I recently purchased a Manatee on sale from LL Bean. I already have a WS Tsunami 140, but wanted a smaller, lighter boat to use for local paddles. The Manatee is great for that! I got it on sale for just over $300 and I'm impressed, not only with the way it handles, but also with the little extras that make paddling just that much more relaxing. Extras such as the paddle holder, the foot pegs that adjust very easily while you're paddling, a comfortable seat, and the lower seat back...which is both comfortable and makes entering and exiting the boat so much easier.
Besides all of that, she's a breeze to paddle. Very stable, and while she isn't a quick touring boat, she's not a barge either.
My daughter-in-law is new at paddling and after trying 4 or 5 other rec boats, she tried my Manatee. Her first word after paddling it was..."SWEET"....now she and my son want their own!First off, I should point out that as far as I can tell, the Manatee, is a re-badged Perseption Swifty. I've seen them side by side and they are identical...(the Manatee even includes a Perception water bottle as part of the package) This is my first kayak, although I have canoed for years. I bought it on a whim while vacationing last year in Maine. The Manatee is made of plastic and is short and wide with a roomy cockpit. I am 5' 8" and can sit with my legs folded up or straight out. Weighing 39lbs, it is easy to load on the car. The seat is nothing to write home about, but comfortable enough for several hour trips. As might be expected of a short wide craft, it is very stable but doesn't track very well. Almost immediately I regretted not buying a longer craft. On the positive side, I took it out in the ocean and rode out some prety large swells with perfect confidence. It also will turn on a dime, something that longer kayaks don't do as well.
I have owned many kayaks through the years and I find the Manatee to be a great little kayak for casual flatwater paddling...and well worth the price.
Recently, I went kayaking with a friend in a Necky Manitou 13. We traded off so I had an opportunity to compare the Manatee with a sleeker craft. Although I was able to keep up with the Necky, I had to expend much more effort. It soon became evident that the longer craft would track and glide much better than the Manatee. Where the Manatee did shine was when we came to some small rapids and current. The shorter kayak was much more maneuverable and less susseptible to getting turned sideways in the current.
The bottom line is that there are trade-offs. While not the sleekest craft, the Manatee is very stable and can slip in and out of tight places easily. It is a good kayak for beginners, but if you are looking for performance.....spend a little more and get something longer and sleeker.