The Souhegan was designed twenty-five years ago by Lem Beach, the second generation of Merrimack's craftsmen. Lem wanted a canoe with the traditional Merrimack lines and craftsmanship that could easily be used for two or three-day trips. The Souhegan is a pleasure to paddle, either solo or tandem, and doesn't lose its performance when loaded with camping gear for the entire family. The Souhegan keeps with the Merrimack tradition of craftsmanship ...beautifully.
Carbon-fiber, Kevlar and wood construction
First off, I spent a lot of time before the purchase, trying to decide which canoe was right for me. After a not-so-brief conversation with Jim, owner of Merrimack, we came to the conclusion that the Souhegan was the best choice, given that I expected to do nearly all my canoeing with my better half, as well as an English Setter, which will be added to our household in a few months. I thought the 16 ft length might pose problems for storage and transporting... and potentially be harder to control on the water. Jim's assurances were absolutely correct, and I now feel a shorter boat would prove to be too limiting for us.
After several conversations and emails, we decided to pull the proverbial trigger and ordered a fiberglass Souhegan in candy apple red. It's a rather daunting experience, committing to pay nearly twice as much for a boat that you've never seen, compared to the more popular brands. But I have to say that without a doubt, we feel we couldn't have made a better decision. The Souhegan is possibly the most beautiful canoe I've ever seen. So far, we've had at least one person compliment it on every single outing. The interior cherry 'ribs' perfectly complement the red exterior, and I often find myself staring into the boat rather than out at the scenery when we're paddling.
The canoe is also the best handling boat I've ever encountered. It's fast and graceful, but easy to maneuver. It's also very quiet, unlike most other boats I've been in. Stability is excellent. I won't claim that I've ever tried to heel it over and see how it carves a turn, as I'm really just a recreational paddler. But I've never been concerned with capsizing it, even on the occasions I've stood to take photos or moved around to reach the cooler.
I will say, however, for anyone considering the fiberglass version of a Merrimack... definitely upgrade to the mesh seats instead of the standard cane version. We left the cane seats on for the first couple trips, mostly due to lack of time to replace them. And immediately appreciated the better version once they were installed. Very plush! We can paddle for hours without even giving a thought to our backsides.
Finally, I'll have to say that Jim and Kathy's customer service is excellent. You can't do any better than to give them your business. I would buy another canoe from them in a heartbeat!
The Merrimack Souhegan is truly first class! The craftsmanship and quality are far superior to anything I have seen in my many years of canoeing! The canoe is extremely stable and handles with ease. My first day out in the Souhegan was windy, but it tracked straight with little effort. I found it to be perfect for carrying equipment to campsites or when fishing with a partner. The color (I chose "ivory white") is absolutely beautiful, especially in contrast to the select grade wood trim!
Customer service at Merrimack also set them apart from any of the other canoe companies I talked with. You will find them to be very helpful and responsive to your questions and canoeing needs. Shipment was fast and well packaged.
If you buy a Merrimack, you’ll want another one after paddling your first. I am already thinking about adding a Baboosic or Osprey!