My experience with the Osprey is exactly the same as Turtle's. The Osprey feels significantly more stable than the Merlin II but is perhaps a tad slower when going all out. It is still very pleasant and efficient at typical cruising speed, however, and is a bit more nimble than the Merlin II. It paddles well both sitting and kneeling.
My feeling is that if you can cope with the Merlin II you could certainly do well in an Osprey and gain just a little carrying capacity to boot. I have never paddled a Shearwater. If it paddles like a little bigger Osprey it might be a good boat for you, assuming you really want something bigger.
Canoe / Kayak Anchors
The Kayak Wing
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