Can't decide between Tarpon 100 and 120!

I am making a change! I have had a ridiculous Pelican Viper for 5 years. Over the last year or so, I have rented quite a few other kayaks to play with because the Viper is, well…useless (at least for my needs). I have done a ton of research and been to my local kayak shops. We have it narrowed down to the Tarpon 100 or 120. The Tarpon 120 was out of my price range when I walked in, but I have wrapped my head around spending that much money on a boat now so price isn’t necessarily the issue. Right now, I am quite cautious in my adventures and stick to the rivers in FL and the backwaters and near shore areas in the Bay, The Gulf of Mexico and down in the FL Keys. But I think I might want to get a bit more adventurous as time goes on and venture out to open water a bit more (just to get to some cool islands surrounding FL). While the 120 is definitely a heavy boat for me to handle by myself (29 y.o. female, 150 lbs.), I can carry it the short distance I need to fairly easily. I have a Ford Focus with a Thule glide and set system that I love. My next step is to make sure I am comfortable getting the 120 on top of the car, but I don’t foresee too much issue since I can carry it easily enough. Of course, if it’s too difficult, that will be the deciding factor. My question is…should I go for the 120 or stick with the 100?? I don’t want to limit myself and I want to be as confident as possible to explore my surrounding waters. Like I said, I am quite cautious right now and know that having a boat that I am confident in will make a huge difference in what I am willing to try. But if the 100 is enough, I don’t want to go overboard either since the weight and size of the 100 is definitely a nice feature as far as handling the boat by myself. Also, will I enjoy the 120 as much as the 100 on rivers as far as maneuverability and turning goes? I’m sorry this is a novel, but I am obviously in need of some direction :).

If you are going even a little off shore

– Last Updated: Feb-05-14 10:43 AM EST –

You need the 120.

EDIT TO ADD - as far as FL rivers, either boat should be fine. In swift water on small streams, the extra 2' could be a problem sometimes. But not on slow moving FL rivers.

That’s what I was thinking…
Thanks so much for the input. And believe me, I understand the limitations of the 120 as far as “open water” and have no intention of going very far from land or protection, but crossing some open water to get to a little island is definitely enticing. And only in good conditions!

2 feet makes a difference
I’d also suggest the 120.

And get a set of wheels so you can wheel it around rather than carry it. If you wheel on sand, get the big balloon tires.

How hard do you paddle?

– Last Updated: Feb-05-14 1:19 PM EST –

Except for extremely sleek boats (especially racing boats), the maximum speed that you can go can be estimated very accurately just based on waterline length. That maximum speed is called "hull speed", and it's based on the fact that a boat can't go faster than its own wake (longer boats create a wake of longer wavelength, and waves of longer wavelength travel faster).

The 12-foot boat will have a maximum speed that's almost half a mile-per-hour faster than the 10-footer, and the speed difference when paddling "reasonably hard" will be a bit less pronounced, but noticeable just the same. If you never exert more than very light effort, or never paddle hard enough to consider yourself in a hurry to get somewhere, that won't matter and you won't end up going any slower in the shorter boat. However, if you plan to paddle even small distances offshore, it almost surely would matter (you are much more likely to find yourself in a situation where you want to get somewhere quickly).

For what it's worth, here are the theoretical maximum speeds for the two boats:

10' waterline length: 4.9 mph
12' waterline length: 5.3 mph

Chances are, your "maximum comfortable speed" will be at least 1/2 mph slower than the speeds shown, and the fastest speed that you can maintain for a fair amount of time will be a bit slower still.

Waterline length is usually a bit less than total length, but there's probably no need to try to be that accurate.

Hurricane Skimmer 128
20 lbs lighter than the Tarpon 120, less than $100 more in price.

And a delight to paddle. Fast, quiet, and dry ride. Great for Florida creeks, rivers and lakes, and the limited offshore you are talking about.

I seriously looked at that boat…
sissy, the shop I was at last night pointed that boat out to me. What a sharp looking boat! I seriously thought about it, but I am not sure I can justify any more money. If the weight was going to be a deciding factor, I would probably look at it more closely. But I think I feel pretty comfortable with the weight. I’m going to lug it around a bit more at the shop to make sure.

The Pescador 120
by Perception Sport, is the old (pre-2009) but highly-rated Tarpon 120. Much cheaper than the current Tarpon

Obviously, you need to learn
something about justifying more money on kayaks.

  1. You have saved a boatload of money by paddling that Viper for so many years.

    2.If you get a boat you just love, you won’t be buying another one real soon (maybe, anyway).

  2. You won’t always be 29, so take care of your back!

  3. You deserve a really pretty boat. You just do.

    I could go on. Works for me ;^)

All valid points, sissy…
and at least the only one I have to justify anything to is myself! :wink:

You all have convinced me
that a 12 foot is a no brainer. Now you keep adding other options that I ruled out last night! This is what I get for asking for opinions from people who know more than I do!

This was my first consideration
but the boat in the store last night didn’t have the foot pegs (just molded plastic). And I don’t think it had the hatch directly in front of the seat. Does that make any sense? Could it be different model years?

Quite possibly…
but you are sure this was the 120 and not the Pescador 100?

Not particularly. I looked at so many, they have all run together a bit. I will go check it out again.

Where in Florida?
Have you had a chance to paddle these boats?

Travel Country Outdoors in Altamonte Springs does demoes every Saturday morning.

I wasn’t shopping for a boat, well, no more than we all always are, but last spring I tried the Tarpon 120 and then the Skimmer 128, and I ordered my Skimmer that same day. I like it more each time I take it out.

I also spend a lot of time in the state park’s Tarpon 100 as a volunteer, and that’s a nice little boat, but too darned heavy.