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Submitted: 02-11-2009 by CL

I purchased the Dagger Blackwater 12.0 this weekend. It is a 2009 model and apparently they don't make the 12.5 anymore. I'm new to kayaking and wanted a kayak for fishing and for fun paddling in slow rivers, ponds, and sounds. It had to be fairly stable but at the same time I wanted one that was almost like a touring kayak for the bigger waters.

I found the Blackwater 12.0 on sale at a local shop for $700 and the shop threw in a free paddle. That sounded like a pretty good deal. I've only taken it out once, so I donít know if I can give a really good review. BTW, Iím 5í-8Ē and 170 lbs. Anyway, here goes:

Build quality:
Looks great. Everything is nicely constructed and assembled with no broken parts. The hull is nice and stiff poly unlike some other models. The hull does have a slight dent right below the seat but it doesnít seem to affect anything. All of the Daggers and a Perception I looked at had the same dent.

Features:
It has a nice large rear hatch with a sealed bulkhead. The hatch and bulkhead did not leak. The hatch cover is a little difficult to put back on, but it isnít that big of a deal.
The weight is fairly good for a 12 ft boat at 47 lbs. Itís also fairly slim at around 25-26 inches wide.
The cockpit has just the right amount of room for me. The only water that came in was from my paddle. The deck is nice and high too. The seat is great. My fiancť has a Perception (LL Bean) Calypso with the same Zone seat and that partially sold me on this model. Itís adjustable and goes high enough for me to be comfortable.

This model comes with a drop down skeg that is easy to deploy. I seemed a little gimmicky but it works.
The adjustable foot pegs work just fine. They are a little high inside the boat so only my toes (size 9.5 feet) make contact. Iíd rather them be an inch lower.

Tracking:
The boat tracks horribly with the skeg up. Well... maybe not horrible, but not great either. Tracking without the skeg is sub par for a boat of this quality/price. WITH the skeg the boat tracks perfectly.

Maneuverability:
With the skeg up the maneuverability is great. I can turn it completely around with just a few paddle strokes.

Speed:
The Blackwater isnít slow, but it definitely isnít fast. My fianceís 12 foot Calypso is faster and takes less energy to keep moving. If I stop paddling the Blackwater then it immediately begins to slow down. Iíve been in only a few kayaks and would say the Blackwater is a little bit slower than the average 12 foot boat in this price range.

Overall Iím pretty happy with this boat. Itís stable enough for me and tracks great with the skeg. If I could change the Blackwater then I would trade a little less maneuverability for a little more speed.

If youíre thinking about getting a Blackwater then think pretty hard about what you want first. If you want a kayak that will give you a half and half balance of maneuverability and speed then this kayak would probably be perfect. I donít think youíd find any other kayak with an even balance of speed and maneuverability. It wonít do either perfectly well but does both pretty well.

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