Most Recent Reviews
I bought this boat used in the winter of 2002. I have used it for light duty white water - Hiawassee River, TN; Etowah River, GA; Cahaba River, AL; Current River, MO (not really white water). Mostly Class I, but a couple of Class II Rapids thrown in.
As the others have stated it is a very forgiving boat. I paddle it on camping trips also, minus the floatation bags. It handles well loaded with gear. I've considered getting a "touring type" solo boat but since most of my paddling is downriver this boat does just fine. I have to work a bit harder in the "flat stretches" but find the boat paddles well in a straight line when leaned. I use my own combination of "c" strokes and "j" strokes to keep it moving along.
This summer I have fished a lot, done 2 camping trips and run several rivers with sections of class II rapids. I am using a nylon spray skirt in the rapids. The boat has performed well. On rivers I go mostly with folks in solo canoes and have no problem keeping up. I must be lucky because my bulkhead doesn't appear to be leaking. Once I swamped the boat ( 5 inches of water in the cockpit) when I got jammed between two rocks while ferrying across the river and it still didn't leak. Regarding comments about the speed and cruising, I will admit that on flatwater (non-flowing) you do have to keep paddling - it has very little glide. However, for me this isn't an issue as I'm not paddling long distances on flat lakes. My longest distance has been 3 miles and it took me an hour and 20 minutes - no wind that day.
I find the boat very easy to turn and very easy to paddle in a straight line. I am 5'5" and 145 lbs and paddling with a 220cm Seaquel paddle. The skeg helps me tracking on flatwater but I rarely use it on moving rivers. Some have complained about the skeg line holder being in the way. On my very first trip I had a horrible bruise on my right arm just below the elbow from constantly bumping it. However, after advice from other paddlers and a bit of reading on paddling technique I have not had any problems since. I do not lean back in the seat when I paddle. I sit up straight and my back doesn't even touch the seat back and my arm never hits the "holder".
The boat has stood up well to abuse in rocky rivers. I did one trip where we did a 2 mile long shoal area of very shallow water bumping over many rocks. The hull has multiple scratches but in my opinion they give the boat character. If you want a serious touring boat this isn't it and if you want a serious whitewater boat this isn't it. . . but if you just want to get out and enjoy the water and nature and get a bit of exercise in the process it is a great boat for the price.
He suggested a recreational kayak. I thought there were only whitewater kayaks for the "hardcore" whitewater people and sea touring kayaks. After researching several models that he had available I chose the Blackwater. Since purchasing the boat in mid-March I have done two river day trips, one overnighter and two lake fishing trips (with my boyfriend in his Dagger Delta that he purchased a month after I got my Blackwater).
The first time I ever put the boat in the water was for the overnight river trip. I'd never paddled a kayak before in my life. I fell in love with the boat. It was very responsive and easy to handle. A couple of whitewater kayakers were on the trip in their canoes and gave me some paddling tips.
I have had no problem with leaking of the bulkhead - but haven't taken on a lot of water either (I used a nylon sprayskirt). On the lake I had no problem paddling into the wind or with cross wind. One trip we had a lot of jet skiers and water skiers in the area and even in their wakes the Blackwater handled well.
For fishing the cockpit is large enough that I was able "fiddle" with the equipment without much difficulty. (A Velcro strap attached to the bungee cords on the front deck held the paddle nicely while I fished.
Regarding the "plowing" some people have mentioned I did experience that the first time I was on the lake but found that it was related to my posture in the boat. If I leaned forward and really "dug in" with the paddle it plowed but if I relaxed a bit and paddled less forcefully the boat just glided over the water.
I am very pleased with the boat so far. I haven't done much "whitewater" yet (are that isn't my primary interest) but the little I have done has not been a problem and it is good to know the boat can handle it.