Merlin II

I need input to help make a decision to buy a used Merlin II. The canoe in question is 2001 Kevlar layup hull with a green gel coat and wood gunwales. The boat is in new condition with only a few scuffs on the bottom of the hull with nothing deep enough to catch my fingernail in. I live in Central California where high-end solos almost never come up for sale and nobody stocks them so it’s difficult to try different ones out. I don’t want to pass up this opportunity if the Merlin II will work for what I want.

I already own a Tuff-weave Prism and a Royalex Wilderness and I don’t kneel (I’ve tried but too uncomfortable). I usually paddle with kayakers on slow rivers and Delta sloughs. I almost always J-stroke and sometimes sit and switch but only when I need to for max speed. My favorite paddling is exploring backwaters. Class-1 rapids are the max where I paddle.

I’m 6’-3", 220 lbs.

I want to install a foot rest and a sliding bucket seat low to the floor on a narrow-beamed canoe so I can normally paddle with a short single blade but have the option to double-blade paddle. I would pad out the gunwales to help heel-over with my hips, knees and feet in lieu of kneeling.


Will the Merlin II work for this?

Does anyone else rig their Merlin II like what I’ve described?

Is $1200 a fair price for the boat I described?

Is a seat drop to within 4"-6" off the deck appropriate?

Any other suggestions in regards to my plan?


Will the Merlin II work for this?

Sure if your arms are long enough to get a vertical stroke.

You are tall so I assume you have long arms

Does anyone else rig their Merlin II like what I’ve described?

Not me I am a foot shorter and a kneeler

Is $1200 a fair price for the boat I described?

Sounds high but you said your market is limited for solos… That often adds the dollar.

Is a seat drop to within 4"-6" off the deck appropriate? Looking at RapidFire which is an inch shorter depth but can come with a slider 4 inches off the floor…five inches sounds good. But since you are tall again six might work.

The taller the seat the more it seems you can get heel. and still maintain some balance. My RapidFire has two seats. The low seat limits heel. The High seat is an inch and a half higher and heeling is easier. One of the outstanding assets of Merlin II is its secondary stability.

Here in the midwest (IL), $1200 wouldn’t
seem to be too outrageous for for a Merlin II in nearly new condition, especially if you don’t have travel or shipping charges added on to the sale price in order to get it home. I always look at the total cost of acquisition.

My impression is, from what others in other regions say they buy used canoes for, I probably over pay for most of my boats.

As to whether or not it’s appropriate for you or you uses, I have no idea, since I’ve only test paddled one once and I’m much shorter and lighter than you.

I have paddled one before and I’m closer to your size. It is a cool boat but I find it a little wide to double. But I prefer narrow boats because I spend most of my time in kayaks. I have my seat in my Summersong about 5 inches off the bottom and that works for double blading and single. It is about 2 or so inches narrower than a merlin and has more tumblehome. The price isn’t bad if it is still new. It’s not like there is a blue book on these things. It’s worth what you are willing to spend. I would ask for $1000 cash and go from there. That might help a little. Take it for what it is worth.

Ryan L.

Bell Merlin II
I think the $1200 asking price for a Kevlar, wood-trimmed boat in good condition is a fair price. I might be inclined to offer $150 less or so, but now that new Merlin IIs are not being produced, the used market can probably be expected to go up some.

I have a Merlin II and have paddled it both sitting and kneeling. Most Merlin IIs I have seen have been set up to favor kneeling with seats slightly canted and mounted high off of short hangers to allow heel clearance beneath the seat frame. I ordered longer hangers and suspended the seat about an inch lower to make it better for sitting but still allow enough foot clearance while kneeling. If I paddled the boat only from a sitting position, I would certainly have hung the seat lower still.

The Merlin II seems to be more oriented towards paddlers who kneel, and I paddle mine kneeling most of the time, but I find it does just fine when paddled from a sitting position too. It will not track as hard as your Prism but responds well to sit and switch style paddling. I seldom paddle open boats with double bladed paddles and can’t recall having done that with the Merlin. I see no reason that you couldn’t.

I have a Sawyer Summersong with a sliding tractor seat that mounts on rails that are suspended from brackets glassed into the hull sides, a system that Sawyer used and Superior Canoe and Clipper still uses. This allows the tractor seat to be mounted at one of three different heights. I paddle this boat sit and switch with a bent-shaft, single bladed paddle and have the seat mounted in the lowest available position. In this position the front edge of the tractor seat is 6" above the hull bottom at its deepest point at center. But the tractor seat is deeper towards the back, so the deepest portion of the seat is more like 5 - 5 1/2" above hull center.

The Summersong is similar in dimensions to the Merlin II. It has the same center depth and is just a trifle narrower at maximum beam and at the gunwales. I can’t see any reason a Merlin II shouldn’t work with a sliding tractor seat mounted at the same height.