Necky Manitou 14 or Venture Islay 14

This is probably one of those Ford vs. Chevy questions, but I’m looking for a “guest” kayak friends, who are larger than me, can use. Considering between the Manitou 14 and the Islay 14, which I have paddled and liked. Have never been in a Manitou. I’m 5’10" and about 165 lbs. Need a boat that will accommodate up to a 195 lb. paddler. I suspect either boat will do nicely. Anyone out there with experience in both boats? Thanks.

I used a older Manitou several years ago, renting from an outfitter in British Columbia for a day trip up a fiord near Vancouver. It was a comfortable, solid and predictable boat that tracked and handled waves well – felt very much like the Venture Easky 15 that I now own (and which the Islay 14 replaced in the Venture line.) The two models are extremely similar, being nearly the same width, similar hull and deck profile and almost exactly the same hatch volume (around 115 liters). The only difference may be that the Manitou is slightly more “fish form” than the “Swede form” Islay, meaning its widest width if more ahead of the cockpit than behind it. Current Designs explains the difference well in the link below. My Easky surfs and tracks well, and though I have yet to try out an Islay, I have heard that it has similar performance.

I think you’re right that it is sort of a Ford-Chevy like decision, though I admit that I have a soft spot for the UK made Venture kayaks. I like the outfitting, especially little touches like that molded in metal bar on the deck that enables me to securely cable lock the boat to my roof rack or to a dock.

I would go with the Manitou 14. It’s a nice all around boat with a skeg. I have paddled it. I used to have a Venture Easky 15lv, that boat with very twitchy to say the least.

Thanks for your thoughtful, informative answer, willowleaf. I, too, share your “soft spot” for the British boats. Though performance might be close to identical, my sense is the fit and finish of the Venture is superior. Yeah, I looked for the Easky 15, but they seem to be difficult to find now that they’re no longer made.

Responding to Shiraz627’s comment:

I’ve been paddling my Easky 15LV for 8 years and have never found it to be “twitchy” at all. In fact, I have found it to have excellent secondary stability and darned good primary. I have also put many beginner friends in it and all have loved the feel and performance of the boat and felt very secure in it. I’ve never capsized in it, even in some pretty wild waves, nor has anyone else I have ever loaned it to, and they have ranged from a 5’ 2" 110 woman who had never paddled before to a 6’ 190 pound guy with moderate kayaking experience. At 22" wide and hard-chined, of course it will feel different to anyone accustomed to soft-chined wide rec boats, but it is hardly a precarious kayak.

I know “tippy” – my 20" beam Greenland skin-on-frame is just that. I made the mistake of putting an inch thick foam seat pad under me once in that kayak and that raised my center of gravity just enough that when I turned my head and shoulders too quickly to respond to a paddler slightly behind me it dumped me in the drink. But the Easky is a solid as a baby buggy – doesn’t even budge when I am dragging my floundering self onto the deck during self-rescue practice.

You are the only person I have ever heard refer to the model as “twitchy” so I really would like to know why you categorize it as such? What were you comparing it to and what experiences with it made you feel it was unstable or unpredictable (the definition of “twitchy”)?

I also have an Easky 15LV and also don’t find it at all twitchy. It’s very stable-feeling to me, and I have put non-kayaking friends in it and they have felt just fine after a short adjustment period. The only reason I’m planning to sell it is that for me at 5’6” and 135 it’s a bit too big for optimal body control as I learn skills.

That being said, the woman I purchased it from said she was selling it because she found it inadequately stable. She had about 50 lbs on me and replaced it with a Pungo, a whole ‘nother type of boat.

Just a comment on the twitchy thing - my sister who had been in WW canoes in high school got into my Squall once and only lasted several hundred feet before abandoning it due to fear of capsize. She is about my size, that was a Solstice series hull, the likelihood of her capsizing it on flat water was almost nil. But it is a sea kayak so it moved. That alone was enough to get her.

I would suggest that either of the above boats will be fine as long as the person in them is not close to the top of the weight range, which does increase the motion. If it is someone who won’t be able to manage it in something skinnier than a Pungo, there is little need to get a higher level kayak for them anyway. You won’t be able to go anywhere of consequence., that is further than 30 ft from shore…

I do find that some people with no experience in hard-chined boats (mostly those who have never been in anything but rec boats) are apt to register initial discomfort at the way that they feel. If somebody I have loaned the Easky to seems nervous about it I come alongside while we are still sitting near shore and encourage them to rock and lean the boat from side to side to get the feel for how solid it is once it transitions to the planes in the hull. Once they realize that it is not going to go out from under them they usually relax and stop over-reacting. Any “twitchiness” arises from the nervous reactions (usually abrupt over-corrections) of the untrusting paddler, not the boat itself.

I’ve noticed that most nervous tension tends to evaporate once they ease into it and get moving forward. The epiphany of how much faster the kayak goes with less effort and how solid it feels in waves and crossing boat wakes, compared to what they were used to, cancels out the early concern about imagined instability.

Then again, there are people who have difficulty with balance and any sense of their own center of gravity. These are the same folks who struggle to learn to ride a bike or downhill ski. They also tend to carry excess tension in their upper bodies and keep their spines, necks and shoulders very rigid.

Another issue I found with Easky 15 were the two channels that run down the center of the hull. Very uncomfortable for the foot and leg,

Then again, there are people who have difficulty with balance and any sense of their own center of gravity. These are the same folks who struggle to learn to ride a bike or downhill ski. They also tend to carry excess tension in their upper bodies and keep their spines, necks and shoulders very rigid.

Never had any issues riding a bike(which I still do) or downhill skiing!

I agree that the channels can be annoying at times – so I lay a square chunk of closed cell Ensolite foam inside the hull over the channels to cushion contact with them.

I have a low center of gravity when I am sitting (long legs and short waisted) so I probably have less problem with boats like the Easky than somebody more long waisted who carries proportionally more weight and height above than below the deck. That might feel more unstable in a hard-chined boat.

To cloud the matter further, here’s a Manitou on CL in case you’re interested and in the area:

That’s a good deal on a great boat.

There’s a guy selling a used Islay in Gregory, Michigan (near Lansing) for $650.
Post is on a Facebook paddler’s group so I can’t link to the listing but could forward to you if you were interested.

Thanks, but I’m in the South. A long way from Lansing.

I have owned both boats and I agree they are very similar but to me, the Manitou 14 is faster and lighter and has a skeg which is nice when you are paddling in the wind. Mine is fiberglass so it is lighter and unfortunately they don’t make this boat anymore with this material. I sold my Esky because it became too heavy for me to handle but I kept the Necky Manitou. I love the way it glides through the water and makes no sound and handles well in wind mostly due to the skeg. I have camped out of it and paddled many Florida rivers in it. The only drawback is being careful of rocks and oyster shells because of the fiberglass. Good luck on your decision.

I have the Manitou. Good, stable, fast for its length. I have the plastic one. Good for day trips and multi day. Have yet to use the skeg as it tracks really well.