Building my own kayak was a process consisting of numerous learning moments and as it turns out, using it has also proven more complicated than I had originally assumed it to be. For example, I didn't realize that the boat needed to be registered with the State of Ohio, who required a Hull Identification Number. Where in the heck do you get that?? I eventually solved that little riddle through the CLC Boats Support Forum. Another thing that I didn't realize was that one kayak is not enough; I actually need two.
The reason for that is weight. My 17' Shearwater is relatively light for its length, weighing in at 48 pounds. It's bulky and hard to carry, though, and carrying it up from the basement, lifting it up on the top of the car, and carrying it down to the river is doable alone, but not pleasant. While help is available at home, it is not there when I need it at the river/lake, unless I can find someone willing to sit around for a couple of hours while I paddle. I don't like the odds of that on a routine basis.
I decided that the solution to that problem is a 2nd kayak. Having a guest kayak ensures that there will be two people to carry the boats, and there's also the benefit of having company while boating. I've been keeping an eye on CraigsList.com for almost a year, watching various boats come and go and just getting a feeling for the market. It seemed that the most affordable boats were in the 10' range, and were typically the types carried by Gander Mountain and Dick's Sporting Goods. More often than not, they listed a price nearly equal to (or in some cases exceeding) the price for a brand new one.
I wasn't sure I wanted a 10' boat anyway. I don't think they work as well as the longer boats for the type of kayaking that I like to do. The shorter boats turn much more easily (in some case, to a fault) than my long boat, but they take more work to get moving. They also don't coast as well. The problem was that the longer boats were far more expensive, often at asking prices above $800. I was also very specific in the maximum length that I wanted due to space constraints for storage at home and because I didn't want my guest's boat to be longer than mine. Trust me, that's a guy thing.
I finally found what I was looking for:
That's my new 16' Dagger Seeker (if you Google images by searching on Dagger Seeker, make sure your Safe Search is on! Oh, my!! I would never have guessed...) that I bought Friday. I found it listed on Craigs List Thursday evening about a half hour after it had been posted. You have to move quick with Craigs List, so I called right away. The asking price was still pretty pricey but very reasonable for a Dagger, so I made arrangements to pick it up after work on Friday. I figured that about the only thing that would keep me from buying it would be a big gaping hole in the bottom, so I was reasonably sure that I'd be bringing it home. I packed the carriers into the red Subie, gathered up appropriate funds, printed out the registration paperwork so I'd have it ready, and made sure the GPS knew how to find the seller's house. So, what could go wrong?
Rain. Lot's of it. I had no sooner handed the wad of bills to the seller and got started with the preparations for hauling it home when the rain started. I stood in a downpour attaching the carriers to the roof racks on the Subie and getting the boat strapped on. I was completely soaked by the time I finished. It rained so hard that I was just starting to think about how horribly ironic it would be to drown while putting the kayak on the car rather that while using it. As I snugged down the last strap, the rain stopped.
Besides being a very good price just for the boat, a paddle and spray skirt were also included:
The posting hadn't mentioned it, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it also has a rudder:
Rudders are handy out on an open lake when the winds kick up. Or so I hear. I have yet to learn that lesson one way or the other.