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Submitted: 08-31-2010 by shogun555
After thousands of hours and thousands of miles kneeling and paddling in canoes (1946-2006) my knees gave out and the only way I could find to be able to keep going out on the waters under my own power and still be able to enjoy the same kind of "feel" was in a kayak. I live on the shore of Lake Erie which is where I do 99% of my paddling anymore. Here, the shore is all rock and most times the winds blow free.
In the last 4 years, I've owned 6 kayaks. What I've found through experience is that for the conditions out here, what is required is a kayak with a large enough cockpit for easy entry and exit so I can launch the boat and literally jump aboard before the next wave swamps me or throws the kayak back onto the onshore rocks. Tricky! When coming back to shore, essential to be able to climb out quickly as soon as I get into the shallows before the kayak bottoms out on the rock bottom. When the wind blows out here (which is most of the time) the waves build and usually what we get is a chop. Steady winds also beget some goodly swells. Depending on the wind direction, we also can get some good size waves breaking both offshore and onshore. So, these conditions call for a kayak which will handle both big waves and short chop equally well while retaining good stability, whether heading into them head on, quartering or broadside, or having them pushing you along from dead astern. Another prerequisite is a kayak that tracks well in all the above conditions without need of a lot of correcting and thus tiring strokes of the paddle.
I'm not into rolling kayaks. If I want to get wet, I'll put on a bathing suit and go for a swim. My reason for being in a kayak is the same as it was for being in a canoe, the experience of being on the water (and not in it!). At my age (67 fast going on 68) with a bad back and knees that have seen better days, comfort is a big factor. So is ease of paddling because I just can't push a paddle like I used to 30 years ago. Those days when I could paddle full tilt for 14 hours a day are but a fast-fading memory...
Admittedly, I haven't had the opportunity to try out every kayak on the market but thanks to the internet, have managed to read specs and reviews of many boats. After hours and hours of research, I decided that the Necky Manitou just might be the boat to fulfill all my needs and so I started searching "for sale" ads on Kijiji and Craigslist hoping to find one at a reasonable price. As luck would have it, I found one a little over a week ago and bought it, Best deal I've ever made! This boat meets all the criteria outlined above in spades and as an added bonus, looks real good, like a "real" sea kayak. What more could a man ask for?
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