It makes absolutely no sense to buy a boat before you paddle the boat. Switching and upgrading is expensive and completely avoidable. The only way you can be sure you are purchasing the proper boat is to come in and talk with us. We'll take all the time you need to discuss everything: where you plan to paddle, sit-inside vs sit-on-top, hull design, length/width ratio, stability, hull speed/hull efficiency, rocker, tumblehome, and chines. We'll also show you the difference between a river oriented boat and a flat water boat and what balances/compromises you may find in between.
One of the first things you must know before you get seriously started on your path to the proper boat is the truth about capacities. If a manufacturer lists a capacity, you must take 2/3 of that total to get the working or performance capacity. For example: if boat X has a listed capacity of 450lbs, the working capacity is approximately 300lbs. Manufacturers find their listed capacities by loading a boat with weight until a negligible amount of the boat is still out of the water. The manufacturer then marks this weight as the "capacity." The amount of boat out of the water is called freeboard, and the less freeboard you have, the less speed, efficiency, maneuverability, and stability you have. Therefore, the 2/3's rule allows you to have the right amount of freeboard, which allows the hull design to perform as intended. The last thing you want to do is purchase a boat which has a capacity that is 20lbs more than your weight, because the boat will be slow, tippy, and paddle like a barge.
Words of Caution
Not all watercraft are created equal. Cheaper brands use different materials or they use less of the good materials in order to keep the cost down. Some of these lesser brands are made from materials that are not repairable. If you break one of these, your only option is to take it to the local recycling center and then buy another boat. The brands that cut costs by using less of the right materials suffer from integrity issues such as wavy hulls, oil-canning, and breakage. This negatively affects the performance of the boat as well as increases the need for repairs. We only sell brands that we can fix. We would be more than happy to give an honest opinion on any brand, no matter where you find it. Don't worry, with over 35 years of combined repair knowledge, we know what we're talking about.
Free test drives!!! Most importantly, no matter how much online research you've done, phone calls you've made, and reviews you've read, nothing will help you better than test driving a boat. After discussing your boating preferences, we can whittle a 400 boat inventory down to 4 or 5 particular boats. Then we take you to the river and let you paddle each boat back to back. Then, and only then will you be able to tell what boat it right for you. Also, we will have a selection of paddles that you may test drive as well. Once you find the proper boat, we'll let you paddle that boat with the different paddles to find the best paddle for you. In a half hour, you'll have found the right boat and the right paddle for your needs. Don't forget, this service is free.
Finally, if you purchase from us, we will be the end all source for any problems you may run in to. If there is a manufacturer fault, we will deal with them on your behalf. If it is a fault of our own, we will be more than happy to fix the situation as quickly and painlessly as possible. Our company is based on service and we will continually strive to provide the best service, from beginning to end, that you will ever experience in a boat buying process.
Life is short—Paddle hard!