Choosing a faster solo

First I’d like to thank the folks who have given advice in this forum. Your shared knowledge has helped me sift through many choices for a solo canoe and saved me from myself. (Fell in love with the beautiful, sleek Otegan. Reading this forum helped me realize that for my kind of paddling she’d take my money and break my heart).

I’m 6’1" and 195#. Start out with 45# of gear for overnight trips but add another 20# to 40# of junk I find on the river. I paddle wide slow rivers and land at every gravel bar along the way. (I’m used to patching hull scrapes). Keep my camera handy and sometimes drift for a short time while shooting wildlife. Photography is secondary, my main goal is to move on down the river. Because of an ancient injury I’m unable to kneel. I sit and switch a Solo Plus at a somewhat comfortable but energized cruising speed of 4.5mph with a bent shaft paddle. Once in a while gusty winds are a factor but I figure whatever I get will probably handle better than the Solo Plus.

I would like something faster on the water and lighter to carry. I realize all day cruising speed won’t be dramatically improved but I would like to hold a higher speed with less effort. I’ve narrowed down to the Merlin II and the Peregrine. They both have a reputation for being fast and efficient. The Voyager is still on my mind but follows a distant third due to comments about twitchiness.

What do you think? If these are good models for my intended use which would you choose and why?

Well both will do the trick

– Last Updated: Dec-28-05 3:48 PM EST –

with the Merlin being a little more laid back in the comfort zone for drifting and such but could feel a little sluggish with a heavy load. Be sure to take a look at the Magic too, it's a touch wider but still plenty fast and a little (a lot)more forgiving than the Peregrine. Peregrine, long, thin, round bottom = fast

Prism ???
Your criteria of bearing 250-300 lbs, stable for sit-n-switch and significantly faster than a Solo Plus seem to point to the zero rockered Prism.

Sure … it’s more of a tripper than a day boat … but you did say that overnights will be involved and that you were even considering a Voyageur. With a cover and weight in it’s bilges, the Prism would be manageable enough in a breeze and sea worthy enough to go nearly anywhere that you described.

Just a thought … the Peregrine is supposed to be superb … but remember it also has a fair amount of rocker that you may not want or need. Good luck !!!

My Peregrine has excellent secondary stability and is resonably forgiving. Initially, it feels similar to most fast solos in that it doesn’t rest in any one position, but if you lean her she firms up very well. The Peregrine has a low shearline which is helpful in wind, but also handles large waves very well. The workmanship is impeccable too.

One thing you should consider is that the Peregrine is designed primarily as a kneeling boat. You can sit too, but you’ll lose some of the solid feel because of your higher center of gravity. NT mentioned the Magic and it may be your better choice if you plan to sit most of the time. I have not paddled a Voyager, so I’m no help to you there. By all means test paddle if you can, although that might be a problem for a Peregrine unless you live near Hemlock Canoe Works or know someone who owns one. I live near Chicago, so if that’s not too far from you let me know and I’ll let you try mine.

I recommend the Peregrine. I have both a Merlin II and a Peregrine and I usually carry a dog and the Peregrine will carry your load more easily than the Merlin, plus it’s more stable (and roomy) for the times you want to float and take pictures.

The Merlin II turns tighter on creeks or tight stuff, but the Peregrine carries a big load with no effort and it cruises a bit faster than the Merlin II. There’s no worry about too much rocker; it’s a lake boat so it works perfectly on lakes and big slow rivers.

I do love my Merlin II and it would do what you want it to, I just don’t see why you would not go for the bigger (and lighter and better made) boat.

The Voyager is only twitchy to people
who have never paddled one. I am tall and my balance isn’t great but I have had no problems with the Voyager , and it is fast.I had the seat lowered 2" because my COG was so high and that made it much less twitchy.

Today I had it in whitecaps and some cranky winds and it was fine. I need more seat time to learn what it is really capable of but if you want fast, it is your canoe.