Re-entry SOT kayak vs canoe

-- Last Updated: Oct-19-15 11:45 AM EST --

Intuitively, and from what I have read, it seems obvious that re-entry of a SOT kayak is significantly easier than re-entry of a SI kayak. How does re-entry compare between canoes and SOT kayaks?

I'm asking because I've been considering a canoe as an all around fishing platform, including light salt water. I fish a salt water area that regularly has 1 ft waves, with larger waves from power boats. In the event of a capsize, I wonder how practical recovering the canoe w/ float bags would be compared to a SOT. I wonder if I could sit in the swamped canoe and have enough buoyancy w/ the float bags to bail it out.

In either case, I'd have plenty of equipment lashed to the boat. Also, I wonder which would avoid a capsize better in the first place.

I'm wondering how significant the above considerations are, because for other reasons, I'd prefer a canoe (cargo capacity, light weight).

As you say, closed deck boats (SOT’s) are the easiest to remount because they take on almost no water that needs to be bailed after a capsize.

A canoe with float bags is significantly easier to empty and re-enter than one without. That said, many people still have trouble getting in the canoe once its upright and mostly empty. How tough it is seems closely related to your overall athletic conditioning (meaning heavy people or those with a weaker upper body have a harder time getting in the boat).

If I were fishing in 1 foot waves consistently, I dont think a canoe would be my first choice, and I am a canoe lover so I give them the benefit of the doubt. I say this because generally a fishing canoe is wide and stable. Those characteristics will work against you in waves, as the flat hull will want to follow the slope of the wave and make the boat rock back and forth. Also, in general, the conditions that make you swamp in the first place (big waves) also make reentry very difficult. (for me, reentry on flat water is no problem at all. Re-entry in 12-18" waves is extremely hard to impossible)

Additionally, the gear strapped on adds another variable. A SOT may be hard to roll back upright with 40 lbs of gear lashed on it. Same goes for a canoe though…so its close to a wash.

I paddle my canoes in 12"+ waves frequently and they handle them fine, but I am moving, not sitting in 1 spot for a while. All that said, I would personally choose the canoe because I like canoes much more than wide SOT fishing yaks, but float bags are a necessity for safety in your scenario.

I know its late in the year, but if you can find a canoeing group to let you flip and re-enter one (with some advice too), I think that would be helpful for you to decide if reentering a swamped canoe is practical for you.

SOT Re-entry 1000 times easier
than a canoe.

I do have some data to back this up, I was a canoeing merit badge counselor for BSA and have paddled canoes all my life, SOT kayaks about 15 years.

Now you did it…

– Last Updated: Oct-19-15 3:47 PM EST –

Discussion of on water re-entry of canoes tends to get "interesting".

I have no personal experience with a SOT. I have known of situations where someone who seemed in decent health with no injuries could not get back onto a SOT. I am told that this is fairly unusual.

My own experience with canoes - wood, royalex and kevlar - is that I can get back into anything that has full float bags front and back. If all the boat has is the built-in baffles, I may be able to get into it but the flotation they offer may not be enough to have me sitting in the boat with the gunnels above the water. Canoes don't paddle well as submarines.

Wood canoes are a mixed bag. Since the entire thing is flotation, I have usually been able to get back into them. However it was exhausting and I came up with many bruises. I don't think you would want to count on managing it if you were cold and tired at the end of a day on the water.

Whether I get the water out of the canoe before I re-enter is variable. Even with a PFD on, my total oomph doesn't get the boat lifted high enough to reliably clear the water. Sometimes I have nailed it, and other times it involves post-entry bailing.

For me, a kayak with bulkheads fore and aft and perimeter rigging is usually easier to manage than a canoe. I am on the smaller side, so can more easily avoid re-capsizing on the way into the cockpit than big guys.

This is a no-brainer
there is no comparison between attempting to deal with a good SOT fishing kayak full of stuff, and a canoe full of stuff.

I have a big fishing kayak ( 14’ Eddyline) and the initial higher cost to get a good, balanced, lighter weight one has been more than made up for by the ease with which it handles power boat wake, waves and chop, and that moment of “whoops” when I did manage to flip it once in a river (it was a human error on my part) and the incredibly easy way it could be flipped back over, drained itself, and remounted. Not a single thing had slipped the bungees holding it.

Canoes are for going places on very calm waters, but fishing kayaks can “go places” too, plus are for people who are fishing or want the stability on wave action, or just want the ability to take another person, child, or dog with them… there are reasons. Alas the canoe, as an open shape to hold more belongings by volume, can be its own downfall in many situations. If you are going to go to all the effort to make an upside down or sideways or even completely swamped canoe floatable and its belongings covered, you might as well start off with a kayak anyway.

It seems that the SOT wins. If I had the luxury of space and $, I’d get a solo canoe and an SOT, but I don’t. One variable I should have mentioned is that I keep a rope with loops tied around the yolk of my current canoe. This might affect re-entry, but it doesn’t change the overall balance toward the SOT. Thanks for the replies.

SOT might be better for you
I have fished from SOT, SIK and solo canoes for many years. Because of limited storage I only own a solo canoe as it is the best overall choice for where I fish/paddle which is in florida and mainly in coastal estuaries and bays.

If you are fishing in deep water with constant 1 foot waves then the solo canoe would not be my choice. Most solo canoes are designed for paddling not fishing and they won’t feel as stable if you just intend to sit and fish, especially with alot of chop around. One thing that helps is to lower the seat on the canoe to gain stability.

I like to cover alot of miles working different areas so I don’t sit in one spot very long. And for the most part fish in water less than 4’ deep. Having an efficient hull is more important to me at the end of the day so the canoe works better than a wide/stable SOT which are notoriously barge like to paddle. Not to mention how heavy they are on land.

vote for the SOT
I’ve been teaching canoeing many years and do use a solo on the ocean with a tripping load.

But I am underway. That adds a lot of stability. I accidentally had a strap with buckle dragging and inadvertently caught a big Northern Pike. If I had been stationary I would have gone over in my solo canoe.

I’m not a fisherman and this caught me entirely by unwelcome surprise.

…with a dragging belt buckle, on a big belt buckle strap.

Tell me, can this be arranged to work with seatrout, redfish, snook, grouper, or snapper? I’ve used rod & reel, and lures and baits, rather purposefully, and succeeded, but your approach just seems so much simpler and infinitely easier!

And you manage to catch it while not fishing, but simply as you


-Frank in Miami