Well, the end of my 2nd season is approaching. And after 2 summers on the water, I’ve learned a lot, both how to paddle (okay, so I’ll admit it, that my first few times out I was mildly terrified of not being stable in my pelican trailblazer 100… so I’ve come a long ways) and what I want to do out on the water. Despite everyone saying otherwise, I bought the pelican boat for $200 because that was really all I could afford at the time to get me out on the water, and it seemed “good enough” for what I wanted, which was a kayak to paddle about and sit in and fish from. But after 2 years, I’ve realized what i like in a kayak is different than what I wanted when I started, so in that sense, it worked out great. Now if I get out fishing twice a month that’s a busy month, usually its just once. I joined a local group and have started doing river trips and other group outings. And after being through some milder rapids, I think I’m ready to start looking at upgrading my kayak.
So, to start with, my budget is probably about $500. I’ll probably be able to get $100 out of the pelican, so lets just call it $600 (though if there’s a good reason to spend more, I guess that’s a possibility.) . Otherwise, here’s what I’m interested in:
- Max length of 10’6" no ifs, ands, or butts about this. Its all the space I’ve got right now. Unlike saving a few more dollars, I can’t move any walls. The 10’ isn’t the easiest now, and I’d prefer to shorten it up.
- Primary interest is river trips. But I’d also like to be able to handle some flatwater paddling. I know it won’t be fast, I know it won’t track perfect. Those are compromises I know I’ve gotta make in having 1 (short) boat. Oh well, more paddling work means more workout. I don’t see myself doing anything more than a class III in it, mostly II and less.
- I want to be able to put a skirt on it. I don’t like getting swamped on a rapid or having sunburned legs. I also don’t like that I can’t bail the pelican without beaching it and getting out, as so much water collects in the stern. A rear bulkhead would be nice for that. I’d like to be able to use a pump and sponge to get it dry enough. Oh, I’m 6’3" 200 lbs with a 36" inseam, so I’ve gotta get my oversized, uncoordinated ass in that cockpit.
- Suitable to haul gear for an overnight, or maybe 2 nights. I won’t ever do more than 2 nights out. I don’t like that the ass end of the pelican is basically inaccessible. Dry hatch and bulkhead would be nice, but just stuffing a dry bag back there is good enough for me.
- As far as fishing capability… I’ll attach the anchor trolley with carabiners, and get some rod holders that clamp on the combing. That’s about all I want there. I guess if its capable enough on flatwater, its capable enough for me to fish from.
So all that said, the ones that have caught my attention to look at are the Old Town Heron 9xt and the Dagger Zydeco 9. I’m sure there are MANY more to take a look at, and I’d like to start getting a list together to oogle over on youtube all winter and take out on demo days next spring. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks all