|Testing the Dagger Blackwater|
I have the low volume version because I'm small built. The outfitting in this boat is good with a comfy seat and high backrest. The backrest is adjustable and has a flip top to enable a higher back support for more relaxed paddling position. I have never used this flip top design as you can not wear a spray deck at the same time. There are bow and stern bulkheads with decent size hatches for multi day paddles. The footrests are adjustable as well as knee supports. The deck lines on the front are well positioned but I have added additional lines to the stern. The is a hollow on top of the deck for a day hatch to be added, basically a plastic version of a deck bag with a rubber hatch like cover. Unfortunately this does not come with the boat and is an additional £30. My boat is fitted with a drop down skeg but there is an option for a rudder or neither. The boat comes in a range of colours but I opted for 'lava red'. There is also the availability to fit two flush mounted fishing rod holders to the rear of the seat.
This boat tracks really well, in fact a bit to well. I rarely use the full length of the skeg, only letting it out a touch in very strong winds or for a bit of support. As a compromise for its good tracking however the boat does not turn easily. To be honest I didn't really notice until I tried out a few decent sea kayaks. A good edge and a sweep stroke with see you turn well however after comparing it to P&H Scorpio I realise how hard it was. The boat is really stable and is great for the beginner. Trying to edge the boat is a little tricky and the secondary stability is not so good. In the surf the bow tends to dive unlike some of the other boats in the same class. So much so that even launching off a beach with a slight slope causes an unstable entry. Poor turning, secondary stability and the tendency to dive make it a struggle in rough conditions. I find it an easy boat to roll and have seen people who have never been in a long boat before roll it with ease. Being the longer than the other two boats it is quite fast. I can easily keep up an average speed of 3-4 knots without tidal assistance, which is about average for a sea boat. I have knocked this boat around a bit and it seems tough enough. I tested the Dagger Blackwater side by side with this boat and felt the Easky to be more responsive. The Blackwater does provide a little more stability though if that's what your looking for.