Submitted: 08-20-2012 by meanderlee
I love this super-stable and beautifully made boat [Royalex]! But sadly, it is not the perfect boat for me because I'm searching for a boat for multi-day Class III Wilderness trips (Esquif Prosp 17?). This boat feels like an elephant with a load of 700 lbs and ships water if you hit waves head-on. When I had less experience I swamped it, as did my buddy on the next rapid downriver. Still it felt stable, full of water!
Now I have more skills and can avoid swamping in Class III and I can dig deep to harangue it to maneuver with a big load, but it isn't ideal for either of those tasks, as Bell freely admits when they say "favorite for flatwater tripping." The differential rocker and asymmetry mean that it will never be able to spin like a top, and isn't the best for Bill Mason style back ferry.
Working as a guide for a livery, I regularly paddle this boat solo down a mellow, shallow, Class I river and it is perfect for that. It withstands years of abuse from clients and still looks awesome. I've seen clients zigzag backwards hitting everything imaginable all the way downriver and still not go for a swim. At the takeout, it lifts easily onto my back to portage 1/4 mile up a scree slope to trailer and it can then be lifted up onto higher trailer racks, i.e. it is well-balanced and has a nice yoke. I've had more trouble with lighter canoes (like badly designed Wenonah Rendezvous, see review).
I'm still searching, but right now if I had to commit to only one canoe for life, this would probably be it. An excellent boat.