I purchased a new Merlin II last weekend and as many at this site helped me with this decision (via their posts)I thought I’d say a few things about my purchase as it relates to posted comments.
- The Bell Dealer (Tom of Mr. Canoe’s Paddlesports) outside of Santa Rosa, CA was fantastic. Before the purchase he answered several questions by e-mail that I posed stemming from information gained at this site. Then he met me at a small lake in Santa Rosa and let me paddle the Merlin II that I purchased as well as a Black Gold Wildfire. He spent over two hours at the lake while I did my test driving. I’d guess that Tom put in a half day of his time for the sale of the boat. I’m very happy with my purchase and I can’t say enough about the customer service provided by Tom. California taxes and all the boat cost me just under $2,000 which is about what it would cost from any Bell Dealer with or without the great service.
- Many on this site advise to test drive the boats before buying and I couldn’t agree more, but I’d also add that you don’t give up too early on a boat. I say this because when I initially got in the Merlin it felt unstable to say the least. I was quite disheartened having done so much research and having traveled 3 hours to try it out. I asked myself “Could it be that this isn’t the boat that I’ve been coveting for over a year?” Say it isn’t so! The first 15 minutes were shaky, but having indured the trial and tribulations of learning to kayak, I told myself that I just needed to relax and press on. In another 15 minutes I felt solid as a rock and was having a great time. Later that day, after I purchased the boat, I returned and paddled around the lake with my 5 year old daughter in the back. So much for those early jitters. If I hadn’t hung in there, I would have deprived myself of years of pleasure paddling a high performance boat. I should add that I’ve paddled canoes on class II waters for years, so I wasn’t just your average rookie in a canoe.