Came across a good deal for a used kayak that seems to fit my needs. Wasn’t expecting this and I wasn’t even actively looking for another kayak but sometimes when things fall together like this you have to jump on the opportunity. Drove down to Evanston, Illinois and made a deal. It’s a 2014 Dagger Alchemy 14.0L which is what most consider a recreational/touring kayak. Surprisingly it fits on my truck well with less overhang than I thought it would.
Here’s another angle to show more of the hull shape. It has a decent amount of rocker, V-shaped hull in front/back, and the center area is a little flatter and more playful. Two gear storage hatches and a day hatch. At 14 feet it’s not quite “sea kayak” length, and longer than most “day touring” kayaks so it’s a bit of a ‘tweener. Dagger made this model obsolete in favor of the Stratos but some online reviews suggest the Alchemy is better overall which make me curious. Only one way to find out.
As is typical I usually paddle around Silver Lake in Kenosha County for my maiden voyages. It’s a shallow lake with sandy bottoms and I know it fairly well. On a weeknight it isn’t busy with power boats and jetskis making for a good test ground. I headed out after work and finished my circumnavigation lap as the sun was setting. Air temps were around 70°F and the water was warmer. All in all the perfect night to be on the water.
Another view of the sunset. I’d say for the last 1/4 mile of paddling I was mostly drifting and enjoying the scenery, and with the wind at my back it pushed me right along to the docks with zero effort. The cloud formations prevented a more “epic” sunset with the pink and purple hues but I’m not going to complain, it was a good night.
So how does it paddle? It worked great! With the drop-down skeg retracted it can be turned with relative ease – not quite a whitewater boat but plenty maneuverable if you tell it where to go. With the skeg down it tracks like it’s on rails. Point the boat where you aim to go, drop the skeg, and you can paddle all day without looking and zero chance of veering off course. Good primary and secondary stability. I can sustain 3mph without much effort and max speed above 5mph which is more than I expected. I need to adjust the seat and thigh pads for better comfort, but considering I just hopped in a used boat and got on the water it fit well even with someone else’s seat position. This will be my current go-to boat for flatwater and larger open bodies.
Here’s my route around the lake. Notice I had to cut it a bit short due to low light. I didn’t miss much, that NE corner is usually pretty boring anyways and lots of reed/weeds.
The part I was mostly interested in was the speeds. Sadly, as is prone to happen sometimes, my GPS app went a little wonky (example: that spike on the graph to 10mph is a lie). However I was watching it during live action and found I can sustain 2mph without even trying, 3mph with a relatively normal paddling cadence, and over 5mph if I really gave it some effort (but still not topped out). This is exactly what I was hoping for and actually exceeds what I was expecting. This made doing 3.5 miles a piece of cake compared to my other past boats.
This opens up a whole plethora of new opportunities. And now I have delusions of paddling places like Door County, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and possibly even into the Apostle Islands…Lat = 42.5513153 , Long = -88.1458435 -- Show at Google Maps