Boat weight & paddling sit-on-top kayak

I am planning on getting a sit-on top Kayak for use on the North Coast in California. My primary use will be scuba diving which means I’ll need a stable boat since I’ll be getting in and out of it and lugging heavy gear in and out of it in the water. Also, I’ll be carrying 70+lbs of gear on the boat. I have very little kayak experience having used Ocean Kayak’s Scrambler a couple of times. The Scrambler is very popular with divers and is pretty much the only one available in our area to rent or try. I wasn’t completely happy with the Scrambler. The sitting position was not great, the boat did not seem to sustain much forward momentum and rowing felt a bit awkward. Our Kayak shop showed us another Kayak, Native’s Manta Ray 12. It has improvements over the Scrambler that are better for divers. Comfort wise, the seat is more “scooped”, the foot rest is more finely adjusted and the design of the bottom looks more compatible with forward motion. My husband and I put refundable deposits on a couple of them to lock in a Labor Day sale price. When we got home I looked up the Manta Ray and discovered it is 64 lbs, 12’2". long and 30" wide. This is in contrast to the Scrambler at 45 lbs, 11’.2" and 28in wide.

Now my questions:

  1. I will have help moving the kayak on land so am no overly concerned about the weight on land. What I am wondering is how much does the weight of the boat effect how much power it takes to row it in water? Keep in mind I am a middle-aged female with the typical weak upper body strength of an average female and will have a lot of weight from my dive gear on the boat as well.

  2. There is a 10’10" version of the same boat but it may be lacking some of the amenities that I like on the 12 ft. boat. It is the same width at 30" but only weighs 56lbs. If I were to choose this shorter version, is the 14" loss of length going to make a big difference in stability or ability to go straight with my lack of kayak paddling experience?

  3. The seat on this boat is very comfortable sitting in it on the showroom floor. It is scooped such that it slopes slightly upward at the thigh. It results in the paddler sitting deeper in the kayak. Does being deeper in the kayak make rowing any easier or harder?

Hydra Aquanut Twin

– Last Updated: Sep-07-08 7:34 AM EST –

You ask a very intricate and well-thought question, and I do not know if this will help, avid-d.

The Aquanuat Twin (not the single Aquanuat, although that might be a consideration also--note whenever you read about thgis boat such as reviews whether you are reading about the single or the tandem twin as they are different "birds").

Weight is 65 lbs (great for its size), size is bigger than those you mention to accomodate your gear, could take a second person if you wished to use for that purpose, stable, and I find it fast enough (but I do not use in surf to tell you more about that)--you gain some speed in its longer size to weight ratio. I bought mine from manufacturer direct ad on eBay (seems not to be on there now), and it was inexpensive at about $550 or so, plus they shipped it to me for about $100.

The key to this boat is, the weight is similar to some of those singles you mention, but this one can be used as a single or a double. Note the photos: it has a middle seat well for attaching seatbacks (I use Surf To Summit seats) as a solo. Give optimal flexibility as a large yet light (relatively) single.

Just one to consider. Goodluck on your SOT search. Happy diving! :-)

Not a SOT expert

– Last Updated: Sep-07-08 12:23 PM EST –

but since no one has posted answers to your questions I will try to give you some answers.

1. Weight and paddling effort
If you are talking about 15-20 lbs extra boat weight I do not think you will notice any difference in the effort needed to paddle it at normal cruising speeds. For racers who dramatically accelerate the kayak with each stroke weight is big factor, but at the speeds you are likely to be paddling it should not make a big difference. Add up the boat weight, your weight, and your gear weight. I bet 20 lbs is less than 1% of that total.

2. Length and tracking (paddling straight)
A longer kayak (longer waterline) of the same basic hull design will go straighter than a shorter one. However, 10ft and 12ft kayaks are both considered short kayaks. If you were talking about 12ft vs 16ft I would think you would notice lots of difference, but 10ft to 12.5 ft in the same model is not likely to make much difference. On the stability side I think the width is much more important that the length. Again longer might give you a little more but I do not think it would be really noticable.

3. Seat height
SOT's have a high seat position relative to Sit-inside kayaks. Even a "low" seat in a SOT is going to be higher than what you find in almost all sit-inside-kayaks. That is one of the reasons that SOT's are wider than SINK's. Higher seats are less stable so they add width for stabilty. In racing there is an ergonomic advantage to sitting up higher, but at the speeds you are likely to be paddling it should not really matter.

You might want to go the Texaskayakfisherman website. There is lots of SOT expertise on that site. Link is

Hope this helps.


Agree, and a boat suggestion
I second the points mjamja is making. Boat weight is most important out of the water. I will add that tracking is dictated by hull shape in addition to length. But it’s true that a longer version of the same hull should track better.

I recently sold a Bic Scapa and thought it was quite nice for a SOT. It’s marketed to divers because of the big well behind the cockpit. The seating was highly comfortable and glide was good for a SOT - it’s 14’5" long and 51 pounds in thermoform plastic. They’re hard to find, however. I would have kept it if I’d had the space but I’m building a boat so the Bic had to go. You can check the p-net buyers guide for info.

Better advice.
NOt a lot of divers using SOTs on this site.

I would suggest posting on

A few things you will want to examine.

How well does the boat launch and land through surf, if you are diving in Norcal.

How easy is it to climb back into the boat. A lot of boats with high sides are not that easy to get into.

A longer boat will have more glide. You might look at the Ocean Kayak scupper pro tankwell models, they are making them again and they would seem to be an excellent choice for diving.

Thanks for all of the input!
I’ll try posting on the other site as well.


I’ll post on the sit on top forum as well.

Cobra Fish-N-Dive
They are a California based company and offer EXCELLENT customer service. They have the best cargo capacity around, and weigh less than Tarpons. Pretty wide and super stable.

If not that a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130T…it is a tandem that can be paddled from a center “jump” seat. At 34" wide I can walk from one end to the other and not even think about tipping.

dive boat
Try looking at a Malibu Kayaks eXtreme - 15 foot, low profile, plenty of storage and really stable.

The boat will be relatively heavy, but you are talking tanks and wet re-entry, so don’t sell yourself short on length and max weight capacity.

I’m 300 pounds and was in a Manta Ray 12 Friday… water in the cockpit. Its a nice boat, but if I was on the big water with gear, getting in and out, I would want an eXtreme!

I have the 14 foot Manta Ray
and it would suit your needs as well. Heavy, but I’ve had girls under 120# paddle the thing and love it.

The seat in the Manta Rays is one of the nicest on the market. No problems on long paddles.

Manta Rays tend to have high sides which keep it dry on mild whitewater and mild surf. Downsides are that it might be harder to get back into than a Tarpon or other SOT. The Scrambler I tried was a tub compared to the Manta Ray and the Tarpon. Tarpon tracks well, but the Manta Ray is a great balance of tracking and maneuverability. To me the Scrambler just plowed water when you got up to speed.

Manta Rays are rock solid. It takes a lot to flip the thing. Tarpons are similar.

If you want to cover a lot of ground and go straight, look at the 14 footers or even the 16 foot Tarpon.


I Know An Expert Ab Diver In Mendocino

– Last Updated: Sep-09-08 1:32 PM EST –

Kathty's niece just married a guy who was born and raised in Mendo. We were up for the wedding and stayed for two weeks. He's a commercial fisherman, and long time Abalone diver. It a tradition in his family.

He paddles a Wilderness System Ride, which is the exact boat I bought my son in law for ocean fishing and diving. This year at Van Dam they were in matching boats, and I was in my Ocean Kayak Mars.

Its a heavy boat, but as noted above, that doesn't make much difference once you get it into the water.

Most kayakers will scoff at the Ride because it has a double hull, like a catamaran. Its not the most efficient design for paddling, but its great for diving.

You mention not having much upper body strength, that is exactly what is takes to remount a SOT in deep water.

The Ride has very rounded sides, very close to the water, and the double hull makes it extremely stable for reentry. The pontoon on the opposite side works as a counter weight to aid reentry

I am not sure they even make them anymore, but look around. I bet you can find a used one in Mendo. They are popular with divers.

I was up in Mendo with the family this year. We had five paddlers and only four boats so I rented for a couple trips. I visited most of the local kayak dive shops, like Subsurface in Fort Bragg. None of them carried the Ride. A couple carried Ocean Kayak, and would probably try and sell you an Ocean Kayak Prowler 13, which would also be a good dive boat