After several more months of 5 a week paddles I feel a little more comfortable with an indepth review of Eddyline and the Merlin LT. First off I am nearly 6' and 190 lbs. so needless to say I am on the larger side of the Merlins paddler capacity. I never once loaded anything besides my bailing sponge in the Merlin but I must say that periodic checks proved that the hatch covers did there job and both bulkheads kept the compartments dry.
The problem I had with the Merlin LT is that it just did not want to carve a tight turn like other kayaks I have had. It did track extremely true but it is a pig to push through a turn. Speed was ok but not much better if at all than a Current Design 120 and 42 lbs. is kind of heavy for a 13'5" craft that retails for over $2100. While I am sure there are those paddlers that like the fancy retractable carrying bands I feel they were excess weight and something to go wrong. I have sat in the Fathom LV and it and the Merlin LT simply don't have much wiggle room in the cockpit. I have been noticing that the Merlin is being offered at $1400 at some dealers so I am guessing this is the last year it will be produced.
While it is a nice stable kayak I just can not get over the feeling that it is also a very boring paddle, not the "responsive kayak" my Eddyline dealer lead me to believe. Legendary design, I think not and I am not alone after reading fellow paddlers that are selling their Merlin LT.
Sorry Eddyline you have a good reputation for quality and customer service which I am not disputing, but it is time to offer your more modern crafts in lighter more contemporary materials.I recently purchased a new Merlin LT at a sale price since the Eddyline Samba has become the popular boat in this size range. The Merlin seems to have extremely good primary and secondary stability and handles windy days well considering it does not employ a skeg or rudder. It is not a fast boat by any means and is only marginally faster than Current Designs 12' Vision. In fact I would consider the Merlin more of an overpriced recreational kayak than a small sea or touring kayak.
The seat back leaves something to be desired and the weight of the boat could be some lighter, however it is not too bad. Storage is decent for such a small craft and the hatch covers appear to do a good job of keeping things dry. The most surprising performance aspect that I found is the lack of quick sharp turns. While the Merlin will perform leaned turns, it does so in a rather slow manure. This no doubt has something to do with the excellent tracking the short Merlin Lt displays. The Quality looks good for a plastic boat, but the price seems a bit stiff compared to some of the other more exotic builds coming out on the market.
I feel the Merlin LT is best suited for people of smaller stature looking for a recreational kayak that could be used for over night trips or just simple afternoons of fun paddling and fairly easy car topping. It is a fun boat to paddle, but I feel lack of performance holds it back compared to some of the newer boats on the market.Just bought a used Merlin in great condition for $800 so that will affect my rating. My first kayak is an Old Town Casco (polylink 3) 12' x 28". Very stable large cockpit rec kayak.
First trip yesterday in Merlin LT on Blue Mt Lake NY. Entry was tricky due to smaller cockpit and built in thigh braces. I am 5'2" and 122, mid 50's. Would recommend a much larger paddler try out for entry and exit reasons. The boat turns on a dime, moves along nicely under a short gentle stroke, probably twice as fast as the Casco. I was out in good conditions, light breeze and it handled well. Love the deck hardware. Easy to load on top of high vehicle due to weight.My wife and I have been paddling our Merlin LT for 8 years. We both love paddling it and have taken it everywhere - ocean, lakes, rivers, swamps. It is very lightweight and easy to handle and it paddles like a true sea kayak.
I have no problem keeping up with 16 foot boats when I paddle the Merlin. The only drawbacks are the cost (although compared to fiberglass it is a good deal) and the durability. It is tougher than fiberglass but not as tough as rotomolded plastic. I cracked mine open last year on the upper Delaware (It's all fixed now- Eddyline has excellent customer service they were very helpful).
If you are looking for a small sea kayak - check out this boat.I just recently got my LT. I was impressed with the construction and finish. The Carbonite 2000 material is impressively rigid and the colors are vivid and rich. It is shorter than I was planning on getting but when I analyzed my needs, I was convinced it would fit the bill well. I plan on frequent paddles on local lakes for conditioning and exploring in Northern California bays, rock gardens and caves.
I was impressed with the initial stability and felt right at home almost immediately. The first time I put it on
edge I was very impressed ... this kayak can turn on a dime and you feel confident the whole time.
Speed is what you would expect from such a short kayak even though I had no problems keeping up with my wife on her 16 footer. Tracking is very good and even in 10-12 mph winds I was able to keep the boat on course with little correction.
I'm 6'0" and 180 lbs. with size 10 shoe and believe I'm at the high end of the scale on who would fit in this boat. I am very comfortable though and the cockpit fits me like a glove. After just a few minutes, it felt like
part of me. The rudderless design is just that, I can't really invision a time I would need one with the way this boat handles. I would definately recommend this boat to anyone with similar kayaking interests.My wife and I both got this boat. It came highly recommended from dealers, paddling club representatives, and close friends of mine who are seasoned paddlers. I have not heard any negative things regarding the LT, and I don't have any to add.
I am a medium sized (I HOPE!!!) paddler, and my wife is considerably smaller than me. I weigh around 165. The boat is quite roomy for a small kayak. I've been in a couple of larger boats with far less cockpit room than the LT. The seat is easy to adjust and stays where you want it. Plenty of leg and foot room forward, as well as roomy forward and aft hatches. The hatch covers are exceedingly waterproof, and I can't wait to start learning the roll!!! It's a nice feeling to know that the hatch covers in this boat do exactly what they're supposed to. The deck fittings are recessed and laid out in a logical, attractive manner. The boat is very light weight and easy to handle solo. A breeze to car-top. The carbonlite material is very "glass-like" in appearance and in performance characteristics.
As for performance....some would say that not one boat does it all. I think that this boat comes as close to meeting all the sea kayaking criteria as any could. It's short for a sea kayak, but it's not slow at all. I just did a 16 mile circumnavigation of Siesta Key, in Sarasota, FL, in just under four hours....with a couple of leg stretching breaks and porpoise-chasing episodes. Because of a high-volume bow, it surfs exceedingly well. I never felt out of control, following the sea or head-on, or even broadside. The generous rocker of the boat makes it very manouverable, yet it tracks well with little or no weathercocking. Stability, initial and secondary, is superb. I took a few wakes from large yachts broadside just to see how good the stability is. Never had a problem at all. This kayak WANTS waves!!! Easy to put on edge to aid in turns.
At a price of $1549 (I believe this is the current retail), it's somewhat of a steal. It's price is approaching that of a similar glass boat, but I think that the advantages of the Carbonlite over other plastics certainly more than justifies the price tag. It's light, nimble, and pure fun to paddle.