Submitted: 06-08-2009 by rdmcclary
A couple of months back I posted a review of the now-discontinued Blackwater 115, listing its limitations. I did the one thing NOBODY should ever do. After reading as many reviews as I could for 14' kayaks, I had my Dagger dealer order me an Alchemy as soon as Dagger's "release date" passed.
I have had the boat less than 30 hours, but I did get a chance to get it out on a pond a couple of hours back. Again, I wanted something that would do well in open water and handle choppy conditions well.
It turns out my first opportunity to paddle it was a perfect test - SSW winds at 20 mph gusting to 30 mph. The boat passed with flying colors - all I wanted! The skeg control is in a recessed slot just below the hip. Being recessed, there is no way to hit it accidentally. I was able to find a "sweet spot" where it would neither weather cock nor lee cock in those 20-30 mph winds.
Chop? What chop? There were 6-12" waves which would have shaken my kidneys loose in the Blackwater 115. I hardly noticed them while headed straight into them. (When they were side waves, I was glad for my skirt and PFD!)
Although just about everything on the seat adjusts, well, once you get that skirt fastened and are out on the pond, nothing adjusts. The cockpit is tight. Wonder which I would have bought had I sat in both the 14s and the somewhat wider 14l? Whatever, you don't sit in this boat, you wear it. However, this does give great control! Although there is a middle bulkhead with a day hatch, there is also a surprising amount of room behind the seat for stashing a dry bag.
Here are the few picky things I found. First, there are no drain channels for the coaming and the areas around the hatches, so water accumulates there. (There is also a 3-4" bowl, presumably for a compass mount. They should have simply left a flat area, but it doesn't hold that much water.) The cover on the day hatch is probably impossible to re-seat from within the cockpit. It's pretty difficult even when out of the boat and standing over it!
In summary, this is a very nice boat!