First and foremost, it was a real pleasure doing business with the Merrimack Canoe Company. I searched through just about every canoe ever made looking for something in preparation for a Boundary Waters trip that I could also use in the Louisiana swamps. I couldn't be more pleased with my Merrimack Prospector.
I've just returned from a two week expedition in the BWCWA and I've been using it solo in the swamps every weekend. My double kevlar hull was a dream to portage, even over back to back 100-200+ rod portages, and handling it solo in the swamps is cake. I even had added weight while portaging due to an unexpected benefit of Merrimack's construction. The inner and outer gunwhales leave small slits between the cherry ribs; perfectly sized for velcro straps which I used to secure my paddles and fishing rods to the boat while portaging.
She swallowed up the biggest, heaviest packs of 2 weeks worth of gear for 4 people no sweat, and as is told in the description, the more weight, the better she tracks. We were amazed how she cut right through the waves. The flip side of that is the canoe's only weakness. Paddling solo with no weight, she's harder to handle in the wind than others. But you can't have your cake and eat it too, it's a deep boat. An experienced paddler can manage.
As far as durability, my Prospector definitely has some "character" now after the Boundary Waters, but nothing like the gouges and planing we started noticing on the keel of my buddy's Royalex hull.
The large seats are so comfortable, we never even once thought about sitting on life jackets or other padding. And of course the sheer beauty of the thing is sure nice for the ego as she's admired everywhere I go.
Bottom line, for those deterred by the price, my Prospector was worth every penny and more.A Merrimack canoe has long been on our wish list. 2 weeks ago, we picked up our custom-built Merrimack canoe. We had test paddled another Merrimack Prospector last summer and this canoe was our 15th Year anniversary present to each other. What a canoe! It not only looks great, it paddles great.
We opted for the Kevlar/carbon 50 year anniversary edition. The black carbon interior really shows off the cherry ribs. The cherry and ash trim are flawless and the woodburning of our family name on the deck was a nice added touch.
This Prospector is true to the lines of the original and has a fair amount of rocker. You can paddle it easily from the front seat facing backwards as it is a symmetrical hull.
We have 6 canoes so we don't have to use this canoe for everyday use. The Kevlar / Carbon hull will hold up to a lot, but we will use this canoe on lakes and not on rivers. After all, it is a boat and not a dining room table. It is a true work of art and if we had a house with vaulted ceilings, we would display it indoors. I first became aware of the Merrimac line of canoes last year. They seemed to combine the appearance of a wood and canvas canoe with the practicality of composite construction but I wanted to paddle one first! My local canoe shop in central Iowa wasn't really interested in stocking a canoe I wasn't ready to promise I'd buy. Finally I drove to Madision, WI and padddled one at Carl's Paddlin (a great canoe shop). It is a Prospector and it's great! So far I have only paddled it solo and it handles like a dream. It's reasonably fast, turns well and balances pretty good when solo when I sit in the bow seat (facing the stern). Both initial and final stability are good. I did manage to capsize the canoe but I had to work at it. And the canoe is just so pretty!
I get compliments regularly. I just heel it over 15 degrees or so and feel like Bill Mason, who said once that if he could have only one canoe it would be a Chestnut Prospector. The Merrimac Prospector is a real close second. The only flaw is the hull shows the pattern of the ribs in the Kevlar covering. This is because the wood and canvas canoes were sheathed in cedar and then covered with canvas. This canoe has the ribs but due to the strength of fiberglass or Kevlar there is no sheathing between the ribs and the Kevlar. Hence the rib pattern shows through. It's a small thing though. All in all I love the canoe.