In between SOTs…
… do exist, though largely from non-US companies now. In the US, it’s an experiment that’s been tried several times. Some with marginal and short lived success, the rest just not viable in US market.
Some are (and were) good, but the SOT with touring/sea kayak dimensions idea is not commonly seen in the US for several very good reasons.
Mostly this relates to tippiness sitting higher off the keel, and having less contact to control them. no big deal with 26", 28", 30"+ SOTs, but under 24" things can change pretty dramatically (and can make them feel like much narrower kayaks - which is fine for some, but not the masses - so no one tools up…). Sme stability can be regained with length, but there’s still the quality of gihner L?W ratios kayaks feeling much more stable at speed than at rest to consider…
Paddling typical SOTs is very different from paddling Surf Skis. Enough to be looked at as totally different activities. Trying to split the difference can put you in limbo as far as what the learning curve and skills needed to enjoy are.
The SOT’s stable “platform” aspects that many tout as benefits for various activities, also begin to decrease dramatically as beam decreases. Remounting a Tarpon? A snap. A surf ski - some are not to hard, many are a nightmare unless you’re quite practiced, pretty fit, and have really good balance (which doesn’t describe a typical US paddlesport consumer looking for a SOT).
A SOT somewhere in between a barge and a ski? Tippiness and remount difficulty will vary, but you can see the trend leading away from mass market appeal here.
You can’t assume “easy” or safety" aspects exist just because a kayak has a wash deck that self bails. An awful lot of folks on SOTs assume they are “safer”, and yet have not put it to the test by practicing remounts in conditions they would be needed (and amid the almost inevitable “yard sale” of stuff that goes all over the place when “stability” mined folks capsize!).
People comfortable on a 24" or narrower SOT, are also generally skilled enough to be comfortable and capable in SINKs (likely being no longer SINK averse for beginner reasons of being hard to enter/exit, feeling “trapped”, needing to learn more skills, etc) - and once they realize this they have a LOT more options. Market gone.
What you’re basically looking at always sounds good in discussion, and looks good enough on paper, but in reality can be a kayak that is worst of both worlds for the majority of users. Might be pretty sweet for a select few, but those same folks could also manage SINKs or beginner and intermediate skis that are lighter AND perform better.
Buy kayaks based on what you want to do with them. For many, the wider SOTs are fine - versatile and a lot of fun. When performance beyond that is wanted, might be best to begin shopping for hulls vs decks.
Can’t comment much on shorter SOTs - as my SOTs have all been 16’ or longer (T160, Heritage Shearwater, Tsunami X-1 Rocket, couple skis). Shorter ones look fun for fishing or beach play - but would drive me nuts for actually paddling anywhere. Loved my Tarpon 160, and it is one wider plastic hull that is nice for touring, but it would be pretty big/heavy for a lot of folks too.
In between SOTs…
trish,probably the most helpful yet
since it is for a womwn.