Semi Tandem Kayak

I’m looking for a kayak that I can use to carry my 2-3 year old son with me when I go on local paddles with friends, or on solo runs once I finally manage to move to the lake. I typically kayak on lakes like Lake Greenwood, Lake Robinson, or Lake Rabon in SC. Not big lakes, but could get some wave action if it got really windy. Most of the people I paddle with are paddling 14-16ft boats but sticking in the 3.5 to 4 mph range. Generally paddle around 5.5 miles round trip, but I can see some trips in the 8-15 mile range coming in the future.

I don’t have any plans for overnight trips, etc, but I do want something that is fast and efficient and can be solo paddled. The best solutions I’ve come up with so far are:

Necky Manitou II - Cheapest, could probably put in flotation in case of overturning, quite heavy for single handling. Looks like the rear seat can be moved forward for single paddling.

Riot Intrigue MK II - Much like the Manitou II. Thermoformed plastic, so not as durable, but should be a better performer. Formally a Seaward design so probably a very good boat. I have zero chance of getting to try this one out before I buy from what I can tell and there are no reviews I’ve found. With that said… it looks like a more efficient version of the Manitou II… so it’s got my eye. Again… this boat claims to have the ability for the rear paddler to move the seat forward so that solo paddling is possible. In essence… that is what I would be doing anyway until my son gets a few more years on him and has more weight and can actually paddle.

Eddyline Shasta - This is an intriguing boat. It’s been paddled solo 3 different times for the 3800 mile trip from the Missouri Confluence to the Gulf of Mexico. I like the idea of my son being in front of me where I can keep an eye on him though and it looks like you move the front seat rearward for solo paddling. Looks to be the lightest and most efficient of the 3, but also has a HUGE cockpit. Not sure you could do enough with this boat to make self rescue a possibility. On the flip side… I have 1.5 year old twins that will be in position to join me in the next couple of years…and that makes the Shasta a possibility to carry 2 of the young’uns while the wife paddles something else with one of them with her.

I’d love to hear some thoughts from the more experienced paddlers out there, or anyone who has any experience with these boats. I would obviously plan to stick fairly close to shore while they are still young and I would only take them out in deeper water if I’ve got several other experienced paddlers with me.

I don’t mind spending money for quality… but most of these boats are steep, and the Eddyline is probably the only one that I may have a chance to demo.

Manitou 2
Mine is older, purchased a used fleet rental. No kiddie seat but my daughter was comfortable up front by herself. Loves it. Yes the seat slides up easily. It was tough to handle by myself but now that she’s 10 she can help a little. A kayak cart is a must with this boat. I built a pvc one to use amid-ship instead of using my Paddle Boy Tomato rear cart. It’s a great boat.

Necky Manitou II
I love mine. For me it is very easy to handle solo and I am no expert paddler. It’s well built, takes the inevitable rough handling in stride. I have never had a problem. It’s the one kayak I will probably never give up because it is so versatile.