bell morningstar

-- Last Updated: Jul-28-07 9:38 AM EST --

this may be a no brainer, but after a long decision making process I had decided on a Mad River Explorer 14. The reason being (besides a relatively small budget) I would paddle it tandem/solo in a 75/25 ratio so I wanted a tandem boat, but something smaller to easily manuever solo and overnight trips requiring more room for gear etc. would be few and far between.
So, I ordered this boat from REI and two days later I found a used (but in great shape) Bell Morningstar. Why I was looking for used canoes two days after I purchased a boat, I don't know, I guess looking has been a habit for the last couple of months and now something has finally turned up. The boat is priced at $850 and new the MSRP is $1200. This is a little more than what I have to spend, but by the time I pay sales tax on the explorer 14 and gas money driving to pick up the boat or the cost of shipping it to my house I've already gotten up to $800 easy.

Is this a fair price for a boat in good shape? It's supposedly only one year old.

Also, the rocker on the bow side is 1in more than the stern as well as the height- 2in. Is the performance of a non-symmetrical boat that noticeable with such a slight differnce?


Way better boat than the 14tt, IMHO. You’ll be happier with it in the long run. The asym rocker is nice it does help balance tracking and maneuverability, and the boat paddles solo fine in the kneeled position. You didn’t mention the layup but I’m going to assume it’s royalex. Even though it’s longer, it’s going to weigh significantly less than the 14tt, even in royalex. IMHO, if it’s in good condition I’d go for the Morningstar, it’ll take you farther both figuratively and literally.

thanks for the input
- it is royalex and 14lbs lighter than the explorer14- I think I’m going to go with the morningstar


Good decision. The only good 14’
tandem canoes are specialized whitewater boats. A little extra length means less width, better speed, easier to solo.

I have a bell morningstar, I use it in small lakes and slow rivers, playing and fishing. I just love this boat, I go solo fishing, and tandom with my wife. If its in very good shape you got a real good deal on a very nice canoe.

it’s a done deal…

– Last Updated: Aug-04-07 3:22 PM EST –

well, I went ahead and made the purchase. My new (used) morningstar is in great shape with only a few minor cosmetic scrapes and I'm really looking forward to taking it out this week. Especially since it came with a middle seat that I was planning on installing anyway for the occassional solo paddle. And, at only 55lbs it's easy to car top and I'm confident of the material (first royalex boat for me) to be durable and long lasting when well kept.

To anyone who owns a morningstar or similar bell canoe, this boat obviously has attention to detail, but overall feels a bit more "flimsy" than I was expecting. All of the seats hang about 5 inches which might be why it's not as "stiff" as seats and that are at gunwale height. I know it's not a whitewater boat, but still, is this common among bell canoes with the lake/light river classfication? Will it "stiffen" up some when I install float bags? (which after reading the "royalex canoe" post I'm still debating whether to drill hull or loops under gunwales)


Two tricks to stiffen it up. First, put
some minicell pads between the seat hangers and the side of the hull. This will tend to brace the seats. Second, when you go to set the boat up for occasional solo paddling, put a minicell kneeling seat just behind the cemter thwart, so that it serves as a brace brace between the thwart and the bottom of the boat. This will reduce any smidge of oil canning to a very low level.

If you decide to hang a kneeling thwart from the gunwales for solo paddling, then put minicell pads between the hangers and the hull. You could still put a couple of 2" slabs of minicell between the thwart and the keel.

I haven’t done much river paddling with our Morningstar, but it’s been a treat paddling on flatwater in a boat that feels solid with one gunwale 2" off the water. She does respond to fore/aft trim changes. I’ve also had her out solo on the lake in mild whitecap conditions and felt comfortable, even with the waves on the beam.

good ideas

– Last Updated: Aug-04-07 11:03 PM EST –

Since I'll be using a fair amount of minicell foam, 3 hanging seats total, could you suggest a cheaper way of buying it, maybe in a sheet and also a place or business that would sell that?


Minicel source

thanks for the link…

– Last Updated: Aug-05-07 1:38 PM EST –

Since the placement and function of this foam is to stiffen up the seats and boat itself, not necessarily a vital one, what would anyone's thought be on using a cheaper foam- like a closed cell sleeping pad or such?


When one sits lower than the gunwales the canoe’s hull design will work for you…initial and secondary stability-wise. Something’s not tight, or needs to be re-done. The seat’s stiffness or looseness in the boat is an issue, but is NOT an important one. Agree with simply adding dense minicell closed-pore foam. It’s very firm…solidifies loose fittings like a rock.

Just as easy though to get yourself a pedestal(used in whitewater) to sit on, kneepads, ankle blocks. Use the pedestal and kneel when paddling…you’ll enjoy it more…

my $.01


another minicell source
Another source that has been mentioned on pnet is:

Don’t have any experience with this source - just had it bookmarked from previous discussions here.

thanks bigspencer…
I’ll look into the firm closed cell foam. Another thing, I’ll be doing only occasional solo WW in this boat- maybe class II- but the majority of any paddling with this boat will be tandem.

My Morningstar already has dropped middle seat, which I can comfortably use to sit/kneel (with legs under). How much difference in power, stability etc is there with a pedestal versus a dropped down seat?


I recently purchased used Bell MornigStar. how would I determine whether it is Kevlight or Blackgold?


If you can post pics of the interior and exterior that would help.

One giveaway is the thwarts…KevLight would have ash thwarts and black/gold boats have the much darker black walnut.

Congrats…Morningstars are good boats.

here is a pic of the Black Gold layup

I had a Merlin II in Kev Light. It had a foam diamond encased with Kevlar for stiffness. The BG does not and the Kevlite is indeed gold.

Must be the Kev Light. I also have an original Merlin as well!!


I should have said the center thwarts are black walnut. Oddly enough with black/gold boats with aluminum gunwales (like my Yellowstone Solo) the carrying handles are ash but the center thwarts are black walnut.

I can’t tell for sure which lay-up yours is by looking at the interior.