So, here I am just over 1.5 years after I first started to learn to paddle a kayak. The first boat I ever sat down in was some Robson thing at Wye Valley Canoes. The boat that I predominantly learnt in was a Bliss Stick MAC1, a planing hulled creek boat. It was a nice boat, especially for someone starting out.
However the first boat that I ever owned was my trusty Bliss Stick Mini Mystic. Notice that I wrote the word “had”. For I have arrived at an impasse in my paddling life. I love the Bliss Stick boats. Their outfitting is fantastic, and they are strong and handle really well. Buy a Bliss Stick boat and it’ll look after you. It is with regret and sadness then that I have had to sell my pride and joy on to someone else. Why oh why I hear you cry!
It all comes down to experience. A creek boat isn’t the best thing for grade 2-3 rivers. The vast majority of the time I am running places like CIWW, Tryweryn, Mill Falls on the Usk, the Upper Wye, HPP, and the good old Dee at Llangollen. With a creek boat that is designed to help you in G4+ to G5 runs, the fun factor isn’t there so much on lower grades. I will probably never run G5 in all but exceptional circumstances, and while I would like the security of the Mystic for rivers like the Upper Dart, the fact remains that doing such runs are an exception to my paddling life, not the norm.
I would love to keep my Mini Mystic, but I can’t. I need the money to be able to buy a different boat. One that is a bit more slicey and playful, that will teach me a bit ore about paddling in general. I decided against an out and out playboat and settled on a Dagger Juice 6.9, which I have duly picked up at the princely sum of £250.
I have yet to take my new steed out on white water as I have yet to outfit it to my requirements. There are a number of things that I have picked up on however. The Juice tracks very well indeed. In fact I was quite taken aback at just how well such a short planing hulled boat can be so well behaved in a straight line. It seems easy to roll, but we shall see once I get into the boily stuff! I have to say that I do like the Juice, but I will sorely miss my Mini Mystic. The outfitting in the Juice is not a patch on the Bliss Stick stuff. Admittedly the Juice is an older Dagger design, and their outfitting has improved a lot since it was first released. However I love the knee/thigh braces in the Bliss Stick boats, as well as the massive area designed to take up to a 1300 sized Pelicase!
This is one are that the Juice is giving me headaches in. Where on earth am I going to put my gear? The central area will only take a bottle. There’s no chance of it holding my 20m Palm throwline. With such a stern light boat I am loathe to put too much stuff in the back if I can help it! Any suggestions from fellow Juice owners would be appreciated!
I’ll update some more when I have tried it out on some real water!