Looking for a Used Bell Merlin II.....

Anyone know of someone looking to sell a Merlin?



I don’t like the board cops, Matt.

– Last Updated: Jul-24-09 7:52 AM EST –

But shopping here is clearly inappropriate IMO. Good luck with your search, it's a great boat.

Cuff him and stuff him officer!

Submit a gear wanted ad.
Probably not as effective as stating your desires here, but that’s where it should be done.

I thought that you just sold a Merlin II?

Just go buy the Merlin II at Blue Mountain Outfitters.

I am thinking of it. Would like a used one though as it would save a lot of money.

still debating over the Merlin or the Advantage…very different boats I know and the choice of which will influence what I get / keep for my river boat…combination of Advantage and Yellowstone Solo, or of Merlin and Freedom Solo


How much seat time do you have in
ANY of those boats?

Seems to me your “research” is limited to the printed word and a few moments maybe in a boat.

You need each for at least a day. Thats what Raystown is for.

And why do you have to have the “perfect” stable? Your needs and like will change, you know.

Yes I had a well used Merlin II that as far as I know is on its way to a new owner. Sold last month.

If you wait and have patience I do believe I am not the last ex Merlin II owner who will exist. Peoples lives change.

Advantage and Merlin II
A few years back I missed buying an ultralight Advantage by 1 hour. Another guy called just before I did.

To console myself, I had to go out and buy a Merlin II (wood gunwales, White Gold).

The Merlin II I think is a better canoe for combined lake and river work and certainly has more space for carrying stuff. The Merlin is more geared towards paddling kneeling, but certainly does just fine when paddled sitting.

The Advantage is definitely more oriented toward sit and switch paddling. It is faster than the Merlin II but doesn’t turn as easily.

But if I had a boat for dedicated river use and another for flatwater exercise paddling and day trips, and wasn’t planning on using it for tripping, I would go with the Advantage.

seat time
actually I have several hours of seat time in all but the advantage.

There is more to my decision and urgency then meet the eye. It is based largely on some used boats that are not too far from me.

As far as the “perfect stable” of boats. For me that is important. Why have two boats that are close to the same niche?

It is a personal decision and is somewhat complicated by multiple variables that exist such as pending sales on a boat I have, upcoming trips, narrowing down what type of paddling I am going to be doing most, etc.

My comments were really directed at Joe becuase he and I have discussed this in person.

Last…I am a perfectionist and a bit obsessive and that is just the way I am . Whatever floats your boat right???

All of my decisions are based on a bit of an external timeline as well. There is more to this debate than meets the eye.

head for Raystown…

– Last Updated: Jul-24-09 3:18 PM EST –

If I were you I'd head out to Raystown and have fun. I bet almost every conceivable boat will be out there....with an owner willing to let you paddle it around within eyesight..
Just pray for sunny skies...;-)


Not sure I can make it…
would love to though.

I admit I am obsessive about boats. Have been that way with kayaks for quite some time.

I find that in the search for boats that you learn a lot about paddling, about boat design, and about what you truly want out of a boat. There is no perfect boat, but there is one that offers the best compromises for your preferences and application. I am searching for that still.

As a fairly new canoeist I am still trying to put my finger on just what conditions I will paddle in, and what I want / need out of a boat.

I paddle in very varied conditions. I live on a big river that is dam controlled. Sometimes it is a flat lake, other times it has lots of current, other times it has lots of wind and big wind waves.

I also want to do trips and whitewater, but have to figure out just how much of it I am going to be doing so that plays a factor.

My decision is timely because: there is a nice Advantage for sale near me that may not be there for long, I have a boat that I put a downpayment on that I am re-considering and thinking about either eating the deposit or asking to apply it to another boat, and I have a Mad River Freedom solo up on ebay now with bids that I can still end the auction on if I decide to.

Lots of variables!

Also trying to figure out whether or not the whole sit and switch thing is for me. NOt sure yet. I know I like kneeling and playing so I want a good kneeling boat at a minimum and one that can handle okay in the wind given the windy conditions I usually paddle in.

So, there are a lot of variables.

I paddled the Freedom Solo again today and think I am going to part with it. I just don’t really care for such a big boat and it is not good in the wind.

So…think I will go with the YS Solo I ordered after all. Now just have to decide whether want a Merlin or Advantage as a partner. Probably the Advantage since Merlin is not too far different.

We will see.

The journey is half the adventure!


I’m wondering how the Advantage
will fit your style. Its a great go straight boat for hit and switch.

But its max width is down at the waterline. Merlin II’s max width is at the shoulder…much higher up in a lateral view of both boats.

The Advantage is going to be tricky to turn unless heeled…and its going to take a practiced heel…Because the widest part of the boat is low, it takes little heel for that to pass beneath you at which point you swim.

Merlin II does hit and switch pretty well for a boat whose width is higher and the station width is not as narrow as Advantage.

Lots of this depends on your size and arm length however, which is one reason some folks think they like a boat on spec and are disappointed in reality. They simply dont consider their body makeup, and often too paddling style.

Yep they are pretty different boats and the Merlin II is much different from Yellowstone solo…just look at the L/W ratio. Merlin is right up there around 7 and YS below 6. Dont know Advantages L/W ratio but it ought to be above 7.

I highly recommend attending a solo gathering. Sometimes the results of a true side by side test paddle are surprising.

I agree. The Advantage is a go fast and straight boat. If I got it that is exactly what I would expect of it would use it for. I would have no illusions of it being good to turn or particularly stable / easy to heel. I would use it as a sit and switch boat to go fast in a straight line.

Now is that for me…I am not sure yet!

I like a kneeling boat, but I like to go fast too. I like the Merlin and agree it is okay as a hit and switch boat but not blazing fast.

I had a Magic for a bit and liked it. I did not like it as a kneeling boat but it was good for hit and switch. I found it fast, but found that if you were really going to do hit and switch that a stiffer tracking / faster boat may be better. The Magic seems like it is designed to be a bit of a compromise as a hit and switch boat that will still turn decently and that is pretty stable.

I kind of figure that if I want a compromise then the Merlin is a better compromise…if I want a sit and switch boat then go for something more optimized for that like the Advantage.

I found I could only get about 4 un-corrected strokes per side before switching when paddling the Magic. It seemed like that was just a little short of what would really get the boat moving fast. I would have liked to get 5-6 strokes.

Still could get it around 5.0 - 5.5 mph which is pretty quick I guess.

The Merlin I could maintain about 4.5 which is okay too but that was paddling on one side with a slight J.

While the Magic tracked better, it seemed that the Merlin was easier to keep straight with a more slight correction due to the fact that a corrective stroke at the stern really seemed to make more of a difference than with the Magic.

So…I will keep giving it some thought.

I agree that the YS solo and Merlin are quite different, but I meant that they are close in that they are both kneeling boats that are reasonably maneuverable and moderately fast. I don’t find either to be superbly maneuverable nor blazing fast…just kind of a nice blend of both.


You dont find either YS
or Merlin II extremely maneuverable which reinforces my point that it is more about the paddler than the boat details.

Both will spin around a buoy with about a foot of clearance all around if you have the paddler skills. That is the wild card and it does take practice. Just as in any sport, hours of practice pay off.

Get a boat with a freer stem and you can get the diameter of the turn even less than a foot… but again its about paddler skills mostly.

Getting a tight turn is admittedly harder when sitting as the heel is more precarious with a higher center of gravity.

I have a Peregrine which is usually regarded as a hard tracking boat. It spins fine for me albeit with a larger radius than the Merlin II (about six inches more) when heeled to the rail. Which for me makes a good combination of tracking when I want it and maneuverability when I want it.

Over the long run its about taking a boat and exploring many more ways it can be used. The single most important element in paddling is the paddler.

I would argue that I can spin either of those boats as tightly as anyone…really; however my basis of comparison is the Mad River Freedom solo which is unbelievably maneuverable and will easily out-maneuver the Bell YS solo, and the Swift Osprey which is also quite maneuverable and more so than either the YS solo or the Merlin II. I have owned and paddled all of these boats back to back. Most maneuverable is the Freedom solo, next is the Osprey, next is the YS solo, and last is the Merlin which still is reasonably maneuverable when edged.

So, it is all relative.

Please don’t assume that because I am fairly new to canoeing that I don’t have any skills. I am a very skilled kayaker and all of the strokes from kayaking have trasferred over almost one for one to the canoe so in a few months I have been able to develop a very good level of skill in the canoe much more quickly than my canoe experience would imply.

Whenever I post about boats…kayaks and now canoes…people always assume that I am a poor paddler and looking for the boat to make up for a lack in paddling skill. Not the case at all. I guess I can see how it would appear that way unless you truly knew how dedicated and obsessed I am with paddling. It is all that I do. I eat, breath and sleep paddling! I live right on the water so I go out every day! All I do is read about paddling, watch DVDs, read about it on the internet, and most of all…DO IT…all the time! Thousands of miles a year.

I stand by my original comment that neither the YS solo nor the Merlin is highly maneuverable when compared to other boats I have paddled. That was my point. The Mad River Freedome solo will effortless spin in 360 degree circles in place for as many turns as you care to do using a box stroke…literally requiring no physical effort whatsoever. It is quite impressive in this regard. The YS solo can do it but not NEARLY as easily as the Freedom Solo for me.

Another factor to consider is paddler weight…I am 200 pounds which may make a mountain of difference in a boat like the YS solo which is really probably optimized for lighter paddlers…more weight = longer waterline and more of the stems burried in the water. It is a fact that boats really and truly are greatly affected by body size and weight. I have found that from kayaking and have seen the same in canoes as well. Weight, and how your weight is distrubuted can drastically change how one boat paddles for various paddlers.


I did not make that assumption
but at the recent Adirondack FreeStyle Symposium we had many of the boats you mention including YS and Merlin and some others that are too small. Yes you do have to tailor paddler weight to the boat. Boats that are planted too deep for their performace potential are not going to be as maneuverable as others that are larger more buoyant hulls for the larger paddler.

Overloaded boats are harder to free up the stems. Stem freedom is what allows some tripping boats to be fairly maneuverable when heeled.

As a general rule I have found David Yost boats to be quite amenable to having some degree of multiple personalites…all good.

And FreeStyle canoe principles are handy for taking long canoe trips and transferable to kayaking…

Paddling is to some extent paddling.

Merlin II
I’d sell you mine except I just can’t part with it…too many miles and too many memories. After living with probably 20+ different solo canoes over time it’s far from my favorite yet it’s also the one I grab the most…it’s good for everything. It doesn’t feel super fast yet one covers lots of miles with low effort.

I haven’t paddled a YS…I’d like to. I miss my Osprey, I liked that boat. I was also shocked at the maneuverability of the MR Freedom…boat made me dizzy.

My buddy has a Hemlock Kestrel for sale…it’s definitely quicker/faster than a Merlin and it even took my dog’s weight easily and remained fast - probably close to 275 pounds total against a max rated efficient load of 250. I’ve also got a Souris River Jensen Solo 16 for sale…faster than Merlin II and Peregrine/Kestrel…neat boat. I kneel in it even though it has a tractor seat.

Maybe you should take a ride to the Ann Arbor area and see if Kestrel or Souris River fits your needs.

Kestrel is probably too narrow for
a 200 lber … I say this because though boats tolerate a range of arm lengths and knee spreads,some are better than others and you are more in to Peregrine territory…so am I. Solos really are meant to be sized for the paddler so its as much about the paddler dimensions as the boats. When the rough gets going you really dont want to be in a marginally small boat…you want to be as stable as you can spread your knees.

WPA Solo Canoe Rendezvous would have been the ideal testing grounds.

Tongue in cheek I cant figure out why one would go to Michigan when Hemlock NY is not too far off from home.

If my Merlin II is not adopted I will pipe up …its going south.

And the difference between the SR Tranquility Solo and the Jensen mentioned is what? I tried the former and hated it…

Certainly makes sense to go to Hemlock to test paddle if it’s closer…Dave is so great about test paddles.

Possible reason to go to Michigan is to get a great boat at a reasonable price…poster was looking for used boat.

Dave Curtis would also lean towards Peregrine for larger/heavier paddler but he also “sizes” volume assuming large loads for tripping so for day paddlers Kestrel could be superior to Peregrine or Merlin. I’m 6 feet and 185+ and had both Kestrel and Peregrine…fit both just fine. My comment is that the Kestrel is perfectly happy with 200 lbs or more and the volume is closer to Advantage than Peregrine and the performance is higher than Peregrine, so it’s an interesting option for the poster…a much faster and more effortless boat than YS…yet more Merlin-like than an Advantage.

The SR Jensen Solo 16 is exactly as name states…a 16 foot relatively low volume solo Jensen - bullet. Handling is more gracious than an Advantage in my experience although I have little time in Advantage.

I think my chances of finding one
that has paddled both the Jensen 16 and the Tranquility Solo are infinitesimal.

So far my two trials or Souris River Canoes are somewhat disappointing. The Wilderness 18 has too high a stern stem which catches the wind (but it hauls lots of gear well) and the Tranquility Solo (test paddled unloaded) proved it to be a sloth next to the Merlin II or the Argosy for that matter.

I would like not to be disappointed in boats.

When I wrote about size its because I have learned over the years that weight does not matter much but your center of gravity and ability to spread the knees on rough water is really important as well as not picking a boat too wide for your arm length…which I suspect is not a problem here.

I do a wee bit of big water canoeing on the ocean and the Gulf of Mexico in particular and really appreciate the ability to get stable.

But personal preferences are different.

BTW I have way overloaded my Peregrine when on a ten day trip with having to carry all my fresh water. It does fine. Kestrel is reported to be fine with the same gear and water needs for a smaller person coming in at around 160 for whom the Peregrine is too wide to reach a vertical stroke comfortably or a tuck of each knee in opposing chines.

I guess my wish would be to have published canoe dimensions consider knee spread and arm length.