Blue Hole MGA & Sunburst II Questions

After purchasing an older Blue Hole 17A last year I am becoming a Blue Hole fan. I love that canoe. I have been on the search this year for more Blue Hole models. I have found two, but am looking for helpful info on how the boats handle, and if people like them.

I am looking for a boat to handle the class I - III rocky rivers in the northeast where I live. The models I found are a Blue Hole MGA, and Sunburst II solo canoe. Can anyone fill me in on their thoughts about either of these? Are they now obsolete hull designs compare to newer boats offered. The asking price on each canoe is the same… $650.

Thanks for any info.

The Sunburst II is a nice OC-1 for NE
rivers. Handling is responsive and predictable, though not as “hot” as later, smaller ww boats.

The MGA was Mike Gault’s design in Royalex, and is a relatively flat tandem cruiser suitable for flatwater and easy (class 1-2) whitewater.

From a “collector” point of view, the MGA is more rare and perhaps a neater boat to own. It is the one I would purchase, if it were in shape to be put to occasional use. The Royalex will be old, and inclined to break if significantly abused.

But if you want to actually use what you buy, the Sunburst II is a better choice for NE conditions as I have seen them (Fife Brook, Housatonic, etc.).

The MGA might make an interesting poling boat, though it may seem tippy until you get used to it.

Sunburst II

– Last Updated: Feb-24-09 1:03 PM EST –

There is a nicely priced Sunburst II (in Illinois), currently for sale in pnet ads. I have seen photos of it, and it appears to be in very good condition.

Because of it's dimensions the Sunburst is certainly not going to handle like a new, 12 foot solo, with 5 inches of rocker. On the other hand, a used Sunburst II is not going to cost you 12 to 14 hundred bucks to buy & outfit. The Sunburst II was strongly built,(it's heavy), and will take a lot of abuse. In the hands of a good paddler, it is certainly capable of doing class 2 & 3, but it will probably be somewhat of a wet ride if/when you take on big drops & big standing wave trains. Good initial & secondary stability. Lots of volume, and certainly capable of handling a "big old boy" paddler. You'll have to be a good paddler to get that length boat through rock gardens,in fast moving water, without doing some pinballing.

It's an "old school" boat, but would probably fit your need for a class 2 to 3 rock basher; especially if you like Blue Holes. Getting harder every year to find one in decent conditon..........


Thanks for the repsones so far
To clear it up a bit when I said are the hulls obsolete compare to todays models I might have been misleading.

I know the Suburst II is not a pure white water boat like todays modern “playboats” or shorter white water boats. I would use it more for river trips in class II rivers with sections of dead water. So a short boat is not what I am really after anyway. Anxious to hear more from anyone with experiance paddling these boats.

thanks again.

MGA – Kingfisher
I’ve paddled the MGA and owned the composite version,the Kingfisher. It is a very dry, high volume cruiser. Lots of flare in the bow and no tumblehome in the middle. Speed wise it was slower than my Wenonah Spirit, but much dryer in lake waves. Very wide paddling station in the bow, the bow seat being fixed and very far back from the bow. Nice to keep the bow light for rising with waves, and with the flared bow it did rise over everything. Never paddled it in anything really technical or heavy downriver stuff. It was great for fishing and hauling a load. With the wood trim done at Merrimac, the MGB and Kingfisher are good looking canoes, and sort of rare. The numbers of composite versions were around 25 or so if my information from the eastern US rep at the time is correct. The MGA would have made a great expedition canoe; the later Dagger Venture looked like a revision of the MGA hull.