Submitted: 07-21-2005 by johns913
I’ve been paddling my Bell Magic, in WhiteGold with wood gunwales, now for about four months. My longest trip to date was a 55 miler called the Hugh Heward Challenge, completed in about twelve and a half hours. Mainly I use the Magic for paddling in nearby small lakes and do take it to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior for coastal canoeing. I purchased her from Carl and Jon’s in Madison, Wisconsin and was very happy with the sales and service received from them. The Magic is a solo canoe but I rarely paddle solo. My Belgian Malinois dog is my paddling partner on almost all my trips. She weighs just less than sixty pounds and rides in the bow. On day paddles without gear, I offset her weight with a 10L MSR Dromedary bag filled with water in the stern. If she gets nervous or lonesome she will crawl under the forward thwart and rest her head on my leg. I kneel in the canoe and have built a kneeling thwart out of walnut. The thwart is placed as high on the gunwale as I could get it to accommodate my size 12 feet-and I feel that the stability is fine with this setup.
My first multi-day trip with the Magic was a recent run to Killarney Provincial Park where we spent four nights out. I had plenty of room for gear and dog and we could have easily accommodated more food for a longer trip. I’m sure I could handle a ten day trip with the Magic no problem.
I have found the Magic very stable with light chop and small waves. I have yet to get into anything big. However, I have had the Magic out in very strong winds and found my control and ability to make forward progress very reasonable. The dog shifting around can be a little concerning at times and I do try to keep her in once place. Once while paddling with two dogs I had a near capsize. Both dogs shifted in the same direction at the same time while I was not paying attention and the near gunwale went down to the water level-below the water level actually. Water was pouring in and the dogs abandoned ship. I was kneeling and was able to flick the boat back up. I paddled to shore with a about 3-4” of water in the boat. The Magic gives you a good chance to save yourself even if the gunwale is on the water. However, if you let too much water pour in over the side it will sink fast and wallow just at water level or an 1” below the surface. I had not intended to test its flooded floatability but did on a recent overnight trip in Lake Michigan. Luckily I sunk her near shore-while exiting.
I use a bent shaft carbon fiber paddle and hit and switch. Prior to the Magic, I paddled “Canadian style” in a tandem canoe. While I like the style and grace of paddling Canadian style I do prefer the hit and switch. I feel that my speed in the Magic is adequate for what I need to do. Really, I could not be happier with this canoe. Prior to buying the Magic I had test paddled a Swift Shearwater which turned out to be my second choice boat. Perhaps someday I will own a Shearwater or Osprey as well. But, I think the Magic is a great all around canoe for solo day and multi-day trips.