I can't be much help on picking the right boat in your case, but I was left wondering exactly what kind of paddling you wish to do, and I bet others are unsure too. You said...
"I love how the Merlin tracks when paddling on one side as I kneel with little need for switching sides"
... and of the two halves of the sentence, neither makes sense in the context provided by the other, so I can't tell if you are a traditional paddler (paddling mostly one side for a while and switching mainly to give the other side a rest) or sit-and-switch (switching every few strokes to control your course). To clarify my confusion, a traditional paddler paddling mostly on one side at any given time would not refer to the boat as having "little need to switch sides" because there simply wouldn't be any need to switch sides during normal cruising.
Clarifying which paddling method you use would surely affect boat choice. If you are a traditional paddler, you can deal with a wide range of degrees of tracking with very little change in technique, but if you are a sit-and-switcher (or kneel-and-switcher), you probably don't really want a boat that tracks less strongly than your Merlin II. I just figured that info might affect what boats other people suggest.
Touring Kayak Paddles
Reflective Hull Decals
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