Alright, so I managed to get in the water (ahem, literally ~ video link at the end), have about 6 hours of time on the water under my belt now and a whole host of new questions.
First issue is strictly comfort related. Since I'm a big guy (well, 6'4", 240~250lbs, size 13 foot), I had to find a bot that'd accommodate me. The Dagger Blackwater does that well, I can get my legs under the deck, but I'm having issues with my feet. The first time I got in the boat, I did so bare-foot... OUCH! those pedals/footrests are downright painful on bare feet... at least to someone who only goes barefoot in a house maintained by a clean-freak. 2nd time I wore my Keens and found my feet cramped and it put me into a weird seating position that made my left knee/hip hurt. What kind of footware do you use in water that's comfortable to swim in? Hoe about water that's too cold to comfortably swim in, but fine for wading through/splashing in?
Staying on-topic with the footrests, what part of your foot goes on those? Since I'm a motorcyclist, I put the balls of my feet (pads where the toes join the foot).
When it comes to paddling, I'm trying to do the whole twist-at-the-waist thing. In a recent 4 hour river run though, my upper back, right on either side of the spine just where the neck hits the back, became tight and pinched. Poor technique or just new muscle use? I wasn't' sore anywhere else (and tend to have issues with those same muscles anyway). Similarly, with my skeg up, I'm zig-zagging all over the place.. technique? Skeg down and I'm straight as an arrow though, very nice.
My kayak has "dry storage" behind me that is, quite frankly, pretty wet. Looking closely I can see that the grey, rubbery (silicone?) sealant used to fill the crack between the keel and foam bulkhead. Looks like I'll be needing to fix that, what's a good product? Normally I'd just toss some kitchen and bath silicone in there, but thought I'd ask... cause I'm the clueless noob. :P
On to being prepared. Our first outing (my wife and I) we a) missed our take-out (low water made a berm that we couldn't see from the boat ramp where we parked), b) didn't have any food with us, c) didn't have any sort of map/gps and d) were as clueless as could be about being prepared. Thankfully it was a shallow river (heh, I had to walk the boats a bit as they were dragging, ankle-deep water), the temps were warm and weather clear, and we were in a populated area with boat-ramps every couple of miles. So we took out 7 miles further than intended, were a little hungry and had to wait an hour for our rescue vehicle to show up. It was a learning experience to say the least, and I'm working on Fixing those mistakes. More food and water, a small emergency survival kit w/ first aid on the boats, and buying a GPS. Having seen the "would you refuse to paddle with the unprepared" thread in another section, what Other things should I be looking to include so that I'm prepared? Keep in mine that we're on wide/slow/shallow rivers, air temps in the 80's (and no lower than 70) with water temps in the 70's and no white water. Not exactly high-risk scenario, but I spent a couple months as a Boy Scout before the rampant theft and bullying ran me off, I want to be prepared.
And, as a little thanks for the advice... here are a couple photos:
My partner in, well, everything (family CFO, aka 'the wife')
And, as promised, me going in the drink. Wanted to see what a "wet exit" felt like... bleh, stagnate pond water: