Canoeist opinions,Please

-- Last Updated: Mar-31-07 12:36 PM EST --

I own a Sawyer Shockwave solo canoe. While I love the boat as a fast touring ,hard tracking boat,I am looking for a good tracking,fairly stable,and easier to turn solo canoe. I like to fast tour,but on occassion I need a boat that will turn better for narrow rivers,exploring,etc. I would rarely camp out of the boat,so load volume is not a concern. I have narrowed my choices down to a Bell Magic,Placid Rapidfire,and a Clipper Freedom in that order. I have paddled a Magic,but the Rapidfire,and Freedom are out of reach to try out. Could I please have the canoe experts opinions of these boats. As for now the Shockwave is NOT for sale until I find a replacement,and then I do like it for what it does best,I may keep it. Thanks in advance.

Happy Paddling billinpa

what is your goal?

It seems to me that with the boats you are considering, you are really trying to replace the Shockwave and not compliment it with an easier to turn river canoe. Nothing wrong with that. But, I’m not sure that you’ve yet come to grips with what you are really trying to accomplish.

I know how much you like speed. The question is, are you willing to part with some of it to get something that, as you say, is better at turning for narrow rivers, exploring, etc?

From what I read, you are basically wanting to replace the Shock with another speedy canoe. No?

Yes maybe…

– Last Updated: Mar-31-07 1:38 PM EST –

The Shock is a PITA to turn,but a great cruising boat. Leaning it just doesn't seem to help,and then there's that very fine line,before capsize. I didn't spend much time in the Magic,but it was a far better turning boat,then the Shock. Yes speed is my quest,but a the sake of some more maneuverabiliy,I could deal with less speed. The Clipper Freedom looks to be almost the same hull,as the Shock,hence 3 choice,again no chance to paddle one. The Rapidfire concerns me as it is a sit on bottom boat,and I have some back,and leg issues,that may take it out of the running,sitting kayak style again.I have my Yellowstone solo,and it's a nice little creek boat,but not much of a cruiser. I guess I am looking for that perfect do it all boat that we know doesn't exist. I was hopeing for opinions ,even if other boats not on my list that I may have overlooked.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Bell Merlin II or Hemlock Peregrine
would be my suggestions. I use the Merlin II for my everday river paddling and it turns a whole lot easier than a Shockwave, and speed and tracking is definetly better than a yellowstone solo. The Pergrine is similar in feel to the Merlin II but I think has a little more glide.

good luck with your quest

RapidFire not “out of reach” Bill.

– Last Updated: Mar-31-07 3:43 PM EST –

Want to paddle one? Then get your butt on down to DC and you can plant it solidly on a RapidFire floor seat to see if you can handle it.

I never experianced the problems with RapidFire on the floor seating as I have with on the floor kayak seating.

Also have a few other boats mentioned that we could throw on to compare as well.



How about the Clipper Solitude
If the Freedom is too similar to your Shockwave, how about the Clipper Solitude. I own the Wenonah version, and I find it to have a good mixture of speed and manuverablity. It certainly doesn’t cruise as well as the Freedom, and it is not as manuverable as your Yellowstone. It’s somewhere in between the two.

Hope this helps,


Zimbob is the guy who can answer this. But heres my one cents worth- you cant have both worlds of manuverability and tracking. Good tracking sacrifices manuverablitiy and vise versa

Bell Merlin II
I have been paddling one for a year and cannot imagine a better do-it-all solo. I have also used a Bell Magic and Wenonah Prism, and I also own a Wenonah Voyager. The Merlin II is by far the most versatile of these solos for my uses – mostly lake paddling, but inclusive of rivers; both day trips (unloaded) and overnight trips (loaded).

The Merlin is more efficient than the Magic and turns more easily. If you liked the Magic, you will love the Merlin. The only advantages of the Magic over the Merlin II are possible top-end speed (it should be faster than the Merlin if you really whip it hard with bent-shaft paddle) and it has slightly better initial stability (but final stability is equal). As Eric posted earlier, the Merlin will be faster in most real-world paddling situations.

I suggest BlackGold or WhiteGold layups over the KevLight for durability. My WhiteGold Merlin weighs 39 lbs. as advertised; BlackGold is 33 lbs.


– Last Updated: Apr-01-07 4:23 PM EST –

There are two bits of information missing; what you weigh, and how dedicated you are to your current stance, presumably sit at medium height and use a bent paddle - the appropriate arrangement for Shock Wave.

When I was with Bell, we figured Merlin II, which is DY's improved Curtis Nomad, was a fine "it'll do everything" hull for intermediate paddlers. It works fine sitting with a bent or kneeling with a straight. The Hemlock Peregrine is someone else's redetailed Nomad with increased stem lay-out.

We assumed that more advanced paddlers would take a Fire for kneeling with a straight because they would have the skills to make it run straight and would enjoy it's greater maneuverability in moving water and FreeStyle.

We also assumed that those dedicated to sitting lower and flying with a bent would prefer Magic to Merlin II. Magic is pretty much DY's improved Shock Wave with higher tumblehome to improve seaworthyness and more bow and stern rocker to improve maneuverability. Every Shockwave I've seen was hogged, stems lower in the water than the center, which makes a boat cranky. Sight down your keel line some time.

Rapid is faster and tracks better than either because it's ~3" narrower, but there is no intermediate seating position available. It's just off the bottom for most, with a 220-230cm double blade or a custom, 46" Zaveral bent, which is what DY uses.

If you are smaller and have good balance Rapid can be rigged with a kneeling seat dropped from the rail. The boat becomes ~5lbs heavier to re-enforce the rail. There is also the danger that we may have all RapidFire kneelers assassinated to stop discussion of that option.

Rocker has littler to do with tracking. Block co-efficient is the best indicator, but rather than taking waterline length, depth and width and computing what percentage of that the boat displaces, it's easier to think fineness of the hull and compute length to width ratio.

Decreased stern rocker improves tracking only for those with a hitch in their get along. If a paddler carries a bent blade aft past mid thigh or a straight aft past the knee, the stroke quickly becomes a stern draw. Dropping or skegging the stern resists the logical reaction to poor forward stroke technique.

Bow rocker improves the boats response to bow draws, etc, and increases speed, but has almost no effect on course keeping.

For more, and better, info on hull shape, acquire John Winter's "Shape of the Canoe"

If you are happy with Shock Wave and just want to turn it w/o a court order, get a Magic. Everything will be the same except the hull will turn, especially with a low brace Christie.

Thank you CEWilson,and…
others for your insight. The boat suggestions will give me plenty to think about. I am 5’ 10 1/2" 245lbs,and loosing. I can not kneel because of circulatory problem in my right leg,causing numbness after being bent a few minutes.Trying to get out of a boat with a useless leg is quite fun to watch. Having an operation in July,and that may change? A kneeling style boat would be out for me right now. I have backbands in all my canoes to help with a back problem,also. I like the tractor seats the best ,but this is not a real selling factor in any boat. About 80-90% of my paddling is fast touring on open flat water. I still paddle with sea kayakers,and a crusing type boat is easy to keep up with them.For speed I use a double blade paddle,but do enjoy a single bent for slow exploring,wildlife watching,easy cruising.

The Shock is only good for straight line crusing,that I like. In even slight river currents,it is a bear to handle,and has a mind of it’s own. My Yellowstone laughs at what the Shock has thrown me out of on many occassions.Looking for a boat that can handle a bit of both. The Merlin,and Peregrine sound like what I am looking for ,that escaped my radar. Plenty to think about. Many of those boats make it to Raystown,so I will do some hands on testing there.

Happy Paddling billinpa


Thanks Mick…
I’ll keep you in mind. Mike McCrea mentioned he may be getting one for testing. So if we can’t hook up,I still have a chance to paddle one.Thanks

Happy Paddling billinpa

efficient solo that turns
My take:

Hemlock Peregrine - you’d love it because it’s efficient, it can easily handle your weight, and it turns. Fine for slow moving rivers.

Merlin II - turns even better than Peregrine and is as versatile as everyone else says. I have 6 solos and use the Merlin II more than all others combined. It likes some weight; I prefer it with the dog (maybe 260 pounds) to without the dog (maybe 190).

Swift Shearwater - perfect for you. Easily handles your weight plus turns on a dime…like a freestyle boat, so better (more fun) on rivers than Merlin II or Peregrine. Turns much tighter than a Merlin II or Peregrine and feels totally natural doing it (to turn a Merlin II or Peregrine tightly you need to encourage them, then they cooperate). Great complement to your straight and fast boat. Feels super efficient…feels faster than it is (feels every bit as efficient as a Merlin II or Peregrine but is one notch slower).

Magic - I’d recommend against it. I got rid of mine…didn’t like it. Felt inefficient plus it didn’t like to turn. Peregrine much more enjoyable.

Wildfire (composite) may be worth looking at per Charlie’s comment. It’s definitely an efficient cruiser; it just gives up some speed/glide to the boats above, but it would also love your weight and a little weight (like your load) helps it for cruising and it’s sure a blast to play with on rivers and quiet ponds/lakes.

Like the Merlin II
over the Wildfire. I take a month long trip in Northern Ontario without resupply in August and do some moving water.

(Have to, its not a park and sometimes the portages are grown over or never existed)

It carries a good load. The total weight is about 350 lb of me and stuff.

Wouldnt consider the Wildfire for me. Need a little more room. I am bigger than Cliff.

I would advise against the Kev Light layup. My canoe isnt going to have many years of life with that layup. Portage endings are a real nightmare with having to get up on sharp rocks, sometimes go up cliffs, and at low water having to tiptoe across many yards of boulders. Its inevitable that the canoe will get dropped once or twice.