Paddlers have many reasons to be excited in today's market. Never have there been so many designs, features and options designed to put and keep a broad smile on your face. Departing from a conventionally paddled kayak, it's my intention to take you on a tour through the design, features, performance and accessories available for the Native Watercraft Multisport Mariner Propel 12.5. The term Multisport is an indication that this craft is capable of three alternative means of propulsion to paddling; the Propel (pedal driven prop), Volt (electric trolling motor) and sail, which can be used in combination with either the Propel or Volt.
The designers' goal was twofold, first to create a multi-functional, ergonomically comfortable, craft suitable for varied bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, inshore or offshore coastal waters. Secondly, multiple means of propulsion from the same hull. The Propel drive unit deserves an article of its own, but briefly, it's a robust, sealed and reliable unit. Constructed of saltwater grade materials and components it's virtually maintenance free. All that is suggested is a quick freshwater rinse if used in saltwater and a yearly dab of lithium grease to the headgear, accessible through a grease port located on the crankshaft hub. The prop is made of nylon reinforced plastic, is flexible and nearly indestructible yet also receives protection from a forward skeg. The drive is engineered with a 1:10 ratio, meaning for every cycle of the pedals you receive ten turns of the prop, a very efficient payback.
The Mariner is a sit-on-top, self-draining kayak constructed of super linear polyethylene, which is a denser form of polyethylene that is stiffer, stronger and yet lighter than other polyethylene's. You'll quickly notice the unique shape of the bottom and deck of the Mariners' hull. The bottom incorporates similar characteristics to the patented tunnel hull found on the popular Ultimate series, which offer the user the necessary stability to be able to stand with confidence, cast, land fish or pole along. Continuing on the underside of the hull you'll find a very effective built in rudder that's protected by a skeg when moving forward. A pivoting lever to the left side of the seat controls the rudder. On deck, beginning at the bow, is a comfort carry handle, a large rigid bow hatch, floor scuppers, drive trunk well, the well known and extremely comfortable 1st Class seat, a 5" rubber day hatch and a ginormous rear deck, measuring nearly 44" long, 24" wide (behind the seat) and 16" wide at the stern. The rudder turret and stern carry handle finish out the stern. Plug N' Play slots are located along the inside rails from bow to stern allowing accessory attachment or serving as lash points. The Propel drive attaches and is removed with the simple operation of slide-lock clips, two holding the cross tube and one at the drive shaft, holding it in the deployed position. When underway a cap preventing prop splash from entering the cockpit covers the trunk well.
In shortest summary, WOW! The versatility, ease of operation and attributes of the Mariner has earned it as my top choice, go to craft. The benefits of a pedal craft cross a multitude of boundaries for the recreational user, fisherman, photographer and snorkel or scuba diver. That's correct, snorkel or scuba divers! With its cavernous low rear deck a diver can pull oneself up on deck as well as use the space to stow dive gear. Also, individuals with physical challenges may also find the Mariner Propel or Volt just the ticket, allowing them to enjoy being on the water in a craft they can operate by pedal or electric motor.
As a fisherman, the nearly hands free operation allows me to keep a line in the water, moving from one spot to another or by pedaling the drive in forward or reverse to combat the effects of wind or current, much more than if I were having to constantly pick up or put down a paddle. Pedaling also allows you to troll much more effectively, being able to keep a rod in hand or easily reached from rod holders in front of you. You'll also find benefit with the Propel fighting fish. For instance, say you're fishing structure, tree stumps, oyster beds, docks or any other overhang and you hook into a sizeable fish. Normally you will be drawn towards the fish and into the structure. With the pedal drive you can simply reverse pedal to counter this effect. The stand up stability of the tunnel hull allows you to make casts that you would otherwise not be able to make in a typical sit on top, like pitching and flipping. Being higher offers a better sight line as well as making longer casts. Pedaling the Mariner is much like riding a recumbent bike, with the user in a comfortable and relaxed position. I find the most efficient expenditure of energy versus speed to be a comfortable cadence delivering between 3.8-4 MPH, a speed capable for long periods of time with minimal fatigue. Occasionally I'm asked, "does the prop collect weeds"? Well, yes, but I've yet to find a prop that is immune. I've found that if you move slowly through weeds, occasionally back pedaling one or two revolutions you can minimize the collection. If you do accumulate weeds the drive can be easily swung up for their removal. If you're moving through heavily weeded areas or lily pads I'll swing the drive up and paddle though to avoid unnecessary damage and entanglement to these aquatic plants. Depending on the loaded weight you need approximately 12"-14" of water to operate the drive. Maneuverability is outstanding with the combination of the drive and large rudder. The craft can nearly turn on its length at speed. I've had the pleasure of using the Mariner Propel for over a year and am pleased to say I haven't had one problem from the heart of this system, the drive. Glancing at the specifications and seeing the weight of the craft, you might think 87 lbs… there's no way I can lift that. Well, 87 lbs. is the fully factory outfitted hull, seat and drive unit. I'm of average build, don't lift weights, am 6' and 190 lbs. I find vehicle topping easiest by removing the 7 lb seat and the 11 lb. drive, lowering the weight to a more manageable 69 lbs that I can then lift overhead for loading on my midsize truck rack. Another option is to partially lift it, with the bow remaining on the ground, then walk under it to the balance point.
With certain advancements and use of costlier components associated prices will naturally reflect the increase over a typical paddle kayak. In comparison, a similarly equipped kayak (with rudder) can amount to $1,200-$1,300. A decent paddle can easily add another $200. By then you're not far away from enjoying the technical advancements of a pedal craft such as the Mariner. It's been a very long time since one single piece of equipment has furthered my enjoyment of being on the water, until the development of the Propel. Whether in large rivers, lakes, coastal waters or busting through 3-4' waves the Mariner has put a new smile on my face that has yet to wear off!
Weight: 87 lbs
Recreational Version Colors: Yellow, Mango, Firebrick Red, Blue, Ice, Sand, Olive and Camo
Angler Version Colors: Mango, Sand, Olive and Camo
Related Accessories: (click for more info)
First Class Seat Headrest
First Class Seat Bag
Multisport Transport Cart
Multisport Sail Kit
Storage Arm Rests – attach to the hull on either side of the seat