Cockpit fit

Well said. I’m not a fan of hanging upside down under water. And yet I’ve never been unable to get out of a boat because I was entrapped by the boat. I suspect physical entrapment by the BOAT is uncommon unless someone with a huge BMI squeezed into an unreasonably small boat. That’s not to say, as you know, that you can’t get trapped in the boat if you (A) panic, forget what to do and drown (b) have a cold water gasp and drown (C) get pinned against something, (D) something you’re wearing gets entangled in the boat (E) cannot get your spray deck off. But none of those are entrapment caused by the cockpit being too small.

I’m re-reading Sea Kayaking Deep Trouble and can’t think of a report where someone was entrapped by the cockpit design.

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Re-thinking the Equinox option. After looking my Skylark, I checked Eddyline site and the Equinox appears to have a smaller cockpit than the Carolina so it’s not likely to give you the maneuverability you seek.

Some people will not load a boat to the water for you to try it. Some dealers probably won’t turn you lose in a new boat either unless they know you or the charge a fee for demo which is ok.

There has been a few instances where people couldn’t get skirt off and perished . Loop inside cockpit. I’ve done it once where I was paddling and then like where’s the loop?

Skirt can be another matter. Guessing OPer here is not using one.

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There’s also a difference between being able to bend one knee at a time to get it in and out of the cockpit, versus bending both knees at the same time to paddle with the knees popped out. With the one at a time approach, you can twist your legs a little and end up bending that one knee semi-sideways, making it easier to clear the cockpit rim. Trying to bend both knees, the legs have to come straight up and there’s less room to clear the cockpit rim.

Just in general info for all or others.

Annapolis Kayak is waterfront. Their fee ten years ago was $10, and it was applied to purchase if you buy a boat.

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Most want 30-40 now for test paddle. I guess it gets rid of tire kickers.

Two people can’t eat a meal in a diner for that now maybe one with no tip for 30. 7nless it’s just a burger deluxe :joy:

I hear yah. Do what we can to help each other.

I have moved the seat back a few inches on quite a few kayaks so that I can bring my knees up. Much easier getting in and out. I pulled out the stiffening hardware in a Dagger Alchemy, too. Much better.

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Moving the seat back on some boats might be beneficial, but moving the seat back 42mm with my current weight of 230 lbs made the boat hard to control. It might be helpful to mention the kayaks that improved by moving the seat.

I paddle the Huron a lot. 14’ is ideal. The only places I’ve needed a skirt are at Hudson Mills and Delhi rapids during high water (now is definitely not high water). I suppose a skirt might come in handy on some of the lakes on a windy day if you want to keep your pant legs dry, but on a warm day you will get even wetter from your own sweat since the skirt turns your boat into a solar oven.


Experience is exactly why I posted the caution about tight cockpits. I have done plenty of wet exits. I have watched people struggle to get in some cockpits and talked them out of trying out those boats because they could easily be stuck in them upside down.

Interesting dichotomy.

With experience - the ‘old style’ ocean cockpit sea kayaks (eg Nordkaap) are the safest at sea (rolling, bracing) - for keeping you in the kayak. Again - experience - easy to exit, until you have to land in a big surf - Frank Goodmand (Nordkapp) had many scars around his shins from fast exits.

I liked the ‘tradeoff’ when NDK came out with the Romany - with a ‘real’ keyhole cockpit (not just a couple of ‘flanges’) - would really lock you in if you wanted to be.

In seakayaks with a ‘good’ keyhole design - you probably won’t be able to lift both knees at the same time (comfortably).

As you say, I haven’t enough keyhole room on any of my kayaks to lift both knees at once, but that’s not an issue at all.

On entry, I plop my butt in and then pull in one leg at a time.

On exiting, I hoist myself to sit on the deck just behind the coaming, pull one leg out and put it in the water, then pull the other leg out, put it in the water, and stand up. At my age, it is easier to do the exit when the water is not too shallow - otherwise it’s too hard to stand up.

Hi, original poster here… (To summarize this thread, I was asking about cockpits because I want to take multi-day trips down the Huron River, but my 11.5 is a bit inefficient, and the 14’ Perception Carolina I bought (used) has a touring cockpit, which I cannot get used to. I won’t be going on waves, so I don’t need to consider a skirt, and I want to be able to raise and lower my knees. And, the rudder started to annoy me.)

I researched kayaks and decided I really wanted a 14’ adventure kayak as much like my beloved Dagger Blackwater 11.5 as possible. I discovered the Dagger Stratos 14.5 large online, and it seems perfect, but I couldn’t find anyone around who stocks them, and I don’t want to invest in a new kayak right now. So, I watched Craigslist, and voilà! Today I bought a used Dagger Charleston 15.0. The cockpit is just about identical to my Dagger, and it has a deployable skeg just like my Blackwater. I am very excited and I can’t wait to get it on the water!

It’s a long distance adventure kayak with a cockpit I can get in and out of!


Terrific! Wishing you many happy paddling days in your new ride.

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My new (used) Dagger.
Actually, it came in a matched set, and it was almost buy-one-get-one-free. Maybe my wife will paddle alongside me.


The Charleston is an oldie but goldie in the Dagger line. Congratulations on scoring them! The first boats my husband and I got were Dagger Cypresses which turned out to be surprisingly capable boats within their limits. We found out the first week on the ocean we had found and surpassed those limits. But those little boats got us home to figure that one out.

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