Submitted: 09-18-2003 by ladams
I had a hard time deciding between the Northwind and Northstar...the Northstar handled better solo and was good tandem. The Northwind was the other way around. Either boat would have made me happy but this was to be used tandem most of the time, so I went with the Northwind. My wife rides in a duffer seat, so solo is a matter of position rather than propulsion for me. The duffer seat with a boat cushion on it makes for a great solo station when placed forward of the aft thwart.
As to layup, I wanted Black Gold (who doesn't) but the boats at hand all had wood trim, which I didn't want. To pay $250 bucks for an option I didn't want made no sense, so I saved $500 bucks and went with KevCrystal...could have gotten White Gold and kicked myself a bit for not saving a few more bucks and getting a more rugged boat but the 47 pounds of the KevCrystal was a powerful attraction and the boat is GEORGEOUS!!!
My two cents on Bell and its dealers; It is impossible to overstate my appreciation of Bell. Not only do they do the best job with design, fit and finish but they have both patience and a sense of humor in dealing with pesky customers. They really want to see you in the best boat for you...not just the most expensive boat they sell (thanks Craig). And they don't hang up on you once they have your cash. But if you are buying in the Adirondacks, go see Ike at Lake George kayak Co, in Bolton Landing. He is a great match for the best canoe co around. Again, I can't praise him enough. DON'T go to Mountainman in Inlet or Old Forge. I found them to be rude, unhelpful and entirely unwilling to work with their customers.
I've paddled the boat for two weeks now, in Lewey Lake and the Fulton Chain. This boat paddles like no other tandem I've ever found in 50 years of paddling. Every good thing you read in the rest of the reviews here is absolutely true.
I have had only 2 problems...the gelcoat shows every bump and scrape. This is a minor disappointment, given the beauty of the boat, but if you don't mark 'em you ain't using 'em...
The other problem is that I have to carry a rag around with me to wipe the boat down after other paddlers drool all over it!