When I got my new kayak last year, a Perception Tribe 11.5, I was buying more stability than I now think I need, at the expense of characteristics such as glide and speed.
Now I’m looking to correct that misjudgment with a longer boat. Since I favor SOTs, and since the boat needs to ride in the shortish bed of my pickup truck (seven feet and change with the tailgate open), I’ve been looking at the longest SOTs available now, which are 14 feet.
My research: I have read and viewed every video and user review I could find on both boats.
Uses: Mostly lackadaisical cruising on a calm lake, with occasional forays onto Lake Erie. If I like how the boat handles it, more Lake Erie. Rivers, when I can find one with water in it.
Me: Five feet eight and overweight at about 180 lbs. Want to shed some of that.
My gear: One medium-sized dry bag, one waist-pack dry bag, and my cane.
I had the choices down to the Eddyline Caribbean 14, the WS Tarpon 140, and the Hurricane Skimmer 140. I’ve since eliminated the Tarpon due to weight, and the Skimmer because of its mostly-flat bottom.
So I thought I was done, (aside from saving up the money), until I saw one I’d forgotten because it never seems to get mentioned anywhere: the Bic Scapa Fit.
I think I rejected the Scapa earlier because, to me, it’s just eye-bleedingly ugly. Honestly, it looks like an inflatable that’s lost a bunch of its air. Not that the Tribe is a thing of particular beauty either, but I was hoping to get a prettier boat as well as a less effortful one–another reason I didn’t much care for the Tarpon.
I may also have rejected it based on the many negative reviews I saw for their little jon-boats.
But here I am, seeing the Scapa is both longer and narrower than all my other choices … and $800 less than the Caribbean, which means a lot, too. And they both weigh the same, though the Scapa is mostly naked.
Its nakedness appeals to me, actually, and I’d like it better if it didn’t even have that little hatch up front, which I can’t reach from the seat. The other boats are here-a-hatch, there-a-hatch, everywhere a hatch hatch, and the Caribbean even has accessory rails. I don’t need any of that, though I’ll admit that the tiny between-the-thighs hatch in the Tribe is convenient.
I was a little surprised at the number of positive reviews of the Scapa.
Anyway, I’ve tried to come up with a list of pro and con features of the Caribbean and the Scapa.
It’s pretty, and I get to choose a color I like (green).
Its seat is supposed to be pretty nice.
Nice water-bottle holder with elastic keeper
It appears to have a low profile, which might minimize weathercocking
Comes rigged with perimeter lines
Excellent reviews. Reviewers widely comment on its speed and good glide
Ad copy plainly calls it a “sea kayak”, which tells me it might be better suited to Lake Erie
Water-bottle holder is a simple well with no keeper.
Seat. Don’t know if their accessory seat is any good, but a simple back-band might work okay. I’d try it as is first, then shop around or improvise if I felt the need.
Orange. I’d prefer not to spend three or four hours in the sun with a bright color reflecting in my face, polarized sunglasses notwithstanding. But at least it’s not the bottom of an aluminum canoe.
UGLY. But then, I won’t be looking at it while I’m in it.
Now to other differences that I’d like input about if anyone can offer any …
Hull material: Caribbean is, IIRC, ABS; Scapa says it’s polyethylene. And it might take a plastics engineer to know the differences.
Hull shape: I’m looking at the bow shape of the Scapa, which looks a lot like surfskis. On flat water I’m sure it won’t matter, but I’m wondering if that would be better or worse than the Caribbean’s more upturned bow on short-period waves. I can’t help wondering if the Scapa would tend to bury itself in wave faces, but I also don’t know if that would be good or bad. Punching through waves instead of riding over them sounds like fun, actually, but exhausting, too.
BOTTOM LINE: I want to cover more distance with a given amount of effort.