Voyager vs. Advantage vs. Merlin II

Can anyone speak to differences betw/ the Wenonah Voyager and Advantage? I am considering a second solo for high-speed work outs, long-range day trips, and fast tripping (all lakes).

I have paddled the Voyager once (short demo, unloaded) and liked it, but have been told that I should look at the Advantage, since I am 6 feet and only 157 lbs. Wenonah has pushed me toward the Voyager (because only that is in the current catalog?).

I own a Bell Merlin II, which is great, but am curious to see if the Wenonahs offer significanlty greater go-straight speed (unloaded and loaded). If not, no sense in plunking down more cash. Does anyone have real-world (not just demo) experience w/ either of the Wenonahs vs. the Merlin II?

BTW, I have paddled a Magic and Prism (both unloaded) and felt they were each actually slower for me than the Merlin II (but more stable initially), despite specs that may indicate otherwise.


Voyager vs Advantage
I go about 255 lbs and have paddled both. I own a voyager and think it is the best flatwater tripping/cruising solo for me. In wind with a 300 lb load it is very well behaved. My experience in an advantage: in as little as 8" chop with no gear load I was within an inch of waves breaking over the bow; in calm water I could move the boat as fast as my voyager. My read on this is for you, if your load is no more than 200 lbs or so, take a closer look at advantage rather than voyager. Voyager likes a load of 250 lbs or more.

If you’d like a high-speed workout…
And fast tripping, you’d probably enjoy either of the Wenonah models more than the Merlin II.

You may hear differently from Bell fans, but that’s my opinion after having paddled all three.

Apart from the shape of the hull, there’s the outfitting. The tractor seat and foot brace help with control and ergonomics.

The narrow gunwhales, tractor seat, and footbrace allow you to brace your knees against the inside of the gunwhale, kind of lake you would with a kayak. IMO, really helps with control and seaworthiness.

I paddled an Advantage for about ten years and traded it in on a Voyager. I’d agree with Duluth Moose, but maybe say that the V is fine with a slightly lighter load. At your weight, in a crosswind, it will tend to turn into the wind if you don’t have a load. But if you’re on a trip and hauling a load, that would be less of a problem.

If you can, maybe try both for an hour or two at a time, and maybe bring a pack with for pretend weight???


Go Wenonah

I own both the Advantage and Voyageur and have put a lot of miles on both hulls . Unlike Voyager, the geek in me wouldn’t let go of the Advantage when I got the new boat :slight_smile: At your weight, I would probably lean towards the Advantage . A foot shorter than the Voyageur, it is still one of the fastest non race boats out there ( and if you ever race, it is race legal in many leagues, where the Voyaguer is not ) . The Voyaguer IMO paddles better with a load . I am 190 and carry a week’s worth of gear in either boat with no problem . But for day trips, I usually take the Advantage ; on a windy day the Voyagaur , being 2" higher in the ends, catches the wind more . If you think you might really get into long distance tripping a lot, the Voyageur is a rocket, being narrower AND longer than the Advantage . Either boat will blow away not only any other rec solo out there, but the vast majority of tandems as well . It’s like being in a Ferrari on a highway full of station wagons.

One thing I haven’t check out is a cover for the Voyaguer ; I have read good feedback that is really makes a difference in wind . As far as other outfitting, I fully agree with my Voyager pal ( we always pop up in the same threads :)) - you will be amazed what a tractor seat and a foot peg will do versus a plain bench seat . Not just in speed, but in stabilty too . Once you are “locked” in this way, you can survive some pretty serious chop that would have other paddlers kneeling in their boats and heading for shore . I would advise a gel seat cover for the tractor seat . Not so much for comfort, but I found that it locked my butt in place ; whereas the slick surface of the bare seat caused me to slide around a bit .

While the Advantage may not be in their print catalog, it is still on their website .Check under the racing canoe section. It was only delisted from the print catalog about 3 years ago IIRC when the Voyageur came out . If you go through a dealer, they will be able to special order one for you . Beware that this time of year, lead times could be a couple months, between production and shipping ( since Wenonah ships on their own trucks, not common carrier ) . If you call them, they might be able to refer to a dealer who has one in stock .

I have not paddled the Merlin II . Based on the specs, it is 18" shorter than the Advantage ( albeit narrower ) and a full 30" shorter than the Voyaguer . The Voyaguer is actually narrower , even though it is 30" shorter - tells you how focused they were on speed :slight_smile:

If speed is your goal, I would say the Wenonahs would deliver more . That being said, the Bell boat seems to have a very good reputation and the collector in me wants to paddle one some day out of curiousity .

A cover on the Voyager reduces
the wind effects by 75%.I put a Cooke Custom Cover on mine and it went from unruly beast, to slightly ornery.It does like some weight though. When I first used it, I put 100 lbs of sand plus my 230 in it and it really improved the behavior in rough water.

My experience
I’ve owned a Voyager for about 5 months now. I owned an Advantage several years ago. I’d agree with what others have said about the Voyager’s speed. I was out just this morning with a friend in a Savage River USCA boat - the Voyager is basically just as fast and a whole lot more seaworthy. Yes, the Voyager might catch the wind a bit more than an Advantage, but it is also quite comfortable and capable in relatively big water. You can learn to deal with the wind and I really appreciate the seaworthiness the Voyager provides. I weigh in around 175 - 180 and typically paddle the Voyager empty or with a real light load. The only real drawback to the Voyager (as others have mentioned) is that you can only race it in an “unlimited” class, it is too long for standard class but not wide enough for USCA or Pro.

Couple comments on the Advantage…
…I usually paddle my Advantage in relatively calm waters, for training only. I weigh about 185. Paddling on my own, i do a lot more switching to keep the boat straight. I usually paddle with my dog in the back, which ads about 35 lbs.

But two weeks ago i started paddling with my younges son, who is 1.5 years old. He’s pretty solid and weighs around 30 lbs, and i sit him between my feet and he holds on to the thwart in front of him. I could swear that the boat tracks much better, and even seems faster with the additional weight. Or maybe its all in my head because i’m having so much fun!

Maybe it’s the difference in trim of
having your dog behind you versus having your son in front of you? Bow high versus bow low?

Definitely could be trim…
…I didn’t clearly state that now i have both the dog and the kid. So i definitely could have been bow light, even though i was scooting up.

Two afterthoughts about these canoes…
Hello again!

Wanted to chime on with a couple of afterthoughts.

First, one improvement you may notice if you do decide to switch to EITHER of these canoes… The unusually narrow gunwhales are great for that “brace with your knees like a kayaker” thing. But they’re also nice for just plain paddling – especially if you’re paddling hard for a workout. If you can keep your stroke closer to the canoe’s keel line, it’s more ergonomic and more efficient. It also means you may not have to switch sides quite so often, all else equal.

Second, the difference in the cross-section of the two hulls. The Advantage isn’t flat like a Grumman, but it’s more flat-bottomed than the Voyager. That means more initial stability, but definitely less secondary stability and seaworthiness.

The Voyager may feel wiggly when you get in it. But when you’re turning or maneuvering, it’s easier to lean way over with confidence. And once you get used to it, it’s plenty stable, even for fishing. (Unless you’re fishing saltwater, or maybe muskies. Then, depending on how windy it is, you should maybe be ready to cut the line if you get anything much over 40 or 50 pounds.)