Read reviews for the MorningStar by Bell Canoe Works as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
It is a very good universal boat. In my little fleet it would be hard to let this one go if I had to downsize. I can count on it to do most anything reasonably well. It is a shame they are not in production anymore, if you can find a good copy get it, you won't regret it.
Being new to "high end" canoes, I didn't know what to expect and was worried that my weight might be too much for any boat to float. Couldn't have been more wrong. The Morningstar moves through the water with grace and all the speed I can muster. Even with myself and my 8yo nephew, I can paddle straight and makes all kinds of turns without issue. My nephew's just ballast at this point!
If you're a big guy looking to get into the game, I can't recommend the Morningstar highly enough. Excellent stability (far more than I remember from childhood), not too heavy to portage, and easy to turn. For the big guy, this makes a great solo canoe with plenty of capacity left for camping gear. Not too small to be tippy or sluggish and not too big to be a bear getting off the roof rack.
Two thumbs up!
To be sure, it's not the best boat for every situation, but it is the best all-around canoe I've ever owned and if it was the first canoe I'd purchased I'm sure I would not have six boats hanging from my rafters!
I like the versatility of this boat. I have loaded it down with 450lbs of gear, and dogs for a river trip, and handled it just fine. This boat is great for poling also. I was a little surprised at how well it tracked while being poled. Most canoes under 16' do not pole well. I outfitted it with a kneeling thwart, because of its asymmetrical shape which prevents you from turning the boat around, and paddling it solo from the bow seat.
It handles mild class 2 rapids fine, and still paddles well in smooth water. With 14" sides it is a fairly dry canoe. I highly recommend this boat for someone looking for a large solo, or smaller tandem.
My typical paddling venue is a very scenic nearby lake of about 450 acres. This being my first canoe, I had a lot to learn about solo paddling. The Morningstar is paddled solo with the canoe heeled over and the paddler kneeling (I have a kneeling thwart). At first I struggled with directional control. But, with each session I became more confident about what I was doing. After about a week I could go anywhere I wanted (all while paddling on one side, Canadian style). I really enjoy the Canadian style of paddling. The Morningstar is confidence inspiring because you can lower the gunwale right to the water line and not loose the feeling of stability. It does not require a brace to bring it back upright, it will just roll back up when you release the pressure holding it over. I just tried this same thing in a different canoe and almost went for a swim. The stability of the Morningstar makes it really nice to take along a dog. My six month old puppy (45 lbs) did not exactly stay still while paddling but I still felt perfectly comfortable. She went out with me on every solo trip.
I did a fair amount of paddling in high winds, 15-20 mph, and I had a lot of fun with the Morningstar on the windy days. I found that if I angled her just right to the wind I could paddle without any correctional strokes (j or pitch stroke). In doing this I had the luxury of not having a destination, just paddling around for the fun of it. I had my GPS with me on a few of the calmer days and I found my paddling speed ranged anywhere from about 2.7-3.6 mph. As a novice paddler, I didn't think that was too bad.
I like the BlackGold layup and the ash gunwales. I found that carrying the Morningstar to the put in was much easier than carrying my kayak ever was. It makes getting on the water faster and easier.
If you purchase a Morningstar, I highly recommend the kneeling thwart for solo paddling.
The MorningStar tracks quite well and I don't think you could swamp it without trying really, really hard. It has a smooth, stealthy glide to it and it maneuvers quite easily, resulting in very predictable overall handling. This boat seems to just float over the waves and though it is not super fast, it is plenty fast enough for ordinary canoeing. The fastest boats don't offer the kind of comfort or ease of use that this one does.
Secondary stability is exceptional and it has tons of room inside for fishing equipment, coolers, etc. If you want a boat that excels at both solo and tandem, this one would be hard to beat. My boat's layup is Royalex and the one improvement to it would be to go with Kevlar and reduce the weight from 58 to 40 pounds. If I ever replace this one it will be with the same model in KevCrystal.
In conclusion let me just say that this is the only canoe with crossover capablility I have thus far paddled that I can honestly say does everything well! It allows the paddler to feel at one with the water while still remaining dry-something that can't always be said about kayaks. I recommend it to anyone looking for a safe choice in a versatile canoe.
Capacity - 10. Manueverability - 10. Stability - 9. Efficiency - 8. Craftmanship - 10. Used as solo - 8. Used as tandem - 10. Overall rating 9 out of 10
A few weeks ago my parents borrowed our much loved canoe to paddle the Hillsborough River. My mom is a non- swimmer and feels a little nervous in canoes usually. I wasn't surprised to find out that she felt very secure in the Morning Star. She said it has a great sense of stability even though it's hull is desighned with secondary stability in mind.
I think the Morning Star is a perfect canoe for any couple that likes to paddle day trips on quiet water.