I want to play

I’ve read loads of these and now I want to play the “suggest me a boat” game. :grin:
I’ll try to get down most of the pertinent info first, just to head off some of the standard questioning replays.

About 6’ (haven’t measured in years), 145-150 pounds.
Looking at something in the 14’-16’(?) range to use mainly for exploring/camping SW rivers and some west coast trips/Baja.
Does NOT need to have massive cargo space as I have no trouble living out of a 50lt backpack (just for comparison).
Does need to live outside 100% of the time and often on the roof racks for a lot of that, plus it’s desert sun.
Used and preferably w/ a market value of <$1000, though I’ll still spend loads of time searching for deals once I decided what I want.
It can’t be yellow! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes::laughing:

Currently I have a perception Sealion 17’ that I’ve paddled on most of the Florida rivers and some of the intracoastal with. It stays in Florida for when I visit for a few weeks most years.
Out west I have a Necky Manitou 14.
I would prefer something a bit more maneuverable (more rocker?), narrower, and w/ a smaller cockpit and a skeg. Rolling and other boat play are definitely in my future as no matter what vehicle I’m using, kayak, mtn bike, overlanding truck, hauling trailers, I’m always pushing to better my skills.
Have paddled for about 15 years, longer if we count early canoe paddling but still consider myself a beginner working on skills as I don’t have enough constant water access.

Ok, let’s play.

I’ll play with ya! Given what you wrote for parameters, the Delphin 155 could fit your bill. It’s got rocker and ability to play. However, if you want to spend less energy on edging and corrective strokes for point A to B paddling, just drop the skeg. The P&H corelite hull (plastic and foam sandwich) really stiffens the kayak (but at some cost of weight). While I have nothing against yellow, my old Delphin was red! I had a Delphin 150, which would acccommodate your weight. However, if you doing camping out of it, you may be served better with the extra volume of the 155. More important, when I sold the Delphin, someone about 6’ tall and 150 lbs came to try, he found that his size 11 feet was too tight inside the lower front deck. As more of a novice, that was concerning to him.

My current Dagger Stratos 14.5 would also meet your criteria, but you would need the “L” rather than my “S” version for more pack load volume. I find the Stratos somewhat slower paddling than my Delphin. So, I would rate it just a bit less for paddling point A-B camping trips.

You just have to keep your eyes out on the various pre-owned sellers’ sites.


I’ll play too.

Second the 14.5’ Stratos, though I actually think that an S would work fine. I have both, and at 6’ and 230 lbs, the S does fit a little tight for me. But I find the L t be a bit large even for me. If you like the Sea Lion feel, then you may agree (but if you prefer the Manitou feel, which I think has a larger cockpit, then maybe not).

The Dagger Alchemy is the predecessor and could also work, but in that case you definitely want the L.

I like the Delphin (though I am a 155 sized person, but agree that the 150 would be good for the OP). But I think it is a bit heavy. Brit boats might end up being a bit above budget for used.

Valley Gemini is a possibility, but is also a Brit boat so could be a bit above budget.


I’m about your size and bought a faded but structurally sound NDK Romany for $800 that I really like. I don’t know how well fiberglass handles sun compared to RM boats, but the Romany has been in production long enough that there are good deals on older boats and it still seems to be a very popular design. I like the way mine paddles and think it’s a good boat for learning rolls.



On the P&H line, also take a look at the Virgo & Leo as well as the Delphin. The Leo may not be as playful as you want but good for camping. A couple of folks I was with last weekend at an ACA L2 IDW enjoyed a Virgo & a Dagger Stratos. I have a Delphin 150 & like it but I also understand that tracking is, to some extent, left to the operator. Especially with the skeg up. Weight is reasonable for a plastic boat - mine is just under 55 lbs. New prices list look like in the $2,200 - $2,800 range. There is a barely used Virgo for sale in Cleveland for $1,800. A Lansing shop has a Virgo LV Demo for sale at ~$1,700.

Yup, I do come across a NDK Romany, or a Valley Pintail or Anas Acuta for sale in the $1,000 and under price line. But, it’s rarer than than finding one of the RM play models. Have to have patience if one of these is the object of desire.

It’s a long circuitous game: I have been searching for over 6 years for a pre-owned Cobra Revision surf SOT. Finally found one and am picking it up tomorrow. This was really the boat I wanted for “long boat surfing.” Not finding one initially, I ended up with a used Delphin and then a Stratos for long boat play (not counting the Sterling Progression which was bought “customed” and new). Hope the Cobra lives up to the build up expectations I have for it.



I learned to roll in a Romany and I loved how it handles in Sea of a Cortez.

If you win the lottery, get a Sterling Illusion!

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Thanks for the input everyone! Of course I then spent loads of time researching, staring at pics, reading specs and reviews . . . I don’t know why I thought this would save me some time and effort on making a decision.:roll_eyes::rofl:

The Daggers were on my list back when I ended up w/ a Tsunami and then scored my Manitou. At this point I’m not sure I would like it better than the Manitou.

Of all the ones mentioned so far I’ll have to say that the Gemini SP interests me the most. I like the specs on it as well as the look, and the reviews sound decent. Maybe @Medawgone will join in since I see that he’s had both the Dagger and the Gemini yaks. Anyone else that has used the Gemini SP for my intended venues and purpose please tell me what you think.

I was also interested in the RM Gemini SP when looking for pre-owned. But the Dagger Stratos 14s showed up first. So, destiny perhaps.

When I was looking for a lighter composite play oriented longboat, the composite Gemini was also on the list. But, this was during he pandemic and inventory was nil and the wait was long. So, I threw money parameters to the wind and went big with a customed Sterling Progression carbon/kv model that got to me in about 6 months (faster than would ordering a Valley Gemini SP). So, destiny perhaps… LOL!


Not sure how I missed this post before! I have both a Gemini SP RM and a Stratos (the 12’ version). I adore my Gemini, but not sure I would recommend getting one only due to the dumb hatch covers which fall apart after about a year. An unnecessary expense, and if the current limited distribution of Valley in the US falls apart the covers may get impossible to find. Mine is almost 10 years old now and I will probably replace it with a Virgo when/if the cover situation gets untenable.

Stratos and Virgo are both great boats. I’d go with whichever is available and comfortable. Not going to go wrong with either boat.

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Thanks for that bit of info! I’m sure life in the desert would make that happen even faster.
I believe you’ve also had a Manitou, how does that compare to the Dagger, either the Stratos or the Alchemy?

Another thing that I’ve found a bit frustrating is that very few yaks I look at list the storage volume. That makes it challenging to compare them to the cargo capacity I have now for camp gear.

My mom had a Manitou and I paddled it a few times, also occasionally paddled one for tours when I worked at the Kayak Centre. It’s a nice boat, but I prefer the Daggers (of any flavor), but I also really like turny, maneuverable kayaks, so I may be a little biased there. I can’t stand high seat backs like the Manitou has, so that made it uncomfortable, but the boat was nice to paddle.

I used to refer to the WS Tsunamis as the “Toyota Camry of kayaks” - well built, reliable and totally vanilla. The Manitou is similar, maybe a little “sportier” because of the skeg. The Daggers are more like a sports car; snug fitting, zippy and playful.

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Thanks for those comparisons. I did mod the seat back in the Manitou pretty soon after paddling it. The Tsunami felt a bit barge like when I paddled it, hard for me to edge it as it felt like it wanted to stay flat on the water and I’m fairly light and thin.

Anyone, what thoughts are there about about taking a 16’ on class II rivers? Should I stay focused on 14’ for that sort of thing?

Anyone have any input on the Point 65 Whiskey for my size and intended use?

Dagger 14l on class II/III (paddler dependent) - go to 7:45 of video:


I’ve been an open boater for years, and decided that I wanted to get a sea kayak last summer. This crew gave me great advice, and I ended up with Capella 166 RM. I was looking for a coastal cruiser (live in RI) that I could also use to play around in the rocks (someday), and do some camping. The Capella fits the bill. I’m still paddling my canoes more than the kayak, but we’ll see.

On your question about taking a 16’ boat down a class II river, if the objective was simply to run the rapid from top to bottom, I could do that in my Capella. If I was looking to play around in the rapids, the Capella is not the boat I would bring. If this is going to be a river boat, I’d definitely stick to the 14’ options. Are you looking at 16’ boats for the extra storage space for camping?

He talks about the boat turning slow, and that is the issue with longer boats. It would be even worse with a 16’ boat like my Capella. The longer boats are still fun for surfs and ferries, but if there are must-make moves that involve tight eddy turns, you are out of luck.

Then there is this guy who ran a class II/II+ WW race in a surfski.

Google Photos

Its not the boat its the paddler…


indeed, and especially if you can back ferry into an eddy instead of making an eddy turn, longer boats can still be usefull in moderate rapids.

A plastic ski, but a ski none the less! Love the rudder 3’ up in the air in that photo!

Not as much for more gear space, I know how to do w/o a lot of things, though if they listed gear capacity it would help a lot in that department. It’s more that some makes only come in that length and I would like to do more coastal (even though getting near the coast is a challenge for us) which would require hauling water that I don’t usually.
I did run a Georgia river that had some class II, while it was rising to flood stage, in my 17’ Sealion (the only kayak I had at that time) and that was a bear to keep pointed the way I wanted, so I guess 1’ shorter isn’t going to help a lot.
Right now I just imagine going down river and not so much playing in ww . . . but I do tend to push my limits while building skills . . .