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Reviews for Starfire Canoe by Bell Canoe Works


Rated: 9.33/10 Based On: 3 Reviews

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03-05-2014
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Well, this is the 3rd season I've owned it and I figured it's time for a review?
I'd looked for a used Starfire for years to no avail as I paddled a couple and thought it was the best boat I'd paddled? Finally found one and thanks to a friend had it delivered from Texas.

The Starfire can be paddled tandem by smaller paddlers or like I paddle it, a large guy solo boat. The Starfire has 3" rocker, so if you are looking for a boat to paddle lakes, this is probably not what you're looking for? If you are not proficient with a paddle, it will wander about looking for someplace else to go. But it turns, ferries, and moves wherever you point it and it just feels like it wants to please?

The depth is just perfect for a couple smaller paddlers or a large solo paddler. Low enough that the wind doesn't bother it much, but deep enough for some waves or some Class I rivers with wave trains. The stability is predictable and the more you lean it, the harder it pushes back. It's a good boat to paddle in the wintertime when you need a "Predictable" boat to keep you dry.

Even loaded off center, it's easy to paddle. Once, with the seat in the center position, I loaded my wife after she'd capsized her boat. I pointed it upstream and prepared for a tough slog to ferry it upstream and across. I was pleasantly surprised that it easily slipped across the river even with the boat bow heavy and off balance. I've also found that unlike most boats I've paddled on my home river, MO's Current River, I can easily check out a line and if I don't care for it I can turn it around and ferry across to a line more to my liking before turning it back downstream.

The only downside I've found is with photography. I like to take pictures and this boat likes to wander if the paddle is out of the water. Of course, it's easy to nudge it back on track when you put the camera back up.

As for the layup, I have the Black Gold with built in skid plates in the stems. It's very tough, and it is easy to sand down and slap a little epoxy or clear coat to make it look good as new. I have toyed with getting a different solo for when the river is running low because every rock that reaches out and touches this beautiful boat makes me feel like I'm kicking my dog!

I've never given a boat a "10" in a review until now. This boat deserves it. If you want a straight tracking flatwater boat, you won't rate it that high. If you are wanting something to run Class II and up, this isn't the boat. But if you are a large paddler that wants to paddle it primarily solo or are a smaller sized couple paddling tandem, I don't think there is a better river canoe out there?

Of course, Bell doesn't make it anymore and used Starfires are difficult to find. Most folks who paddle one won't part with it until they quit paddling. But Colden Canoes now makes this David Yost hull and they certainly are beautifully done.

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Win a Kayak or Canoe
08-08-2001
Submitted by: no name
Rating: 9 of 10

     It took about 8yrs.of looking,test paddling,to find a boat that has a broad enough range of capabillites to to get me to buy another boat.The 1st time I saw the STARFIRE I knew I had to try it,and wasn't disapointed. I am an ACA TANDEM CANOE INSTRUCTOR but do most of my paddling solo,love canoe camping,and wild rivers.Trying to find a boat that can be paddled tandem or solo,carry a campers load,have good hull speed,the abillity to turn easily but still track straight,run whitewater while staying dry is not an easy thing to do. I have done all of this and have never been disapointed. I ordered the boat in BLACK GOLD layup(Kevlar& carbon fiber)setup as a combination boat (3 seats)so it could be paddled both tandem and solo,I also ordered 2 extra thwarts to replace the bow&stearn seats when being used as a solo camper. While the boat itself is wonderfull my experience with the company was NOT!The boat was ordered through a local dealer that gave me a very good price and went out of his way to be helpfull.The dealer called Bell in my presence on a speaker phone to place the order it was early spring and delivery was promised in 4-6 weeks.Plenty of time to get used to the boat and take a couple of weekend trips before my planned vacation on Canada's White River in Sept.after many calls wondering where the boat was it finnaly arrived less than 1week before my trip.I was less than impressed after waiting more than 2 months longer than it was to take I expected a custom ordered boat to be perfect SUPRISE! The extra thwarts that were ordered didn't come with it,the local dealer fitted an old set so I could use the boat for my trip.The gell coat had several imperfections such as waves,bubbles,and specks of red and blue under the clear gell coat,nothing that would harm the boat but would make it a blem if it were on a dealers floor.The boat would have been sent back if I hadn't wanted it so badly for the trip.When the extra seats were removed for the trip it became apparent that only the surfaces of the wood that were clearly visible had any oil on them the back side of the seat supports that weren't visible were bone dry,all the wood on the boat took at least 3 coats of oil after the trip.When the extra thwarts finally did arrive they were made of ASH not WALLNUT as they were to be and were the wrong size even though Bell had been given the exact demensions from the old set fitted by the dealer it took an additional 2 months to get the proper ones. I tell anyone who asks about the boat,I do get many admiring inquries,that the boat is wonderfull now that its the way it should have come and not to belive anything Bell has to say about delivery dates.
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08-03-2000
Submitted by: StanSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     My Starfire is set up solo only and tips the scale at an actual 41 pounds [in white gold lay up.] Great river tripper for a larger paddler. I am 6' and 225 pounds. I have also paddled it several flat water miles, but I believe there are better pure flat water boats. It turns very easily yet tracks fine if I do my part. Good hull speed is a given. I suppose I am most impressed with its stable feel. I can easily run it as far as I like heeled to within an inch or so of the rail where it firms up very solidly. Only reason I give it a 9 is because we all know every canoe is a compromise! No boat I have ever met can match the workmanship of a Bell.
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