Question for Rec boat owners

I just Paddled class 3 Shamokin Creek
Today in my Perception Sundance 9.5, had a blast !! I own a half dozen boats and I’d never part with my little rec boat !! Got a Dagger Approach neoprene skirt, pull back my footpegs so my knees are braced under the cockpit rim and paddle like hell !! My friend’s Pelican Potomac wasn’t so lucky-- is it littering when you leave a rec boat on the bottom of a creek??? No worries we’ll go pull it out when the water drops…

gateway drug…

Ah the love
I will chip in my two cents here.

What I feel makes a good rec boat:

Low cost for entry to sport

decent lines to learn with

open cockpit

Yes, alright, all I did was pretty much sum up what they have, but here are the reasons why I like these aspects.

I had a Pungo 120 I think. It was at that time named a Wilderness System’s navigator, and now a Classic 12, purchased at Dick’s Sporting Goods. But I am pretty sure it was an old Pungo mold. I loved the open cockpit. I would throw gear in and out and didn’t have to worry about how i would get it in. The lines helped me learn about tracking and secondary stability and the basics. The price got me out on the water. Being 12 feet it was alright with speed. NO it wasn’t a race boat, but what did I pay? I payed something like $500, I didn’t plan on having a great race boat.

Price is a limiting factor at times with entry into a sport. The lower cost lets you experiment with paddles and PFD that will grow with you as you out grow your hull.

That first boat taught me A LOT. It was stolen. So I went and got a different boat. This time I wanted to try something a bit more playful, so I got a $350 Otter Sport (OT Rush, but again, different name since this was a Dick’s Exclusive) I don’t get all my stuff at the big box store, but I needed a replacement boat fast to get my spirits up. I won’t say I hat this boat, but I wish I had bought another like the one I had. I enjoy the different aspects of the shorter boat, but it is harder to enter, slower, less efficient and much less roomy. It is great to learn in and fun to play with. I like to take it out with friends and we all have fun, but the big DEEP Navigator was nice.

Rec boats are a great introduction to paddling. A good one will be easy to use by anyone. It should have a decent performance, but no one is expecting greatness at that price point. It is nice to have a few amenities; foot pegs, rear bulk head (nearly a must), cup holder or rod holder or paddle holder or some sales point. I would love to see one come with a removable hard work deck. Nice colors are a bonus too. Remember the person buying this may be doing due to economics, beginner interest or what ever, performance is important, but not a selling point. At least it may not be as much as the ability to get it in green. (For the record, my first was tan, and I loved the color. It was not the deciding feature, but one of the factors in the purchase)

Alright, that looks longer than two cents worth, and it probably wasn’t any more helpful than the previous posts, but I feel better for contributing.


Looking for a 13.5 foot long, deep blue or sand tan rec boat. Medium to narrow (for a rec boat) preferred. With a long open cockpit and a "V"ish hull. The more cool deck rigging and eyelets and hooks and stuff the better! Throw in a nice seat and GOOD handles and I might spent upwards of 8 or 9 hundred bucks. Who are we kidding, I want all that, but I won’t spend over $600. I have to feed my love for bikes as well!

the grey thing

What I am reading
What I am gathering is these are bigger draws to Rec Boats.

  • COST obviously
  • Large cockpit
  • Lighter weight and ease of handling.

    These are sort of what I expected to hear and seems to be what I am seeing as the biggies.

Sounds good. Also good primary stability is key factor.

pick the tool for the job
I use my rec kayak for fishing the smaller rivers and streams here in the Ozarks. An ocean kayak would be totally out of place here. If I capsize i can usually walk to shore or at worst it;s a short swim. A tight cockpit and a spreyskirt would be counter productive. The large cockpit opening allows for access to fishing gear, and the smaller length make negotiating the tight turns of the local rivers. Ocean kayaks are certainly more beautiful, and are the only kayak I would use for large lakes or offshore ocean kayaking. For kayak fishing in small rivers, however, a rec boat is the right tool.

For me
I have a QCC 700 and an old Wilderness Systems Alto. Both are nice performance boats. But some days I just like to jump in a large rec boat and poke around a slow river or shoreline. Throw a cooler in, a towel in the floor and lean back on the high back seat. I can cross my legs or move around any way I want. I can bounce it off rocks with no worries and can fish if I would like. It’s a completely different experience and one that I enjoy. My favorite rec boat right now is the Native Watercraft Ultimate 12. If it had some sort of sliding deck panel system instead of the fabric deck it would be perfect. Maybe that is your market. An inovative deck system that slides in channels to change the cockpit size. (Just a thought that came to mind. I have no idea if it’s even practical). I also like the molded in trays and cup holders. Those little extras make the rec boats very nice. Oh, you have to keep the price down or it defeats the whole purpose.

Not really
Not all rec boats are the same. They have a variety of features (or lack thereof). It seems obvious that some people might say, for example, “I love my boat but wish it had flotations” or whatever. Don’t misconstrue people’s intent.

Necky Manitou 13
My reasons:

length, simplicity (no rudder/skeg to deal with), weight

Manitou 13 - Add my endorsement
Love the Manitou 13. All the advantages of a Rec boat with some of the characteristics of longer touring yaks. Have had mine for 4 years and have no regrets with the purchase.

Yea, I kept thinking there was on more, sort of a given but I meant to include it.

What mceb said … Ditto
mceb said, “Recreational paddlers have a totally different mindset than other more hardcore paddlers.

Advanced skills such as rolling, speed/efficiency, rougher open water navigation, challenging weather conditions are all things that aren’t even on a rec paddler’s radar.

While it may be true that some rec paddlers “move up” and get into these types of skills later, many others are perfectly happy just being out on the water enjoying low-skill activities such as relaxing, photography and soaking in the peace and quiet of nature on a beautiful day.”

That’s me to a tee and I couldn’t agree more … after owning an OT Otter, an OT Rush, and an OT Loon, I got a Pungo 120 and feel like I lack nothing. Foot pegs, very comfy seat, rear hatch, decent glide … for my kind of lazy paddling on lakes and class I streams, it fills the bill nicely. Now if you could find a way to make it weigh about 10-15 pounds less and still keep the same price point, I might consider buying another … but we know that ain’t happening soon.

Many first time kayak buyers have no real kayak dealers within a reasonable distance and go to big sporting goods stores for low prices and just because there’s no other place to shop for new boats. Everyone I paddle with started out in a rec boat that was loaned to them by a friend, loved it and bought their own rec boat.

My two cents
I am not a beginner paddler, but I find myself still attracted to (certain) rec boats. The most recent one I was tempted to buy: The Seaward Intrigue (10’L, 29"W, thermoform). Also liked the see-through polycarbonate panel in the hull for those rare times when I paddle in Florida.

Although I’m not crazy about the Intrigue’s specific dimensions, I like the light weight and the great looks of the thermoforms, and the stability to just putter around (while solo paddling usually), look at wildlife, take some photos, etc. And the see-through panel is a cool idea for the few times it would be useful.

In summary, my perfect rec boat would be:

11’-12’ long

25"-ish wide (therefore, stable enough to take photos)

medium cockpit (not huge, not tight)

45 pounds or less

thermoform preferred for the beautiful look

(Yes, I’ve pretty much described the Eddyline Skylark. Also, the Tsunami 120 in Duralite for the first four criteria.)

Price isn’t a big criterion of mine, except when you get to the level of Seaward’s price of $1,150 or so and then have to pay $260 shipping plus tax… now that’s a little off-putting. (Not Seaward’s fault I live so far away, I understand that.) But if I could stay around $1,000 for it, and not pay the shipping, it would be do-able.

I’ll second that. Nice boat.

Thanks for the input
Thanks for the responses! You answered the questions I had without me actually asking them. Good information.

agreed on the Manitou
I owned 3 different rec boats before upgrading to much longer boats. The first two was a WS Critter and a WS Pamlico 100, both 10’ because it’s the longest I could store and lug down 3 flights of stairs in my downtown east coast apartment. Like every noob, I loved the big open cockpit, initial stability, durability, low price, and easy of turning (though tracking straight was a problem).

When I moved to Portland Or and bought a house with a garage I went for a Manitou 13, which might have cost a little more, but had all the attributes of my previous rec boats with a dry bulkhead. Because it’s hull was basically a scaled down British sea kayak, it was faster, tracked better, and introduced me to leaning, bracing, correct strokes, etc… I’ve since upgraded through several plastic light touring and touring yaks and built an Arctic Tern 17, but regret not keeping that Manitou for use as a guest boat or just taking it through tight rocky areas. If Necky made the Manitou 14 (dual bulkheads and skeg) or even a 15" version in light tough polycarbonate plastic at a reasonable price that would be an awesome all around rec/day touring boat!

Rec boats
What’s not to love about them? With a larger cockpit,I can use my hard sided cooler,(loaded up with 20 beers)so my ice will last me when it’s 100 out. When I get to shore,paddle my arse off and let the boat scrape against anything in it’s way.If it should fall to the ground during loading,or unloading,no problem,throw it right back on top.I strap a boombox to the bow,and with my remote,I can control my IPOD(in case I need to drown out the wife,lol).I have room for my drybag right in front of me,which holds all the other essentials.In the wife’s cockpit,she can easily hold lunch,towels and much more.We have a blast on the water,see you there,Ron

It still goes the most.
Regardless of my ever growing fleet of ever “higher performance” models, my sweet little Heritage 9.5 Angler goes on more trips than all the others combined. Quick enough, light enough, tough enough, maneuverable enough and it smells like fish!