I couldn't disagree more. In the wrong situation, an extra 30-60 seconds could make all the difference. I can't speak to what you're boating, but, most often, when I actually use/deploy my bag -- other than for boat recovery - it's been in situations where you want to get it quickly.
A mamba 8.6 would be way too big. If you're in an area with a club - or have a friend with a large quiver - you should try out different boats before making a decision. If that's not an option (and I'm guessing it's not since you're asking here) then, in terms of your size, you would fit a Mamba 8.1, Nomad 8.1 or 8.5, or a new Nomad small or medium. Of course, there's no need to limit your search to Daggers (or just Dagger Mambas) since you might get a good deal on something else. My general thought is that it's best not to spend too much $$$ on your first boat, since you might soon find that you want something else, and the best course is to find a boat and get some serious seat time on the water. That's more valuable than picking the exact right boat.
I'll PM you my email address. If you've got any questions before buying a boat, feel free to shoot me an email. Good luck.
My thought is that a Mamba 7.6 would likely be too small. You could probably squeeze into it, but it would be less than ideal (especially if you plan to creek in it, since the relative lack of volume for your size would probably negatively impact the boat's ability to resurface quickly).
I am close to your size (5-8, 155 pounds) and paddled a Nomad 8.1, which is comparable in size to a Mamba 8.1, for a few years. I thought the sizing was about right. The 8.1 is not a big boat by any stretch of the imagination, especially compared to newer creekboats where the trend is bigger is better. In addition, I've seen lots of guys - and gals - who are about your size or smaller paddling Nomad 8.5s or medium Newmads that are slightly bigger than the old 8.5.
In short, my guess is that a Mamba 7.6 is WAY too small for you. Hope this is helpful to you.
That said, my powerhouse is so whittled down that I may not remember the original feeling. I use a Sherpa these days on the theory that its slightly smaller blades are easier on the shoulders and will promote a longer paddling career.
For my money, the best kayaking read period. It's Heller's first-hand account of Scott Lindgren's expedition to the Tsangpo. Heller is a damn good writer and a fairly accomplished boater (to hear him tell it in the book) and is able to describe the size and ferocity of the river (and the ambition of the expedition) in a way that a person without that experience might struggle.
I like overreactions, you know, like firing the FBI director when you find out he's investigating you and not really having a good explanation for it. That sort of thing.
Anyway, agreed that BT is a good resource to get stuff back. The downside: you risk having smartasses (and I'll admit to be being one) chime in. One could post it in the Lost & Found section to avoid said smartassery, but then no one would see the post, since no one looks at the Lost and Found page anymore.
I'd characterize "free raft" as being tongue-in-cheek, rather than an invitation to steal. Secondly, I doubt that "thieves" troll boatertalk looking for gear to swipe. Third, if you've got a problem, why don't you post it on the main page instead of complaining on LL?
Man, I think you confuse kidding with trolling. Kidding = no ill will. Trolling, perhaps not so much. The way I see it, if you lose your raft on class II and then post about it online, you're asking to take a little ribbing on BT. I think most of use would do the same in person.
I'm with you that trolling sucks and has become something of a cultural problem for us (i.e. 2016 election, Pepe the Frog etc.), but don't think that has to rule out some good-natured shit talking.
Anyway, sorry to hear that the raft is gone. Maybe someone will return it, although if not retrieved by boaters/rafters, the chances may not be great.
I stopped by FT last Saturday and Sunday when the dam was supposedly spilling. It's hard to gauge the level there, but Muffin Top and the beach below it looked to have less water than even a 5 inch release. I heard the same news about the stick reading 8, but it didn't look that way to me. I'd guess it was 4".
Hopefully that's not the case for the Baddle tomorrow. When I swim, I like it to be at least 11"!
There are usually a few boats for sale in Columbia and you might be able to find something without driving too far. You'll probably have to throw up a post though, since it's more of a general discussion / community / smacktalking page instead of classifieds.
If you find a boat, happy paddling on the Saluda. It's a great place to build skills and paddle regularly with a good crew, plus amazing play when the water is high.
There's lots of exceptional individuals pushing the limits in whitewater, but the overall skill level of the general population continues to decline. Feel free to speculate as to why this is, I'll keep my thoughts to myself. It never ends well when I speak my mind on that subject.
I'll buy them both if you're interested in selling. Would you shoot me your phone number by PM or email (mailto:email@example.com). I think my buddy Andy also sent you a PM about buying both pairs, so you may have a pm in your BT messages already. Thanks, - Hadden