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Old 03-11-2004, 06:31 PM
Willie T Willie T is offline
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Location: St. Petersburg, Florida U.S.A.
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Not everyone is out shopping for the latest and greatest offering the 2004 boat shows are promoting. I suspect that there are a substantial number of paddlers who would be interested in reading about some of the older, cheaper, used boats. I mean, look at the continuing attraction of the Perception Prism. It is in this light that I submit this review for your consideration.

This unique craft is a slightly older single person recreational/touring yak; it was only made one year. (2000, I think). My personal interest in this boat was first kindled when I noticed one on a rack at Osprey Bay Kayaks in Clearwater, FL. It sported a relatively unconventional looking front end, in that it had lateral bow planes built into top edge of the hull... giving it a "winged" look. Thus the name, "Manta". This is a design feature similar to the new Superyak Kingfisher front wave deflectors, but a little less pronounced.

And these "wings" actually do seem to work. The bow of this craft rides the crest of most waves far better than many other kayaks. The front end cleaves one to two foot swells cleanly with little “pearling”. However, there IS a slight hull slapping noise in the bow plane area when navigating a moderate chop. In normal, level waters, the hull rides as smoothly and quietly as any other kayak.

An added feature of having a kayak that emulates a Devil Ray is that those wings provide a very convenient set of flat lifting handles for getting the beast up onto your roof rack. This is a welcome "plus" due to the rather substantial weight of the yak... close to 75 pounds by my bathroom scale. Loading this one on a truck rack is a bit of a challenge for one person.

Further adding to the wave-taming characteristics of the Manta is the curved front-to-back rocker shape molded into this hull. The boat seems to ride up waves more gently, and slip back down them smoother than kayaks designed with a flatter hull. Makes for less pitching, and more of the hull remaining in contact with the water when paddling through larger waves. You can consider this one a competent rough weather boat.

The bane of our small mounts… disruptive wakes from passing power boats… is significantly reduced when riding in a Manta. Taken at any angle other than directly broadside, offending wakes are pleasantly dispelled with little more than a comfortable bobbing. This came as a very satisfying surprise.

The hull is also a winner in the performance department. It has much of the stability of the Wilderness Systems RIDE, while offering impressively faster hull speed. Both initial and secondary stability is far superior to many yaks. It's a little bit wide at the seat, but this does not affect the paddling swing of larger people.

Tracking with no rudder is good. But I have never tried one with a rudder, so I have no basis for comparison. Turning is fair-to-good. It IS a wide, 16" boat, so it takes some technique. This, fortunately, is not a big problem. Since leaning is a large part of turning, this boat helps you out somewhat. Just lay way over into that lean for a turn, and the boat begins arcing around quite smartly. As further discussed a few paragraphs below, aggressive leaning attitudes are easy to achieve in this craft.

This is not to say that some measure of effort isn’t required. Leaning is a deliberate action in the Manta… unlike some boats that call for no more than a subtle shifting of your hips. Yet, if you decide to lean it, the yak obliges very properly. I suspect that the energy put into maneuvering this boat is equivalent to what a smaller person would experience in a less spacious craft.

Yes, this IS a boat made for larger folks. While I heartily recommend it to anyone 5'-10" to 6'-7", weighing all the way up to 350 or even 375 pounds, I have to honestly say that I doubt an average size paddler would find this craft to their liking. It takes a little extra muscle, both in the water, and out of it.

Going back to the stability for a minute, I have found this boat almost impossible to accidentally tip. It would be safe to say that you would fall out of this yak from leaning too far before it tipped over. The hull is formed with long, rounded sponson type gunwales, that barely ride in the water in level travel, but offer excellent buoyancy when you do lean the boat. It is no large effort at all to heel it over to the point where water invades the cockpit from the side... yet it still feels like you could comfortably go another 10 or 15 degrees.

Due to the rockered hull shape, there is a minimum of wetted area to cause unwanted drag. It is heavy, however, so the first few paddle strokes don't produce jack rabbit starts. But once moving, the big Manta proves quite impressive in its speed. No, it won't blow off a Tarpon 160, but it represents itself very respectably along side the usual pack of drifters and scuppers. The "gliding" characteristics are good.

I also have a Prism, and it glides within about 80% of the same distance as that smaller boat. Your only problem might come if you load the front hatch more heavily than the rear. The boat tends to plow a bit at that point, and the paddling effort goes up while the speed drops. I first discovered this when I put my 25 pound dog into the front hatch. Works much better if he’s in the back.

There is ample storage beneath both hatches, and neither of them leak. The carrying capacity is rated at 450 pounds, and there appears to be room to actually load it to that limit. (Although I don't recommend such a payload, I honestly think the yak would handle it.) The hatch openings are pretty much the same size as most yaks, and are equipped with oval plastic lids. It’s a long boat, so the hatches are a bit of a stretch to reach while seated in the cockpit.

My boat came equipped with an optional accessory that Ocean Kayak could have just as well omitted, in my opinion. It's a rigid, molded plastic "coaming" that attaches to the cockpit area, enclosing the paddler in a pseudo "sit-in" shell. Not only is this shell too confining for a larger person, but it also restricts your movement because it has molded-in thigh braces that stick out about three inches from each side. All-in-all, that's OK for smaller paddlers, but not for the larger people this craft fits so well. This coaming now resides in my garage, and will stay there until resale time.

The Manta would be just about the perfect boat for big people if it were not for one more of Ocean Kayak's unfortunate choices. The cockpit has the typical molded-in foot-well configuration. But the cockpit tapers very abruptly toward the front end, narrowing the width of the wells. And the individual foot hollows seem to be designed for a shoe size of 10 or less. It is actually painful after a half an hour or so of having your foot literally crammed down into the tight wedge of a foot hole.

I have learned to overcome this serious oversight by throwing my sneakers down into the wells, and placing my heels on them. That raises my foot a few inches out of the hole, and makes life bearable.

Seating is decent, and it's wide enough for bigger people, with more than ample room to stretch your legs out flat. I'm 6'-5", and I still have a few inches left beyond my feet when my legs are shoved all the way forward. In normal paddling, I alternate using the second and third insets from the front. The front two scupper holes keep your feet wet most of the ride, but the rear scuppers, (located at the back of the seat area) don’t introduce a great deal of water into the cockpit. The Manta is not an exceptionally dry ride, but there are many yaks a lot wetter. As with most SOT’s, you will need to come up with a set of plugs.

You will also want to add an aftermarket seat. Without it, there is insufficient support for your back during prolonged paddling. A Surf-to-Summit “Tall Back” works well... although you have to mount your own front pad eyes and rear buckle straps. This was an easy job, and it took less than 15 minutes to mount everything. The straps come included with the Surf-to-Summit.

In conclusion, if you are a larger paddler… If you want to spend considerably less than the cost of a brand new yak… And if you kind of like the idea of owning one of the most unique boats in the local fleet…… then the Ocean Kayak Manta is a boat you will swear was made just for you.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the Ocean Kayak Manta would earn a rating of at least a 9 from me if it weren't for the restrictive foot area of the cockpit. With that regrettable negative detractor, it gets only a 7.

Willie T
St. Petersburg
6075@ij.net
Prism(Granite) Manta(Yellow)

True eloquence consists in saying all that need be said and no more; François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
__________________
Willie T
St. Petersburg
6075@ij.net
Prism(Granite) Manta(Yellow)

True eloquence consists in saying all that need be said and no more; François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
  #2  
Old 03-11-2004, 06:31 PM
Willie T Willie T is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida U.S.A.
Posts: 142
Default

Not everyone is out shopping for the latest and greatest offering the 2004 boat shows are promoting. I suspect that there are a substantial number of paddlers who would be interested in reading about some of the older, cheaper, used boats. I mean, look at the continuing attraction of the Perception Prism. It is in this light that I submit this review for your consideration.

This unique craft is a slightly older single person recreational/touring yak; it was only made one year. (2000, I think). My personal interest in this boat was first kindled when I noticed one on a rack at Osprey Bay Kayaks in Clearwater, FL. It sported a relatively unconventional looking front end, in that it had lateral bow planes built into top edge of the hull... giving it a "winged" look. Thus the name, "Manta". This is a design feature similar to the new Superyak Kingfisher front wave deflectors, but a little less pronounced.

And these "wings" actually do seem to work. The bow of this craft rides the crest of most waves far better than many other kayaks. The front end cleaves one to two foot swells cleanly with little “pearling”. However, there IS a slight hull slapping noise in the bow plane area when navigating a moderate chop. In normal, level waters, the hull rides as smoothly and quietly as any other kayak.

An added feature of having a kayak that emulates a Devil Ray is that those wings provide a very convenient set of flat lifting handles for getting the beast up onto your roof rack. This is a welcome "plus" due to the rather substantial weight of the yak... close to 75 pounds by my bathroom scale. Loading this one on a truck rack is a bit of a challenge for one person.

Further adding to the wave-taming characteristics of the Manta is the curved front-to-back rocker shape molded into this hull. The boat seems to ride up waves more gently, and slip back down them smoother than kayaks designed with a flatter hull. Makes for less pitching, and more of the hull remaining in contact with the water when paddling through larger waves. You can consider this one a competent rough weather boat.

The bane of our small mounts… disruptive wakes from passing power boats… is significantly reduced when riding in a Manta. Taken at any angle other than directly broadside, offending wakes are pleasantly dispelled with little more than a comfortable bobbing. This came as a very satisfying surprise.

The hull is also a winner in the performance department. It has much of the stability of the Wilderness Systems RIDE, while offering impressively faster hull speed. Both initial and secondary stability is far superior to many yaks. It's a little bit wide at the seat, but this does not affect the paddling swing of larger people.

Tracking with no rudder is good. But I have never tried one with a rudder, so I have no basis for comparison. Turning is fair-to-good. It IS a wide, 16" boat, so it takes some technique. This, fortunately, is not a big problem. Since leaning is a large part of turning, this boat helps you out somewhat. Just lay way over into that lean for a turn, and the boat begins arcing around quite smartly. As further discussed a few paragraphs below, aggressive leaning attitudes are easy to achieve in this craft.

This is not to say that some measure of effort isn’t required. Leaning is a deliberate action in the Manta… unlike some boats that call for no more than a subtle shifting of your hips. Yet, if you decide to lean it, the yak obliges very properly. I suspect that the energy put into maneuvering this boat is equivalent to what a smaller person would experience in a less spacious craft.

Yes, this IS a boat made for larger folks. While I heartily recommend it to anyone 5'-10" to 6'-7", weighing all the way up to 350 or even 375 pounds, I have to honestly say that I doubt an average size paddler would find this craft to their liking. It takes a little extra muscle, both in the water, and out of it.

Going back to the stability for a minute, I have found this boat almost impossible to accidentally tip. It would be safe to say that you would fall out of this yak from leaning too far before it tipped over. The hull is formed with long, rounded sponson type gunwales, that barely ride in the water in level travel, but offer excellent buoyancy when you do lean the boat. It is no large effort at all to heel it over to the point where water invades the cockpit from the side... yet it still feels like you could comfortably go another 10 or 15 degrees.

Due to the rockered hull shape, there is a minimum of wetted area to cause unwanted drag. It is heavy, however, so the first few paddle strokes don't produce jack rabbit starts. But once moving, the big Manta proves quite impressive in its speed. No, it won't blow off a Tarpon 160, but it represents itself very respectably along side the usual pack of drifters and scuppers. The "gliding" characteristics are good.

I also have a Prism, and it glides within about 80% of the same distance as that smaller boat. Your only problem might come if you load the front hatch more heavily than the rear. The boat tends to plow a bit at that point, and the paddling effort goes up while the speed drops. I first discovered this when I put my 25 pound dog into the front hatch. Works much better if he’s in the back.

There is ample storage beneath both hatches, and neither of them leak. The carrying capacity is rated at 450 pounds, and there appears to be room to actually load it to that limit. (Although I don't recommend such a payload, I honestly think the yak would handle it.) The hatch openings are pretty much the same size as most yaks, and are equipped with oval plastic lids. It’s a long boat, so the hatches are a bit of a stretch to reach while seated in the cockpit.

My boat came equipped with an optional accessory that Ocean Kayak could have just as well omitted, in my opinion. It's a rigid, molded plastic "coaming" that attaches to the cockpit area, enclosing the paddler in a pseudo "sit-in" shell. Not only is this shell too confining for a larger person, but it also restricts your movement because it has molded-in thigh braces that stick out about three inches from each side. All-in-all, that's OK for smaller paddlers, but not for the larger people this craft fits so well. This coaming now resides in my garage, and will stay there until resale time.

The Manta would be just about the perfect boat for big people if it were not for one more of Ocean Kayak's unfortunate choices. The cockpit has the typical molded-in foot-well configuration. But the cockpit tapers very abruptly toward the front end, narrowing the width of the wells. And the individual foot hollows seem to be designed for a shoe size of 10 or less. It is actually painful after a half an hour or so of having your foot literally crammed down into the tight wedge of a foot hole.

I have learned to overcome this serious oversight by throwing my sneakers down into the wells, and placing my heels on them. That raises my foot a few inches out of the hole, and makes life bearable.

Seating is decent, and it's wide enough for bigger people, with more than ample room to stretch your legs out flat. I'm 6'-5", and I still have a few inches left beyond my feet when my legs are shoved all the way forward. In normal paddling, I alternate using the second and third insets from the front. The front two scupper holes keep your feet wet most of the ride, but the rear scuppers, (located at the back of the seat area) don’t introduce a great deal of water into the cockpit. The Manta is not an exceptionally dry ride, but there are many yaks a lot wetter. As with most SOT’s, you will need to come up with a set of plugs.

You will also want to add an aftermarket seat. Without it, there is insufficient support for your back during prolonged paddling. A Surf-to-Summit “Tall Back” works well... although you have to mount your own front pad eyes and rear buckle straps. This was an easy job, and it took less than 15 minutes to mount everything. The straps come included with the Surf-to-Summit.

In conclusion, if you are a larger paddler… If you want to spend considerably less than the cost of a brand new yak… And if you kind of like the idea of owning one of the most unique boats in the local fleet…… then the Ocean Kayak Manta is a boat you will swear was made just for you.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the Ocean Kayak Manta would earn a rating of at least a 9 from me if it weren't for the restrictive foot area of the cockpit. With that regrettable negative detractor, it gets only a 7.

Willie T
St. Petersburg
6075@ij.net
Prism(Granite) Manta(Yellow)

True eloquence consists in saying all that need be said and no more; François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
__________________
Willie T
St. Petersburg
6075@ij.net
Prism(Granite) Manta(Yellow)

True eloquence consists in saying all that need be said and no more; François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
  #3  
Old 03-14-2004, 02:14 PM
MarkT MarkT is offline
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Location: Paterson, NJ
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Thanks for taking the time to do a write up on this kayak. I've always been curious about it. When it was first introduced, I considered buying one - the width turned me off. How do you think the Manta's performance would compare with the new Prowler?
  #4  
Old 03-30-2004, 02:58 PM
Willie T Willie T is offline
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Location: St. Petersburg, Florida U.S.A.
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I have yet to see a Prowler in the water, Mark. But from all I've read about it, there's probably no comparison between these two boats. The Manta is older and heavy. The Prowler sounds like it's miles ahead of my old faithful.
__________________
Willie T
St. Petersburg
6075@ij.net
Prism(Granite) Manta(Yellow)

True eloquence consists in saying all that need be said and no more; François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
  #5  
Old 05-09-2004, 10:54 AM
Mike Whitaker Mike Whitaker is offline
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Location: Ga.
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Hi Bill,

If you get your Prowler will you be selling your Manta? My wife has fallen in love with MY Manta, and said she would like one as well. I told her the odds of becoming A two Manta faimily are'nt very good. lol!

We will be making a trip to Tybee Island in July. I think I will try to have her something by then. Tybee is just below Savannah and is a great place to boat and camp.

Till next time, Mike (micker54@aol.com)
  #6  
Old 05-16-2004, 10:23 AM
Willie T Willie T is offline
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Posts: 142
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Yes, Mike, I would definately trade-in or sell the Manta for a Prowler. I went to a Dealers Demo Day a couple of weeks ago, and finally got to try the Prowler.

The Prowler is simply a better Manta. The hull design seems identical, but the cockpit is MUCH better designed. And it weighs substantially less. It was almost impossible to distinguish any difference in the handling or performance.

Looks like OK finally did it right.
__________________
Willie T
St. Petersburg
6075@ij.net
Prism(Granite) Manta(Yellow)

True eloquence consists in saying all that need be said and no more; François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
  #7  
Old 05-19-2004, 02:07 AM
Mike Whitaker Mike Whitaker is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Ga.
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Bill,
If you decide to sell your Manta let me know.
My wife an I have fallen in love with this thing, and I would love to have another one.
You can shoot me an e-mail at: micker54@aol.com
Mike
  #8  
Old 05-30-2004, 04:31 PM
Mike Whitaker Mike Whitaker is offline
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Willie T,
Get that Prowler yet?
  #9  
Old 08-07-2004, 06:09 AM
Willie T Willie T is offline
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No, Mike, not yet. Employment has been a bit sporatic for me over the last few months, and coin is getting scarce.

I'll be sure to let you know if the Manta goes on the market.

Bill
__________________
Willie T
St. Petersburg
6075@ij.net
Prism(Granite) Manta(Yellow)

True eloquence consists in saying all that need be said and no more; François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
  #10  
Old 08-13-2004, 03:49 AM
Mike Whitaker Mike Whitaker is offline
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OK Bill,
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