Perception Dancer?

I am looking to buy a boat that is a little shorter than my current one, so it fits in my shed better (right now, my current ‘yak has to be put in the shed crossways to fit-not ideal).

We paddle on Lake Ontario, near the shore. Might go elsewhere once we get a rack for the car.

My current boat (my first boat) is an old (70’s era) downriver fiberglass one with no name plate-but if someone mentioned it I could tell you what I THINK it is. 13’ 3" (ish) in length, basically, a cigar shape. I know it’s not an ideal first boat and it did challenge me at first to get it to go straight, but I’m good with it now-we paddled several 10+ mile trips in it last year.

I imagine the dancer would track similar (try to turn around unless you paddle it properly)?

I like my boat, I just need something I can get in and out of the shed by myself (husband had back surgery and can’t lift it with me). I know there are a LOT of recreational boats out there, but I want one that’s similar in width-I HATE his bath tub sundolphin. I love the width of mine (24-25"). I would love an Eddyline Sky but that’s not in the budget right now. I’ve watch CL for boats and know I can get a dancer pretty cheap.

Anyone know the width of a dancer? And am I about right on how it’s going to act-basically, like my current downriver boat?

Here’s an old thread
on that boat which answers some of your questions:

Dancer stats
The Dancer is 11’ 7" and 24" wide. In fact, Perception has always been great about keeping their old catalog archives accessible so you can read the original factory data on the boat here (the stats are on one of the last pages in a matrix format):

Be sure you are getting a size Dancer that will fit you – they made 3 versions (the catalog matrix explains the differences). I would not pay more than $150 for a Dancer, $100 if it was in beat up but servicable shape. That’s the going price for Dancers and Pirouettes around here.

On behavior, I used to have one of those old 13’ fiberglass home made Olympic slalom spec pointy whitewater boats, built on an Augsburger mold, so that is probably is close to what you have been using. And my ex boyfriend had a vintage Dancer which I used a few times so I know how it handled in flat water. The two boats were pretty similar – turn easily but you have to fight to keep them going straight.

It is possible to rig a small skeg on boats like that to improve tracking. You would be surprised how much just a small skeg near the stern can help a skittery boat track. I have seen people make them of treated wood, scrap aluminum, heavy plastic and even hard rubber. In fact I use a small hard rubber skeg on some of my folding kayaks that clips to the deck lines with 4 narrow nylon buckle straps. It’s only about 8 inches long and no more than 3" high but it makes a remarkable difference in how well the kayaks track. One advantage of the hard rubber is that it just flexes over rocks or other obstacles and doesn’t harm anything when you are hauling it, as a hard skeg might.

I hope you are using flotation bags in the open bow and stern hull areas. You might also try experimenting with putting a few pounds of weight in the stern to aid in tracking, like a couple of half gallon jugs of water shoved behind the stern float bag.

Keep your eye on Craigslist – I’ve snagged some great deals over the years but you have to jump on them as soon as they list. Last summer I got a Dagger Monterey 14.5 complete with PFD, skirt and an Aquabound paddle for $400.

I looked around and found pics with the name of what I believe I have, it’s a Mithril HiPP.

No floatation in mine currently, it didn’t have any when I bought it.

Sounds like the Dancer might work then, for what I’m looking for. Thank you!

Float bags and skegs
The don’t have what long boaters would normally call a lot of flotation. I forget if the Dancer takes split bags, but since my old Pirouette takes them the Dancer probably does too.

Willowleaf’s reply jogged my memory. I know someone who had an original Dancer and had a skeg for it when they wanted it to track better. Something removable when you wanted. The one they had was from an outfit that is likely long out of business, but some other manufacturer is probably making them.

The Perception Dancer was among the first of the rotomolded polyethylene kayaks and was immensely popular back in the day. Probably has credit for more whitewater first descents than any boat before or since. I have generally seen them priced in the $150-200 range.

The Dancer is much longer and narrower than today’s whitewater kayaks and is therefore faster. But it is still a whitewater boat so it won’t be as fast or track as well as a sea kayak. I think old school whitewater kayaks like the Dancer make quite serviceable river tripping boats as long as you don’t need bulkheads and hatches.

Back when the Dancer was made, polyethylene was not as good as it is now so I would examine any boat of that vintage before buying. Also check for fit. Whitewater kayaks of that age had much smaller cockpits, akin to the ocean cockpits of today’s sea kayaks. When sitting in the boat it is generally not possible to lift a knee out of the cockpit. You must slide the boat off your legs to exit. Some people don’t care for that aspect.

The Dancer has vertical foam pillars fore and aft so it takes split flotation bags. The outfitting also has to be customized for the paddler. There is no quick adjustment. Back then, paddlers custom carved knee pads and hip pads out of minicell foam to fit and glued the pads in. You might need to look around for a sprayskirt to fit a cockpit opening that small.

I believe (I’d have to double check) the width of my cockpit is 15" or so, so a skinny cockpit is ok by me.

I can’t really say how I get in/out of mine, I just kind of do. It’s not like my husbands sun dolphin or our cheap extra just to have around just in case Potomac 80’s (those are a trip-fun, but I’d NEVER want one as my only kayak).

dancer was a very popular boat,

– Last Updated: Apr-25-16 10:40 PM EST –

really established plastic boats as the "go to" material for ww boats, the sport grew by leaps and bounds because of this boat

with every boat design and change you gain something and give something up

as a ww paddler I like the bigger cockpits now, much safer and easier to get in and out of than boats like the dancer or my perception mirage. Seats were hard, and no back support- you build it, or put in an after market back band which didn't seem to work all that great.

Compared to modern creek boats the dancer can really hold a line, its displacement hull made it easy to roll, and it carries speed (compared to other ww boats)

it used to pearl in waves and when surfing with the low rocker pointed ends

the old school trick was endering, and the pointed ends didn't make it suitable for creeking

as far as quality of the plastic- perception wasn't as tough as eskimo or prijons and I don't think it's as good as my liquid logic boat but I do feel it's on par with my pyranha which is only a few years old, the plastic feels pretty thin on it, and probably as good as the rec boats being sold by the big box stores

my perception mirage is starting to crack out a little bit around the cockpit- age catches up with all of us!

the hard seat and lack of back support would be the major drawbacks for using it as a rec boat.

I would have no issues paying 400.00 for a mint condition dancer

the piroutte and piroutte s are still popular with some of old school crowd- one bud just logged his 1,000 trip down the new river gorge- last weekend and he looks oh so smooth in his piroutte.

Another kayak that may meet your needs is the Venture Flex 11. It’s 10’6" long and 25" wide. It has a skeg which is raised and lowered by a cord on the left side behind the cockpit. Weight is supposedly 42 lbs.