Help w/ Faster SOT

Hey all! I’m fairly new to paddling, although not as new as I was when I posted previously. My husband & I have been out on the water a good bit since then and for sure - I love it! I currently paddle an OK Drifter and my husband has a Perception Sport Jazz. We aren’t matched very well and are planning to buy me something a bit faster so that he can move up into my Drifter. Therein lies the trouble - how in the world do I choose what to move up into? We’d like to stay under about $1200, but that still leaves a world of options open. Let me tell you what we’ll be doing:

Spending A LOT of time at Clark Hill (J. Stom Thurmond) Lake in GA exploring coves and crossing a fair piece of open water since we live very close. Paddling (down) the Savannah River and Augusta Canal. Going to med. size lakes at State Parks around GA and the Ogeechee River. We’d like to visit the salt marshes (starting with guided tours) around Savannah/Tybee Island and start doing some of the day trips out to Little Tybee, etc. Not interested in much white water or surfing, but WILL be crossing some ocean and waves. We’d like to work up to some weekend trips as well, but not looking to paddle for days across huge water.

I’d like something that has a high weight limit (I weigh 270 and am shrinking, but will be carrying some equipment). I couldn’t care less about fishing, so angler outfits don’t matter to me. We’re interested in scenery and wildlife and peace and quiet mostly and seeing new places. My hubby can fish off the Drifter Angler. I would like something with fair speed and decent tracking that doesn’t give up hugely on turning and stability. I don’t need to stand up in the thing, but I am for sure a klutz getting into it. smile A comfy seat would be nice and good foot support (I do not like the molded foot wells in the Drifter as I am only 5’5" and they don’t put my feet in a comfy place). A dry ride is nice, but not top priority as we paddle in GA and FL and it’s HOT for 3/4 of the year. I don’t care if it’s heavy on land as we’re getting a trailer, but don’t want to feel heavy in the water if you know what I mean. HELP!

I’ve looked at the Tarpon 14, Ride 135, X Factor, Manta Ray 14, etc. I think 14 to 14 1/2 ft. is about as long as I’d like to go for the moment. Appreciate suggestions and serious answers. Also, please take into consideration seat width and my wide hips. The Drifter has plenty of room, but I think I need about 19 inches to be comfy in the hips, at least for now. By the time someone responds I might be down to 18! Hehe. THANKS!

Considering the Tarpon 160 at someone’s suggestion. Preferences?

The T-160 is a good choice

– Last Updated: Apr-05-12 9:47 AM EST –

albeit a little heavy. If you have someone to help you with loading/unloading/carrying it, then no prob, but that may apply to a lot of the boats you are considering.

The T-140 will certainly be a stable platform and carry a lot of gear load, and being designed from the ground up as a fishing kayak it is well thought out for a general purpose boat even if you don't plan to fish in it. However, the T-160 has a better hull shape imho with better track and glide, therefore is a "faster" boat with less effort. I have also paddled the T-160 in some brisker seakayaking conditions for a SOT (say around Beaufort Force 4 wind with 2.5ft waves) and it not only handles them well but seems to like them. It was my wife's boat and she enjoyed it a great deal in more than calm conditions, and also found it easy to keep up with my Nighthawk 175 in most conditions without a lot of effort. You should also find the seat fit and comfort factor to your liking. I think the newer T-160s offer a bit more of a drier ride than the older ones. Be sure to get thigh straps for it so you can control leans. It leans quite well for a SOT; a lean will help you with turns. It is really a straight tracking boat but not all that difficult to turn with a bit of a lean.

Thank you…
Ayornamut, for the input. I hadn’t considered thigh straps before as we’ll mostly be paddling calm water (at least for the moment). Will do some checking into that. For the most part, the T160 seems to be getting better/more suggestions than the T140, an also the Manta Ray 14 seems to get better reviews than the T140. This makes it more of a close decision between the T160 and the MR14, as people suggest that the Ride 135 and X Factor both handle like barges in the water. I’m hoping to be able to find a dealer that will let me demo both boats, but no luck so far. Would still consider anyone’s input!

If you are near Raleigh you can try my

The Manta Ray is a very dry ride.
I used one in the Keys in some fairly heavy weather and it is also very windage free, meaning the wind doesn’t affect you much. I currently paddle a T140 and it is an outstanding boat for general use.However,if the T160 had been on sale,I would have gotten it.

I had my old style T-160 out in some 20 kt winds and confused water and like the Mut said,it seemed to really like those conditions.

Also, 2nd the thigh straps. With them ,you can handle the SOT like a SINK.

Also second that Tarpons and the Manta Ray are HEAVY ; like loading wet logs.

I have an ocean kayak big game prowler, very stable and tracs well, not a speed demon, will handle u easily, also check out cobra kayaks, they have some models that u may like…

again, everyone! I appreciate the suggestions. I’ll look into the thigh straps once I’m up into a longer boat. I may end up choosing a 14 footer as we’ll be exploring some in twisty confined areas along with our open water and then later on upgrade or add on a more touring style SOT to our “armada”. I like the T140 quite a bit, but won’t know for sure until I can get one out on the water.

If you are considering a T140
Also check out the Hurricane Phoenix 14. It is basically the same hull with a different deck and a different material of construction making it much much lighter.

Tarpon 140
I weigh about 250 lbs. Water shoots up through the scuppers on a Tarpon 140 like a geyser when I paddle my buddy’s boat. For me, a Manta Ray 14 was the driest 14 footer. However, you can plug the scuppers on any boat if you want to. It’s just that open scuppers are one of the advantages of an SOT.

I’d just make sure to try before you buy.

The Prowler is much more popular for open ocean on the Pacific.

I think its lighter that the T160 and only a few inches shorter.

You need to adjust the backband to get the molded footholds right

phoenix 14 by Hurricane fast and light
A good bit lighter and easier to generate acceleration than any SOT in roto-molded lay up that I’ve paddled. See if you can test paddle one.

everyone! There is a local festival day with demos called the “Benderdinker” coming up at the end of the month and I’ll be able to try out several of the yaks on my list. So far, I’m leaning towards the MR14. Turns out that a 16 footer won’t fit in our garage/shed and my idea of storing it under the dining room table has been vetoed. I like the foot supports much better in the MR vs. the Tarpon series for sure, and the seats.

Might be a better choice
It turns out the 2008 and newer hinged Tarpon hatches are still having a lot of leaking problems. All types of hatches leak but I don’t think these are surf worthy at all.