solo canoe?

Looking at the Merlin 2 or the wildfire solo canoes. I realize they are solo and that 90 percent of my time would be solo. but what about the time my son wants to come along (7) and do some bonding? Can’t I load gear behind me and put him in front? I don’t want a big honkin tandem canoe.


Don’t see why not

– Last Updated: Dec-27-06 4:08 PM EST –

I'd go for the bigger Merlin though. I've taken my daughter like that in my Supernova.

The only problem I had was trying to get her to stop dancing and sit down whenever we approached rapids.

Question is how big are you
A friend has the Merlin II and it’s perfect for him (he’s 5’ sixish, 160 lb), able to 75 lbs of gear and have plenty of freeboard. I got in (5’ 11", 190 lbs) and found it lightly squirley compared to my Magic and would not feel comfortable with a load.

Excellent boat and another fine DY design.


which Bell?
I had a Wildfire and have a Merlin II and always carry a 70 pound black lab. The Merlin II is better since it’s more stable and roomier for the passenger. I’m 190-ish so with a little gear the Merlin is carrying 265+. The boat easily handles the weight. Your daughter may have to sit in front of you, leaning back on you…for best weight distribution and to keep her out of the way of the paddle. Worked fine for me when I used to take the wife out in a solo.

Look at a Novacraft Bob Special.

If your thinking about a wildfire, you may also consider a starfire. At 15’ it is a great high volume solo boat but also has a bow seat. I paddle mine solo almost all the time. When my girl friend want’s to go she can hop right in. I ordered an extra thwart so that I could take out the bow seat on large trips.

Just another boat to look in too.


Which StarFire?Placid BoatWorks or Bell?

– Last Updated: Dec-28-06 11:55 AM EST –

I love StarFire canoes! It would indeed be a good choice for tandem/solo use. But I think a bit wide at 32" for 90% solo use. How big are you?



the Wenonah solo’s as well.I tried a couple Bell’s but didnt much care for them.It was a little windy and they were much more affected by it than the Wenonah’s.Also the Wenonah’s stability was better and would make paddeling with a kid much easier.Good luck!

nope would not do it
both are too small. And if the bow is heavy potentially dangerous.

I took my dog (70) lbs with me to LaVerendrye in Quebec. My gear was another 70 lbs, but as the dog was farther forward the bow was heavy and in three foot waves from aft the stern kept slewing around and broaching.

My boat was a Merlin II. Trim is everything in that boat. It is not forgiving.

A seven year old is old enough to paddle. Get a small tandem that you can solo.

The Starfire is now made by Placid Boat works but there ought to be some older Bell Starfires for sale if you hunt around.

Or a Swift Mattawa.

Bob’s Special too small??
I don’t think so. Designed as a tandem or a solo, 800lb capacity, 15’ long.

6ft 200 nm

How about a Swift Osprey
There’s a nice one for sale in the classifieds, not too far from you. I’ve never paddled the Merlin II but several posters on this board have said the Osprey is faster and more stable. I can vouch for the Osprey as being a beautiful ride, just not in whitewater (the design will handle Class II just fine, but the hull is Kev Light).

This is of course unabashed self promotion, it’s my Osprey that’s for sale:)

I don’t want to hijack the thread. To answer mcwood’s question.

My boat is made by Lake Placid; a great couple of guys too work with. In fact I should have my expedition weight Starfire shipped here to MI some time this winter.

I’m 6ft 215lbs, the Starfire has everthing that I look for in a canoe with the ability to add another paddler/dog and a bunch of gear.

Good luck finding the perfect boat!


best bet is Evergreen Prospector
excellent dimensions and design make it an awesome performer both solo and tandem. solos beautifully especially for a bigger guy. slimness and shallow arch make it sufficiently glidy.

at 16’long, 34" wide, 14" depth and with modest rocker it has perfect balance unlike some prospector models (Wenonah and Nova Craft come to mind- too wide/too rockered, not nearly as balanced).

soooo much fun. great for day outings, solo tripping or tandem tripping up to 2 weeks. i have 2 of these (one in aramid, one in Royalex) and have used them in every conceivable manner and they are all i would want to paddle.

Trailhead makes a nearly identical design, but uses superior materials and construction techniques. much spendier however.

Penobscot 16’

– Last Updated: Dec-29-06 10:02 PM EST –

They aren't sexy kevlar laminate boats, but plenty of folks install center seats and solo Old Town Penobscots. Yeah, it's a tandem, a foot longer, 7 inches wider and 25 lbs. heavier than a Merlin II, but is $800 cheaper (even more if you score a used one) and far better suited for teaching a son to paddle as he grows. On our first trips, my son was much happier wielding a paddle rather than sitting bored, despite the propulsion he contributed being mostly in his mind.