Is this a Bell Magic?

-- Last Updated: Apr-02-15 12:36 PM EST --

Hi, there's somebody selling me a used canoe, and he says it's a Bell Magic. I can't tell if it is one because some photos I've seen of the Magic look a bit different. Also, he says this is 47 pounds, and I've heard the magics are a bit lighter. Can anyone confirm or deny this boat (It's the red one, second from left)

Thank you!

Photos not publicly available NM

new link
The new link should work

It looks like one to me.
I don’t have my old Bell catalog anymore, and can’t remember any similar Bell model with which the Magic could potentially be confused. I’ve seen quite a few Magics, and I’d say that’s what it is.

As to the weight, remember that there is no standard weight. There likely would have been at least three different hull layups, each with a different weight. For one of the basic layups, which I suspect that boat to be (because it’s not Black Gold and it’s not Kev Light or Kev Crystal), 47 pounds seems believable, but again, I don’t have the specs to check. Somebody else will know the weights of each layup.

My gel coated black gold Merlin II
weighs 40 lbs.

I’d think that a gel coated white gold Magic could weigh 47 lbs.

My 13’ gel coated white gold Flashfire weighs 40 lbs.

If it is one…
Are these canoes good tripping canoes for rivers? How do they handle wind and choppy waves?

Looks a bit tippy maybe?

Thank you guys!

What kind of rivers?

– Last Updated: Apr-02-15 2:19 PM EST –

The Magic is a cruising boat, made for covering distance more so than doing tight turns. Some people like it for rivers that require a bit of maneuvering (nothing too extreme), but they are good paddlers who can make the boat do what it's otherwise not all that good at. For big rivers with lots of open space, it should excel. I hear nothing but praise for the Magic's ability to handle wind and chop.

The degree to which a canoe is "tippy" is in the eye of the beholder. An experienced paddler won't think the Magic is tippy, and will appreciate the handling qualities that go along with that so-called tippy feeling. A newbie might think the boat is tippy, but probably would soon learn to be comfortable. Rock-solid stability is the enemy of good performance. A boat that's too stable won't be fast or efficient, and it won't have a good comfort zone across the full range of being tilted toward the point of possible capsize (you can find the explanation for this within many of the basic descriptions of canoe hull profile that are available online. There's probably a description within the "Guidelines" section right here on P-net).

Magic is not the hardest tracking boat

– Last Updated: Apr-02-15 2:28 PM EST –

But it's definitely not for rivers
I am not sure it's a Magic. Never seen that interior color and the WG layup should have IIRC a foam bottom panel
The thwarts are correct for a Bell
Without a tripping load it's most stable when you kneel. It is a little hard to handle in stern quartering winds
Of course you can lower the seat to allow steadier seating
If the seller could give the first three letters of the HIN that would help

I'd think the Miss would have hard currents and whirlpools and hard eddy lines. Catching a Magic stem would require good balance. I'd prefer a boat with more rocker

Big Rivers
I was thinking about taking a 2 or 3 week trip on the upper Mississippi. There are other rivers I’d like to explore, like the Illinois or Rock as well. They are all pretty big and can get kind of choppy. I’ve never paddled a solo before but I want to do solo tripping.

I think big rivers should be fine.
It’s the twisty rivers where relative lack of maneuverability can be an issue.

In the big rivers, barge wakes and large boat wakes can be of some concern.

Also, the Magic is not rated for a real large load, so keep that in mind when deciding what tripping load to take along.

Developing your solo-paddling skill to the point that you are comfortable on windy days will take a while, likely quite a while. You may want to be prepared to “cheat” with a double-blade paddle if the wind becomes too much for your single-blade skills (and some people use a double-blade paddle and nothing else).

At the same time you posted this latest question, I was modifying my earlier post to say that the Magic would be fine on large rivers. It’ll be when you get into tight quarters, or need to keep a swift current from taking you into nearby obstacles that the Magic might be a handful.

Penebscot 15
So… I might have an option instead to get a Penebscot solo 15 for about the same price. I know it is a rare boat, but I guess Old Town made a few of them. Again, so hard to find information online about some canoes. Would the penebscot 15 be better for tripping on bigger rivers?


It has more volume. A little wider. Its hard to find! I would grab it.

You like the Penobscot 15, eh?
There was one for sale here in the midwest recently. It’s too big of a boat for little ole me.

The profile looks correct for a magic. It looks like a white/gold layup in red.

Get the serial number from the owner
That will tell you what company made it and the month and year in which it was made.

The Bell Magic is a very popular touring and tripping canoe. The Penobscot 15 is virtually unheard of.

From the description of the Penobscot 15 by BOB, it doesn’t sound as if either canoe is a twisty stream boat. But you don’t need that kind of canoe on wider and slower rivers. A straight tracking “lake canoe” is usually perfectly sufficient and also faster than a typical rockered river canoe.

As to sufficient tripping volume, that is a function of (a) the specs of the canoe, (b) paddler size, and © gear load.

Magic vs Penobscot 15
I thought it might be easier to combine my responses to your Magic and Penobscot 15 threads.

I’ve owned the Magic and have paddled it in a pretty wide range of conditions. I have paddled the Penobscot 15 briefly, probably less than half an hour, on a calm lake. I weighed around 220-230 at the time, so your experience as a lighter paddler might be a bit different than mine.

First the Magic. The only other canoe I have paddled that was as little affected by wind and chop was the Hemlock Peregrine. They were both a delight to paddle in any conditions, while a lot of other solos required extra attention when conditions got bad. For your stated use of touring big rivers you would have plenty of load capacity. The Magic is very efficient. It will cover a lot of distance for the effort you put into it. As others have noted, it is not known for being maneuverable, but if you don’t need to make really tight turns you will be fine. I put a foot brace in mine and used to just edge it for most turns, but I paddle mostly lakes so your experience might be a little different. I paddled mine both sitting and kneeling with the seat hung relatively low, but my feet are on the small side.

The Penobscot 15 seemed to me to be kind of a middle-of-the road boat. Efficiency seemed to be moderate. It was okay, but certainly not as good as the Magic. Maneuverability was better than the Magic. I would think for someone your size it would have plenty of capacity. I have no idea how it would do in adverse conditions.

Yeah, in Glass
Looks like it might be a Magic, but shot is unhelpful. We made a few in glass, and they were in the high 40’s, which may be why so few glass units were ordered.