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Thoughts on a Bell Merlin ii (not that I'm looking for another canoe...)

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I just try to listen to folks. :)

Came across this on craigslist (the bane of my existence) and thought I would ask opinions:

https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/boa/6210825494.html

For those of you that might not have seen the other thread, I am realizing how difficult it is to toodle around in my Prospector in the wind. Since I might not always be ale to paddle it tandem when we want to take canoes, I wandered around on CL at lunch today looking for solos. (bad, very bad).

So, as so many of you suggested, a dedicated solo is often the answer. I'm not sure this boat would work, or if that is a fair price (or if my husband will let me have another boat - sheepish grin) but I thought I would ask a few opinions anyway (my birthdays coming up....)

A girl can always hope! :)
 
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I paddled one briefly on a trip where my dad had rented it. He's bigger than me and spent 3 days with gear in it and didn't complain. I'm 6' 215 lbs and while I would absolutely own one for day trips, I wouldn't use it for multi day trips. I used my Bell Rockstar on that trip and thought it carried tripping weight better. 4 of my canoes are by Bell though.

However, I found the Merlin II to have exceptional glide and paddled really well with just me. Personally I think that's a great price especially if it's in as good condition as it looks. I'm on my phone.

Cheers,

Barry
 
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Ohhhhhhh, that is a good deal. I would snap that up in a heartbeat if it was local.
 
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I just try to listen to folks. :)

Came across this on craigslist (the bane of my existence) and thought I would ask opinions:

https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/boa/6210825494.html

For those of you that might not have seen the other thread, I am realizing how difficult it is to toodle around in my Prospector in the wind. Since I might not always be ale to paddle it tandem when we want to take canoes, I wandered around on CL at lunch today looking for solos. (bad, very bad).

So, as so many of you suggested, a dedicated solo is often the answer. I'm not sure this boat would work, or if that is a fair price (or if my husband will let me have another boat - sheepish grin) but I thought I would ask a few opinions anyway (my birthdays coming up....)

A girl can always hope! :)
Go for it! Worth every penny of it, hurry. And I thought that only guys can never have too many canoes. ;)
 

Glenn MacGrady

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The Merlin II is a Dave Yost design very similar to other 15' designs he's done, such as the Curtis Nomad, Hemlock Peregrine and Swift Keewaydin 15. These are all highly regarded solo canoes that paddle sleekly on flat water. The Merlin II will be much less affected by wind than a solo Prospector.

If the canoe is in good shape, which the pictures suggest, the price is excellent. In fact, it's so good that I would question whether it is really 33 lbs, which is the weight of Bell's black-gold composite. But a black-gold canoe is black. The KevLite model was supposed to be 31 lbs., but they look Kevlar yellow. With that white gel coat, I would suspect that this was Bell's white-gold construction, which weighed 42-43 lbs. Even so, it's still a good price.

If you are a small person -- say, less than 150 lbs. -- you would probably fit better in a 14' solo canoe, but you also might wait a long time to find a used one of equivalent value to this Merlin II.

In your situation, I'd probably go for it, but I'd request a good faith test paddle first. It may feel twitchy to someone not experienced in solo canoes. There surely is water close by in Portland.
 
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Personally I think that's a great price especially if it's in as good condition as it looks. I'm on my phone.

At that price, if you don't like it, you can easily get your money back!

Ohhhhhhh, that is a good deal. I would snap that up in a heartbeat if it was local.

Go for it! Worth every penny of it, hurry.

I would suspect that this was Bell's white-gold construction, which weighed 42-43 lbs. Even so, it's still a good price.

In your situation, I'd probably go for it.

Notice a trend here?

The Merlin II won’t last long at that price. A dedicated solo would make a perfect complement to your tandem Prospector. I doubt many used Bells pop up in Portland, even fewer at that price.

Strike while the iron is hot.
 
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I have more miles on my Merlin II than all of my other boats combined since it just works...great for upstream paddling and great for windy days. Surprisingly stable for the narrow waterline width. It's not the most playful solo but it's the perfect complement to your Prospector. It's also a great dog boat...my Merlin II is on its second dog. You should buy it today for sure.
 
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Notice a trend here?

The Merlin II won’t last long at that price. A dedicated solo would make a perfect complement to your tandem Prospector. I doubt many used Bells pop up in Portland, even fewer at that price.

Strike while the iron is hot.

I've been watching canoes here for awhile and that seemed like a good deal to me as well. Just wasn't sure how it would fit in the arsenal (to similar to the prospector - which it doesn't sound like). Looks like I might be selling a sea kayak to make room, but that'll be okay. Variety is the spice of life!

Taking the afternoon out of the office - going to go have a look!

Thanks everyone!
Kathy

PS - if your curious: I currently have 2 sea kayaks, (Tiderace Xcite) one for surfing and playing, (Tiderace Xplore-M) for outright covering mileage, a (Jackson Fun Runner) whitewater kayak and the prospector.
 
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That Merlin II is in Portland? That's only about a seven hour drive for me. Gassing up. Weekend's coming. You gonna buy that?

I passed on a black/gold Merlin II for $900 several years ago, and have been kicking myself over it ever since.
 
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That Merlin II is in Portland? That's only about a seven hour drive for me. Gassing up. Weekend's coming. You gonna buy that?.

Yep, I just did! :D

Thank you all for the feedback, I'm back at the office now but will stop on the way home and take it for a short test paddle. The guy I purchased it from had it under cover outside for about 10 years, However, everything looked sound and I couldn't see any cracks. It's so light, I loaded it by myself. Which was good because the seller couldn't help (just had hip surgery and was on crutches).

It needs a little cleaning, and maybe a new seat this winter, but otherwise I thinks its in great condition. Pictures in a bit if anyone's interested, once she's cleaned up a tad.

Cheers and thank you all again!
Kathy
 
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Congratulations on your new boat. I hope that you are comfortable kneeling...your seat height is high and set up for kneeling which is ideal for the Merlin II. If you strongly prefer sitting you can get longer seat drops that would be easy to put n.

Regarding your seat I think you are lucky and now you have an excuse to order some parts from Ed's Canoe. I recommend that you get a webbed seat instead of cane (it's more comfortable and looks better to me) and splurge on the black walnut upgrade. It will add a pound or so but it will also add a bit of strength/stiffness since the wood is thicker than stock Bell ash seats. I also recommend that you spend $13 for a pair of black walnut carrying handles. You can use your current parts as templates for cutting and drilling; it's easy. Attached pics show an Ed's seat on my Merlin II and the walnut handles on my Yellowstone Solo. Then even if you hate the boat you can sell it to Steve from Idaho for at least $1200.
 

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Well, nuts.

I keep thinking that Black Gold Merlin II will come up for sale again. I think I know who has it - the old gal who sold me my first Malecite. I put her on to it because she needed a good solo. She was selling the Malecite because it was getting too heavy for her to lift by herself. She can't keep paddling forever, can she? I should be getting some good karma for that, shouldn't I?
 
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Managed to get it out on the water for a short paddle last night, a very different boat from the Prospector. I like it! :cool:

Think I finally understanding what you mean by 'glide'. It is much faster in a straight line and also more difficult to turn. I'll explore how far I can heel it over more when can go out with friends who can assist with rescues. :rolleyes: It felt rather twitchy when I initially got in it, which likely explains why the guy I bought it from never really paddled it that much. After about 2 minutes, however, I had settled in and the rest of the paddle was great.

So far the to-do list:
Will need to repaint the gunwales, the aluminum is pretty scratched up.
Drop the seat just a smidge, I do like the kneel but that is a bit to tall.
Will end up changing it over to the web seat - I like that look too (thanks gumpus!)
Re-seal the inside of the canoe -​
There is some wear on the inside under the seat where peoples feet have rubbed. It almost looks a little fuzzy which has me concerned about water absorption into the fabric as I use it more. I don't think it is critical to do right now, but something to plan on this winter.​
Once I clean the outside of the hull I'll know if it is very oxidized (I know there is some). For a 13 year old boat, I'm not sure what to expect but I'd like to get the little girl looking good again.​
Do something to the wood handles and thwarts: they look like they are in good condition (no splitting or cracking), but the wood looks dry. Probably need to sand and seal them again? Gumpus, the handles that are on it look like the ones in your picture, so it's good there.​
Happily most of this feels like elbow grease and not loads of cash. Think this boat is something I get to grow into and I am ecstatic about the fact that I can manage it from the house to the river and back by myself. Looking forward to putting the time in on cleaning it up though. It still feels like it was a good buy and a great addition to the fleet. I can see the value could be higher then what I paid after I do the work on it, but not sure when/if I'll be able to apart with it. (Sorry Steve in Idaho!)

If you have any ideas of ways to resolve the above list - please feel free to post them. I'll refer back to this thread for ideas and/or search them out as I start what little rehab needs to be done.

Thanks again - Kathy
 
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I had a Merlin II for a few years. It is a good all round solo tripper in the lineage of DY's Solo Tripper
It has excellent secondary stability. Heeled it's turning radius was quite good though I had others that were better. The Merlin isn't a Freestyle boat but you can bury the rail and stay dry.
It was an amenable hiking companion in Algonquin
 
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So far the to-do list:
Drop the seat just a smidge, I do like the kneel but that is a bit to tall.
Will end up changing it over to the web seat - I like that look too (thanks gumpus!)

Good job on snapping up that MerlinII. I doubt it would have remained unsold for long.

Ed’s Canoe will have whatever webbed seat you desire (I like the contour versions), and longer drops as well (I like truss drops, with the seat canted slightly forward). Just let Ed’s know they are for a Bell Merlin II and they will provide the correct hole spacing.

http://www.edscanoe.com/
 
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Mike's advice is spot on...if you order seat drops from Ed's you need to tell them it's for a Bell or the hole spacing will be wrong; I learned this the hard way. He's also right in that the contoured seats are quite comfy...and the contoured seat will also lower your seating position...probably putting it exactly where you want it without getting new seat drops.

To Steve in Idaho, for sure your patience and good Khama will pay off. My paddling buddy missed a chance at a perfect white gold Merlin II for $1100 a long time ago, less than a year old, no scratches, custom pure white gel coat instead of almond. Sometimes I remind him.

For fartherwest, my original pics were terrible so I pulled out my Yellowstone so you can see it in natural light. We need to see pics of your boat to confirm whether your thwarts are ash or walnut. For sure your carrying handles are ash. I just think it's nice to have everything match...or get as much walnut in as you can...since then you get to look at some walnut and still enjoy the zero maintenance aluminum gunnels. I doubt that you want to paint your gunnels, probably best to just sand them down until the scratches go away. Maybe start with 400 or maybe 320...and end up with 600 or even 1500.

I use "gunnel lotion" on the wood on my boats...1/3 boiled linseed oil, 1/3 distilled white vinegar, 1/3 mineral spirits. Or get a small can of badger oil from badger paddles. Or use Watco if you store it outside. Or use whatever everyone else recommends.

303 protectant is the easy way to UV protect your hull. Some will say marine wax is better...just a bit more work.

I'm not sure best options for resealing the interior of your hull. I know Dave Curtis could give you some advice if you call him at Hemlock Canoe.

Attached are a few shots of my Bell Yellowstone solo, with contoured (ash) seat, black walnut thwarts (came with those from Bell) and black walnut carrying handles from Ed's...plus a shot of a stock ash Bell seat versus a black walnut webbed seat from Ed's.

Please post some pics of your boat so we can see the wood and the interior fuzzing.
 

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I doubt that you want to paint your gunnels, probably best to just sand them down until the scratches go away. Maybe start with 400 or maybe 320...and end up with 600 or even 1500.

I use "gunnel lotion" on the wood on my boats...1/3 boiled linseed oil, 1/3 distilled white vinegar, 1/3 mineral spirits. Or get a small can of badger oil from badger paddles. Or use Watco if you store it outside. Or use whatever everyone else recommends.

I agree about the aluminum gunwales, I wouldn’t paint them. You would need to etch the aluminum for the paint to adhere, and even then it’s likely you will scrape off paint while using the canoe or carrying it jiggelty on vehicle roof racks. I’m not sure I’d even sand them unless there are areas so deeply scratched as to slice your fingers.

I oil my wood gunwales much the same as Gumpus, although I use turpentine in place of vinegar. Turps are stinky in the shop but seem to penetrate the wood well. In the initial coat I up the proportion of turps slightly.

I prefer varnish on thwarts, yokes and carry handles. Well, actually Helmsman Spar Urethane, which is less expensive, easier to find and equally if not more durable and UV protective.

One area that needs special attention is the butt ends of that kind of brightwork. Lots of manufacturers slap a coat or two of varnish on brightwork, which is insufficient to seal those open grain butt ends. That is where wood rot typically begins on canoes and not a place to skimp on sealant. Even if you re-use some brightwork parts I’d sand the ends and recoat with 2 or 3 coats of sealant.

Great canoe, and a wonderful complement to your existing fleet.

EDIT: Gumpus, not to be critical, more of a safety concern, but that’s a lot of machine screw sticking out below the seat. I sometimes paddle in boots or mukluks with laces, and even though I don’t kneel much I sometimes tuck one foot under the seat and worry about boot lace entrapment*

If the machine screws I’m using are over long I just put on two nuts, cut the bolt shank to length and then back out the nuts to clean up the threads, reassemble and add the little thread protectors onto what’s left.

*I’ve never been foot entrapped in a canoe. I have been in my old Toyota truck. Manual transmission; I came up to a sudden stop in a parking garage, fortunately going slowly in 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] gear. My left bootlace was hooked around the clutch and I couldn’t press the clutch in. It took a scary few seconds to realize I had to hit the brake anyway and stall the truck.

I have size 12 feet. YMMV.
 
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