I rather impulsively bought a VERY used Dagger Blackwater 12 for $400 from a guy on Craigslist. It was the first kayak I ever bought. I re-listed it on Craigslist a week later, and sold it a week after that. The boat was extremely tippy. It was also really cramped (I'm 6'1", 260 lbs). It did not track well, and kept going to the left. However, it was pretty speedy.
I'm a complete beginner, so maybe someone with more skills can adjust to the "tipiness" better than me. And maybe it was damaged by the previous owner(s), I'm not sure. Also, the skeg wasn't working properly, so maybe that contributed to the tracking issues. I very well could have gotten a dud, but all I know for sure is that that the Blackwater 12 wasn't the kayak for me. I did ALOT of research before buying my first kayak. I was looking at price, construction and the options that I wanted (a dry hatch, 2 sets of bungees, a nice seat, foot pegs, and thigh braces). I settled on the Blackwater because it met all of my requirements.
Now, I'm not a pro and don't have much experience, but this is a great starter kayak. The stern dry hatch is roomie, though you may want to add a little silicone to the hole where the skeg line runs through. It seems pretty snug, but when you REALLY tip the kayak, a little water does make it in. Speaking of getting wet..you will in rapids. The bow of the boat will go down under the water and bounce back up with liquid! So be ready. I don't get soaked, but if it's cold it sucks.
I've read the other reviews that the boat is terrible at tracking w/out the skeg. In a river, it helps. Lakes you can go with without. Why do you need to be in a straight line anyway? The other options, like the foot pegs, are easy to adjust. The thigh braces are nice. The seat is very comfortable and the adjustments are easy.
All in all, I'm very happy with my purchase. And I would recommend first-timers to give it a try.Just purchased a Dagger Blackwater 12. A great looking boat. Made very well. Just had kayak on a 15 mile trip down the Allegheny River in Tionesta, PA. Cockpit is very comfortable and roomy. Very easy to adjust seat back and foot rest. Foot rest should be adjusted on shore. Can not get to them while on the water. Thigh pads are fantastic - pads make you feel like you are one with the boat. Drop down skeg release easy to get to. And easy to use. Skeg works great!!
On the water, boat felt very tippy at first. But after a few adjustments (seat back and foot pegs) I was on my way. Kayak always wanted to pull left for some reason. I have been paddling a long time. So it wasn't my paddling technique. Drop the skeg. Boom!!! Problem solved. Boat stays straight. Skeg up. Boat very easy to maneuver.
I had no problem with speed of kayak. Moved just fine for a 12'boat. Fished from boat with no problems. Also purchased Seals Adventure 2.5 sprayskirt - fits great on boat. Seat back must be all the way down for sprayskirt to fit properly. After about 5 hours in the boat seat become a bit uncomfortable. Yes, we got out and stretched every now and than. Seat just a bit to firm. Seat back was just fine. I sold my Perception Acadia and purchased the Blackwater. Very happy with boat. A true kayak. Handles great in fast moving currents. Nose tends to dive a little when you hit the bumps. Water comes over boat. That's what kayaking is all about. Purchase spray skirt. You'll need it.
I have a Necky Zoar Sport/rudder and a Chatam 17. This is my first Dagger. And I love this kayak!! If it wasn't for the boat pulling to the left and the seat bottom being to firm, I would give this boat a 10. Weight of boat bearable. Easy to portage and load on roof rack.I purchased the Dagger Blackwater 12.0 this weekend. It is a 2009 model and apparently they don't make the 12.5 anymore. I'm new to kayaking and wanted a kayak for fishing and for fun paddling in slow rivers, ponds, and sounds. It had to be fairly stable but at the same time I wanted one that was almost like a touring kayak for the bigger waters.
I found the Blackwater 12.0 on sale at a local shop for $700 and the shop threw in a free paddle. That sounded like a pretty good deal. I've only taken it out once, so I donít know if I can give a really good review. BTW, Iím 5í-8Ē and 170 lbs. Anyway, here goes:
Looks great. Everything is nicely constructed and assembled with no broken parts. The hull is nice and stiff poly unlike some other models. The hull does have a slight dent right below the seat but it doesnít seem to affect anything. All of the Daggers and a Perception I looked at had the same dent.
It has a nice large rear hatch with a sealed bulkhead. The hatch and bulkhead did not leak. The hatch cover is a little difficult to put back on, but it isnít that big of a deal.
The weight is fairly good for a 12 ft boat at 47 lbs. Itís also fairly slim at around 25-26 inches wide.
The cockpit has just the right amount of room for me. The only water that came in was from my paddle. The deck is nice and high too.
The seat is great. My fiancť has a Perception (LL Bean) Calypso with the same Zone seat and that partially sold me on this model. Itís adjustable and goes high enough for me to be comfortable.
This model comes with a drop down skeg that is easy to deploy. I seemed a little gimmicky but it works.
The adjustable foot pegs work just fine. They are a little high inside the boat so only my toes (size 9.5 feet) make contact. Iíd rather them be an inch lower.
The boat tracks horribly with the skeg up. Well... maybe not horrible, but not great either. Tracking without the skeg is sub par for a boat of this quality/price.
WITH the skeg the boat tracks perfectly.
With the skeg up the maneuverability is great. I can turn it completely around with just a few paddle strokes.
The Blackwater isnít slow, but it definitely isnít fast. My fianceís 12 foot Calypso is faster and takes less energy to keep moving. If I stop paddling the Blackwater then it immediately begins to slow down. Iíve been in only a few kayaks and would say the Blackwater is a little bit slower than the average 12 foot boat in this price range.
Overall Iím pretty happy with this boat. Itís stable enough for me and tracks great with the skeg. If I could change the Blackwater then I would trade a little less maneuverability for a little more speed.
If youíre thinking about getting a Blackwater then think pretty hard about what you want first. If you want a kayak that will give you a half and half balance of maneuverability and speed then this kayak would probably be perfect. I donít think youíd find any other kayak with an even balance of speed and maneuverability. It wonít do either perfectly well but does both pretty well.