Submitted: 08-03-2007 by Brett
I've now owned a Merrimack Souhegan for several months, with a half dozen outings under my belt. I feel I owe it to Jim and Kathy at Merrimack, and potential customers, to give my impressions.
First off, I spent a lot of time before the purchase, trying to decide which canoe was right for me. After a not-so-brief conversation with Jim, owner of Merrimack, we came to the conclusion that the Souhegan was the best choice, given that I expected to do nearly all my canoeing with my better half, as well as an English Setter, which will be added to our household in a few months. I thought the 16 ft length might pose problems for storage and transporting... and potentially be harder to control on the water. Jim's assurances were absolutely correct, and I now feel a shorter boat would prove to be too limiting for us.
After several conversations and emails, we decided to pull the proverbial trigger and ordered a fiberglass Souhegan in candy apple red. It's a rather daunting experience, committing to pay nearly twice as much for a boat that you've never seen, compared to the more popular brands. But I have to say that without a doubt, we feel we couldn't have made a better decision. The Souhegan is possibly the most beautiful canoe I've ever seen. So far, we've had at least one person compliment it on every single outing. The interior cherry 'ribs' perfectly complement the red exterior, and I often find myself staring into the boat rather than out at the scenery when we're paddling.
The canoe is also the best handling boat I've ever encountered. It's fast and graceful, but easy to maneuver. It's also very quiet, unlike most other boats I've been in. Stability is excellent. I won't claim that I've ever tried to heel it over and see how it carves a turn, as I'm really just a recreational paddler. But I've never been concerned with capsizing it, even on the occasions I've stood to take photos or moved around to reach the cooler.
I will say, however, for anyone considering the fiberglass version of a Merrimack... definitely upgrade to the mesh seats instead of the standard cane version. We left the cane seats on for the first couple trips, mostly due to lack of time to replace them. And immediately appreciated the better version once they were installed. Very plush! We can paddle for hours without even giving a thought to our backsides.
Finally, I'll have to say that Jim and Kathy's customer service is excellent. You can't do any better than to give them your business. I would buy another canoe from them in a heartbeat!