OK, now that I'm close to actual boat shopping, I've decided that we'll start with a rec boat (tandem -- that's not negotiable) with the understanding it will be replaced in a year or two as our skills and hopefully interest improves. I've been watching CL and see a few that I might check out after reading the reviews.
Anyway, I see no reason not to scale our accessory purchases to a boat that will eventually leave -- why not get "good" PFD's and paddles, for instance, and keep them when I get a better boat (unless they come "free" with the boat as a package)?
Q: At what point and I getting most of the benefits of a "good" paddle and not purchasing esoterica? Can we, for instance, get a nice one for $250 each? (No whitewater use, intending flatwater) One plan might be to shop for a decent used one to save $$$ and once I find one, match it with a new one (I have a large gift card I can expend on this) of the same brand/model. Which reminds me, reading up a bit and with our differing sizes, my wife might best use a 220 and me a 230... can they differ in size on a tandem or should one of us compromise?