-- Last Updated: Jan-30-14 11:57 AM EST --
It is very hard for me to discern what your concern is, and maybe I am not alone.
It sounds to me like you are talking about a simple difference in hull shape and how each boat handles its chines (none, soft, hard, diamond-chined etc). If you are confusing hull design with build quality, it gives me pause about your readiness for a major expedition.
Or am I missing something in your question?
Also - what kind of work have you and your wife done, or plan to do, on things like on-water rescues, capturing loose gear etc. I have seen couples need to spend extra time on this to make sure that each has techniques appropriate to their strength and size. The standard advice usually needs some tweaking to work really effectively.
Lastly on the paddles - you are talking many, many strokes per mile. You need to be willing to spend money to get not two, but four lightweight paddles or you will never finish this trip due to damaging your joints. And both your primary and the spare should be light. It is one thing to have to tolerate an afternoon of using a heavy backup paddle, it really is not an option if you have to use it day after day.
One way to get to a lighter weight paddle is buy a lightweight 230 length - they are usually considered too long these days so are easy to get used - and send it to the manufacturer to be shortened. You will still come in higher than your desired price, but it'll be less than buying the same thing new.
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