If anybody has paddled the Bell Morningstar solo please offer me your opinion of this boat on flat and moving water while solo! Thank you in advance.
It depends on your size. MS is 36" wide in center, so best paddles from an aft kneeling thwart where the hull is narrower. Even then, you’ll need to be wide in the shoulders, tall and well over 250 lbs to simnk its footprint in the water.
It will be a tandem paddled solo. The bow will not draw, cross strokes will not be used.
I have a Morningstar RX
that I often solo from the kneeling thwart. The stability inspires a lot of confidence -- I've had it out in whitecap conditions and felt comfortable, and it's happy being paddled Canadian-style with a gunwale a couple of inches off the water. It's very maneuverable. The negatives are that it is wide enough to be a long reach for me at 5'9", and with only my 160 pounds it's a huge sail when any kind of breeze picks up. Adding an 80-pound dog helps. The composite version may perform differently.
Compared to a Penobscot 16, I think it's more stable and more maneuverable. The Penobscot tracks better and is faster. The Penobscot is slightly narrower but lacks the Bell's tumblehome, so paddling comfort is a tossup for me.
If I had to choose a tandem/solo, I'd take the Penobscot for flatwater travel, and the Morningstar for poking around, fishing, or moving water. But I'd really rather have a proper solo canoe for paddling solo.
The photo shows that I'd have to stretch to get my top hand out far enough to get the paddle vertical, but that the tumblehome keeps the gunwale from sticking out.
I have a whitegold Morningstar
I sometime paddles it solo, and would echo angstrom’s sentiments on it’s stability.
However, bring water jugs/drybags, etc, it will definitely need to be trimmed out with some weight, especially the bow. The differential rocker combined with the aft center solo paddling position will tend to make the boat leecock hardcore if it’s not trimmed substantially. But don’t add so much that it plows.
I too use a kneeling thwart, IIRC angstrom might have been the one who gave me the dimensions (made it myself). It’s actually quite fun to paddle solo, provided there is little wind. In wind, you may find it difficult to control paddled solo. But on protected water it’s a lot of fun, and very confidence inspiring.