I am in the market for a canoe and found a used Merrimack Osprey. I have two small boys ages 5 and 7 that will accompany me while using this canoe at our cabin. Could this canoe be a reasonable solution to my paddling needs or are wooden canoes a niche item that are best left behind?
Nice canoe - but small
The Merrimack Osprey is actually fiberglass or kevlar (depending on age) over wood, with wood furniture. Takes a little regular maintanance, but noting difficult.
I had a Navarro Legacy, which is essentially the same canoe. It’s a “niche” boat - but not for the reason of it’s material. It’s meant for small lakes and ponds or otherwise quiet water. It is rather slow, but has a lot of initial stability and isn’t pushed around too badly by moderate winds.
It might work okay for that kind of use with your two boys while they are small, and if they are not hyper-active. It’s a classy looking boat and well-built - but there are a lot of canoes that might suit you better for a longer time (as they grow). OTOH - you might enjoy owning such a canoe if you can have more than one.
I don't currently own a canoe. Today I tried out a Nova Craft Pal that seemed to work well. The salesperson also suggested a Bobs special. I want a canoe that works well solo and tandem.
My guess is that you would be happier in either of those NC Canoes than the little Osprey. It will take a lot longer for the three of you to grow out of either, and they both have far better performance than that 13’ Merrimack. Eventually, with more than two of you, you’ll probably either want a longer canoe or a second canoe - but I’d bet you’ll want to hang onto the Nova Craft once you get very familiar with it.
Yeah I’d go with the Nova Craft. The wood boats are cool but kids are pretty tough on stuff. The PAL is going to get you more places and with more gear. It will also last a lifetime with little to no maintenance and not really care when you’re kids hit a rocky beach or other obstruction at ramming speed.