After selling my canoe a couple of years ago I am now lamenting it's loss. Blame it on kayak lust. I thought that my canoeing days were done. Of course, now I want a canoe again. I've narrowed my choices down to the Old Town Penobscot 16, Mad River Explorer 16 or the Bell Morningstar. All in Royalex. I've read the glowing reviews for the OT and MR, but couldn't find any reviews on the Bell. I'll be using it mostly for tandem daytripping with some weekend overnighters and maybe a trip or two a year for a week. Occassional solo use. I'd like to hear from paddlers who've owned these canoes and get your impressions. Thanks.
I have a royalex northwind which is pretty similar to the Morningstar but a foot longer. You are welcome to paddle it to get a sense of the Bell feel. I really love the balanced characteristics of the boat. I liked the kevcrystal Northwind I paddled up in MN this year better of course (its a foot longer) but my northwind is the boat I take on the Guadalupe, Medina and other hill country rivers, so I wanted royalex. It is also big enough to haul some of my oversized relatives and extra gear. I was sure interested in the Morningstar, particularly since I paddle the boat solo most of the time.
You probably know it, but TG in San Marcos and Austin Outdoors Gear and Guidance both have Bell canoes now.
The Adventure 16 is sure heavy, but is rotomolded and probably tough as heck.
The Penobscot 16 I’ve only looked at but never paddled. People seem to like them, I don’t think they have the overall stability that the Bell boats have.
Give a shout if you want me to bring the Northwind out to the lake or we could take it to the Guadalupe and you can see how that Bell hull shape works in moving water. We could take our fishing rods…
Thanks for the offer! I might have to take you up on that. My wife has some free time (for a change) this weekend and we are going to try to paddle the Guadalupe at Kerrville SP. Hopefully, I can entice some bass out of the weeds. Sunday we may head for Boerne Lake. My son and I have been practically living there each weekend this summer. The fishing has been spectacular, when we haven’t been wallowing in that nice, cool (somewhat) swimming hole at the end of the creek.
I will probabaly hit Austin Outdoors next weekend as they carry all the models I’m interested in. The Penobscot is probably at the top of my list. I’m kind of an Old Town fan. Most of my boats are Old Town and I’ve been pretty pleased with them. Besides, I will probably be moving to Maine this winter and I’m not sure how a non-Maine made canoe would be received there.
OK, Boerne Lake on Sunday may work for me. Keep me posted.
We've got one that we use for tandem daytripping, solo fishing, and dog transport, mostly on local lakes. I'm primarily a kayaker, so I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I'd say it's strong points are manueverability and final stability. I can comfortably solo it Canadian-style with the gunnel just a couple of inches off the water with no worries. This predictability is reassuring when we're tandem and the 80-lb dog and his 70-lb sister get excited about passing wildlife! It turns very easily and should be decent on moderate moving water. The tradeoffs are what you'd expect -- speed and tracking. It's fine for relaxed exploring, but if you want to cut a straight wake to the horizon this is not your boat.
This seems like a fair review:
The Penobscot 16 was our second choice -- as I recall, it leans a bit more to the speed and tracking side of the balance.
How about here?
I meant the Mad River Explorer 16. Must have had one of those brain what-cha-ma-call-ems.
I owned a kevlar one for abuot 23 years and just sold it this year because i didn’t use it and like you, I got into kayaks. Of the many canoes i have owned i regret selling that one most. It has been used on tandem and solo white water use and some lake, ocean use. Used it a lot for fishing, camping and family stuff. It was certainly fast, well built, tough and had great stability. Damn, i wish i had it still.
MR Explorer is a step up in size,
weight, and capacity from the others you are considering. It will not solo as well as the Pnbsct 16 or the Morningstar. The Penobscot may be the fastest of the three by a small margin. I think you should consider the next size up in a Bell. Personally, I do not like the Mad River V-hull design. I have owned two MR solo canoes with V hulls, and the one which has only a slight V hull, my Guide (now called the Freedom Solo) handles much better than the one with a marked V. V hulls can have significantly more wetted hull area than shallow arch hulls.