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Thread: Bell Merlin II

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    260

    Default Bell Merlin II

    Maker's Spec

    WEIGHTS BY LAYUP
    KevLight - 31 lbs.
    BlackGold- 33 lbs.

    Length: 15'
    Length/Width Ratio: 6.9
    Rocker: Bow 2.5" Stern 1.5"

    Shear:
    Bow: 17"
    Mid: 12"
    Stern: 15"

    Width:
    Gunwale width - 27"
    Max width - 29"
    3" WL width - 25.5"

    Displacement:
    2" WL - 150 lbs.
    3" WL - 240 lbs.
    4 " WL - 340 lbs.

    Capacity:
    6" Freeboard: 650 lbs.
    Optimum Load: 160-280 lbs.

    Maker's Write Up
    We offer the Merlin II for the paddler who desires the feel of a composite solo cruiser but doesn't want to sacrifice all-around performance. It swiftly slices through mile after mile of flatwater. Differential rocker provides crisp turning and efficient corrections in wind and waves.
    *Shown with wood trim.
    Last edited by Chrish; 26th-October-2007 at 10:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Default Love at first sight.

    I made the mistake of popping up to Sues canoes a couple of weeks ago and they had their range of Bell composite boats in. I had no intention of buying one and came away with just a drain plug for a kayak. However I fell in love with the Merlin II. Yes the composite boats are a lot of cash but the finish and build are such that they do grab you.
    Anyway today at 9.30am the Merlin was still on Tony's rack but at 1.00pm I was paddling it on the Ouse! The first thing that hits you is the weight or lack of it. At 30 odd lbs it is so light you have to remember to always keep a strap on it and do not think that it will sit on the roof rack; the slightest gust of wind will have it off.

    I managed an hours paddle in this afternoons sunshine here in Cambridgeshire. The first couple of minutes were like any new relationship with each wishing to show the other who is boss. Initial reactions:-
    1. Initially very twitchy and was trying to chuck me in but managed to suppress that desire.
    2.The seat on mine is set very low; so low that I cannot get my feet under to kneel but sitting for me was fine with one leg out and the other bent and I felt very stable. I may see what its like with the kneeling thwart drops fitted if I can get any but with knees wedged up under the gunnels I was one with the boat.
    3. Accelleration- Wow!! Off you go.
    4. Easy to paddle and turn and not overly affected by the wind.

    So far so good but the honeymoon continues so we will see what is the best set up. A few photos follow.

    Tony has now sold all the composites and I gather that a certain Davy Crockett has the other Merlin so both are now residing in the Fens!









    Its a lovely boat. Thank God for interst free credit on some cards!!

    Blott

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    In a cottage in a Forest with no neighbours! Heaven!
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    Default

    Congratulations on joining the 'Merlin Owners Club'

    Also here in the Fens is 'Low Ratios' Merlin in Black Gold
    Mrs Crockett was paddling it today in the beautiful setting of Mepal Outdoor Centre, as she can't wait 'till I go over to 'Sues Canoes' to collect her's....

    Interestingly 'Low Ratio's' has short seat hangers, so you can also use the seat to kneel.

    Mrs Crockett hasn't done a lot of paddling, but prefers solo canoes, and doesn't understand what all the fuss is about when someone say's solo's are tippy. I had a certain dislike of solo's at first, after being used to a more 'normal 'canoe, but now love their agility. When I bought Mrs Crockett her Yellowstone Solo, she just got in it and took off, no previous solo experience.
    She's havng the Merlin because it is so light, and she loves the way it handles.
    I just hope I can borrow it sometime.....

    Looking forward to your review once you've logged some miles.

    Davy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Winnipeg, MB
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    Default

    The reason Low Ratio's has short seat hangers is that I took a saw to the originals when it first came into my possession! Still pining for my merlin but plotting the purchase of the next one!
    "All right" said Eeyore "We're going. Only don't blame me"

    www.canoepaddler.me.uk

  5. #5
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    Jun 2008
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    Default

    Chris, I presume your Merlin was originally spec'd like mine with the seat set very low so that you could not kneel with feet under the seat. The previous issue used to be that the seat was set at immediately under the gunwales which made it very tippy for sitting but better for kneeling and owners used to drop the seat levl to give increased stability.

    I paddled the Merlin on a 5 hour trip around the Cambridgeshire Lodes today sitting with one leg out and one tucked sideways which was Ok but I feel kneling would be better. Was yours set midway for Kneeling? Not sure I want to take a saw to the walnut but may see if I can get something for a halfway house solution.

    Its now got 6 hours paddling on the clock and all is well. A very nice boat and looke sthe bees knees.

    Blott

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Winnipeg, MB
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    Default Seat Drops

    Yes the seat high was originally around the 6" mark so I cut the legs off the drops. I tink it's up around 10" now but you'd have to ask Low Ratio.

    There must be plenty of folks on the site who could custom make you some drops if you can't get them easily from Outdoor Active. Or you could try ordering them direct from the US from Piragis, Rutabaga or Jersey Paddler.

    Just be brave and cut up the old ones!
    "All right" said Eeyore "We're going. Only don't blame me"

    www.canoepaddler.me.uk

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    very soon to be norfolk
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    Default

    looking very relaxed just starting the second hour of total paddled time:





    I've got a saw and know how to use it!

    Sam

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Frankfurt/Germany aera
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    36

    Default Bell Merlin

    Hello, In regar of fitting seat-height : simply do not throw away the cut-off hanger-sections and use them for later corrections/improvements. Nice place to store them "looseproof
    " is to place them on the remainig thread of the bolts under the seat-frame.
    BTW : I do still have some Merlins in the officially abandonned White-Gold-Laminateion...
    Happy paddling
    Jörg Wagner

  9. #9
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    Jun 2008
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    Default

    OK the saw came out and I took 2 " off the hangers and packed the thread with the off cuts as Jorg suggested. Looks to be about the right compromise to kneel or sit so we will see at the weekend. I do prefer to paddle kneeling as I get a better reach with the paddle.

    More to follow....................

  10. #10
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    Ah!.......err.......you beat me too it......with the saw......was just about to post this.......

    This is how I got over the problem in the Yellowstone Solo, which is the same set up as the Merlin......

    Steve D had some ash left over from a project, and he kindly made me some 1"x 3/4" lengths, that I then cut and shaped, and fitted together to form this.....a slatted sitting/kneeling thwart.



    More comfortable than a kneeling thwart when used kneeling, and just as comfey as a seat when used for sitting.
    Because it is narrower than a seat my heels would not catch like they did with the seat (when kneeling), so I could keep it low. I could have used spacers to raise it if I needed to, but found that this worked just fine.
    With the slats on top of the side bars I gained 3/4" anyway.
    Sorry I didn't get this posted earlier......couldn't find the pictures.

    I'll be fitting this to Mrs Crocketts Merlin when we get it.

    All the best (although a bit late)
    Davy

  11. #11
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    Default

    Thanks for that. I will do some trial and error testing to find the right set up which suits me. The Merlin seat was set very low and whilst stable sitting it does not let you feel as if you are "at one" with the canoe. I will go for a paddle kneeling tomorrow and if the set up works I will then do some neater woodwork on the hangers to make them look a bit more like OEM. I sat and paddled last Sunday from Reach-Wicken-Burwell and after about 4 hours my legs and hip joints hurt as you have nothing to effectively brace against.

    Thats a nice set up which you have a chieved with the ash and gives you enough foot space beneat. i have to accommodate size 11's but if I can bail out of a snug kayak I can get out of the canoe easily enough so not worried about entrapment. tend to paddle most on the long pond called the Ouse anyway!

    Nick

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy Crockett View Post
    Ah!.......err.......you beat me too it......with the saw......was just about to post this.......

    This is how I got over the problem in the Yellowstone Solo, which is the same set up as the Merlin......

    Steve D had some ash left over from a project, and he kindly made me some 1"x 3/4" lengths, that I then cut and shaped, and fitted together to form this.....a slatted sitting/kneeling thwart.



    More comfortable than a kneeling thwart when used kneeling, and just as comfey as a seat when used for sitting.
    Because it is narrower than a seat my heels would not catch like they did with the seat (when kneeling), so I could keep it low. I could have used spacers to raise it if I needed to, but found that this worked just fine.
    With the slats on top of the side bars I gained 3/4" anyway.
    Sorry I didn't get this posted earlier......couldn't find the pictures.

    I'll be fitting this to Mrs Crocketts Merlin when we get it.

    All the best (although a bit late)
    Davy
    Davy, how is Mrs Crockett getting on with the Merlin? What did you do with the seat/thwart in the end? I think I have mine about right in that I can kneel which gives stability but when the legs go dead I can sit and get the blood flowing again although the initial in-stability has caught the unwary by surprise although it has yet to get me wet!

    Blott

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blott View Post
    Davy, how is Mrs Crockett getting on with the Merlin? What did you do with the seat/thwart in the end? I think I have mine about right in that I can kneel which gives stability but when the legs go dead I can sit and get the blood flowing again although the initial in-stability has caught the unwary by surprise although it has yet to get me wet!

    Blott
    After much debate I shortened the seat hangers by an inch, as Jane said she preferred to have the seat left in place, from this she kneels mainly, but can sit and stretch her legs when she wants too.
    This height appears to suit her well, and the little paddling that I have done in it suits my kneeling too ( the lightness of this boat and the way it handles has prompted Jane to really get out on the water this year, which is really good). I have just removed the seat completely though as Jane used to use a saddle sometimes in her Yellowstone Solo, and she wants to see how she gets on with it in the Merlin. I'll give an update on how this goes later.
    A few weeks ago both Merlins were at Mepal Outdoor Centre...not a sight often seen I guess... 'Low Ratio's wife, Fi', was paddling the Black Gold Merlin, and Jane in her Kevlight. Both ladies are comparative 'novices'...but both progressing fast and with great confidence. No one has fallen in either
    I can't really give an opinion on the 'Merlin' yet as no one can drag me out of the 'Seliga'.....but once the winter weather arrives I am hoping Jane will want to stay indoors, and then I can get to have a play in the 'Merlin' too

    Davy

  14. #14
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    It is now 2 years since the Bell Merlin II came into my life so I thought an update was due on living with the Merlin now that the Honeymoon period is over.

    I have two canoes, the Merlin II and my NC Pal. Both do different jobs. Out of habit if it is a new river I am paddling I take the Pal as it's like my favourite armchair, I settle into it and know exactly what will happen and I am in control. The Merlin is my choice for quick cruising and 2 years on we are still working out who is the boss. I am 20 stone plus and not that nimble and the risk of me getting wet is always at the point of boarding and embarkation. The Merlin has had me in twice and on both occasions when I have been getting in in shallow water. Once settled I am at home and we understand each other.
    I have taken the seat out completely as I was always worried about getting my size 11's trapped. I paddle with a stingray saddle which gives me far greater confidence and makes getting in and out far easier. I feel far more confident on the saddle and certainly have less of a numbing effect in the gluteus maximus.
    The finish on the Merlin (mines in gold kevlight) is great and the wood trim sets it off. Like a new car the first scratch is the worst and sadly on the high gloss gel coat the smallest of scratches show white but they are mostly on the bottom so hey ho. A bit of T cut and Autoglym does some restoration but each tells a story and there is a sunken lump of concrete at Hilgay on the Little Ouse which gave me the first. (I think it also did the same to Davy Crocketts Seligua). The only other maintenance I give to the Merlin is to gently rub the wood work down and then bring in back up with a couple of coats of Danish oil; I do this twice a year.
    I love to paddle it, it is swift, very easy to paddle and tracks brilliantly. Its narrow but rather like riding a bike once you get going all is calm and as long as you know a good support stroke there should not be a problem. It looks great on the water and takes on a different appearance when the sun cuts through the shell. It always gets favourable comments from other admiring water users and most say "I bet that was expensive?". Well yes, it was but it gets used and enjoyed and was worth every penny. I lend the Pal but am selfish with the Merlin and in two years have only entrusted her to a couple of my best paddling partners to try but they had to stay in my line of sight!

    In January we had the great sight on the Great Ouse of three Merlin II's paddling together which is a pretty rare event as I understand that the opportunity for any more Bell composites in the UK has probably vanished.


    The other common question I am asked is "Is it for sale?" Everything is at a price but the Pal would go first, so the answer is a definite "No".
    Get paddling!

    Blott

  15. #15
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    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southwest Michigan
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    104

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    I bought my black/gold Merlin II in 1999. It's been on over 1000 day trips. My normal routine is to paddle upstream on rivers and then come back. I kneel and carry a dog. The efficiency of the Merlin II is appreciated when going upstream. I used to take GPS data on my daily after work paddles and roughly speaking the boat cruised at 2.7 mph against a 1.5 mph current while an Osprey or Shearwater or Rendezvous would be in the 2.3 mph range for the same effort. So the Merlin will run away from most solos that aren't Jensen/Wenonah bullets. It also turns just well enough for the rivers I paddle...although I've ended up pinned against trees twice in spring floods when I get too casual about turning the boat. It's a lake boat and fun to take out on very windy days. In some ways the boat is dull. It never scares you and it doesn't like to dance, it just gets the job done. It's like a sensible girlfriend whereas something like a Swift Osprey has a much more colorful personality and is more like the girlfriend you daydream about. If it's very windy or I'm going a long way upstream I'm taking the Merlin.

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