See subject. I'm fairly new to the sport (and love it so far), am a long-torso'd 5' 10", 230 lbs, and am interested in kayaking primarily on larger lakes, San Francisco Bay, and on the ocean. Could see myself eventually doing some weekend trips (3 days max), but probably no true 'expedition' voyages (never say never though).
Basically, I want to buy a 1st kayak for myself that will not be a chore to learn/develop with (i.e. overly tippy/unstable, fragile, hard to hold an edge with, hard to turn/maneuver, difficult to roll or rescue with, etc), yet is capable enough that it won't hold back my growth in the sport and/or is so slow that I won't be able to keep up with the group unless I paddle like Superman.
It should also be as SAFE as possible, i.e. front and rear bulkheads/good flotation, tight enough cockpit that a sprayskirt keeps the water out, etc... so I'm guessing I don't want a rec kayak.
I'd also like a kayak that I can actually TRY OUT extensively beforehand, so no 'Factory Direct' stuff or mondo obscuro lines that have almost zero distribution.
My research thus far seems to point towards the Dagger Alchemy 14.0L and Wilderness Systems Tempest 170, but if any of y'all can expand my group of 'Usual Suspects', please chime in.
Thanks for any and all help.