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Though it is often advertised as a sit-on-top kayak I consider it a canoe hybrid, though it is more stable than any canoe, probably due to the dual tunnel hull that resembles a pontoon boat. It sports a fairly wide beam which is why it is paddled with a kayak paddle.
I have the basic version that weighs 50 pounds, and about 45 pounds with the removable seat out. I keep the tops of the gunwales free of attachments so that it can be pushed up onto the canoe rack on top of my car and the light weight makes that a fairly easy proposition.
This boat tracks straight without a lot of correction. It is not as quick as the Pungo 120, but is not as slow as the Hurricane Phoenix 120 sit-on-top I had a while back. After paddling kayaks for the last few years I appreciate the open bow that provides easy access to gear and the ability to stretch my legs and back without getting out of the boat.
This boat does have a sharp underside to the gunwale so when you grab it to pull the boat out of the water it cuts into your hand a bit. That's the only really negative aspect to the design that I've noticed so far.
I rate this boat a 9 out of 10 overall. If it was a bit faster I'd give it a 10, but nothing in this world is perfect.
It tracks straight yet turns easily and has good glide and acceleration. I am 5'10'' and weigh a little over 200 pounds and I find it very stable and plenty roomy. It does have some wobbliness on center like all Bell hulls but it firms up quickly when heeled and has very good overall stability once you get used to it.
The finish was not perfect as I found what looked like some light scuffs above the tumblehome crease and I noticed the same thing on another new Bell Magic at the canoe shop. Evidently it occurs in the manufacturing process and it appears to be of cosmetic impact only. Still, for over $2,000 the boat should really be free of any defects, though nothing in this world is perfect. For that reason I rate this boat a 9 rather than a 10.
Having said that I would have to say that this boat does everything well and it may be the best solo boat available if you can only own one solo canoe. Two thumbs up from this canoeist!
It has plenty of deck rigging for a rec boat and handy grab handles. It features a very rugged hull and the boat handles my 5'10" 220 LB frame easily and safely. The built in dashboard and cup holders are a great addition and it's easier to get in and out of than any kayak I've tried. It's the kind of boat you can relax in as opposed to a skinnier faster boat that is designed to cover more distance. You can also get a pretty good leg tan in this thing.
If you're looking for a true recreational kayak give this a test paddle-it will probably fit the bill! I'd give it a 10 except that it weighs 55 LBS. But at the price it is you're not going to find a new 40 LB boat.
All in all a very good boat for someone who wants to flirt with sea kayaking without hitting the really big water.
One more note on this boat's ability to lean over on edge. I had it so far over today that water started pouring in the cockpit before I righted it. Unbelievable. I have done that in certain canoes before, such as the Nova Craft Bob Special, but I didn't think you could do it in a kayak. This boat has astounding edging ability. It obviously lies in the hull design, though I can't figure out how they do it. It is one unique boat.
The hatch covers have been water tight so far, though stretching them to close takes some effort. The skeg does a very nice job of helping the boat to track straight in wind and waves and I wouldn't want to give it up. This boat has sold me on the advantages of a skeg system.
My only complaint is the seat. While not terrible it does pinch my buttocks across the back after about an hour. I attribute this to the bench seat which evidently was designed for someone with an unusually large derriere. That leaves me out. My wife has the 2007 version with the bucket seat and I have no problem with that, it is very comfortable for me. I wish they had left it as it was - although the thoracic extension is a nice touch.
Other than that though, it's an excellent boat for the price with very high quality plastic and construction. It does a good job of housing larger paddlers and providing a reassuring sense of overall stability while offering a high degree of maneuverability and seaworthiness. It is definitely a quality water craft. I recommend it to anyone searching for a kayak in the light touring class who does not have a skinny butt.