Submitted: 05-26-2003 by gnomon
I picked up a '97 model BlackGold Wildfire last february that was barely used, and when I finally got it wet I was amazed. I think it took about 5 or 6 paddle strokes and I was "home". Quick for a 14' boat, easy to turn, precictable stability and resonable tracking make this a package that is hard to resist. Did I forget to say beautiful? In my opinion, it's a bold move to clearcoat a canoe, not a chance of hiding anything under an opaque gelcoat and really highlighting the care that went into the construction process. That's reflected again in the furniture-grade ash and walnut woodwork- simply beautiful.
Bell Canoes have this wonderful "soft" feel, they just seem to slice effortlessly through the water, even in adverse conditions. I had mine on the Connecticut River in flood (44kcfs) with 25 mph south winds trying to blow me up the river and kicking up some nasty rollers- the boat was effortless. On flatwater, you can push the boat with pretty good success with a bentshaft, or do some freestyle, it's that versatile. Probably my last solo canoe.
I was so impressed with this boat that I just bought a BlackGold NorthStar for my wife and I to paddle.