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Reviews for Blackwater 11.5 Kayak by Dagger


Rated: 8.36/10 Based On: 45 Reviews

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07-29-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     My new/used Blackwater is a brand new looking boat, but may be up to ten years old. It handles the rocks of Montana's beaches without getting scratched. Its plenty stable in high seas and I have fished out of it with great ease. I find the tracking not bad at all, and have gone out of my way to learn to paddle it without the skeg.

I'm sure I could do an overnighter with the ample storage in the rear hatch, and maybe a three day trip with some paring down of my gear...no lanterns, big coolers, etc... It's also as I noted above, a much harder poly than my Perception, so it doesn't crush on my roof rack on hot days. I like this boat very much and would surely recommend it.

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07-24-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Had this boat now for about 7 years. Got it for downriver running. With the generous hold in rear as well as the ability to strap additional dry bags on the back one could easily use this boat for overnight camping if desired. I have a skirt for it but seldom use it unless I am running in class III+ water, which is rare. In TX the weather is warm and the skirt just traps heat and humidity making you uncomfortable. Overall impression is great boat, no regrets.
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05-31-2011
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 4 of 10

     This was my first kayak. It had a skeg that deployed cockeyed and caused the kayak to turn somewhat to the right all the time. This caused many more strokes paddled on the right than the the left no matter what I did to arrange myself differently. I bought it on clearance. It did not track well at all without the skeg down. The speed of the boat was barge-like, as if it were a submarine cruising the surface. It plowed thru the water with as much spray out in front as to the sides. The seat was not that great. anyway I took it back. It is probably a good move that dagger discontinued making these kayaks. All the kayak companies have made some big improvements since the Blackwaters were around.
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02-24-2009
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     Although the 11.5 was discontinued several years ago, they are still available used or new old stock, I'll add my review...
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!

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07-19-2005
Submitted by: KLRSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I'm just back in after a maiden voyage in my Blackwater 11.5, comparing it to my Pungo 120. Similar boats in layout and size, but very different handling characteristics. This is no surprise since the Blackwater has a rounded, flatter bottom, and the skeg was necessary for tracking in flatwater, though I could manage to keep her straight without it. With the skeg up, you can spin her on a dime, and you ain't going to do that in a Pungo. Ever.

The flatter hull shape would make the Blackwater a better choice for shallow rivers, especially if the bottom is rocky. The V-Bottom Pungo bottoms-out a lot and takes a beating on the rocks.

The Blackwater's seat isn't bad, but isn't the Pungo's Phase3 either, by a long shot.

I don't like the noise as she plows through the water, and the glide and speed of the Pungo isn't there, but it's still not bad. Losses here are a trade-off for the better shallow water characteristics and turning ability.

The bottom/hull seems a little thin too and the roof racks dent her up pretty good. It comes right out, but I don't care for that and would worry about it on a longer trip.

Storage area is dry, and I didn't detect any leaking. Enough room for all my overnight stuff, both in the bow with the foam out, and in the dry storage hatch.

Nice boat for the money, and does the job. Light years better than those all those darned recreational "toys", and a better investment.

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06-30-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have had my Dagger for a little over a year, and I absolutely love it! Had originally gone out to purchase the Perception Acadia 12.5, went to a boat day at a local lake and got to test them all out. The Dagger Blackwater 10.5 blew the doors off the test drive I took of the Acadia, America & Antigua. I wanted the 11.5 but the extra dough made me hesitate, my boyfriend said look, it's an investment, youíre laying out at least the 580, for the extra 70, it's worth it. He was right. I keep "Baby" at a local lake most of the time where I take her out 4 to 7 times a week. I go out adventuring on rivers & streams whenever possible. Took her once out to the salt marshes and the ocean, salt marshes and the inlet were just fine, not really meant for the ocean, hit high winds, going against the tide, large boat wakes and good size waves simultaneously had the smallest boat, and won't be doing that again. Boat handles like nothing else, can blow the doors off of many men with twice the upper body power, and believe it's a lot to do with the design of the boat. It simply flies, I purchased the 12.5 for my 18 year old, I'm 5'5", he's 6'1", and he needed a bigger boat. I prefer the 11.5, lift the skeg she turns on a dime, with it down the tracking is terrific. I highly recommend. In the past I had rented the 10.5 and really liked that one as well, easy handling quick response.
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06-03-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Dagger has produced one great kayak here that fits my needs perfectly. I fish out of the yak and often camp for a few nights as well. I took this yak down a river that only had class II's however a lot of the chutes pushed you right towards downed trees or other obstacles which made the trip a lot more challenging. I had no problem making all the turns even after the swiftest chutes. Once on flatwater I could drop the skeg and the tracking was not bad either. This boat gives me the best of both worlds and I absolutely love it. I have gone through 3 other boats in the past 15 months looking for a yak that could handle the fast water without killing me in the deadwater - all of the other boats were good at one or the other but this one does it all. I had no problems with the seat either - which has not been the case with some other boats. I am glad I went with the 11.5 over the 10.5 because I am able to fit all of my camping gear within the boat itself - it barely fits but that doesnít change the fact that it does fit! If you fish creeks or other flows that have fun rapids I would highly recommend this boat.
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03-10-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     First off, thanks to everyone for the reviews. I went over every single one, over and over! I took my new Blackwater out for the first time last weekend, and I must say that I'm very impressed. I was dealing with gusts up to 40 mph, so it was interesting. The drop down skeg is awesome! I believe that this makes the Blackwater the most versatile rec boat out there, which was exactly what I was looking for.

With the skeg up, the boat turns very easily, and quick. I was most pleased with the speed of the boat. I really wasn't expecting it to be fast, but it did exceed my expectations, especially straight into the headwind. I'm anxious to get it in some faster water to see what kind of performance it puts out, but by my judgments so far, it will be good.

I only have one complaint. I'm, about 6'1, 180 with a 34 jean length and a size 12 shoe. My feet were cramped. This provided some tension around my hips and outer thighs. Without my shoes on, the foot braces were perfect and I was very comfortable.

Overall, I really couldn't be happier! I think I will have this boat for a long time, and be very satisfied.

-I have tried out similar products of rec. boat design by Perception, Old Town, and Liquidlogic. The Blackwater outperformed all of them, especially the OT and Perception.

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01-26-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     Thanks everyone for your reviews. They really helped when I was trying to decide which kayak to buy this past November.

I chose the Blackwater 11.5 as a kayak suitable for 3-4 day river trips that can handle Class 2 whitewater as well as coastal paddling.

After spending a week paddling on the Virginia coast over the new year I have a better feel for the boat. In open water and 20 mph winds it tracks straight with the skeg down although it's noticably harder to turn. The boat itself was comfortable and stable in these conditions as I even anchored and fished.

I surfed with it in the ocean a bit (not too long in 48 degree water) and found it to be just fine. Definitely looking forward to more surfing in warmer weather.

With the skeg up it's quite maneuverable. I used to run Class 3-4 in a whitewater kayak and I'm very satisfied with this boat in Class 2 water. With flotation I'd run Class 3 in this boat without hesitation but realize it's not going to perform like a whitewater kayak. But it's nice to have confidence in the boat in case I run into unexpected whitewater on a multiday river trip.

Stowage capacity was a big unknown until I finally tested it. I'm very pleased with the boat's capacity. I pulled out the bow foam to allow gear stowage up in front of the foot braces. Here's what I loaded suitable for a 3 day trip (approx. 25 lbs of gear): Sealline 30 dry sack (including a 20 degree sleep bag and Thermarest 3/4 pad), solo tent, 20 ltr dry sack for clothes & rain suit, 1 gal water jug, one sealed container (5x5x7), small 4.5 ltr dry sack, 6'x8' lightweight nylon tarp, and medium size food sack. There was just a bit of room to spare for maybe 2 small 4.5 ltr dry sacks. My fishing gear was stowed on the deck.

The only negatives are the barely satisfactory foot braces, a poor seat that I've already removed and the inflatable back support leaks air. I contacted Dagger and they're sending me a new valve. However, I was told the 2005 model have a new seat design, more like a Thermarest mattress which should be a definite improvement.

So that's why I give it an 8. Overall, I love the boat with just a few modifications and expect to get many years out of it.

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10-19-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     My wife and I are new to kayaking. We did research by reading reviews on the Internet and in Kayaking magazines. We just purchased our kayaks in August during a sale at REI -we bought identical Blackwater 11.5's. We finally had a chance to try them out! It was the perfect day for our first outing - 68degrees with about a 15-20 mph wind. We tried them out in the lake at Stoney Metro Park in Michigan. We paddled for about two and a half hours. We were quite pleased. They are very stable, seemed responsive, and we were comfortable. The only complaint we have is that we did get a little wet - but that was because we need to get a couple of nylon skirts for the cockpits. Over all I would rate this kayak at an 8. We have signed up to take a kayaking class and probably need to add knee and thigh pads to make ourselves more comfortable.
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08-04-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     Me: 48 yrs old, 5'10" 165# 20 years kayaking, mostly in ocean.
Boats: I have a 17' skin boat (18 yrs young) and a 16' river ski SOT

Blackwater: I wanted a boat to generally screw around in;lakes, rivers, surf. My other boats are both long and fast, but not as manuverable as they might be. Got the Blackwater at the beginning of the summer.

Comfort/fit; The cockpit is a bit long. Like Todd I installed thigh braces and they're a little closer to my knees than I'd like, but they function well. Also added hip pads and a mesh bulkhead up front to hold the split bags in place (made from velcro & screen door material)Also padding for my heels. The seat seems to fit my ass.

Speed: Not a problem for me, not as fast as my other boats, but not that slow either, at least while paddling. It does not have the glide of my other boats but I don't have a problem keeping up.

Tracking: Great with the skeg down, but I usually paddle with it up because it's more fun. Weathercockinig is not nearly as bad as I thought it might be.

Manuverability: Very good. Not a playboat, but once a turn is initiated it's pretty carvey.

Surf: I held off on reviewing this until I got to surf it. Fun! I had no problem catching & riding waves. With the skeg up the boat wants to broach and it takes some doing to prevent you're perling (and you will), but once you're surfing you can even get a bottom turn it. With the skeg down it does a nice job of traditional surfing using a rudder stroke on the off-side. I got my longest rides in that way. I need a better spray skirt with a bar for this long cockpit though. The bulkhead leaks. I've tried re-siliconing it and will try again when it dries out tonight. All in all this boat does everything I want to do pretty well. I'll probably still get a surf specific boat because you can never have too many boats, but I'll always hang onto this one.

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07-06-2004
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I switched from canoes to kayak about four years ago and this is my first. I use it frequently in the upper end of the Schuylkill River in class 2 water. I like to think that a few of the three foot drops are class 3. This boat seems to handle these waters as well as any others around me, ecept for the smaller playboats. I like it for overnights as well, because of the cargo space. The compartment still is watertight after a fair amount of rough handling. I have even played with it in the heavy rapids of the Lehigh and the ocean surf. However, that didn't always work well. It may have been me though.
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07-06-2004
Submitted by: BMFSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I'm fairly new to kayaking, but I'm addicted and have been 9 times in the past five weeks and I'm on my second kayak so I know enough to offer this limited review of the Dagger Blackwater 11.5. My girlfriend and I purchased two Perception Swifty 9.5's for starter boats because the price was inviting, but after a few trips out we realized that we were quickly out-growing these boats. The salesman at Galyan's let us return them and made us a smoking deal on the two Daggers. The first thing I noticed was the 11.5' Daggers, with the skag up, would were actually more nimble than the 9.5' Swiftys. And with the skag down, they tracked very well. I had to adjust the skag on both of ours to get it to go down all the way, but once I got them dialed in they worked great.

I did have problems with the leaking as others have. In fact, I took one back because the bulkhead had separated from the bottom of the boat and was leaking pretty bad. By the time I got the new boat home, it had done the same thing. I think it's a combination of the way the boat is secured to my car rack and the silicone used does not do a very good job of bonding the two pieces, but only provides a seal. I used some Gorilla Glue to bond the material and siliconed it to keep it water tight and have had no problems thus far.

I've never paddled a pure touring kayak, but I have little trouble getting this boat around some rather large lakes. I've done a couple 8-10 mile trips with mine and I'm still amazed with how easily it gets across smooth and rough windly lakes alike.

Overall, I'm very happy with mine. The only complaint I have is with the seat. My butt goes numb after about an hour. I got an aftermarket seat cushion and I'm now in heaven. Hope this helps.

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05-26-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     If you're looking for a light, inexpensive, handy, relatively versatile "play boat" for short jaunts on calm waters - you probably can't do much better than this. It's way better than some of the "punt-like" plastic bathtubs other manufacturers are selling in this category. But it's not a Sea/Touring kayak either.

I bought this boat for my wife ( 5'3", 110 lbs.)when I bought myself a Carolina . They were on sale, and cheap ! I 'd been waiting for years to snag a good deal on "real" kayaks, but it never turned up. We weren't getting out much in the 1970's era, kit-built Folbot double ( AKA Pig Skow )that I built with my dad as a youngster. Finally I said - "Rec boats are good enough, I can always build some Pygmy kits later if I need better boats."

I live about a mile from the Patuxent River. I'm getting these boats out almost every weekend. When I go myself I take the Blackwater. At c. 40 lbs. it's an easy lift off the truck and into the drink. Try that alone with 16' and 63 lbs. (+) of Carolina in a 20 mile-an-hour wind - Not fun! It's not fast on the water - but we're looking for some exercise, eh ? It'll weathercock badly in a light breeze, so don't plan on going too far. The proud bow with it's wide sweep won't keep spray out of your face heading into a stiff breeze either. The skeg is necessary for directional stability in open water, but once retracted it allows sharp turns in meandering tidal creeks. It can be leaned a bit for turns, but it ain't like there's hard chines down there. It's generally comfy overall ( dig that inflatable lumbar support ) but does have a high cockpit coaming ( no trouble for me at 6', but the wife struggles a wee bit at times ).

Overall, if you can scoop one for a discount and you plan to use it for it's INTENDED PURPOSES ( skip any manufacturers highly optimistic descriptions of their boats )- I recommend it heartily.

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03-18-2004
Submitted by: DEVSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I got my Blackwater 11.5 2 years ago. This is my first boat and I absolutely love it. I picked this boat because it can do both rivers and lakes. I live in Northern Michigan and we have plenty of both. As I said the blackwater 11.5 is the perfect beginners boat. It is very stable, I have never rolled it. It can also take a lot water and waves. I have done a six hour paddle in it before and have to say that my butt never got tired. I have tried Old Towns and other but have always gladly gone back to my Boat. Out of the water it's light enough for me to move myself( I'm 145lbs, 5'8') and built tough enough to handle lots of abuse. I would definitly tell anyone whose looking for a great introductary boat to buy this for it is the best money can buy.
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08-18-2003
Submitted by: jimSend Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     Good looking for a recreational kayak. Very stable ... nearly as responsive as my Tornado ... SLOOOOOWWWWWW! It really plows! Good quality boat ... I'd like to give it a higher rating except that it is too darned slow.
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07-21-2003
Submitted by: JCSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Some people have rated this kayak in categories for which it was not intended... This boat is an attempt to be the best compromise of tracking and up to Class III handling... And being a hybrid, it will do many things fairly well, rather than any one thing extremely well. I feel that a few of the low ratings here are because the buyers mismatched their needs. Having said that, here are my opinions:

Tracking - 9: tracks as well as could be expected for this length and design (of course, put the skeg down!)
Maneuverability - 9: turns as well as could be expected for this length and design (of course, put the skeg up!)
Speed - 5: plows a little, but who cares? There are better options if you want to stick to lakes and estuaries.
Stability - 8: fine once you're in
Seat - 4: ditto with the previous poster's comment that it would really be nice to have a WS Phase 3 seat. This one is just too hard on my skinny butt. I added some padding, which helps.
Value - 10: paid $470 WITH TAX at Galyan's when they were running a deal a few months ago. Beat that!

Few more observations: I've noticed no leaks from the bulkhead. I imagine Dagger has addressed that issue, as ours (we got 2 of 'em) have a ton of silicone glue around them. If they did leak, they would still be easy to plug up.

Also, I've had no problem with knocking the skeg ball out, mentioned by some other reviewers. I think this might help some folks: put the string OVER THE TOP of the hook, so that the ball hangs below the hook. And if you STILL knock it out, then you can always tie a loop in the string, and use that loop instead of the ball. As noted by some of the other reviewers, you may on rare occasion need to adjust the string length of the skeg. I have a suspicion that the string length is not checked very well. In any event, I did have to adjust one of ours (which wasn't difficult).

One of our black rubber hatches has oxidized to nearly gray. That doesn't hurt anything, but looks pretty cheesy (and didn't deter me from buying it anyway).It has enough space for camping, and is a pretty good fit for my 6', 170 lb. frame. I fish a lot, with no problems. But I only carry one rod.

In summary, this kayak should NOT go barreling down a class III-IV river (most people should abandon trying to do an Eskimo roll in it), nor circumnavigate Lake Superior. There are better options than the Dagger Blackwater 11.5 for those situations. But for a value-conscious and jack-of-all-trades type product, it does very well. I'd give it an overall 9 except that that seat is just too uncomfortable. Many people will have to do some customization of that seat.

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05-27-2003
Submitted by: CBWSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     What a great boat. I was looking for a good kayak to use on a nearby large lake and chose the Blackwater 11.5 after paddling several similar models. The Blackwater handled the best and had the fit I wanted. I used to paddle whitewater, so I wanted a boat that responded similarly. The Blackwater does that. With the skeg down this boat tracks straight as an arrow even in windy choppy conditions. With the skeg up I can maneuver any which way easily. As for speed, this boat is plenty fast and I get very little splash over the bow except when its pretty windy with chop. Overall I'm very pleased. I do wish they could put the Wilderness Systems Phase3 seat in the Daggers. Those seats are incredibly comfortable, and I would like a little bigger cockpit so my dog could ride along. No leaks seen in the bulkhead yet. If you want a good stable boat for lakes and rivers I would highly recommend checking out the Blackwater 11.5.
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03-26-2003
Submitted by: BMVSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've had this kayak for One year. Its alright. I haven't noticed any leak in the bulkhead.But if you want a fast kayak its not the 11.5 this thing is like a tugboat.But for starters perfect choice. Personally I need to go faster.
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02-07-2003
Submitted by: CJKSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I own a blackwater 12.5. I gave my son an 11.5 for Christmas and he is in heaven. He has paddled mine in the past but the 1 foot difference makes it a much more manuverable boat for him. I did not go for the Exedition pkg but intend to do a sealing to the back bulk head this year. All in all it is what it is supposed to be, a value line kayak for flat water and class two to three water. Durable easy to paddle and last forever.
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01-28-2003
Submitted by: JLMSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     As a recreational kayak I love it. As a beginer I think it's an excellent choice to purchase. I use mine mostly on shoppy lakes, a very stable boat even though it was a lot tippier than the big old town "barges" I paddled in first. The skeg is great, down for chop and flatwater, up for rivers, it does exactly what it should do. The release ball is a little annoying when it pops out. But it doesn't happen all the time. The hatch in the back stays dry at all times, i've never had a problem with mine. The dagger does plow the water a bit so unless you are paddling on flat water there will be some spray in the cockpit, get a good skirt and it won't be a problem. I have only one complaint about the boat, if you think you can do eskimo rolls think again. There are no knee braces in this boat and you will only fall out of the cockpit if you try. At least I did... Maybe that's not saying much? haha. Overall it's a great beginner to intermediate boat, light, responsive, relativley fast, and stabile.
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08-23-2002
Submitted by: Tim HanfordSend Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     I purchased a Blackwater 11.5 after trying various models of kayaks. I opted for the Expedition model which includes a sealed foam bulkhead. I purchased this kayak for the sole purpose of fishing rivers and creeks. It has fit those needs fairly well.

The sealed bulkhead leaked from day one and has gotten worse with time. The sealant Dagger used has dried, cracked and separated from the boat and the foam bulkhead, rendering the boat as if no bulkhead was installed. Definitely not worth the extra money for the Expedition model in my opinion. I've taken this kayak through rapids up to Class III and it does fine for me. I don't seem to notice the plowing that others have mentioned. It turns quite easily and handles quick turns well. I really like the lip on the cockpit and rear hatch that catches most of the water.

The drop down skeg needed adjustment right away which included adjusting the knots in the skeg rope. I hit the platic ball on the end of the skeg rope often without realizing it which is a pain in rapids and faster water. The seat in this kayak is the worst I have seen. I added padding immediately which has helped but I feel like Dagger forgot they needed a seat in this kayak and added one at the last minute the cheapest way they could. I would not purchase this kayak if I had to do it over again. Dagger needs to do some refinement and they would then have a nice kayak.

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08-08-2002
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Update to my review of 5/28. I still give it a 10 for what it is! It is a recreational boat.

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.

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07-26-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 6 of 10

     Well, I bought a Blackwater 11.5 to be the best compromise to getting a boat that works on lake water and minor rapids. I wanted something that was stable, tracked well, could carry some gear for an overnight trip and be able to run some small rapids in. It was stable and tracked well with the skeg down but was a bit like guiding a barge. I suppose it did well for what it was but even though I am relatively new to kayaking, I quickly realized that this boat was not going to keep up with my learning curve and my need for a more responsive boat.

I also had trouble with the rear dry storage compartment leaking from the get go. Not a lot, but enough to be a nuisance. The front floatation was knocked out the second day after I swamped the boat in a rapid. It came out very easily after that. My biggest problem was with the skeg. It never did work right. It wouldn't deploy as it was supposed to. I loosed the adjustment screw as far as I dared but that didn't help. Finally removed the two rubber bushings on either side of the skeg at the pivot screw and that seemed to help the most but it still got hung up for some reason and I had to beat on the rear of the kayak with the paddle to deploy it.

As mentioned by others I was also continuously knocking the skeg release ball out of it holder so it seemed that the skeg was always down when I wanted it up and up when I wanted it down. A real pain in the derrier. I was very thankful that the dealer took the boat back so I didn't loose any money on it.

I shouldn't be so pessimistic. If you never do any creeking and only stay on flat water and don't care too much about responsiveness or speed, then this may be a good boat for you. Make sure that the skeg works properly at the dealer when you get one.

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07-18-2002
Submitted by: TJBSend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     Its a great boat, but does have some flaws. First the cons;

*CONS*
-It is bit of work to move this boat. Still more efficient than a canoe, but you never get the sense that you're just cruising across the water effortlessly.
-The plastic tab that holds the skeg line is poorly placed. I hit that with my forearm/elbow on a regular basis when hard paddling. And yes, as noted the skeg line does shrink and requires adjustment.
-Bottom is thin. I'm not sure what the norm is here, but I feel like the bottom is always a little mis-shapen and should be stiffened up a bit for more efficiency. I've only been in a few recreational kayaks, though, so I don't know what the norm is. Old Town kayaks were definitely more rigid. Maybe its tough to make a stiff flat bottom boat, but it does feel like at a minimum, the material under the seat, that carries most of your butt weight, should be thicker. ?
-No drain plug. Clearly an oversight on a "crossover" boat that is intended for light whitewater use. Anyone who hits any light rapids is going to pick up some water.
-11.5 cockpit is wider at the front than the 10.5 and probably all the newer sizes. Skirts that fit the 10.5, don't fit the 11.5
-11.5 does not include the drain notches around cockpit and rear storage cockpit that drains collected water (as found in the 10.5). 11.5 was the first boat and it looks like Dagger did not upgrade the mold when they came out with the other sizes.
-Would be nice if this boat included even a portion of the padding that can be found in the Dagger Crossover.

*PROS!!!*
-The boat is a LOT of fun and fits its market as advertised. The boat is great to fish out of. Easy to get in and out of in a few feet of water which says something about its stability. Also a lot of fun in light rapids. We've had plenty of fun surfing in these boats, going through small rapids and when I get a full skirt I'd love to try learning to roll it.
-Great storage capacity. Love the tie down bungees on the front and rear deck of the 11.5. Plenty of deck storage space and holds a good bit below as well.
-Stable with your feet in the boat, on the boat, or dangling in the water!
-Appreciate the bar behind the cockpit for cable locking the boat to a roof rack.
-Skeg works great. Boat spins on a dime with skeg up, tracks pretty nice with the skeg down, although it still slightly pulls in one direction or another. Still MUCH better than a whitewater boat.

I bought this boat because I wanted to play and fish and am able to do both. Wish it had a few more features for the money, but its still fun. This boat will probably get me into kayaking as more of a sport. So, they should either drop the price and figure its an introductory SUV of kayaks or keep the same price but add some nicer features. Maybe combine this and the Crossover into one boat that better fits both markets.

Overall, though, read this as a positive review. I'd recommend the boat for purchase.

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06-17-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought the Blakwater 11'6" used from a person that wants to upgrade to a higher performance kayak. I took it out today for the first time and I'm very happy with the way the kayak paddles. I was looking for a kayak that was easy to paddle, stable, easy for me to cartop and portage, durable, and a good kayak to fish from. I feel that the Blackwater excells in these areas. It is not a fast kayak compared to my Perception Corona but I feel the Blackwater is not a "bath tub". I bought it used for 1/3 of the retail price and feel that it is well worth what I paid.
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06-04-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 6 of 10

     The Blackwater I purchased was the 12.5 and I paddled it for one very unhappy day. The mistake I made was saying to the dealer that I wanted a fairly stable boat. That was the moment of doom. I had been paddling for about 3 seasons in a Wilderness Systems Pamlico and did not give myself enough credit for learning. The Blackwater, quite aptly named, was as advertised stable, so is a bathtub and just about as fast. As soon as I stopped paddling the boat just about stopped and I always felt as I was paddling in jello. The drop skeg worked fine but without it the boat wanders. I went back a couple of days later and spoke to a different salesman who believed me (the first one didn't) and he let me demo a Prijon Calabria. The outfitter, being very reputible and honest, let me give the Blackwater back and move up to the Prijon, I have not regretted if for a second.
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05-28-2002
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     After years of tandem paddling in the bow of other people's canoes, I decided I wanted a boat of my own. I also wanted a solo boat. When I started shopping I found that solo canoes to meet my needs were beyond the price I could justify. My dealer asked where I would be using the boat. I said I wanted to do river float trips (which here in Alabama usually involve at least a little whitewater - up to class II) and an occasional overnight camping trip. I also enjoy fishing.

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.

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05-06-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     This Kayak is a joy to paddle. I finally got to take it out on a local pond. Initially, I felt the bow plowed a bit, as has been mentioned earlier. Once I made sure that I slid my weight back in the seat, and kept my back straight (effectively shifting weight toward the stern, the plowing all but disappeared. tracking is excellent when skeg is dropped, maneuverabilty is excellent when retracted. Cockpit is generous, which is nice for my 5'10, 240 lb frame. I found no bulkhead leaks that others had mentioned. I also got a chance to take it on the Ipswich River, a slow meandering creek. I found it excelled in those condition - easy to maneuver and spin, and very stable both initially and secondarily. I expect that it will be fine up to mild class 2 whitewater.

This is our third (Walden Experience, Great Canadian Swell), and is already my favorite (Walden is daughter's favorite, Swell is wife's).

All in all, a very nice kayak, accurately rated for capacity, and well made (no visible defects). I would definitely recommend this as a great all around recreational kayak.

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02-18-2002
Submitted by: ToddSend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     The Dagger Blackwater is a decent boat for casual flatwater paddling. key words: casual flatwater paddling. If that's what you are planning on doing, than this boat may be perfect for you. The kayak tracks fairly well through the water. It takes a bit of effort to get the Blackwater up to cruising speed and the bow tends to bounce up and down when you paddle on water with any type of wave (even when paddling through moving water on a windy day). The boat has great initial stability and decent secondary stability. It is great fun to paddle the Blackwater on edge and test its limits.

I have the expedition model which includes a rear bulkhead and hatch. I have found that the bulkhead tends to get small leaks in it and if you plan on submerging (or accidentally flipping) the boat, water will get in through the hatch. I'm not talking about gallons or anything but it does add up. The Blackwater has a very large cockpit. I had thigh braces put in and let me just say they should be called knee braces. The cockpit is very long and wide. If you plan on rolling, be careful. The seat is not attached to the plastic seat molding very well. When you reach a certain angle, the seat slides making it quite a nuisance to roll. Actually, nusiance is not the right word. It doesn't make it harder. It's just that it should be better secured.

With all this said, the price is right. If you are looking for a boat to paddle on calm water or very slow moving streams, this MAY be the boat for you. Give it a "test paddle" if you can.

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01-31-2002
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     My wife and I both have Blackwater kayaks that we are VERY happy with which is odd since I am 6'1" and 250 and she is only 5'3" and 120. That shows you how versitile this boat is. Since I am a more aggressive paddler I immediately tried modifying the cockpit with foam pads for bracing. Quite a chore with the high volume cockpit of the Blackwater but then an associate at Kittery Traiding Post in Maine showed me two saddle kits that fit most of the larger Dagger kayaks. Why Dagger doesn't promote these for the Blackwater is beyond me because for a few dollar investment and the time it takes to drill two holes you end up with a completely braceable boat, suitable for Class II possibly III whitewater if you so desire. When I moved up to a longer glass touring boat for off shore sea kayaking I could not part with the Blackwater. It does what it is intended to do and you can't beat the price. ps. I had the same complaint about the skeg which I solved very easily by adding a few inches of stretch cable to be able to deploy it to a greater depth than the factory setting which is ok for my petite wife but didn't work for me.
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11-20-2001
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I bought a new Blackwater last week and took it out on its first trip Saturday down the Black River in Eastern NC. This is a lazy slow moving river. The boat paddles fine and does what it is designed to do and that is go slow in slow rivers. I liked the weight (45lbs), didn't like the blunt nose, which pushes a lot of water if you try to paddle fast and sounds like battleship plowing water. I liked the skeg, it seemed to keep the boat tracking ok dead ahead and when raised it allowed for quick turns. I didn't like the seat. I had to pad it with a towel and put towels under my thighs after about an hour of sitting. I liked the color..blue and red and I liked the hatch and bulkhead which as far as I can tell is not leaking.

This boat does exactly what I wanted it to do.. be short, go slow and be stable. If I want distance or speed I will paddle either my Necky Kyook or my Wilderness Systems Sealution XL (composite). If you want a light weight easy to maneuver slow boat that is stable and fun to paddle on lazy rivers, small creeks or other small bodies of water I recommend it. Price was right $500 plus tax. Seems well made save for the seat which is a punishment chair.

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09-10-2001
Submitted by: GregSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought a Blackwater 3 months ago, Iíve used on lakes and misc. rivers in northern Illinois. I find it to be a top shelf kayak, an excellent first kayak. Bulletproof construction, jack of all waters and master of none. Drop skeg gives it wonderful versatility, dramatically changing its characteristics from a nimble whitewater craft to stoic touring kayak. It is slightly sluggish, but the pricepoint makes that tolerable.
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08-31-2001
Submitted by: BenSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     This Blackwater EXP is my first kayak- I had researched over the summer and had narrowed my choices down to this, the Perception Acadia EXP, and the Dagger Cypress EXP. Essentially, I chose the Blackwater out of those because of the price- it was on sale at REI for $499, and the others were all almost $100 more- this poor college boy had to opt for the low end. However, I have been very satisfied with my Blackwater. I have taken it out 5 times so far- exclusively on rivers- the Huron and Kalamazoo in MI, the Nippersink in IL, and in sloughs off the Mississippi in Wyalusing State Park, WI. The initial stability is not great, but it makes up for it in secondary stability. It turns well, and tracks very well for a relatively short boat. That is with the skeg down- as per other reviews, I untied the skeg and retied to hang lower. I had one problem with the skeg- the guides for the line that raises and lowers the skeg are quite sharp on their edges, and the first time I took it out, I scraped a lot of skin off my arm when I reached back and planted the paddle. I covered it with duct tape and the problem was solved. I also must agree with other reviewers who said that the bow of the Blackwater plows the water- compared to my girlfriend's America, I feel like I'm in an Ice breaker. OK, not quite that bad, but there is definitely more resistance up front than I had expected. It is plenty roomy for me - 6'4"/160 and also lots of space for equipment. Overall, a good buy, and an excellent introductory kayak.
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08-23-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 7 of 10

     Fit was bad, off the rack. Added 1/2 inch thigh pads under cockpit rim. Also, made calf support blocks to help keep a tight fit between foot pegs and knees. Maybe that's just me. Backrest is fine. Seat pan is deadly to my boney butt after just 1.5-2 hours, even after adding 1/2 inch of minicell. But, the minimal seat is part of the light weight, which I appreciate.

Stability is surprisingly good, even in nasty chop and swells. I put on the spray skirt and become fearless. Yes, I take a lot of spray in the face when going into the wind and waves. But, have no complaints about spray in calm water.

Tracking with the skeg down is good. But, I've found I like tracking so well, I may get a longer kayak. Before first outing, I adjusted the skeg line so it would drop 1/2 inch more, to where it looked designed for. A month later, in chop and rollers, I found it wasn't tracking at all. On shore, found the skeg line had stiffened and/or shrunk, and was barely dropping. I had to cut and patch onto it with line I had handy.

Early on, I noticed the entire hull had slight roughness. Took 600 grit sandpaper to it, with rubber sanding block... made it nice and slick with little effort.

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08-21-2001
Submitted by: no name
Rating: 6 of 10

     Bought one last week, returned it the next day. The Blackwater looks great on paper and on the outfitters rack! Everything you would want in a combined recreational lake & river boat, including droppable skeg & large hatch. Only problem with the boat is being in it on the water. The boat plows the water, kicking up spray on the deck at moderate speed on a calm lake. The boat is approriately named as the Blackwater is meant to go slow. The molded integal seat is horrific, wide enough but totally lacking in depth (front to back) for an adult rendering the so called "cup holder" useless. [Why do Dagger and Perception continue to develop new boats that are physically attractive, yet continue to degrade the most important comfort feature, the seat!] Dagger should replace/enlarge the seat and take some bluntness off the bow and they would have a real winner.
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08-13-2001
Submitted by: no name
Rating: 8 of 10

     A good Kayak with lot going for it fun and practical the only short comings are the seat. solved by adding back brace for sit on top. The skeg can be droped lower by 1/2inch. bulk head a real plus.
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07-24-2001
Submitted by: Chuck
Rating: 10 of 10

     I recently purchased two Dagger Blackwater kayaks. My son (age 16) and I have an easy time paddling the Blackwater. It is very stable and smooth over the water. We have had it on both lakes and rivers (mild water), and are quite pleased. I also have a 14 year old daughter that has used the kayak on an area lake and she had no problems with steering, paddling, etc.

The only problem we have found was during Eskimo roll attempts in the swimming pool, the bulkhead on my son's Blackwater leaked (water entered when the spray-skirt gave way and during wet exits). That seems to be a an issue for this model in other reviews that I have read. I don't think it is a big issue though and should be easily corrected by the owner. We are using the Blackwater mainly for river running and camping on the Brazos, Trinity, and Guadalupe rivers. We are anxious to get some swift water, but in Texas, we must wait for rain!

The Blackwater is very light and easy to transport. We carry them in the rear of a short bed pickup with only about 16 inches extending past the tailgate of the truck. We also have a 5' x 12' trailer that easily and fully accommodates both kayaks and gear.

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07-17-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     Wife and I recently bought a Blackwater for her and a Cypress for me. Yesterday I took out her boat and paddled the Santiam near Salem. It was a hoot. The boat is reliable, easy to turn and comfortable.

Two things: the bulkhead in the expedition we bought leaks. I saw in reading the other reviews someone else had this problem. Our local shop owner is contacting Dagger for a fix. #2, the skeg line was maladjusted and had to be readjusted to get full deployment and retraction.

I love the cockpit. The Santiam was cooking so sometimes I'd just pull my legs back and cross them and float with an occasional stroke to keep going straight. Very comfortable.

I'm glad we got one of each, they're both fine boats.

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07-16-2001
Submitted by: jamesSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've had the Blackwater about a month now. i must say, i'm really happy with it. Most of my paddling has been on the rivers in Central Texas, especially the Blanco and the San Marcos. It's small enough to go about anywhere i want to explore but big enough to do some overnights. I also took it down to the Gulf Coast to play in the surf and had an absolute blast. Some big waves were coming and it was just a thrill ride.

One complaint so far, the seal bulkhead in the back leaks. haven't figure out where the water is coming from but it looks like i'll have to reseal it myself. i would have expect to do this in about a year, not new.

The price was right also, $500 plus tax.

If anyone needs a paddling partner in Central Texs drop me an email.

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06-06-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I picked up my new Dagger Blackwater EXP today and initial reaction is WOW!! I moved from a Loon 138 which was way more stable (almost standable stable) and my first experience with stability in the Blackwater was a flip into the drink. Hey, the water isn't as cold as I thought it would be :-) Tracking is ok so far but I need to figure out the dropdown Skeg. I only drops about 2 inches so I'm figuring it's needing some line adjustments. Color and overall appearance is top notch. Fit for myself.... 5'10" @ 165lbs is a definite 10. Features... I'll wait and report on my experiences with this later since the only feature the I had experience with today was the bulkhead, which saved me a backache when trying to dump the flooded kayak after my 1st stability experience. :-)
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05-30-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I purchased my Dagger Blackwater about a month ago and have been thoroughly impressed. I am a larger paddler at 5'10" 215 lbs. but had no issue with stability, tracking, or entrance/exit. The large cockpit gives me room to move and the drop skeg is amazingly effective. I use this boat primarily on slow rivers and lakes and have found it aggressive in fast water and smooth in slow. I would suggest this kayak to anyone looking to do a little of everything, but isn't looking to go to one extreme or the other.
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05-22-2001
Submitted by: RKSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     The Blackwater as my second kayak. I use it primarliy on lakes and mild rivers. The large cockpit is very comfortable. I am 6'1", 235 lbs and it allows easy enter/exit. The boat is very stable but creates a small amount of drag in the water. I have related this to the low blunt shaped bow that generates considerable spray over the bow in even mild choppy water, this can be a hassle if you want to stay dry. The retractable skeg does work. It does not create a noticable difference while tracking, but does increase the overall turnabilty and turning radius of the boat. Overall I am very happy with the boat. It seems to a good blend between recreational and touring with great stability, retractable skeg, sealed bulkhead and good storage capacity.
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05-03-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     Paddler profile: Beginner, 5'9", 210 lbs. mid-40's "getting back into shape."
Kayak profile: 20+ yrs. exp. 11' 6'' x 25.25", 45 lbs. "in shape and ready to go."
Overall impression: Wonderful!
Other considerations: Dagger Delta, Loon 111 & 12, Perception Arcadia, Sierra, & Necky Santa Cruz.

My initial thoughts were the basic requirement of recreational kayaks -stability. After that, I considered my personal ability potential and wanted fast over stable, straighter over turning ability, and secondary stability over initial stability.

In the water this kayak behaved as my mind expected a kayak to behave. Good glide, good side sliding, very maneuverable, and quiet. After reading many of the product reviews and 10 is perfection, then nobody seems to make a bad kayak or canoe. I've changed the rating system to my expectations being 5, above 5 being "better than expected" and below 5 is not going to happen.

Tracking: 5 as expected, excellent in calm water, use the skeg when windy or choppy.
Speed: 5, as expected. The width is narrower than the average recreation kayak.
Stability: 7 Fear of tipping over is still there when entering and exiting. What fun! Once in, very stable.
Comfort: 6 Better that expected stay in the cockpit for hours and enough room inside to move around.
Foot pegs: 8 Yep, they're there and are easy to adjust even while on the water.
Looks: 7, it looks like a traditional kayak
Utilitarian stuff: Shock cords on bow and stern, big storage hatch with good seal, and a security bar to lock the kayak up to something.

It comes down to making the jump into the paddling world. Just lace up your Nikes, go down to the store, pull out your wallet, and 'just do it'.

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02-19-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     Being a relatively short person (5'6"), I was able to modify my Blackwater to fit my personal tastes. I moved back the footpeg rails six inches, and installed a 3" minicell foam bulkhead in the bow. Through this bulkhead I installed a 6" diameter deck plate which gave me access into the front compartment, and provided a watertight seal when closed. I now have more than enough waterproof storage in my kayak to keep my camping equipment dry and secure.

I found the Blackwater to be well designed. I think the best feature is the drop down skeg which poises inside the kayak. When in really tight or shallow areas, I can quickly raise the skeg the gain maneuverability. When I need the skeg, a quick pull and release of the cord drops the skeg into position. I imagine that with another knot in the cord, I can have an intermediate position for the skeg.

I bought this kayak for week long camping/fishing/paddling trips in the lakes of the Adirondacks. The boat is rated for at least 280# of payload, and thus can safely carry all my equipment. The seat, although utilitarian, is quite comfortable, and the back can be adjusted to suit personal preferences. There is plenty of room behind the seat for easy access to stored items. Deck cording is provided by Dagger both fore and aft, and proved to be quite useful. Neither compartment leaked, however I did seal the recessed deck fittings with silicone beforehand. This was because the drill-holes made by Dagger for the shockcord did cross into the underside of the deck, creating an easy point for water to enter.

All in all, I found the kayak to be quite easy to paddle, track, and turn. In choppy water I found the Blackwater to be quite stable.

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