Lake canoe rccomendations?

I’m considering buying another solo boat if I sell my Merlin II.What I’m looking for is a kneeling, straight tracking easy paddling boat for lakes that is better in the wind than what I have.I would avoid big wave conditions.Turning ability would be unimportant.The total load would be 225#. I am a fairly experienced paddler.Tried a kayak-can’t sit.I would like to try a kneeling Rapidfire sometime.Savage River Otegan?


Before you sell
Turtle, I don’t know your situation so you may have tried this already. But if you are using the typical 20" bladed paddle or a bent shaft, try a long narrow beavertail or ottertail with your Merlin II out in the wind before you sell the boat. These paddles will give you maximum control. It may be your choice of paddle, instead of your current canoe.

Add a deck?
Another helpful accessory for wind is a spray deck. It doesn’t need to be the full, whitewater kind, one that would keep the wind from gripping the sides of the boat.

Any canoe must be higher than a decked boat, so it will be more troubled by wind.

Have a look at the Western Clipper Sea-1 as an alternative to a kayak.

Otegan is a sitter
not a kneeler at all. Unless you get with John Diller and have him make you one without the seat and its pedestal – the possibility has always intrigued me.

Very straight tracking, very easy paddling, very precise in response to J or sweep strokes. Very narrow – you don’t want to be in difficult conditions with this one. It’s more sensitive than your Merlin II. I got rid of mine after tipping once too often – Marilyn won’t part with hers at any price though. Her sense of balance is better than mine. And she doesn’t tackle any difficult wind, wave or current.

The guy who bought mine had the seat pedestal lowered one inch and LOVED the improvement in stability. Maybe I should have done that. It’s really an awesome boat for flat water.

Very good in wind – loaded with 250#, it settles in and the wind appears to slide over those tumblehomed sides. Use a kayak paddle in wind for best results.

I sure wish my knees…
…would find a happy compliance to prayerful posture in paddling, for one of Mr. Curtis’s Peregrines would certainly be my choice in regards to your desires, Mr. Turtle.


twice-scoped ligature-on-the-loose,

oft-sprained ankles objectionate to angles obtuse,

mad canine go’n Canadian-calamity, gettin’ him not to buck duck must goose,

well, it leaves me sittin’ within my Voyager,

and now pose question to the Moose:

You’re a Voyager man, and like myself,

not nearly proportioned as an elf,

so when those quarterin’ winds make the stern a sail

do you just slide back and use that ottertail?

Like c2g stated, is the bow a dog,

that chases into squirrely winds and fights ya like a hog,

that wallows in the slops as stern corrections fail,

have you improved its stray manners with slap-happy beavertail?

Tom - the sometimes windswept, but still happy, Voyager, ready to try alternate to his Mitchell Leader. (Though a grand propeller that be!)

I love my Indy!
Works well sitting or kneeling and is possessed of all your desired attributes. Vermont Canoe’s new model is quality crafted, a relative bargain, and with 3/4" of added freeboard, it should have better foot clearance under the seat than the old MRC’s.

I don’t think that would help so much

– Last Updated: Nov-13-08 11:06 AM EST –

Or perhaps I should say, it wouldn't help as much as it would on many other canoes. As another Merlin II owner, I've gotta say, Charlie Wilson is right about Bell putting "training wheels" on their boats. The trouble with the Merlin II in wind as that damned skegged stern! In a more traditional boat, you can hold whatever angle to the wind you need, and can horse the bow into the wind when changes are needed. The boat may sideslip like crazy, but at least you can keep it aimed in the direction you want with no trouble. With the Merlin II's sticky stern, anytime the boat slips sideways in the wind, the the stern tends to stay put more than the bow, and around you go. There are certain angles to a strong wind where this boat becomes very unforgiving.

I'm sure somebody's gonna say it's just my paddling skills, and no doubt many of you would be better at controlling this boat than I, but my paddling skills work just fine in stong wind when I use my symetrical boats (as well as the Wenonah Vagabond I used to own), so something is going on here. Still, I really like the Merlin II for what I bought it for, as long as the wind isn't too strong. I'll consider DuluthMoose's advice too, since I DID recently get myself a super-nice beavertail paddle.

Oh, I might add that on larger bodies of water, a spray deck would be a good idea anyway on a Merlin II, since this boat isn't made to handle large waves. It's actually something I might consider someday.

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Enjoyed the Verse!
Your Voyager (and mine) is right up there with a bad reputation paddling in wind. The way I see it I have 5 tools in the toolbox to overcome that problem,

  1. If there’s one solo flatwater cruiser that absolutely needs a slider, it’s the Voyager. Paddling it in wind will teach you fast what a slider is all about. And yes I slide backward somewhat in a rear quartering wind, and forward somewhat in a front quartering wind.
  2. It’s big hull that likes a load of at least 300 pounds to start to behave well in wind. If I’m going out paddling in wind more than 15 mph without a gear load, a full 5 gallon container of water goes in the boat immediately behind me to sink the stems to more than 3" into the water.
  3. The choice of paddle. A bent shaft is only good for sit and switch in a Voyager out in wind (unless you use a bent shaft beavertail). I have many paddles to choose from (including a bentshaft beavertail), but the traditional long and narrow beavertail or ottertail paddles will give you the most control for traditional style paddling in this canoe. The bent beavertail comes in right behind these two for control blades.
  4. Power. It’s a big boat and the paddler needs to have enough reserve power, to power through the wind gusts.
  5. Wind cover. I don’t have one, but maybe when I get old and power fades, I’ll need one.
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Second the Indy
As I mentioned on another thread recently, I have never ever paddled a solo so immune to the effects of the wind. But then it depends on what you’re total load is, cause you’re about my weight, and it’s not a tripper for me, it’s a day boat.

Bell composite Wildfire?
I own a few solos, a Wenonah Advantage and a Bell Magic. The Magic has absolutely no problem going anywhere I point it in wind, the Advantage can be a bitch in wind. I’ve been kneeling a lot more lately using my Bell Wildfire and it tracks well, holds a load, and has zero issues in any wind. This last New Years Eve I met some folks out on our local Cedar Lake to camp and party. They hiked in, I paddled in. The winds became atrocious about a quarter the way out and only got stronger. The local weather reports put them at 18-20mph steady and gusting that night and the next day I had to paddle out. What normally would have been a 20-30 minute paddle took 2.5 hours. I had a load of firewood and gear for ballast, and though I was staining my shorts most of the paddle out and back, the Wildfire was amazingly confident. I weigh 183lbs and had at least a 100lbs in gear, beer and firewood. I will say some H2o came over the bow but I was amazed at how neutral the hull was in a blow, and how it was actually fairly easy to control. I’m sure if I was empty on that run things would have been a touch hairier though. I’m really loving the Wildfire for my everyday paddling solo, and my 54 year old knees haver actually become accustomed to the act.

Peregrine is a sitter with Eds seat.
Merlin II is a little loose going upwind but I havent had problems in big waves… what I consider sizeable waves…three footers. I really dont like an ottertail in little boats with no mass, particularly straight bottomed boats that need the turning power of a wider blade.

I think you just have a need for another boat!

You might be Kestrel sized

Thanks Guideboatguy!
That is just what happens to me-I can’t hold the bow and I start to spin out! I never thought of that reason.I assumed a stronger tracking boat is what I needed. I never tried my Flashfire in the wind,I assumed it would be worse,maybe I should. It sure is a sweet easy paddler.


Swift Shearwater
Take a look at the Swift Shearwater:

The Shearwater is for the
larger paddler. I am bigger than Turtle and my friends Shearwater is a sail in the wind…Thats what exposed hull does.

You really have to tailor a solo for your size. One size does not fit all. Its not all about weight. Length of extremities matters.

I have been in some serious wind
in the Rapidfire and it just doesn’t seem to care.There have been times when I only paddled on one side , but I have never had to fight it like the Voyager.I don’t know about kneeling though.

You can kneel in the Sea-1 but in a strong wind you will want to sit so that you can use the rudder.

Tough to turn it into the wind without that rudder.


Me too same experience.

– Last Updated: Nov-13-08 5:32 PM EST –

but mine is not built for kneeling..and I use it on ocean with those long period deep swells and I have no desire to kneel with the boat switching and swaying beneath.

Turtle as you like the Flash I think you would love Rapid..

Thanks Moose.
I’ve from time-to-time got some of my toolbox parts in place. I’ve taken to bringing along a Kelty 10-litre water bag, and usually find myself placing it in the bow just behind the ballast tank bulkhead. I’ve entertained a notion to tie a line to its handle so I might pull it sternward for slight adjustment while underway, but the thought of a stray “tangler” ticklin’ about my feet and also the 4-paws of that worried-into-wake-waltzin’ winduppedarammer canine of mine quickly canceled that foolhardy concept. I usually have enough odd gear on even day paddles to stow sternward for balanced-out-ballast, though it doesn’t sit into the keel nearly as nicely as the waterbag.

Moving the slider seat while underway can be a bit tricky, especially with Moby betwixt my knees, but now that I have some closed-cell knee/thigh brace stations at underside of gunnels, it’s made it a tad easier to gingerly lift the butt and slide the tractor on its rails. Sternwards easy, bowwards is a bit less smooth.

I’m workin’ on keeping that reserve engine sufficiently powered-up for those zephyr wars, such as at Assateague, where 25-30 knotters on my winter excursion are quite often the norm, often in sub-2-foot waters to boot. That’s when I’ve often drawn upon the low-angle entry of an elongated Bending Branches doubleblde to aid in forward impetus.

Still kicking myself over not having jumped at the supreme bargain String offered up months back, when he advertised here his Flex-core Voyager with Cooke Cover for a steal!

But, I think I’ll do like you say, and start working on some beavertail paddle practice with my boat on the local windy reservoir in the next 2 months before they close it to boat traffic New Years Day. Just gotta go and get me a good beavertail, I guess. If that don’t cut it, it’s a neoprene sled harness and bullwhip, and prayer that some angry pickerel doesn’t move in for a neutering session (he’d be late to the bait) with that crazed Moby I’ll have pressed into Ham Chuck-it Sleigh Ride Services.

Thanks for the education,

Still Sittin’ Happy in Voyager Tom

Oh, and good luck with your kneeling choice, rb.

I’ve not paddled a Rapidfire and can imagine that it’s a highly capable bullet.

I’ve got a Merlin II and a Peregrine and the Peregrine seems to be exactly what you seek…it has “longer legs” than the Merlin II and it’s just a blast in any kind of wind.

I’m 185-ish and almost always have a 70 pound lab with me and the Peregrine is happy either with or without the dog (I actually much prefer the Merlin II with the dog than without)…it would be super happy with your 225 plus a light or heavy gear load.

You are too big for a Kestrel…I sold mine even though it would easily handle me plus the dog…the room in the Peregrine is wonderful. It’s a super comfortable boat.

I remember being on a lake on a windy day with my buddy in his SRT where he could not even make forward progress due to the wind yet I could punch through waves and keep driving directly into the wind even though the waves were almost breaking over the bow.

You could even get Dave’s heavy lay-up and suffer with carrying a 37 pound boat (but - you should go for a 32 pound carbon boat just because the interior looks so sweet and you’ll just grin every time you throw the boat on your vehicle).

I imagine that you coud get an even faster Wenonah bullet and my Souris River Jensen solo 16 is indeed a touch faster than a Peregrine but even though you don’t care about turning you’d have to enjoy the cooperative handling of a Peregrine compared to a Jensen design.

I had a Shearwater and I love Shearwaters but they are not in same league as a Peregrine for speed/efficiency.

In summary, if you don’t get a Peregrine you’re crazy.



second the Hemlock
I’ll second what whitewaterweenie said. I’ve paddled a lot of solo canoes and when I read your description, the Hemlock was the first (and only) boat that came to mind. Comfortable both kneeling and sitting, tracks well, and as well-behaved as you are going to get in the wind.

The Bell Magic is also a good tracking boat that is outstanding in windy conditions, but I think you would need to raise the seat. I could be wrong on raising the seat, but I thought I had read somewhere that the Magic comes with the long drops (low seat) these days. That accomodates folks who want to sit low, and it’s pretty simple to trim a bit off of the drops for folks who want a higher seat.

The combination of solid tracking, 225# load, easy to handle in the wind, and comfortable when kneeling narrows your choice down to those two boats.