compare Merlin II to Nomad

Can anyone contrast the Colden Nomad and Merlin II?

Does anyone still make the Merlin II in a Kev layup?


I have a Curtis Nomad
and once upon a time the Merlin II but you know that.

My impression is that the Nomad is waay faster. The Merlin IIRC had a flatter bottom…

Have no justification for getting a Colden Nomad other than Paul made that green one so purdy…

Nomad way faster? Interesting.
How does paddler fit compare between the two?

Also think Nomad
is faster …that is a relative term as the nomad is not tremendously fast. It is a fabulous boat and I regret to this day selling mine. So much so that I recently bought a peregrine to replace it. Don’t think it would be a lot faster than your dragonfly, however it does paddle easily and is comfortable to use for a long period. FYI I am running about 250 pounds these days and contrary to publiished figures that’s about the largest amount I would want to put in the boat as that doesn’t leave a lot of freeboard. It is a day paddler for me.

both too big for you…
I dont recall the Merlins fit too much but I could kneel transverse as I can in the Nomad.

Reaity Check

– Last Updated: Jun-04-15 8:09 AM EST –

Nomad, originally designed for Curtis Canoe, was 15'4" long, so ~ 14.8' waterline by 28.5" max beam with moderate differential rocker, the third Yost large solo tripper. It was DY's best effort in the mid 80s/

The Bell Merlin II was 15' by 29" wide, the fifth Yost large solo tripper, It was his best thought in the mid 90s.

Dave Curtis took a FG Nomad, added bondo'd lay out and splashed Peregrine in the later 90's, very early turn of century. The bottom flattened and some rocker was lost, but it remains a 14.8' waterline hull with 28.5" max beam. The flatter bottom probably widens the waterline width a tad.

DY designed the Keewaydin 15 for Swift in 2013. It is 15 feet oal with ! a 14.8" waterline length but is 29.5" wide, and features differential and stepped bow rocker. The bow step seems to improve forward speed and maneuverability.

Bottom line is all are 14.8 feet long at waterline, and max theoretical speed is square root of waterline in ft multiplied by ~ 1.55, hence ~ 6mph. The differences will be in handling and outfitting, the Peregrine and Kev Light Bells maybe a touch slower due to flattened bottoms, the Bell's caused by unformed foam cores.

We can expect the Peregrine to be the best tracker, the Swift the most maneuverable. The Swift Kee 15 and Colden Nomad are the lightest due to infused construction and integral composite rails and thwarts. They are all pretty much variations on the same "Solo Tripper" concept, getting a little wider over time with the general population.

The Bell Northwoods solo continues the Super Size trend at 15.5" oal and 30" wide. A little faster, 1/6 mph, because it's longer, but more drag at cruising speed because the wetted area increases and strangely without DY's new stepped rocker?

So it goes; fiddly variations on a theme. The speed variations mentioned above are mostly due to differential hull skin conditions, remembering that a moderately used hull has half again the drag of a new boat.


let me get this straight. The Colden Nomad is the old Curtis Nomad? And comparable to the Merlin II? No one addressed the question, “is anyone still manufacturing a Merlin II Kev package?”

BTW, I enjoy paddling Kim’s old Merlin II in the right situations.


– Last Updated: Jun-08-15 8:57 PM EST –

The Nomad mold belonging to Colden Canoe is the Curtis Nomad Mold with flanges added to ease infusion. It is narrower than the Bell Merlin

No one makes the Bell Merlin; Swift's Kee 15 is the closest dimensional approximation, but is a more solid construction at lower weight.

Here is a short piece on DY's Solo Trippers, better prose than last night's entry.

Davis Yost’s Solo Trippers DRAFT June 2015

David Yost’s original Solo Tripper, 15.5 ft by 30” max, 27” wl was offered as a Fiberglas or strip built canoe in the Canoe Specialists 1981 Catalog, a mold having been made by Curtis Canoes. The hull had flared sides and minimal rocker with a Length to Width ratio over 6.5.

The next year Yost designed the Vagabond, a 14’8”X27.5/25.5” smaller version tripper for Curtis, with 1.5” of the shouldered tumblehome he developed for the DragonFly and significant but symmetrical rocker. The abrupt tumblehome required a two-piece mold split along the keel line.

A similar size series set of tripping solos soon emerged for Sawyer, the StarLight, 13’4” X 28/26 and the Autumn Mist, 14’10”X30.5/28, both with minimal rocker and 2” of bubble sided tumblehome with W/L ratios nearer 6. Bubble sides allowed the hulls to be extracted from single-piece but split molds. Seats were height adjustable sliders.

DY and Curtis updated the larger Solo Tripper in 1985 with Nomad, at 15’4”X28.5/26.5”, slightly Swede-Form with shouldered tumblehome and differential rocker. The hull has significant stem layout so is not as long at waterline as overall length might indicate. Yost also designed a wood and Dacron 15’ X29/26” solo tripper, Mistral, for Loon works ~ 1988.

He designed his third “small class” tripper, the Loon,14’ 6”X28/26” and his fifth medium class, the Heron, 15’X29/27” for Swift Canoe ~1990, both bubble sided to come out of split rather than two piece molds and with symmetrical rocker.

In the later 90’s Bell Canoe needed a solo tripper and the Merlin II, 15’X29/27”, DY’s sixth large series solo tripper, was stripped and molded; slightly Swede Form with shouldered tumblehome and the first with pronounced differential rocker.

Hemlock Canoe increased a glass Nomad’s stem layout before splashing it and a glass Vagabond as the Hemlock Peregrine and Kestrel. The process of making a mold from another designers / builders hull is problematical morally and physically although it seems to be legal. Both Hemlock boats have flattened bottoms and reduced rocker as the weight of the mold layers distorted the plug boats, and thereby molds.

Designed to be a pack Canoe, Placid boatworks’ RapidFire, 15’X27.5/25” is; slightly Swede Form with shouldered tumblehome and strongly differentiated rocker was DY’s fourth small class solo tripper in 2005.

DY’s seventh standard sized hull is Swift’s Keewaydin 15, introduced in 2011; 15’X29.5/26.5”, mildly Swede-Form with bubble sides and more abrupt, stepped, bow rocker. The additional width designed to fit todays larger paddlers. The stepped rocker improves forward speed and maneuverability.

DY then designed his fifth small class tripper for Swift as the Keewaydin 14 over winter 2013-14, featuring bubble sides with slight Swede form, and differential rocker with stepped bow. At 14’ X28”/25”, 2.5/1.4” R, it is more efficient at cruising speed than the larger Solo Trippers due to reduced wetted area.

Ted Bell/ NorthStar Canoes commissioned the NorthWind Solo from DY’s son, Carl, over the same winter/ spring, the eighth Yost designed Solo Tripper. Up sized to fit larger paddlers at 15.5’ X 30” / 26.5”, 2”/1” NorthWind Solo has slight Swede form and shouldered tumblehome but less rocker and does not include the new stepped bow rocker so the boat will visually resemble the old Bell line.

The theme throughout the series has been a fast and easy tracking tripping hull, so W/L ratios have been kept above 6, usually nearer 6.5. Over time, the hulls have become mildly Swede-Form as a drafting function of differential rocker and included tumblehome to improve paddler reach across the rails to increase paddling efficiency. Rocker has increased, become differential and most recently, stepped into the bow. The hulls are widening as paddliers gain girth.

These are all conceived as entry to intermediate skill level hulls. Once fitted to the aspiring paddler, they do everything pretty well. DY’s Sport or Touring Series are the logical next choice as solo paddlers differentiate water conditions and select more targeted hull performance.

DY Curtis solos

– Last Updated: Jun-04-15 11:24 AM EST –

I have both a Kevlar solo tripper 1984, and a Kevlar Vagabond 1987. They both have all the original wood work, but I have woven the cane seats rather than recaneing them. The tripper is forest green and the vagabond is white. My wife and I really enjoy these canoes. I have run some class 2 rapids with the tripper, but it will take on some water in wave trains. I made a set of seat trusses to lower the seat in the vagabond as I am 5' 11" and 185 pounds so a bit top heavy in it. I have also formed a foam seat to put on the floor and a backrest to use the vagabond with a kayak paddle like a pack canoe. With the original seat it weights 30 pounds.

I plan on making a removable foot bar that attaches to the front thwart for the Vagabond when set up to sit on the floor. However someone posted about foot loops which have me intrigued. However I have never seen any, and am at a loss as to how they are done.

I’ve got
Heron, Peregrine and Nomad in the barn

At MCS people like to race them. Heron almost always wins .perhaps the round bottom?

Peregrine never wins. The straightest tracking of the three a chalk line reveals an almost flat bottom to within 18 inches of the stems

Now I look at the Kee and say do I REALLY need that?

Thanks CEW
That’s quite an informative and interesting history. Wonder why no one is producing the Merlin II?

Northstar Canoes
is Ted Bell’s new venture and the Northstar Solo appears to be a stretched out Merlin with 2.5" bow rocker and 1.5" in the stern. Phoenix is listed as 2.5 both bow and stern. Again stretched out. No clue as to arch or potential changes due to manufacturing and core.

I went to the website and
looked at the specs. What do you mean by stretched out?

I believe
the overall length is 6" greater than the Merlin II by Bell Canoe. Northwind Solo, my mistake. Phoenix is also 6" greater than the old Wildfire.

Hey John
I have seen but not paddled a couple of the boats. Layup & woodwork both look nice and they certainly are lightweight

Hi Steve

Hope all is well with you. They are indeed light. I wonder if the workmanship and construction are good. I bought a Colden WF with the snakeskin infused rails and thwarts and I really like the lightness, low maintenance, and lack of metal’s cold and clang. I love wood but this makes more sense.

Curtis and Colden are different. Have both here. Colden being newer with different materials is stiffer and faster however if you haven’t paddled a Nomad you’d have a hard time telling

So this leads to the question of comparing four boats versus two

For some reason I had it in my head that the Merlin II was 15 1/2 ft. but I reckon not.

Is ther a canoe which you have not
owned at some point? So, here’s a question how does the Colden Nomad compare to the Dragonfly? I’m too lazy to look up the specs.