I’m familiar with the anatomical differences. My question is more philosophical. Given the user-friendliness of SOTs, why choose a SINK over an SOT?

Here’s why I’m asking: I’m going to be introducing a friend to kayaking soon and have two SINKs which come with a steeper learning curve (having to learn a wet exit, the challenge of emptying and reentering your boat, etc.). In this day in age, why do SINKs even exist?

For me
Sun protection, cold protection and paddling in the rain. Also, SOTs tend to be wider because your weight is further above the water line. Wider means slower.

Why do Sports Cars exist?
Cause some people want performance over boredom and safety.

cold protection & paddling in the rain

Hauling all my camping gear
comes to mind. I like both and I usually put guests on the SOTs.

Easier to paddle, handle rought water
better. I go faster and further per stroke than I ever did on a SOT.

We went to SINKs because they’re usually more efficient and therefore easier to paddle and/or faster. The longer the distance, the more the payoff in terms of not wearing out the paddler at paddle’s end. And in mixed groups, it’s the ability to keep up with paddlers in more efficient boats that recommends the SINKs.

The exceptions are the skis and similarly narrow, long, SOTs. These, however, most often have even steeper learning curves than equivalently skinny SINKs, and while they combine the speed and efficiency of design and energy-saving virtues of SINKs, and the ease of entry/dismount of SOTs, they present unsurmountable balance requirements for some, and unsurmountable size requirements for others. To wit, our 17’ X 21" Knysna Isthmus “racing SOT”, which, while it doesn’t even qualify as a ski, presents many of the same challenges to even experienced SINKers to ride.

We know of one former owner who like us was attracted to them because they were light, fast SOTs (we both came over from SOTs) but who, also like us, gave up on them as an everyday ride (despite adequate below-decks stowage like most SINKs and SOTs have) because they were so eternally twitchy, and presented a virtually constant fear of falling. That owner, unlike us, sold the boat. Another two SINKers tried it, and had problems riding it, despite their unquestionable skills in SINKs; one of them eventually became comfortable enough to, despite tipping off, clamber back on and keepmtrying, while the other just noted how tough it was, tho eventually went with a ski, which I believe proved to be more tractable.

So that leaves two other groups who are attracted to SOTs: yakanglers and raw newbies.

First, SOTs are an ideal fishing platform, especially inshore, most especially down here in South Florida where shallow fish-laden flats can extend for miles, and often preclude even flats boats designe for “skinny water” from entry. The extremely shallow draft of kayaks allows them entry to many areas, and these are mostly silent (or mostly so, depending on the paddling skill of the yakangler) to boot, a great edge to going after numerous inshore and back country species. Kayaks oriented towards angles tend to be in the 30" beam range, which allows a lot of deck to mount depth/fishfinders, GPS units, rod holders, coolers, and gear baskets while still providing a good casting platform. Indeed, there are even fly-fishing practitioners who can stand and sight-cast in some SOTs. Finally, while not exactly light, and in some cases downright heavy by some standards, these are tough, plastic boats that can take quite a bit of punishment, and can stand up to years of abuse.

Second are the newbies. Ah, yes, our friends the newcomers to paddling… Most SOTs, because of their beams and hull configurations, are very stable boats. This makes for a very stable -and therefore attractive to many -paddling platform. It’s just plain easy to get in most contemporary SOTs and just paddle off, happy as can be to be propelling yourself along. And because most are also relatively short, in the 10-12-and-maaaaybe 14-foot-long range, most can be relatively easily intuitively turned. So you’ve got a boat that’s EZ-to ride, EZ-to-stay upright in, EZ-to-paddle, and EZ-to-turn, voila!

Perhaps best of all, they’re (relatively) cheap, and you can get them at Sports Authority, Dick’s, Gander, and other big boxes, or at Costco & Sam’s, plus on/over the net, even sometimes at a Wal-Mart, and sometimes, used, in your own area.

And, for many, that’s it and that’s all they want. Give’em a halfway-decent paddle, a PFD, a seat, and a squeeze bottle of sunscreen, and they’re off to an enjoyable 1/2-hour to hour-or-so paddle at the beach on a nice late spring, summer, or early fall day. They don’t or won’t WANT to be bothered with cold-weather and/or cold-water paddling, they DON’T want to “go to school” to learn the more demanding facets of SINKing, and they’re not “paddlers”, per se… They’re paddling, like they’re riding a bike, just for a little fun.

Some will graduate to better SOTs, more efficient designs like some of the old OKs or WSs or Heritage or Hop-On-Tops, or some of the newer French, Aussie, or South African designs, many of which approach standard SINK designs in performance, and are accompanied by SINK-like prices as well.

And some will move to SINKs like us.

And some will have both, also like us -I still use my OK Scupper Pro TW for fishing, and we provide them as a loaner for friends (those newbies we discussed above).

And yes, we still have that skinny, twitchy Isthmus because it’s a lot of fun to ride when you ‘get it’ -and last time out, while our newbie friends were on our SOTs, we took my Valley Aquanaut and the Isthmus (for Sally), and had a ball, enjoying our friends new experiences on the water. Indeed -even I! -took the Isthmus for a spin up & down the beach, and for only the 2nd time in memory, managed a ‘no-swim’ trip.

So, as I hope you can see, there’s MANY reasons why there are both SOTs and SINKs, and other types as well, out there for us, all of us, to use and


-Frank in Miami

lots of reasons I suppose
the biggest ones would be personal preference and paddling style.

There is a wide range of sit on top kayaks, so are you talking about something along the lines of ‘recreational’, surf ski, wave ski, or …?

Personally, I found learning how to wet exit without a spray pretty easy - I just fell out. Then with a nylon spray skirt I pretty much just fell out too.

One factor often over looked with ‘SINKs’ is that there are multiple air chambers. This adds a level of safety if the deck or hull gets punctured. If you knock a hole in a sit on top kayak there is not a lot that will prevent the whole kayak from filling with water. In a ‘SINK’ with bulkheads and hatches, if you knock a hole in the kayak, only one of 3 or 4 chambers will fill with water.

The same differences as a convertable car and non convertable. Sometimes its a real bitch driving my mustang convertable in tornados, hailstorms, downpours, and blinding snowstorms.

good point
I guess I was thinking about for a beginner (who wouldn’t be going on a trip)

personal preference :slight_smile:
“What do you MEAN you don’t like sweet-and-sour pork?!”

it would be a bitch
paddling anything in a tornado, hailstorm, or blinding snow

Poor Analogy

The sports cars of the kayaking world are open top boats.

For fast paddling on rough water Surfskis out perform any kayak.

For surfing Waveskis outperform any kayak.

When you think SOT and you think of a plastic tub, it just means you have no experience .

SOT’s have a higher center of gravity
which usually needs to be overcome with a wide beam.

I actually feel “better” (stable) in a rec boat SINK than a SOT.


While these are SOTs, they aren’t the kinds of boats the OP was talking about.

The kinds ot SOTs the OP was concidering are wider and slower than many SINKs.

Surf Launch/Landing
When you wipe out coming back to the beach in heavy surf, its easier/safer to just bail. Its too shallow to roll coming up on the beach


– Last Updated: Jun-23-08 1:05 PM EST –

"Here's why I'm asking: I'm going to be introducing a friend to kayaking soon and have two SINKs which come with a steeper learning curve (having to learn a wet exit, the challenge of emptying and reentering your boat, etc.). In this day in age, why do SINKs even exist?"

Many new paddlers do just fine in SINKs. They aren't that hard to use.

SOTs are quite appropriate for very casual users and for fishing but they tend to be slow, wide, heavy, and a bit harder to manuever. (We aren't talking about specialty SOTs like surfskis.)

it depends on the SOT, the Tarpon 160, is the match for most equivalent sinks. yeah something like a QCC-600 or 700 is faster, but when I am tooling around the swamp, or surfing waves I love the tarpon, its NOT a surf boat, but still fun in the surf. as for weather protection, you dress the same no matter WHAT kind of boat you paddle. except i put on more sunscreen in the summer when on the SOT.

That is a LOT of sunscreen.

L beats getting a sun burn. I lead a trip this weekend, the “Trip-Loop” just barely had enough water to accommodate us.