Most Recent Reviews
I foolishly bought two of these - one for each side. I soon found that, once a boat is on top, it can be "walked" on across to make room for the second boat.
My down-rating comes from this... Unless your bars are new or nearly new, you will have installation issues! My bars were about 4 years old and had been left outside (mounted) most of this time. There was enough corrosion inside the bar to keep the "catch" from moving. (HINT - it took a great deal of cutting to get the plastic end plug off.) I eventually got one bar to slide all right (although roughly). The second bar was too badly corroded. I did remove the plastic catch piece, and now it slides in and out. However, I must watch for the hole (which would have held the catch), then move the bar back in a few inches
Oh yeah, the sand dollar graphic on the end of the loader is great!
I have had the boat less than 30 hours, but I did get a chance to get it out on a pond a couple of hours back. Again, I wanted something that would do well in open water and handle choppy conditions well.
It turns out my first opportunity to paddle it was a perfect test - SSW winds at 20 mph gusting to 30 mph. The boat passed with flying colors - all I wanted! The skeg control is in a recessed slot just below the hip. Being recessed, there is no way to hit it accidentally. I was able to find a "sweet spot" where it would neither weather cock nor lee cock in those 20-30 mph winds.
Chop? What chop? There were 6-12" waves which would have shaken my kidneys loose in the Blackwater 115. I hardly noticed them while headed straight into them. (When they were side waves, I was glad for my skirt and PFD!)
Although just about everything on the seat adjusts, well, once you get that skirt fastened and are out on the pond, nothing adjusts. The cockpit is tight. Wonder which I would have bought had I sat in both the 14s and the somewhat wider 14l? Whatever, you don't sit in this boat, you wear it. However, this does give great control! Although there is a middle bulkhead with a day hatch, there is also a surprising amount of room behind the seat for stashing a dry bag.
Here are the few picky things I found. First, there are no drain channels for the coaming and the areas around the hatches, so water accumulates there. (There is also a 3-4" bowl, presumably for a compass mount. They should have simply left a flat area, but it doesn't hold that much water.) The cover on the day hatch is probably impossible to re-seat from within the cockpit. It's pretty difficult even when out of the boat and standing over it!
In summary, this is a very nice boat!
As most of my paddling has been poking around in marshes and swamps, it's nearly perfect for that. The cockpit is huge. I have room at my feet for a water bottle, camera, binoculars, gps, and a bit of food. There's room behind the seat for a fairly large dry bag with more food, clothing, etc. In fact, I never use the holds.
It is very stable - forget about eskimo rolls - and quite maneuverable. It needs the skeg down to track straight, but it turns pretty well with it down. Up, you can literally spin in place.
I'll keep this boat until some catastrophe puts an end to it. However, I'm looking for a second boat, in part due to its limitations: the skeg has a bad tendency to hang up, so one must turn way around and stretch to try to free it up or perhaps ask for help. the skeg is also either up or down - no easy adjustments.
it also does poorly in chop. dagger re-shaped the nose on later models so they cut through chop. mine either submarines chop or bounces about on it - neither are comfortable.
Because of these limitations, I'm looking at the new Dagger Alchemy or the Necky Manitou 14 to get a bit more speed and comfort in open water. Still, for exploring swamps and marshes, the 115 can't be beat!