Bell Northstar vs Curtis Northstar vs Swift Keewaydin

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Curiosity more than anything but I notice an abundance of Bell Northstars and rarely ever see another Keewaydin, and have never seen a Curtis Northstar.

I've looked at the specs, and it seems the Swift and the Bell are most similar, although maybe the Swift has a bit more volume? The Bell and the Curtis seem to be nothing more than a name but was the evolution from the Curtis to the Bell that of a similar shape going from a symmetric design to one of asymmetry?

One has to wonder if the abundance of Bells in NY was just a marketing thing and Swift has yet to catch up? Or is it truly a superior boat?
 
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From a rather new to me Bell Northstar owner and some one who is looking for a lighter version of a Northstar. WOW what a canoe. Then add in Bells being easily available and marketing during the time when people had a little spare money. The latest Swift Keewaydin version come out in 2010. During the middle part of the NO spare money time and having to look for some ware to buy it probably has something to do with the lack of Swift Keewaydin's you see. Have been told from some in the know that David Yost has learned a little bit since he designed the Bell North Star and that all that knowledge was used in the newer Keewaydin.
 
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Best to ask Dave Curtis about the Curtis Northstar. Its no accident Bells are found in NY. Ted used to drive them around to dealers all over the Northeast with his trailer ( I once took part in that brigade) and DY is from the Finger Lakes area.

Swift didn't use to have a big dealer network in NY.. For years the only outlet was Collinsville Canoe (before it acquired a Kayak too in its name) in Connecticut.
 
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The economy makes a lot of sense. I bet that is the case although when I bought my Kee at Mountain Man in OF, they were not 'pushing' them. I tried nearly every Wenonah model available before they pulled out the Swift.

I see a LOT more Wenonahs than I see Bells as well, although this past week in SRCA/SLWF I counted at least 4 unique Bell Northstars. The rest was the usually mix of Hornbeck, PBW, and Wenonahs with the occasional Mad River and Old Town. And of course some of the Souris Rivers that they rent out at the Outfitters.

I did see an exorbitant amount of w/c canoes but they were all on rack on the highway. I was expecting to see that based on the assembly the week prior.
 
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St Regis Outfitters and Blue Mountain Outfitters have upped the inventory.. the former Wenonah and the latter Swift. You seemed to have missed all the Coldens but likely they were at Ray Brook.

I think Macs carries Wenonah.. I've seen mainly Wenonahs at Racquette River Outfitters but they do have others per their website.

Its not surprising that Bells aren't found very much on the road given that the current operation is small. I know there were several at Wolf Pond.. I suspect that your survey had some understandable flaws. Some boats were there but out of sight.

I think its not so much the economy as much as what local dealers offer. You won't find as many boats that don't have a dealer network. Those builders chose not to have a dealer network for various reasons. I know Paul at Colden is building just as much as he wants to. Probably the same for Dave Curtis.
 
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Oh my survey is far from fair. Just my random observations from a week in the Adirondacks.

I've never seen a Colden, or not yet at least. I rarely, rarely, rarely see a Hemlock and when I do, it's usually on Canadice or Hemlock lake.

I know the place in Tupper rents out Swifts - I've talked to individuals who've rented from there and these are the only other Kee's I've seen on the water.

Bill Swift drives his boats to Rochester to be sold at Bay Creek, but I rarely see Keewaydin 16 or 17's among the other Swifts I count in the area. I usually see the pack canoes or kayaks if it's a Swifty.

Mountain Man in OF and Saratoga are Swifts big dealers in the Adirondacks. I check the inventory now and again, it doesn't seem to move fast. My boat sat for two years before I bought it.

Anyway, the real question is how much different are those two boats - and if the Swift is 'slightly' superior to the the Bell due to DY improving that design, how come there aren't hoards of them out there.

Mine is to be terminal. It has way too many spider web cracks in it to be sold for any kind of recovery (from it's off the water fall). I'm not as nice to it now. It received many scratches and another small crack this past week. It's all cosmetic... the boat is pretty tough. I love it as long as it's not windy. It's a great pond boat. It will also carve down a stream as well. I feel I'll get something bigger and harder tracking for big water some day.
 
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.

The latest Bell-type boat is my Hemlock Peregrine. It's a bit more refined than the Wildfire but has a lot of similar characteristics.

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Nope.. Nope. Nope.. The Peregrine is a derivative of the Nomad which was designed by the same designer who did the WildFire . That's about all the similarity.

Test. Heel both to the rail and measure the arc described. Is it a complete arc? What is its radius? The Peregrines stems don't free up well.

Two distinct boats. Different market. You ought to catch DY sometime at an event. Bring pencil and paper for him.
 
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I have no idea cflcanoe, I've never paddled a Northstar. It seems that many people have not had experience in both these boats but the people that own or have paddled Northstars rave about them.
 
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I'm a canoeist too. Or would like to be. Did you use a chalkline? I've found out the hard way eyes are very deceiving. I'm not trying to argue..but have learned a bit about eye tomfoolery from Charlie and DY
 
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From the side lines you guy's are a hoot! Every time you start into one of these discussions about this canoe or that one I'm reminded of two strange dogs who are walking all stiff-leged, bristled up and circling each other! Look out everybody, if they go for it then the fur will fly!

Don't worry; I've got a big box on band-aids and a bottle of witch hazel and will administer first aid with an impartial hand to all of you. And don't ask me what I paddle; I've forgotten if I ever knew.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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JFC!

Bell dealers in Upstate NY don't count because the hulls haven't been made in a while. Colden and Hemlock are direct to the public builders. NorthStar sells through Oak Orchard Lake George Kayak and Raquette River. Swift is available through Bay Creek, Raquette River, Adk Lakes and Trails, Adk Pole and Paddle, both Mountain Man outlets and a Kingston dealer. Wenonah sells through more dealers, Including Oak Orchard, Blue Mountain Outs., Raquette River, Mac's Canoes, Adk Lakes and Trails and both Mountain Man facilities.

DY does his boats in series. The first in his small, performance, tandem series was the Sawyer 190 Cruiser. Then came the Curtis NorthStar and Swift Algonquin; all with symmetrical rocker, the first and third flared hulls, the NStar tumblehomed. The Bell NorthStar added shouldered tumblehome and differential rocker, the last in the line Swift Kee 16 has those features with stepped bow rocker. It would take a pretty sensitive paddler to discern performance differences between the latter two if blindfolded and not allowed to touch seat or rails. On the other hand, it's ignorant and/or insulting for someone to claim the greatest designer of our era stopped learning decades ago.

DY has done several series of solo hulls, delta shaped sit & switchers, solo trippers and sport solos. Only the latter two categories are mistakenly described above. DY's hulls have migrated away from arched towards elliptical bottoms over time, but they always feature soft chines to improve seakindlyness and all share that "feel"

DY's Solo trippers started with the '78 Curtis Solo Tripper, the Sawyer '79 Autumn Mist and StarLight, followed by Curtis' 82 Vagabond and '87 Nomad, now Coldens, the first two with shouldered tumblehome. Then came the '91 Swift Loon and Heron and the Loon Works Mistral, followed by the '94 Bell Merlin II, the '06 Placid RapidFire and the '12 Swift Keewaydin 15 and '14 Kee 14 and the '14 NorthStar NorthWind Solo. In between the Merlin II and RFire, Hemlock extended the stem layout on Vagabond and Nomad and splashed them, creating, kinda, the Kestrel and Peregrine. All these boats have length to weight ratios near 7 for forward efficiency and tracking. Differential rocker improving both starting with Nomad, stepped rocker being added to the two Swifts and NorthWind. Of note, Vagabond, Loon, Kestral, RapidFire and Kee 14 are a little shorter and narrower for greater efficiency with smaller paddlers and run ~27.5" wide. The others are 28.5-30" wide and longer, the concept being to target both shoulders of the bell shaped curve of human sizing. While our blindfolded paddler could easily tell the narrower from the wider, acceleration, top end and turning are pretty similar, differential rocker being discernible to the sensitive. The bubble sided Sawyers and Swifts probably not noticable from the shouldered Bell, Colden, Curtis, Helmock and Placid because no blindfolded paddler will be heeling to the rail.

DY's Sport solos all descend from the '78 Curtis LadyBug and '82 DragonFly. Compared to the solo trippers, they are wider, shorter and have greater, symmetrical, rocker with w/L ratios near 6, excepting the combined class race DragonFly. Shorter hulls with lower L/W ratio improves maneuverability as some cost in forward speed and tracking. Symmetrical rocker requires mastry of th forward stroke to track well but also improves maneuverability, particularly as the hull is heeled and the stern slidded through turns. There was a downsized SoapBox stripper version of the LB in the early 80; two made, one in the posession of a beautiful lady near Rochester, the other gone forever with Emily Brown. The Bell FlashFire and WildFire combined shouldered tumblehome with elliptical bottoms, both now infused by Colden.

Yes, these two series share cross sectional shaping and chine softness of chines, but length, L/W ratio, and rocker, how much and differences bow and stern yields hulls with radically different performance characteristics.

DY has recently included differential rocker in his sport boats to improve tracking for entry/intermediate level paddlers. This started with the Bell YellowStone Solo, Placid's SpitFire, and the '15 NorthStar Phoenix. The WeNoNah Argosy fits in this category.

How to discern between this tome and opposing constructs above? It's an instance of the fingerpost. I brought DY to Bell Canoe, speced, i.e. worked with him on length, width, rocker, shear and tumblehome on the FlashFire WildFire, StarFire, NorthStar, Merlin II and YellowStone Solo and both Placid projects mentioned above. There were others. I also worked with him on specs for the Swift Kee 16, 15, 14.
 
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JFC!
The Bell NorthStar added shouldered tumblehome and differential rocker, the last in the line Swift Kee 16 has those features with stepped bow rocker. It would take a pretty sensitive paddler to discern performance differences between the latter two if blindfolded and not allowed to touch seat or rails.

This is what I was after (and what I had guessed). I'm guessing the Nstar would fit right between a Kee 16 and 17 in terms of forward performance?

This would also mean that the hype surrounding the Northstar has yet to spread to the Swift version due to some other unknown force, be it marketing, economy or aesthetics?

Personally it seems to me that it's the fact that one can get a WeNoNah for a few hundie cheaper at almost every dealer that sells Swift - the performance on the water may not be as good, but they are as light or lighter in most cases. I personally didn't like any of the small WeNoNah boats (16' or so) and a no rocker, 17'+ boat is not what I want to have when I'm going down a narrow stream. The classic WeNoNah 17 felt like paddling a log compared to it's more modern, race oriented designs. They lack that middle ground.
 
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Wenonah's are fine boats. Swift adds extra partial layers, infuses their lamination has an integrel, infused rail system that saves and extra ~ 6 lbs and more focused design. Sure they cost more just like BMWs cost more than Fords. Customers generally start with minimal skills and sensitivity. A logical progression might be OT, Wenonah, Swift as skills and paddle sensitivity increase, understanding that many won't cruise past their first OT.
 
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Well it seems my tally of boutique canoes is evening up... This past trip at Lows showed me a few Swifts other than my own on the water. I saw a Kee 17 and an Algonquin 16. I also saw a Kee 16 on a rack driving in.

I did, however, see another Bell Northstar... and of course many Wenonahs and Old Towns with a few Mad Rivers in there for good measure.
 
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Just curious here...when you guys (and gals) meet other paddlers, do you offer to let them paddle your boats?
I usually offer, and likewise get to paddle a wide variety of hulls.
Am I the only one?
 
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Always.. We spend a good bit of time on shore yakking about hull shapes and then trying them out to compare. At FreeStyle events thats how I get to try ten or 12 different hulls. We do have a chalkline that so upset Gavia which makes measurements easier.

If I am on a trip.. I am more focused and usually don't camp with anyone to play paddle with.
 
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I usually leave them be. I exchange pleasantries and that's about it. I kind of figure most people don't head into the wild to talk to me.
 
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