Submitted: 05-23-2008 by dragons4
Just bought a used (rental) Manta Ray 14 w/ ruddder. From the serial #, it was made in 07, so among the last of the LiquidLogic Manta Rays.
So far, I have paddled only flatwater - local reservoir and flatwater river. Hope to get to ocean / Narraganset bay soon. I need to get a new paddle to go w/ this boat (my Shuna carbon 210 that I paddle w/ Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 pro is too short for the Manta Ray 14) - am currently using a Little Dipper 215 that is also too short (and maybe a bit small-bladed for the Manta Ray 14), but I can cruise @ about 3 mph (sorry, gps does mph not knots) which DH tells me was about my avg cruising speed in the Tempest 165.
Ok, so why did I go from a Tempest 165 pro to a Manta Ray 14? 2 reasons: I needed something w/ a wider seat/cockpit [I am 5'8" 180 lb F], and I wanted something more stable to use as a photog. platform. Although DH wields his Canon 40D (stored in a dry bag) from the deck of his Impex Susquehanna, I couldn't manage camera, dry bag, paddle, AND balance comfortable in my Tempest 165, so I got to go kayak shopping!!
Of the boats I tested, I thought the Manta Ray 14 paddled most like a "real kayak". Tracks straight (w/ minimal wind); doesn't paddle like a barge; even w/out thigh straps I can get a smidge of lean. I find that I like the rudder even better than skeg to help w/ tracking across the wind (though it has taken a bit to unlearn the "push opposite" muscle memory from sailing that somehow transferred itself unhelpfully to steering the kayak :) I also find the LiquidLogic seat v. comfortable (not sure I would like the Native Watercraft seat). There is space between my legs for the camera in a dry bag. I also like the position of the water bottle well (near between legs).
So, if I like it, why did I rate it only 8? I'm concerned about the longevity of the black plastic rectangles screwed to molded mounting spots in the hull that are used as anchor points for the bungee system. The Manta Ray 14 I test paddled was missing one of the cockpit anchor points. The used Manta Ray 14 I bought is missing one of the anchor points for the tankwell bungee. I find the bungees across the deck hatch v. difficult to attach - and I can see motion in one of the anchor points when trying to secure the bungee - so I'm worried that another is going to pop off and I'm not sure how I'll re-secure it.
The small hatches fore and aft of the seat have plastic cups in them - but they're too small to be useful to me. I'd like to be able to put glasses case in the one in the cockpit (have prescription glasses & prescription sunglasses) but the cup is too shallow for the glasses case.
The LiquidLogic foot pegs are a bit stiff/sticky - I like to push on pegs while paddling (w/ rudder up) and pegs tend to stick and then move kinda loudly (been yaking among the fishermen) so need to try greasing the peg inside the rail, or seeing if there are flashing bits of plastic that need to be trimmed). If I can't fix the pegs/rails sufficiently I may end up swapping them out for a different system. (I liked the Tarpon foot pegs better, but can't remember why I didn't like the Tarpon as a whole compared to the Manta Ray)
On the whole I find the Manta Ray a good boat (but not great). It meets my needs, and paddles better than the other yaks I tested (Ultimate 12 - doesn't track well even w/ skeg down, sides too high and too flexy, foot peg system BAD, seat uncomfortable; Ultimate 14.5 - pretty much the same as the 12 but boat even more too flexy due to increased length; Ocean Kayak Prowler - molded in heel braces even w/ rudder and they hit my achilles tendon so NG for me; Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 - seat too narrow; Tarpon 160 - my notes don't mention how it paddled, just that it seemed narrower and lower than the Manta Ray 14 & so not so good as a photog platform)