalex Yellowstone tandems a fair bit, and occasionally solo.

Either canoe is going to be a bit wide to paddle as a solo, but probably not unworkably so.

As others have said, the Yellowstone solo is a very pleasant compromise between efficiency and maneuverability. For the type of paddling you intend to do, I rather suspect its hull design would suit better than the Morningstar.

But the Morninstar is very likely to be the more efficient boat to paddle, especially on flat stretches. Bell Black Gold boats are very stiff and quite tough. The stiff layup makes for more efficient paddling compared to somewhat floppy Royalex, apart from the hull design.

So it comes down to priorities.

Yellowstone pros:

Probably more fun to paddle on twisty streams



Morninstar pros:

Much lighter


Better tracking on the flats

I think either would carry a sufficient load for river tripping.

Haven’t paddled either of them but…
… a guy in our local paddling club paddles a Morningstar as his dedicated solo boat. He uses a kneeling thwart. When watching him paddle the thing, I’ve never gotten the impression that it’s much of a compromise to use it solo instead of tandem. It may be a little wide, and he’s a pretty small guy, but one really doesn’t see noticeable awkwardness in his stroke mechanics as a result. It’s a nice cruiser as a solo, and reasonably maneuverable too, which is pretty much in agreement with what others are saying.

Have paddled both as a solo
and they are too big for me flat. A tall guy with long arms will do better.

I can get a vertical stroke kneeling and heeling them over though. In this case the shape of the hull becomes much different than that of a flat boat and rocker matters much less.

Pretty much anything showing up at a FreeStyle canoe event gets tried by solo paddlers…at least once.

Yes I have seen the carnage
Been paddling juniper of and on since the late 60s. I now go during the week if possible, and try to be first or last on the water.

I’ve learned to ask inside if there
are school or church groups on the river irrespective of day of week.

30 or so teens and silver boats upside down…stuck in trees…under trees…on trees.

And I was soloing a Peregrine…not the most nimble of craft. Nevertheless I didn’t hit any victims.

Be bold, castoff. Go for black-gold
So you say you want lightweight and will mainly paddle flat water. If the choice is between a 63 lb. Royalex hull and a similar 40 lb. black-gold hull, for me it would be NO CONTEST.

Unless you are a 25 year old weight lifter and plan on staying that way, you should be thinking about the long run. A quality canoe can be a lifetime investment.

Carbon-Kevlar will last your lifetime if you treat it well, and especially if you store it indoors (out of the weather). If it is a flatwater boat, the most you should do is to add character building scratches on the bottom.

A long drive is nothing to find a quality boat. I drove twice from NY to Florida in the 80’s to buy Kevlar composite boats from Mike Galt. If I had kept them indoors more, you would think they are five years old. I drove from Connecticut to California to pick up my outrigger canoe. Most recently, I drove from Connecticut to Virginia to try and buy a used Bell black-gold Wildfire.

My 60 year old self thanks my 30 year old self for buying lightweight canoes 30 years ago, even though it required some sacrifices at the time.

Get lots of pictures from the seller and remember that you don’t have to pay his asking price.

The few hundred bucks, few hundred miles, and few hours you spend acquiring a quality canoe is soon forgotten – but you will have a wonderful pleasure machine that will give you adrenal and endorphin highs for decades to come.

Valid point
Now if I can make the same point at home…