Bell Morningstar vs Novacraft Bob's Spec


I’m considering these 2 canoes in royalite for light tandum tripping and some solo paddleing- a do all canoe.No whitewater and weight is definatly a factor.They are avalible at about the same price.Is there another canoe I should consider? Your feedback is appreciated.


this listing for my experience with a Bob’s Special:

Novacraft Pal, Esquif Champlain
I assume you’ve considered the Pal? Similar in intended use, I suppose, but a wee bit bigger.

If you aren’t planning on much moving water, or shallow rivers, or general carelessness, I think maybe the best bang-for-buck would be the Esquif Champlain in fiberglass. Of course, you might not have a dealer where you are, but this boat is a classic design from a great new company. The s-glass and wood trim make a light, beautiful hull that should perform brilliantly. I cam very close to buying one myself, but ended up finding a nice wood/canvas pal.

Combi boats
Combi boats work for deales, not for paddlers. A hull that is fine as a solo for a 270 lbg person may work fine for a 160 lb guy and a 120 lb gal, but will not function for two 250 lb people.

MorningStar is a nice little tandem if you don’t intend to move too far or fast. It is a poor solo boat, because it is 36" wide amidships; way to wide to solo.

Bob’s Special is a little too narrow to be a tandem boat; except for a very skilled and athletic team of compact paddlers.

CE, what do you think of the Bluewater
Peterborough? About 31" as I recall.

The Bob Special
I find most every comment that I read on from CEWilson to be well thought out, informative and generally balanced: I certainly look forward to his opinion and commentary on most any subject here; this includes most of what is in his latest post. That said, I will politely disagree with his comments on the Bob Special. The boat is not narrow (not even a little; my wife calls it “the fat little guppy”) and it works quite well for average tandem paddlers. The only issue that need be faced is to ensure that any large disparity between the weight in the bow and that in the stern is somehow balanced. It is as true in tandem as it is in solo mode: The Bob is at its best when trimmed as close to level as possible (even to the point of a little bias towards the bow). After many, many miles in a Nova Craft Bob, I can tell you that there just are not any unusual issues for tandem paddlers; you needn’t be very skilled nor terribly athletic to enjoy what is actually a rather benign (but immensely capable) little SUV of a boat. However, if your search is for a canoe that is mostly to be used as a tandem, with only occasional solo work, I’d agree that you should definitely look at the Pal, too.

I agree
Although perhaps CE is describing a diffent Bob Special, maybe the original Peterbrough. The Novacraft Bob has 35" beam. IMO not too narrow for a tandem.

I own a Nova craft Bob in royalex-lite. It paddles extremely nice as a tandem and is a good weekend tripper. It is a passable solo using the third “solo” seat, and is a little better as a solo tripper. It is a relaxing, gets-you-there solo.

For those that can have only one canoe for both solo and tandem, IMHO I think the Bob is good.

Go Novacraft
I love the Bob. I think it does many things well, but not really anythig great. It is fast for a wide 15 footer. It can be nice to fish from as well as a good tripper. I also love the Pal. It can be leaned easily and paddled canadian style. I believe it is faster than the Bob. It is a bit narrower and a foot longer. I think the leg room in the bow is cramped however. Before you buy, I guess as always a test paddle is important. Lastly, you could investigate the Eaglet form Hemlock Canoe Works.

This is a Combi type of boat. I ahve never paddled one, but I ahve heard good things.

Good luck with your search.


And also

I should have mentioned that I have solo boats and know there would be limitations solo in one of these tandum boats.Also, solo I would definitly paddle it leaned canadian style.Sometimes we just want to take just one boat.We have a Novacraft prospector which I paddle that way,but it is just more boat than we want-weight and freeboard.It does need to be Royalex for mild creek work.


Canadian style
The Bob Special works great paddled Canadian style. I’ve never soloed a tandem that I enjoyed more, and it worked just fine as a day paddler for me and my wife and two small children. The one thing to bear in mind with the Bob is that the bow seat is quite close to the bow. That might bother a bow paddler that doesn’t like feeling like (s)he is sitting on the nose of the canoe.

I only paddled a Morningstar briefly - about five minutes paddling one solo. Paddled Canadian style I got the impression it could be a lot of fun. The gentleman who owned it said he used it has his solo fishing boat and he was really happy with it.

Hull width
jes guys, didn’t realize the newer BS was 35" wide.

I had it in my head as 32" wide.

Of course the Bell MS is 36wide, so both are way wide for solos. Combi canoes tend to run 32-33" wide, and they are too wide for any but the largest solo paddlers.

Most of us need solos between 29 and 30 inches wide. The 31" Bluewater - they do wonderful laminations - would fit larger paddlers.

I’d lean towards the Royalite Bob’s Special out of the two choices you list because it’s Royalite and I think the Morningstar is Royalex…anyway the Bob’s Special could be up to a solid 5 pounds lighter. If you were going to do mostly tandem with just a bit of solo paddling then the Morningstar is probably better. I have not paddled a Bob’s Special but I had some fun in a Royalex Morningstar solo (but it’s not like a true solo) and they hum along quite respectably tandem.

I had a Bluewater Freedom Tripper 17 that was quite a combi. It was hot even solo…as fast as a midrange solo like a Swift Osprey or Blackhawk Ariel and probably a faster solo cruiser than a composite Wildfire with just a bit more effort to accelerate, but an amazing solo and you could also freestyle the boat like a solo…spin on a dime. And it was a missle tandem…but a bit tender, you really really want to kneel in it.

They said they could make a skin coat expedition kevlar one for about 45 pounds and it would be pretty much bulletproof.

Also - the Hemlock Eaglet would likely be just perfect for you and would be the lightest option of all and plenty sturdy for your planned use (and twice the price that you planned to spend…sorry).