Bell Merlin II compared to Swift Osprey

Just out of curiousness, has anyone ever compared the Bell Merlin II to the Swift Osprey for speed and turning?


Andy in Virginia

Owned both
and enjoyed them. The Merlin II is perhaps a bit faster with a bit less secondary stability. My favorite of the two is the Osprey for reasons I have a hard time articulating. Nice feel to it.


– Last Updated: Jun-26-07 6:33 AM EST –

I used to own a Merlin II and now own an Osprey.The Merlin was in ultralite kevlar,the osprey is expidition kevlar.My opinions;
-They are probible equally fast
-The Osprey definatly turns better.
-The osprey is more seaworthy
-The osprey will carry more wieght.
-The Merlin is prettier.
-The expidition kevlar is much tuffer,but the black gold merlin may be closer.
-The Merlin is lighter.
-The osprey seat is better and adjustable.
-The merlin had faster acceleration.
I switched because I wanted more turning ability,seaworthyness and durability,a black gold merlin probiblly would have addressed the last.If I was only paddleing calm lakes I would prefer the Merlin.
I still miss the Merlin-kind of like an old fondly remembered girlfriend who didn't work out.

thanks for the confirmation
I pretty much feel the same way. I was just curious if I was the only one.


Andy in Virginia

I have been wanting an Osprey
but then I test paddled a Hemlock Peregrine this month. The Merlin and Peregrine are very similar. Now I don’t know which to dream towards.

Peregrine is faster & tracks better
The Peregrine is one of my favorite boats and IMHO it is somewhat faster and tracks better but turns slower than the Merlin II or Swift Osprey. I’d more likely compare the Swift Shearwater to the Peregrine than I would to compare the Osprey to the Peregrine. I think in a flat out race the Peregrine is quite a bit faster but not as manuverable as the Osprey and not as roomy/comfy as the Shearwater.

Merlin II and peregrine

– Last Updated: Jun-26-07 5:12 PM EST –

They are similar because they are both one design iteration away from the Yost designed Curtis Nomad. Merlin has straighter stems, Peregrine more layout, so wl length and width are ~ the same.

I'd be very surprised to find GPS w/ heart moniter comparisons showing much speed difference.

Thanks Charlie
Thanks Charlie. I always appreciate your knowledge of the history and characteristics of these designs.

similarities / differences of Merlin2
Key Charlie;Have you had the oppertunity to compare Bruce Kunz’s Merlin to the DY Merlin2? There are no Bells and few Sawyers down where I paddle so I am curious about the preformance differences. ( please be aware that I am the guy who makes the front half of the pack possible).



Merlin verse Merlin
When I arrived at bell the BK Merlin was already compromised by a cracking mold. The boat has/had finer lines than David Yost / Dave Curtis Nomad/Heron, Merlin, Peregrine, was wetter and had less rocker.

It tracked better for those paddlers who needed that help, and took a court order to turn, and it was wetter than it’s ilk as well, but quite fast.

I didn’t mind discontinuing it, and could never discern if it was hogged by design or through drooping of the mold over time. Lets assume the later, and remember Bruce’s Merlin as a fast BWCA tourer.

Merlin II, Peregrine, Shearwater
I tried demoing an Osprey earlier this month, but, unfortunately the dealer was out of stock. However, I did have the opportunity to paddle the Swift Shearwater, Bell Merlin II, and Hemlock Peregrine.

They are very similar; Merlin II seemed to turn easiest, Peregrine was slightly faster, and the Shearwater seemed most comfortable with the cane seat being contoured and sliding. Peregrine also had a contoured seat, but not adjustable.

So, I, myself have sufficiently muddied the waters and am not quite sure which to buy, either.

Well then…
we will have to buy them all. If we go in together maybe we could get a volume discount? Now I just need the cash to buy them all…

all yummy boats
I had an Osprey and want another and I’m lucky enough to have a Merlin II and Peregrine. The Osprey turns way better than the Merlin or Peregrine and it’s the sweetest all around boat. It freestyles like a Wildfire…happy to dip a rail to the water and spin in it’s own length. It’s the only one that’s a real river boat. Mine kept my safe and dry in like 3 foot chop on a big lake. The Merlin is more efficient…when I cruise upstream againt the local river the Osprey is like 2.3/2.4 mph and the Merlin 2.7 for same muscle (which makes the Merlin feel WAY faster). But Osprey turns way better. Peregrine turns on a dime at zero speed but overall does not turn as well as Merlin II, but does have slightly higher cruising speed for same muscle. I like my Peregrine and Merlin II better with my dog (me 180, dog 70 lbs) than without. I loved the Osprey without the dog.

The Hemlock Kestrel is hotter than both the Merlin and Peregrine if your size and load fit!

2 hour workout speeds
I did a two hour work out last night with the Osprey and my gps average speed was 3.6 mph with the double blade and 3.2 mph with the single blade. I started at the boat ramp and paddled upstream for an hour then turned and came back down. The river is moving at .6 mph but by averaging my upstream speed and my downstream speed I factored in the river speed.

If a canoe is moving 4.5 mph downstream on a river that is moving .5 mph what is the actual speed of the canoe?

if the same canoe is moving at 4 mph upstream on a river that is moving .5 mph what is the actual speed of the canoe?