Submitted: 04-17-2008 by alanbe
I took my new Manta Ray 14.5 over to a friend's house and did some stability testing in his pool.
1st test: Side-saddle
Got into the Manta Ray and sat side-saddle keeping my center-of-gravity in the center of the seat. No problem. I then moved my COG more toward the gunwale. Again, no problem...so it was time to see just how far I could push the envelope. As I put more of my weight on the gunwale and shifted my COG so that most of my upper body was above the gunwale, I'd estimate that I was able to get to about a 45* angle before I felt like it would turtle. Put it this way: I was leaning one gunwale into the water and water was coming into the boat. Pushed it a tiny bit more past that and over she finally went.
2nd test: Getting back in after turtling
While the MR14 was upside down in the water, I felt it was a good time to test my ability to get the boat right-side up and clamber inside again. I chose to kick myself up over the hull, reached over to the opposite side, grabbed the handle, and righted the boat by flipping it over toward me. Very easy to do.
Once the boat was right-side up, I put one hand on the gunwale closest to me and one hand on the gunwale furthest from me, kept my COG low, launched myself up over the seat area so that my mid-section was across the seat area, turned my body so my head was aiming toward the stern and my feet were toward the bow, and then twisted so that my butt fell right into the seat in the correct position. Easy enough.
3rd test: Moving forward
After getting back into the boat, I wanted to see how far toward the bow I could scoot without upsetting anything. I hung my legs over the gunwales and scooted forward. I scooted up to the console and judged my balance: no problem. I kept scooting forward up over the little console and sat just behind the forward hatch: no problem. I kept scooting forward and actually sat on top of my forward hatch: no problem. This tells me that I can VERY easily store things in the forward hatch, scoot up to it while on the water, open the forward hatch, and be able to EASILY open the hatch and reach in for whatever is in there.
4th test: Moving backward
Scooted back to the seat and thought I should see how far back toward the stern I could move. I used the gunwales to lift my butt up over the back of the seat and sat on the small rear hatch that's directly behind the seat: no problem. I then kept moving backwards and plunked my rear into the well area where my crate normally goes: no problem.
5th test: Standing in the cockpit
Next, I tested my ability to stand up. This was my first attempt at standing in ANY kayak. No problem. I was able to stand up without any issues. There were 2 other larger adults and 3 small kids in the water...so the water wasn't dead calm...but it wasn't all that rough, either. Needless to say, I wouldn't dare try fishing from this position. It would afford a quick stretch of the legs after long hours on the water or to sight something in the water, but I wouldn't try to paddle or pole from this position. If I practiced standing enough, I could probably get used to it and be able to stand with confidence for longer periods of time or for paddling. I don't think I'd try this in rough water, though!
6th test: Standing on the rear deck
Okay, so this test is a little silly. I had 2 people steady the boat for me as I moved into position and stood up on the small rear deck area immediately behind the seat where the small rear hatch is located and before the boat drops into the rear well area normally reserved for crates. After standing up fully erect, my 2 partners let go of the boat and I was able to stand there. It took a lot more concentration and I didn't do it for very long before jumping into the water...but at least I did it.
I absolutely LOVE this boat, but it is quite heavy. That will turn some people off. I don't mind the weight because I have a proven method for car-topping my kayaks that enables me to forget all about weight issues.
I decided to drop the rating to a 9 due to its weight that might turn off potential buyers. The Manta Ray has one of the MOST comfortable seats I've ever been in. Not quite as good as the Ultimate or Magic seat, but still VERY good. This boat is rock-solid stable, has tons of room, easy to find places to store things, lots of space to mount accessories, and is a VERY dry ride.