Dagger Alcheny 14L vs P&H Delphin 155

I have been renting an Alchemy and had a chance to do a fifteen minute demo of a Delphin. I am considering buying a used rental of one or the other and would like feedback from anyone who’s paddle either.

I have only done flat water but would ultimately like to do some more interesting conditions. I don’t plan on doing lengthy trips. I think either boat would fit my needs. I found both handled well. The Delphin seemed to track better without the skeg deployed and seemed faster. The Dagger tracked great with the skeg.

My main concern with the Delphin is reports of issues with the skeg not retracting. (And it’s almost $400 more thaen the Alchemy)

both good boats

– Last Updated: Sep-12-11 12:38 PM EST –

I have paddled both, but ended up getting the Alchemy (mostly because of the price difference). Both are great play boats and day tourers (and also can work for short kayak camping trips).

Here is how I see them compare:

Alchemy - Pros: lower price, great maneuverability (excellent for rock gardening and playing), day hatch, light weight, more readily available (more Dagger dealers than P&H dealers)
Alchemy - Cons: soft plastic (gashes easy, but none of the gashes in my boat have broken through), nose buries easier when surfing

Delphin - Pros: great surfing boat, strong plastic, little hatch in front of paddler, can hold more speed than the Alchemy
Delphin - Cons: a bit heavy, higher price, slightly less maneuverable as the Alchemy

You might want to also
consider the Zephyr 15.5 - comparable to the other 2 on your short list and also quite available as a demo/rental.

I own the Zephyr and have used it quite a bit over the past about a year now. I have demoed the Delphin only in a pool session so my impressions of it are limited. I’ve also paddled the Alchemy at a demo but I do not remember which one it was (I think the larger model). I did not really like the Alchemy too much as it felt rather sluggish to me - probably a good playboat though. Can’t comment on maneuverability as I did not play with it. The Delphin is more maneuverable than the Zephyr without any edging, but I think when edged the Z may be easier to maneuver - both are way more maneuverable than most anything else I’ve tried. I like the backband and rear deck of the Z better (seem to be more comfy for laybacks for me) where the D has a bit firmer backband and I thought the rim in the rear was not as rounded as the Z. The Delphin is also probably a bit faster on flat water too but hard to tell - did not really clock myself. Both rolled very easy.

From videos I’ve seen, the only real advantage of the D may be in larger wave surfing, where the flat bottom and profile of the underwater areas in the bow and stern may give it a better platform to plane on the wave. But I have not tried that in the D, nor have I tried it in the Z. The Z on the other hand is very forgiving in moving and white water due to the softer edges - I somehow suspect the D would be more affected (it’s a compromise - having some edges to plane and surf I feel the bow and stern will catch more compared to rounder-shaped hulls, thus probably requiring a bit more attention/skill to handle in current/moving water/fast surfing). That last part is speculation based on the hull shape - I might be wrong since I have not tried the D in the conditions I’ve had the Z in (class 2-3 white water). In smaller conditions I really do not think it would matter what you get - they would probably handle about the same.

To sum it up, if surfing at high speeds (e.g. on larger waves in surf or white water) I feel the D would be the best choice, as it would be if overall speed is important. For playboating in one spot mainly - may be the Alchemy has the edge due to maneuverability (if the previous poster is correct). For something in-between, the Z probably is the ticket. Factor-in cost and comfort/fit and I think you can make the decision for yourself…

Every person I’ve talked to about
the Delphin has commented on the weight. The first thing all three staff members at the rental place mentioned was that the Delphin was heavy. I tried picking it up and it didn’t seem too bad, although I really have nothing to compare it to. (Haven’t tried carrying the Alchemny and the other boats I’ve carried with another person.) Since I’ll be putting whatever I buy on the roof of a VW GTI and I’m 6’ I won’t be lifting it too high.