I work about 300 yards from the Boston Harbor and have this fantasy of grabbing a kayak every day at lunch and going for a brisk 45-minute paddle around the Fan Pier and Fort Point Channel. I’d like to get a used kayak but I have no idea what to look for. Something not too long (12 feet?), easy to carry, fast, maneuverable, and safe. I’m 6’1" and 230 pounds. No desire to fish or tour with lots of gear, just paddle around as fast as I can.
something longer than 12’
You kind of describe a rec boat except for the fast and safe part. Short wide boats are not that fun to paddle fast. Long skinny boats are fun for fitness paddling but aren’t very maneuverable.
Any 16’ or longer sea kayak would be fun to paddle for fitness and will be stable enough to be safe. Look for a used glass or thermoform boat if boat weight matters. Get plastic if it doesn’t.
THE Issue Is Where To Store …
launch your kayak safely (unless, you like "seal launches"). On Fort Point Channel, you can launch from the Barking Crab pier (near the Federal courthouse) but you can't store anything there. Maybe further up Summer St. towards Southie, past Fan Pier, there is a channel with a pier and (?) rowing club. Could be storage and launch but you would probably have to pay big time.
Or go across the inner harbor to Captain Courageous sailing on the Charlestown side. I suspect they are probably renting/storing kayaks along with the sailing boats.
Anyway you cut it... Water, water, water everywhere the inner harbor waterfront but a place to safely get a kayak on it is hard to come by.
The specific boat is least of the problem.
You want a workout, I say bike and/or run/walk to work everyday. That's accessible with minimal cost and logistics. Save the kayaking for the weekend. The daily bike/run/walk will ensure you're in better shape than a "lunch-time" paddle (which for most ain't much of a workout).
Charles River Canoe & Kayak
Go visit Charles River Canoe & Kayak. When I lived up there, you could pop in and demo whatever you wanted anytime on the Charles River. They always had new, demos, used, consignments for sale. You have resources there in Boston that a lot of folks on this board only wish they could have. The Kayak Centre in Wickford, RI used to let you demo anything anytime as well. But it’s a little more effort for them to get things out across the street to the pond. CRCK is right on the Charles, so you don’t feel like you’re inconveniencing the heck out of anyone, and they never suggested to me that it was ever any problem at all. I did buy a few kayaks from them though.