Scupper Pro--me or the kayak?

Hello all, just joined here. I bought a used Scupper Pro back in January, and I have paddled it out a few times at Capitola in Northern CA, and greatly enjoyed it. The farthest out I had paddled was past the mile buoy in Capitola, but I strongly suspect the buoy is a lot less than a mile out!

Yesterday I paddled it out of Moss Landing Harbor to go salmon fishing, and I went out about two miles–it took me nearly 1.5 hours, which seems ridiculous. I know that I can go several knots, at least, when I torso paddle rather than just paddle with my arms. I had fun paddling out, but I also hurt a bit due to a chronic case of tennis elbow.

Coming back in was absolutely miserable, and took me almost 2 hours to go two miles. The waves were about at my 7 o’clock, so whenever a swell went under me the kayak rotated about twenty degrees left. The swells weren’t that big, maybe a couple of feet, but the combination of my sore shoulder and elbow and the constant re-orienting of the kayak left me exhausted.

Should I get a rudder for such situations? I don’t know much about them, but I thought rudders were more for when the wind tries to turn the kayak.

Advice welcome!

What is the tidal current speed
and direction? Rudders and skegs are a great help in tidal cross currents to keep you on course. You still do drift. but you aren’t continually fighting yaw. I suspect the tide turned when you did…lol…

Play with the trim

– Last Updated: Apr-14-14 8:53 PM EST –

on the way in, it sounds like you had too much weigh in front. As you surf (with swell coming from 7 o'clock behind), the bow dug/locked in and you started to broach (go sideways). The swell passed and then you had to correct direction.

I have the scupper pro (two actually) and use for fishing and kayak camping (for a week each summer) out in the the Boston Harbor islands. After more use, you'll figure out the trim depending on the direction of wind and/or waves.


tides are the most likely
I think kayakmedic nailed it. When I paddled out, it was peak low tide and just a bit past. I paddled into a bit of current but not much, plus I was fresh. When I was paddling back, it was at max ebb tide. How much is the current likely to be in such a case? Moss Landing is the inlet for Elkhorn Slough, which is 6 or 8 miles of slough emptying out. I have seen the max ebb flow at the bridge in the slough, and it is ridiculously fast.

As for trim–I had no weight at all up front in the hatch, and all my fishing gear was in my shoulder bag, right behind my back. I’m 215 lbs, so pretty much all the weight was on my butt. Should I put something up front just to help the trim of the kayak?

Thanks for the advice. I’ll put off ordering a rudder for now and just try to get over the tennis elbow. And next time I go salmon fishing, I’ll try to time the tides better.

Could be both you and the kayak.

– Last Updated: Apr-16-14 8:31 AM EST –

No offense--I had a Scupper Pro for a long time some years back. I used it in every conceivable type of water, short of outright gales. The boat now lives with my Bro-In-Law down in Florida. I still use it from time to time, whenever down for a visit(part of my deal for leaving it there).

At different times, I both loved and hated it. Love it for fishing, easy coastal tooling around and occasional helmeted beach surfing. But hated it in high winds, stiff current or any conditions similar to what you described(and sometimes, conditions much worse).

If you're a big guy(a big "galoot"??;-)and if you're carrying stuff in the hatches/tankwell, then "trim" as mentioned above, could be a factor. If you are also compromised by injury or just not in the best condition, then hell yeah, the going can get rather er, sluggish. And even though I still believe it to be one of the best Sit-On-Tops ever, it's still a rather heavy hull with handling that takes some getting used to.

So I guess what I'm saying is: Put more time in the saddle before you become discouraged with it. (I myself, never added a rudder. But would if I were converting it to sail.) If you're progressive experience with it is anything like mine, you'll have some better paddling days ahead as you concurrently build strength--Just don't expect to set any speed records. If you're in good enough shape, you should still set a better pace than many of the SOT barges out there(and certainly better than 1 mph.) Then sometime later on, as your skills and knowledge of the boat progress, you might just be ready to upgrade to a sleeker-beamed kayak(as I did!)
Good luck and good paddling.

PS - Avoid putting anything in the bow hatch, short of lightweight stuff(clothes, a tarp, additional floatation, etc.) You had it right with your fishing gear as close to center as possible! If you have an aft tankwell as opposed to a rear hatch proper, use that first when carrying equipment.

Yeah trim it out better

– Last Updated: Apr-14-14 10:46 PM EST –

and be happy and don't keep track of that darn speed.

Its funny how fast you can come to hate a boat or a GPS with too much info.

I really didn't like my friend in another kayak gleefully pronouncing.. "we're going 2.5 mph backward" in a tidal race. The shore though some three miles off told me that anyway.

Down East here tidal currents can be fierce and make the trip a misery, a joyride or darn impossible.

So your original question isn't quite all inclusive. That "other factor"

Tides at Moss Landing Marina
Yeah pretty likely you were bucking the tides coming out of the slough there. One trick is to use the swells and current. Intentionally surf down the swells to get some speed. ( Watch some down wind, open water surf ski paddling , like the Molakai Race) If the waves are right you can aim far from the mouth of the harbor and then come around just outside of breaking waves and slip in. Waves have to be just right or you will get clobbered. Next time check the tides so you go out with the out and come in with the inn or land on the beach and drag the boat up to your car. Moss often has kick-ass big waves so watch the surf report especially in Fall and Winter.


I know you can land on the beach way north of the channel, but not sure close to the channel. Last time I was there, a large sea lion colony had the area staked out.

no tides on bay
Once you get outside the mouth of Moss Landing, there is no perceptible current. I’ve been out of there many times, often for whale watching. BTW - reports are the humpbacks are starting to return for the summer, so you may see some.

Rudder could help (or a boat with a skegg could also help - not an option for a Scupper Pro as far as I know) - more for the return paddle (when the waves are more troublesome) than the outgoing.

You may want to take a class. Your speeds do sound pretty slow, not that your boat is all that fast to start with.

Check the trim, as others mentioned.

Your Pro is a great SOT -ours carried us many happy miles, sometimes in some pretty tough conditions -for years. It’s a good, seaworthy, rugged, durable SOT that we have two of-an original classic, and a Pro Tankwell. We’ll keep them as part of our fleet because they’re really paddler-friendly and great for relatives and friends visiting us in South Florida to paddle with little or no experience. Plus, I use my Pro TW for fishing every once in a while.

They handle just about everything pretty well, except groups of SINKs with good paddlers -then the limitations start to show up: they’re not as fast, and it takes seat time to pilot them well when cruising, and good technique, strength, and stamina to keep up with other, more efficient designs.

They are, after all, while relatively lithe when compared to the majority of contemporary non-ski SOTs, still beamy at 26" wide, have a voluminous bow behind a blunt nose, and are fairly rockered, all of which contribute to your results as noted.

The bow busts, doesn’t cleave, and the rocker contributes to its ease of turning -and, in you case, being turned. Better technique and perhaps a better trimmed boat will help, but it is what it is, and it’s quite typical.

Here’s to more experience, good sights, great catches, and hope you encounter better conditions as you


-Frank in Miami

IMO it is the boat

– Last Updated: Apr-16-14 12:04 AM EST –

I know there are people who love SOTs but I have never paddled one that I really liked. I have never paddled a Scupper Pro but I rented a Prowler 15 which is supposed to be faster but I had the same problems with it that you described. That thing felt like a barge compared to my Wilderness Systems Pungo Angler.

The only SOT I have ever paddled that I halfway liked was a friend's WS Tarpon 140, but that thing weighed about 70 lbs which is a bit much for me to load on top of an SUV by myself.

“Must be the boat " LOL
"I’ve never paddled a Scupper Pro” but I have an opinion.

Don’t think so, Scupper Pros are fairly seaworthy boats and used to be the most popular boat on the coast in California. Not a speed demon, but not meant to paddle headlong into outgoing tide through a channel.

mea culpa
seadart, you are correct. It was one of my dumber moves, to ignore the tides when I decided to do this. I think the only reason I was able to make it at all was the slight breeze at my back.

On the bright side, my low back pain has completely disappeared! My lumbar has been hurting every day since last August, and the torso paddling did wonders for me.