Fast Little Plastic Kayak

I love little plastic boats for use on the river. Now I’m interested in getting something with a little more speed to paddle on the lake. Looking at the Manitou Sport and Manitou 13 by Necky. Does anyone out there have experience with these models? There are no kayak shops within 150 miles of my location so it’s really tough to demo new boats.

Go long. 16-17 feet for tracking

Fast enough for what?

– Last Updated: Jun-23-06 8:24 AM EST –

If you want to keep up with a paddling group, most find that closer to 16' is a better fit. I know of a few people who can paddle a short boat astoundingly efficiently, but they have spent a lot of time working on their stroke to get there. I know of at least a couple of people who have moved to a 16 or so foot boat from a Manitou 13, and some years ago we did essentially the same move from an older Dagger boat that came it at about 13 ft.

(Later - Not to say that some people don't do fine keeping up with longer ones in a 13 ft boat. The post after this one is one of them, and we have a guy in the local club who make astounding speeds with a Blackwater. But I know of many who have chosen to move to a longer boat. Worth demoing to be sure.)

There are some 14' boats out there that can move quite nicely though. I don't know that group of boats well by my own experience, so can't comment intelligently. But you may want to go at least a foot longer than you are thinking in looking around.

I’ve had mine for over two years now and still love it. Tracks well and I can keep up with the much longer touring boats (unless, of course, they’re purposely trying to outrun me). I’m a lake paddler 99% of the time.

I’ve also had my Manitou on Tampa Bay and in the Gulf with 2-3 foot chop. Felt stable and handled much better than I expected. Was even able to track well and make progress into the wind which was about 10-15 knots that day. Was visiting my brother who lives in Tampa and also has a Manitou. He’s been very happy with his choice as well.

Fast big plastic kayak

– Last Updated: Jun-23-06 9:24 AM EST –

As timcrock says in this thread where he just bought his first kayak, it is not a matter of if one will outgrow a shorter vessel, but when. He chose a 17 foot plastic yak for his first vessel. You need not choose a Kodiak, but for speed and efficiency, celia is right, go long. You already have your Loon for small rivers and streams. The reservation that paddlers have about long is, essentially, the ability to turn the boat. With a little lean, tuck that thigh under the thighbrace and nudge 'er over a bit, and turning is not an issue in a longer kayak (although each brand has it's own nuances this way). I first bought a Prijon Capri 12 footer, lovd it (enough to buy a second). Then I bought a Prijon Calabria at 14.5 feet to solve exactly the problem you mention. What did I gain? Very little in efficieency, if any, and about 10 lbs of weight making portages at logjams harder (although, ike you, I mainly used it in lakes) (the Calabria at 14.5 feet is 54 lbs, and the Kodiak and Barracuda at 17 feet is 60 lbs... I gained 2.5 full feet of plastic and only added 6 lbs! to overall weight). Now I have three 17 foot Prijons and absolutely love them, adore the ride, fun to edge and lean which I learned just this year from DVDs and Pnetters like celia, wilsjo, c2g, tsunamichuck, pamlico_140, bruce, etc., and now I could take this boat down some fairly small riverways, but it remains fast on bigger water. Bottom line, the in between boat, the Calabria, is just not different enough from the small one or large one to fit nicely in my quiver of boats... it was alwyas like the middle child... sort of just there. Little regrets if you went long, I think. Good luck and good question.

Manitou 14
I paddled the Manitou Sport and the Manitou 14 at a demo day over the weekend. While the Sport is a nice little rec boat, the 14 was faster and better equipped. A really nice boat! Easy to turn without the skeg. Tracked well with. Didn’t get to try the 13. My favorite boat of the weekend was the Necky Zoar Sport LV. Worth a look.

Love my Manitou 13 …
I’m a smaller paddler and love my manitou 13 – I test paddled the 14’ version and several other longer boats that I couldn’t afford at the time. The 13’ was a good compromise for my stature and skill level and budget. (5’3" @ 110lbs.) My next boat will be 16’. My other choice was the CD Kestrel but I didn’t get a chance to demo it.

The 14’ version, weighs around 10lbs more than the 13’ – and the extra foot and weight didn’t justify to me, the extra expense.

It tracks well and I can easily put it on edge too. I was fine paddling through 2-3’ breakers and choppy seas. Light enough for me to easily car-top on a Subary (with a Yakima boat loader).

But earlier this year, we went out on the Willamette in Portland in rented boats. Sally was in a Manitiou, and said it was a sluggish boat to paddle and had a tough time keeping up with the guide and I -both in narrower, longer boats.

Her main ride is a 16-1/2’ X 22-2/4" Hurricane Tracer, and it came as a result of just some ot the same things noted above. We went on a 6-mile moonlight paddle a couple years ago, and she was on her Scupper Classic SOT.

All was well untull we turned for home, the last mile back to FLorida Bay Outfitters up the Florida Bay side of Key Largo. We paddled into about a 15 mph breeze and a 1-2’ chop, and Sally was burned out and burned up when a couple of older, less-in-shape women that she noted that it wasn’t bad at all…

I thought Sally was going to explode, but it made the point that sometimes it really isn;t just the engine, but the chasis, TOO!

That finally, viscerally (vs. intellectually) brought home the point about longer, skinnier boats being faster for the same effort, or easier for the same speed.

ANdn which is why I add my voice to those recommending something a tad longer and slimmer than the Manitou for your flatwater paddling. SOmething in the 16+’ long, 23" or narrower range might be worth demoing…

Now, in mixed groups, or in mixed conditions, you can be like Sally, who quite happily uses the Tracer to


-Frank in Miami