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Reviews for Northstar Canoe by Bell Canoe Works


Rated: 9.5/10 Based On: 14 Reviews

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11-14-2007
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Bell Northstar is my latest buy of Bell canoes. I used it last summer as solo to paddle the Finnish coastline, about 800 miles about half is quite open waters. I have a blog of my trip here: www.rannikko.vuodatus.net, it is in Finnish, but captions in English. It a bit big canoe for solo paddling, but with lots of gear it was very good choice for my trip. In rough seas it turned quickly and did not feel a bit tippy. Actually I paddled some shallow stretches standing with no problem. My bell is White Gold, it got a lot of punishment on the rocky waters & coasts. It has a lot of scratches in the bottom, but nothing serious. I have had also Bell Wildfire which was my companion for several thousand miles. Also I had Magic, it was a perfect canoe, but for my paddlings it was not agile enough. Now I ordered Merlin II Black Gold and I am eagerly waiting to test it. Actually there are four of us Bell enthusiasts who made orders together.
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01-08-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Great tandem for a light load. My kids who are seasoned bow paddlers love the differential rocker which affords them lots of control and creative strokes. Fast, great secondary edge and pretty in black gold.
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04-24-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Wow! Love it! I have the kevlight (39 lbs.), and just got back from my second 3 day trip with my 10 year old son. Have also taken it on a dozen or so day trips. It's everything you could ask for in a canoe. Nobody can keep up with us, even if my son isn't paddling. I just came back from a river trip, and I could still make good progress paddling solo, upstream, fully loaded with gear and into the wind! Secondary stability is awesome. Last summer we were on Little Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks with a 20-25 mph headwind and large waves with whitecaps. Forward progress was slow, but not once did we feel like we would tip. It tracks great, but also turns suprisingly well for a 16.5' canoe. I installed a kneeling thwart for soloing. (My only complaint is that the Bell Kneeling Thwart could be a bit lower....I tend to slide off of it and have to reposition myself) Portaging and taking it on and off the roof is a breeze. Would highly recommend this canoe!!!!
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01-23-2006
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Fantastic doubels touring boat. we have the Black Gold version and we love it. Have paddled some very big open water in it in Scotland and Ireland and regularly use it on the sea on West coast of Scotland.... its also a dream to partage!
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08-04-2004
Submitted by: Stefan KnickmeierSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is a beatiful boat.Iīd give it 11 out of 10 if I could. I bought the whitegold-version two years ago at my favourite outfitter store in Hamburg, Germany. Though the boats of Bell are pretty expensive in "old europe" I decided to get one and i still donīt regret it. The boat is fast (very fast if you want to!) an it turns on a dime! Loaded with me, my girlfriend and her ten-year old daughter it never gave us the feeling to be unsafe, itīs very stable and tracks fantastically. If you wanna buy the ultimate canoe for two persons, give up your search and get a Bell Northstar!! I also tested the bigger ones of Bell, but this one is it īcause of its perfect performance and handling. I owe the boat to friends of mine once in a while and they agree with me. Thereīs just one thatīs better I suggest, and thatīs the blackgold-version, which Iīm gonna buy in twenty years or so, when my one will be totally worn out...
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06-16-2003
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Wonderful Tandem Canoe! Went to a demo day this spring and tried some boats out but this one had it all: about 10 yards into the test paddle my wife turned to me with a big smile on her face and said "this is really, really nice!" 30 minutes later we left with a BlackGold (carbon fiber/kevlar) boat with wood trim: Beautiful, efficient and maneuverable. Low initial stability quickly yielded to high confidence, especially in chop or weird currents, the boat has a soft feel, it seems to float over/through waves and disturbances. Easy to control from either end. Mine did not come with a Kneeling Thwart, but I installed one (from Bell, $32)myself. Paddles easily with one person (190 lbs.)a little load enhances tracking a bit though. Had it out today with my wife, daughter and a picnic (495 lbs. total) and the Northstar still was fast and stable. If I had to buy again, I'd buy another NorthStar in a wink. Superb Versatile Canoe.
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09-19-2001
Submitted by: Lance
Rating: 10 of 10

     What an outstanding canoe! Drove the folks at The Jersey Paddler nuts for months: Kept coming back, taking many different canoes out for test paddles. Tried a bunch before the Bell NorthStar, and a bunch after, but the outcome was never really in question once I tried the NorthStar. Drove Ted Bell nuts with questions while I was in the decision process. He actually talked me out down from the larger model (forget the name) to the NorthStar. Convinced me this was all the canoe I'd ever need, and he was right. BCW was backed up at the time (1998?) and I pestered Ted and Charlie Wilson to finish my canoe and ship it ASAP. Didn't get me my boat any faster, but both are great guys and treated me better than I deserved.

Took it out once on my lake in high winds (20 mph) with a zillion power boats creating lots of chop. Brought my 70-year-old mother with me. Had to do all the paddling myself, and took her on a 10-mile trip. She never felt at all nervous about capsizing, and I wasn't tired. The canoe paddles that well. On smooth water, it's a rocket. Initial stability is a tad low (though I much prefer this design to the "shallow V" that Mad River was pushing at the time). Secondary stability, though, in incredible. With a proper load, you pretty much have to put the gunwales under the water if you want to capsize it.

I chose the carbon-fiber/Kevlar layup (<50#) and am glad I did. Another Ted Bell recommendation. Beautiful to look at, tough, and light. One more thing, I agree with John that the kneeling thwart is utterly essential for solo paddling. Make sure you specify it when ordering your NorthStar. I doubt I'll buy another canoe as long as I live.

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07-04-2001
Submitted by: RDA
Rating: 10 of 10

     2nd canoe we've owned. Great canoe to fish from, also great manueverbility in the small Michigan and North Indiana creeks. Very durable in the hybrid layup.
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05-11-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Northstar is all the boat most people will ever need. I see many folks with 18-19 foot tripping canoes hauling the same amount of gear I am--why not do it in a sports car vs. a Suburban? This canoe gets up to cruising speed quick, turns on a dime, and is easy to handle when out of the water. Many people forget the basic principles of canoeing when shopping for their "tripping" boat. A bigger boat, while POTENTIALLY faster, will require a lot of work. The Northstar is awesome in the right hands.
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10-15-2000
Submitted by: TL
Rating: 9 of 10

     My input is consistent with others'. This is a fantastic boat with excellent versatility. Works well solo (especially with 70 pound dog up front). A hot rod day boat for reasonably experiened paddlers. It's quick and quite fast, but not as fast as my Bluewater Freedom Tripper 17. Very maneuverable. When paddlin tandem this boat can easily be driven by just one paddler, and it can also be easily controlled - even downriver - by just the bow or stern paddler alone. Perhaps Bell's best boat in my opinion.
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04-30-2000
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've got a kevlar lay-up, and I'm very happy with its durability and relatively light weight (43#). It paddles like a dream, turns well even when loaded, and is a fairly dry boat in a chop. It's stable enough to permit two people to flycast simultaneously. It holds a week's worth of gear, no problem. I agree with others that it rewards paddlers with refined strokes. I've found that a kneeling thwart placed 18" aft of the yoke is a critical element for paddling this boat solo. This is a great med-size tripper.
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11-15-1999
Submitted by: Mike C.Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Bell Northstar in Black Gold (carbon/kevlar). This is a tough boat for me to rate, because it's so dependent on the paddlers, the load, and the conditions. It's beautifully made, and the weight makes it easy to hoist onto my Pathfinder. Once my wife and 6-year-old daughter unracked it from our garage, carried it outside, and loaded it on top of her minivan! That said, my Royalex Wenonah Spirit II is easier to do a gentle river or creek run in with the family (two adults, 4 year old and 6 year old kids). It glides better with that kind of load, and is easier to control from the stern. But the Northstar is awesome with just a couple of people aboard and a bowman (or woman) who really knows how to paddle! Damn, the boat just flies, and can turn like crazy! I guess the bottom line is that the Northstar is a thoroughbred. In the right hands, on the right track, she'll amaze you. But there are better beasts for plowing fields.
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07-05-1999
Submitted by: RFSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     The Bell Northstar makes a good tripping boat for places such as Algonquin. It is fast, turns especially if leaned and is light. The construction is solid. The shipping cost from the factory can be higher than other companies.
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04-05-1999
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Excellent tandem canoe. I have one in the carbon/graphite/kevlar layup (48#)with scalloped walnut decks, thwarts, and yoke. It paddles as good as it looks. It's incredibly fast and efficient and gives lot of glide for your paddlestroke. The bow turns nicely due to significant rocker (has differential rocker -- more in the bow than in the stern). It has incredibile final stability. You can almost park it on the rail and it won't capsize. Got caught in a high wind with large whitecaps in N. Ontario and it handled remarkably. The hull flare kept the water out. Great canoe.
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