Penobscot/Morningstar comparison photos

I recently borrowed an Old Town Penobscot 16 for an outing, and took some photos side-by-side with our Bell MorningStar RX.

Both are 16’ Royalex tandems that are often mentioned in discussions of solo/tandem canoes. If you go by the catalog numbers they’re quite similar, with the Penobscot having a couple of inches less beam. But as you can see, the shapes are significantly different.

The biggest difference is in the midship hull section. Both are shallow arches, but the Penobscot transitions to a vertical side. The MorningStar makes a more gradual transition to a flared side, and then to the trademark shouldered tumblehome.

The Penobscot has a much finer bow, and the bow is closer to plumb. The MorningStar bow is more blunt, with more rake and a larger-radius transition to the keel line.

The MorningStar supposedly has more rocker, but it’s hard to see in this situation.

I haven’t spent enough time in the Penobscot to make a fair comparison. On the water, the Penobscot tracks better and feels faster. The MorningStar feels very predictable when you lean it – I’ve paddled it Canadian-style with the gunwale 2" off the water and felt secure.

I just thought it was a good illustration of why you shouldn’t buy a boat based on a couple of dimensions. They’re both fine canoes but feel very different on the water.

I already have a Penobdscot, so
I’ll take the Bell and also that beautiful dog.

You can keep that winter though.

thanks for the good comparison shoots.



Apples & Oranges
These hulls aren’t really similar.

Penobscot is a ~ conventionally designed, 16 ft, small class WW downriver boat that makes a fine all around hull for compact tandem teams. It’s w/l ration is 6.2.

MorningStar is a shorter, wider boat, basically the 18.5’ Northwoods lines collapsed to 15.5ft. While the shoulders allow vertical forward strokes in a short, wide boat with a w/l ration of 5.6. MS’s greater width increases carrying capacity and stability at the cost of forward performance.

Interesting… makes sense. But
I wouldn’t see that much difference if I hadn’t had a friend who won the downriver cruising class two years in a row on the Nantahala, in a Penobscot 16. To my eye, the hulls don’t look that dissimilar.

CE, do you have any observations about the Dagger Suwannee that Yanoer was asking about earlier? That’s a wide boat which seems to work better than it should as a solo.

Forward performance

– Last Updated: Jun-02-08 5:20 PM EST –

Yup. She's a fine boat, but no speedster. Since we've ended up doing more lake paddling and less river paddling than I expected, I'm starting to look for a used NorthStar...

looks just like mine…
haven’t taken her in the canoe yet though