I’ve been trying to find the best SOT for coastal, lake and river day touring, fishing, and general recreation. Something that tracks well, has decent speed, is manuverable and can handle some mild waves. I understand there isn’t just one “perfect” boat to fill all these needs. I’m leaning towards the W.S. Tarpon series (140). I’m also considering the OK Prowler 13 or Scupper Pro, and the Cobra Explorer. Am I on the right track? Is one better then the other? Are there other kayaks I should consider? THANKS!!!
Never paddled a Tarpon, but hear only good things about the 16’er.
Scupper pro is another good one.
Tarpon 140 veteran here…
My first kayak was a tarpon 140. (after 5 months, I moved to a QCC700). I paddled the 160 over a dozen times and it is also a good boat, just a bit faster than the 140 but not nearly as comfortable and accomodating. I can't think of a better sit on top for any kind of water or any kind paddling related activity. The tank well behind the seat is ingenious. My 9 year old son would sit there as I paddled along.
Make sure you get a rudder, thigh straps and a nice high back seat for complete comfort.
here is my son and dog with the Tarpon on a calm Biscayne Bay a year and a half ago.
The fact that Jim “can’t think of a better sit on top for any kind of water or any kind paddling related activity” should not be taken as any kind of evidence that the Tarpon 140 is, in fact, the perfect SOT. Jim is well-known on this board for generalizing wildly from a very limited base of experience.
For what I use SOTs for, the Scupper Pro works really well. The Tarpons may work well for what you want. Ask people in your area, test paddle, etc. Don’t trust this board for anything more than a starting point in your boat search.
Tarpon160, Seda Revenge
Another cool boat I had was a 15ft Futura surfski. Just try lots of different boats.
I owned both a Tarpon 160 and a Scupper Pro.
Tarpon 160 pros:
- Ample legroom in the cockpit
- Tracks like an arrow without the rudder
- Hatches are watertight
- Fairly fast for an SOT
Tarpon 160 cons:
- Heavy as hell
- Seat needs additional padding
- Footpegs seem flimsy
- Plastic hull dents and oilcans easily
Scupper Pro pros:
- Seat is comfy with no additional padding
- Quick and easy to paddle
- Very seaworthy handles waves quite well
- Hull design resists oilcanning and deforming
- Decent size tankwell to handle cooler full of "Pepsi"
- Relatively light, easily handled for portaging
Scupper Pro cons:
- Hatches may leak, especially a center hatch.
- Big butts and long legs may not work in it's narrow cockpit
- Tends to weathercock in winds. However you can use wind to your advantage with this boat just like a canoe.
- Butt stays wet in OK boats more than in the Tarpons.
The Prowler is very similar to the SP. Any of the boats you are looking at will work fine. I think Cobra's are a bit overpriced.
basically what’s been said, EXCEPT don’t pretend scuppers are LIGHT!! the biggest difference in the two is the the TARPON will accommodate any size person, I am 6’3". on the scupper I felt cramped. The new Tarpon DOES have a TANK well, so the much Vaulted Scupper advantage is a moot point now. Personally I would rather have the hatch as I don’t fish. I am talking about the 16’ models. Anything else is less and does less, yes they weigh less but only on the order of around 10 LBS, yes if you are paddling UP MT-Mitchell you might notice 10 LBS. but on the water you really don’t. as for Oil canning never had a problem on my 160, maybe if I jump up and down on it while its on land… really for do everything pretty good boats the T-160s a scupper pros are both pretty good. I will YELL this loudly again in hopes that SOME manufactures actually read this board… MAKE a TARPON 180!!! 18’ and about 2 inches narrower or more then the current T-160!!! We don’t need more NON-Performance short Sots. Better yet QCC needs to make a SOT version of the 700!!!
is a wet, cramped ride, probably more suited to your style than to his based on what Bkayak described as what he intends to do. You are misleading and that is worse than generalizing. And touting yourself as more experienced and demneaning somneone else should be a dead give away as to your motives here. You aren't really in this string to give good advice, are you?
Swedge, you are talking about a
surf ski. I saw 3 for the first time at the beach last week.2 Futuras and a South African brand I had not heard of. Beautiful boats.
Thanks for the input guys. I really appreciate all the feedback. It helps to hear from people who have actually lived with the boats you’re demoing.
i rode a Futura ski, nice for recreation, & speed not nice for touring with gear… the boat i am describing would be more like a Fat ski with hatches!!
I agree with Swedge that anything less is exactly that!
Unless you are very small or weak you will appreciate the extra length’s smoother ride and stable feeling. It can feel big at first, and be a bear to turn for the first few minutes, but you’ll figure it out. After that it can actually be quite nimble. It gets better and better from there (short test paddles don’t do it justice - and won’t point out the real differences in handling).
IMO (with maybe 1400+ miles on a T160 - from mangrove tunnels to the Atlantic) skip the rudder - just more to hassle with and the moving footpegs will actually limit your turning/control by not letting you be as locked in the boat. This will further force rudder dependence and prevent you from turning with body and paddle even more. (You will note that many who have the rudder couldn’t live without it, just like the 140 drivers swear it’s as fast! Yeah, right! ;).
Mine never oil canned. All rotomolded SOTs are heavy. Use one of the thigh straps as a shoulder strap. I found the seat very comfortable - but I sat on the bare plastic (no pad at all) so I could rotate when paddling. Also nicer getting on and off in deep water. Those cushy high back seats most SOT drivers favor are killers for technique - and your back. All those straps to get hung up on too!
For more from Tarpon drivers - check out the forums at http://www.sit-on-topkayaking.com
Swedge, the boat you are describing…
… is the Eskimo 18-6 CRX 3G SK. It’s 18’6 x 24.75", two decent hatches…
Another contender (and less $!) is the SOT version of the Kaskazi Skua (ARX), but it’s only about 17’4" x 23".
No doubt there are more options from down under. Even the French have some.
If you really need/want plastic, the Cobra Expedition meets your size spec too, but I think you know better already on that option. I’d rather have a 160 any day!
I rented both the 160 and the Scupper. Comments below are from the perspective of someone who has a few years of SINK experience/ownership and about a year of SOT ownership:
Neither kayak is light, but the 160 is definitely heavier.
The Scupper’s seat depression better fits smaller people. I know, because I am 5’2" 110 lbs and loved the Scupper’s seat for its snugger-than-usual fit. I also preferred its backband over the hard, tall back on the 160 (which I removed and paddled without; it’s easy to do).
Neither kayak weathercocks badly. However, I took the Scupper out in more challenging conditions than I did with the 160, and it proved easy to handle in wind, swells and whitecaps.
Compared with SINKs, both kayaks felt slow to me. The 160 seemed easier to hold at a moderate touring pace (though harder to accelerate), but then again, I paddled it on a dead flat Florida river vs. Baja leftover-storm wind.
If it were me, I’d choose the Scupper, but I already have 2 SINKs that are faster than the 160, and I am small so I prefer the 2"-narrower beam of the Scupper.
As has been said many times, you need to demo them yourself. They are both good kayaks.
OK vs. WS
JMHO, Actually the OK Prowler 13 is the comparable kayak to the WS Tarpon 140.
Check out the differences in cockpit layout as well as weight of the boat. Both can make a huge difference in terms of comfort and ease of loading and unloading.
Would that be Northeast, or Northwest? Would you be on the Atlantic side, or Gulf side? It makes a difference.
I have lived in the Panhandle, and in JAX. The surf is lots bigger around JAX.
I would be more inclined toward the Prowler, or the Scupper, on the Atlantic, and the Tarpon on the Gulf.
About how much do you weigh? hieght? This also makes a difference.
Lots of folks advocate for a 16' boat. This is good if you want to keep up with a mixed group, or if speed/distance is important to you.
If you paddle solo over short distances, it is not so important. At speeds under 3-4 MPH it doesn't make much difference.
If you are looking at boats in the 13'-14' range, and you are under 180#, you might want to also look at an OK Mars. About 13'4". It is slower than most of the boats mentioned, but handles better in the surf, and it is lighter than any of the others mentioned here at 49#.
Try and demo as many as you can, and don't debate it with yourself too much. Any of the boats mentioned here would be a good start.
Beware Of The Jim!
"Jim is well-known on this board for generalizing wildly from a very limited base of experience."
As usual, Dave put it very well, so I will leave it at that....
…too short for me so I’ve never spent time on them.
Check the Perception Bimini
15’-3" handles very well has a nice well and plenty of storage. I’ve put about 1000 miles on mine and is big enough to be comfortable.
Why is it…
When I was doing tours and the folks wanted SOTs, the 140s had more leg room than the 160s. when we ran out of 140s we had to put the short people in the 160s and the tall folks in the 140s… The 160s had rudders and the 140s did not…
Just always seemed backwards.