My new StarFire paddled even better than I remembered I had the opportunity to paddle a half dozen times in a friends StarFire a few years back, but none since then. It was light, strong, quick, very responsive... a real pleasure as I remembered, plus. Played a lot in the shallows exploring the marshes. With my 210 pounds, a few paddles, and a day bag (essentials, food, and water) it barely drew 3-1/2" of water. I soloed early every morning on glass lakes and later in the days winds. My 13 year old and I paddled the rivers and lakes a couple days. It is everything the MorningStar could have, would have, should have been with just the correction of a few dimensions. DY sure designs damn good hulls. Charlie and Joe do excellent job of translating those designs in very pleasurable finished hulls. StarFire, what a great boat, solo or tandem.
I was not going to write about it on paddling.com as it was to be the last made. No sense in wetting appetites for nothing... Well, I called Placid to ask about a fabric portage yoke for my solo canoe. Charlie Wilson mentioned that there was a chance the StarFire mold could and would be saved with a lot of work over the winter. So if you are so inclined check with them next spring, the StarFire might just be back in 2008.
A word about the rating: I do not like the ratings. Everyone rates 10, so if I do not then readers wonder what is wrong. Therefore a rating of 10. My actual rating is: This is the best solo/tandem in my fleet. And if a boat is not good it is not in my fleet at all.
length: oa =15' (wl = 14'9"); length/width ratio: 6.0; weight: 40-45# (depending on seat options)
shear: bow 19"; center 13.5"; stern 17"; rocker: 3"/3"
max 34"; 4"wl 32"; 3"wl 30.5"
6" freeboard 750#; 5" wl 500#; 4" wl 370#; 3" wl 260#; 2" wl 160#
I had planned to resell the Flashfire when I first bought it. I picked it up as it was a Bell and I had to make the trip right past the sellers door any way to pick up my Wildfire. I had kind of indicated I would sell it to a friend. Welllll. Sorry "...Lady" it is no longer for sale!!! We'll have to fine you one of your own. I have had the chance to really paddle my Flashfire in most all conditions now. I love it more and more every time I take it out!
I weigh 220 pounds and thought the little 13' length and narrow hull would not be stable and could not handle the load. Even after talking to free stylists that put more weight than I do in a Flashfire I did not think it would work. I just figured that they were so good (and a little crazy) in canoes that they could get away with it, but not me. What a surprise! The Flashfire is very, very responsive, very stable and handles the load very well!
To date I have logged over 20 hours in the Flashfire in extremely different conditions. I have not found a single place I would not take it again. My friends have paddled it and been very impressed as well. I have taken the Flashfire through class I and II rapids repeatedly. Handles like a dream, especially for a non white water (WW) boat. She enters and surfs the holes with ease. A WW open canoe instructor friend of mine tried it and stated that it was better than his WW Mohawk in class I and II rapids. I paddles across a small lake in high winds quartering into white caps the whole way. No problem.
Over half of my time in the Flashfire has been going up river in a good current in a shallow river. Handled great. Turn, draw, ferry and hold with the greatest of ease. Very seldom had to walk is as the Flashfire's tremendous maneuverability allowed me to hold, move, backtrack and get into the right spot to continue on up stream.
On the flats the Flashfire paddles true and straight with the minimum amount of correction. I recently paddled a Rendezvous which had to be fought constantly to keep straight. The Flashfire maneuvers every bit as well and better, but tracks much better as well. (I must make a small disclaimer statement here. I do not like canoes that must be leaned to turn so I am not comparing this canoe to ones that track like they are on rails which I consider a defect.)
Faults? The only one I may have found is that while surfing the holes the tops of the waves would sporadically come over the gunwales. Is that really a fault? I do not think so. One should expect to get wet while playing in a hole. The low sides were a god send on the high wind lake.
Accessories needed: If you are to use the Flashfire as I do you will need a splash cover to keep the water out as you have the time of your life. My splash cover is in the planning stages as I plan to have even more fun, to get more daring in Baby, my Kevlar Bell Flashfire.