SOT for rough water?

I’m looking for a 12-14’ SOT for going out on a fairly protected part of the bay. It gets some wind, waves and chop, but nothing terrible. If it’s really bad I don’t go out. And I don’t go far (2-3 miles and back) so speed isn’t a big concern.

Sometimes we camp on one of the islands overnight but not usually more than one night, so it needs to be able to carry some camping gear.

I was looking at the Tarpon 120, and the Scrambler XT. I have paddled them both but only on totally flat water. I like the Tarpon slightly better, but I was told the Ocean Kayaks would perform better in rough conditions because of how the hull is made. Is that true? And which one would surf better? I’m just talking about playing around in very small surf because it’s fun. I’m not really a surfer.

Any other kayaks I should look at? How about Heritage Redfish 12?

I would appreciate getting your opinions.

Have you paddled a Tarpon 140?

– Last Updated: Sep-17-07 10:03 PM EST –

If not , try it before you buy.A t160 can handle more ocean than you can. I suspect the same is true of the rest of the family.
The Hurricane Phoenix is also a good boat.

I tried all the Tarpons except

– Last Updated: Sep-17-07 10:07 PM EST –

the 160. I liked them all. But I am leaning away from the 140 because of the additional weight and because I will also be taking it on the occasional Class I river and I want it to be maneuverable so I thought the 120 would be better.

Honestly there is something about the Ocean Kayaks I don't like that much but I can't put my finger on it. They just don't feel right. But then I have never had any of the sot's out in wavy choppy conditions either.

I have seen the Hurricane Phoenix on the web site but have not tried it. It weighs less and that part is nice.

The RTM Disco
just loves rough water. In fact it feels a bit sluggish in flat water but seems to come alive as the wind and waves pick up. The shallow-V, soft chine hull has excellent secondary stability and tracks as though it’s on rails. There is plenty of flair in the bow for handling a steep chop. Downside is the load capacity is a bit limited but should be OK for lightweight, overnight camping.


Scrambler will handle plenty
and is pretty good in the surf for what it is. Regular Scrambler might be better bet for a smaller person than the XT.

I got that wrong
It was the Scrambler XL not XT. I am not sure what the difference is, if any.

What is RTM? Is that a company?

Also I just remembered a Mad River thing I saw recently that looks part kayak part canoe, Synergy I think it was called. Anybody know about that?

is a French company (Rotomod). They used to make some of the OK boats and are still making a version of the Scupper called the Tempo. I believe the US importer is in Florida. The folks on can point you to dealers.


I really like my new XT
I test paddled a Tarpon 120 and the Heritage Redfish 12’ and ended up going with the Ocean Kayak XT. Although both the Tarpon and Redfish felt slightly quicker, the XT was outstanding on a river. I like the uncluttered layout of the XT too…lots of storage behind the seat. Tracking on all 3 boats were fine, probably in part to my weight of 215. Very happy with purchase. The XT also makes for a very stable platform to shoot my photos.

Ocean Kayak 15’ Prowler
I paddled North shore Lake Pontchrain with solid 17-22 mph N.W.for ultimite trial and play, no problems comfortable on reach and beam.It is equipped with feather lite rudder system,tracks well also remove self bail scupper plugs.Practiced self rescue a few times earlier in year in over head water debth no problem.Good storage and fishing vessel.

I recently paddled
the Synergy 12, Manta Ray 12, & Tarpon 12.(see Synergy 12 post from a week or so back) I also checked out the Phoenix 12 but did not paddle. The 38# weight of the Phoenix was nice but just didn’t feek like much boat under me.(I’m 6’220# athletic build) The GF did not like it either but she is 6’and weighs 140#.

The Synergy is a nice boat but even at my size, it felt like a beast. It is deeper and more canoelike than it appears in the pics. It sits comfy, tracks well, decent speed, but is not going to maneuver well on the Class I’s. If you get wet (which you likely will) there are no scupper holes.

Originally, I was leaning towards the Manta Ray 12 but after the 2nd test paddle decided I liked the tracking and glide of the Tarpon 120 better than the maneuverability of the MR. The old seat of the MR is comfy but the new Native Manta Ray seat is very comfy.

Last Saturday, My GF and I rented a 10 and 12 Tarpon and took them for a spin on the James River. Flat water with some Class I rapids mixed in. We purchased two Tarpon 12’s Saturday afternoon. It is not perfect but has a good mix of performance for the waters we float. You will probably get a little wetter in the Tarpon over some of the others butif getting wet is a major concern, a SOT is probably not the best boat to choose. We occasionally paddle on a large lake with lots of boat wake. Have not done so yet but will report back later on how the Tarpon 12 performs.

Incidently, we both felt like the 10’ Tarpon tracked about as well as the 12’ Manta Ray. Also, in order to mininmize wet butt, we plugged the scupper holes behind the seat. May also try plugging the two high ones in the cockpit leaving the two near the foot pegs and in the rear well. According to ARC, you won’t lose perfromance by doing this, only drainage will be slower.

Good luck!!

One more comment.
I too did not feel comfy with the Ocean yaks. In fairness, I did not paddle them so can’t comment on their performance. After sitting in them, something just didn’t feel quite right.

I know what you mean
I know what you mean about the Ocean Kayak feel. On land I could never sit up straight because of that bubble like keel, it tilts you to the side. But on the water it was better.

So far I am leaning toward the Tarpon 120. I also test paddled a friend’s Wilderness System Ride (the old Ride not the new Ride 135) and I liked it a lot except for the hull slap sound but I could live with that.

Go paddle the boats in rough water
The Scrambler is a proven design for paddling in Ocean conditions.

Perception Search 13
The Perception Search 13 should be on your list too. I paddled one of these last Saturday and I was very impressed. Smooth, stable, felt like it could handle anything. Lots of room, too. On mildly rough ocean, this would be better than a Tarpon 120, in my opinion, and it would also do well in Class 1 rivers.

I paddled a Hurricane Aquasports Phoenix 13 at the same time (kayak demo day here) and was disappointed. Gorgeous boat to look at, and nice and light, but it was a barge to paddle, especially compared to the Search 13. My wife could beat me in the Search 13 while I was paddling the Hurricane – my wife is not a world-class paddler, let’s put it that way.

Something different.
Check out an Innova Sunny. It’s a really good inflatable – tough as nails. Would probably last longer than a plastic SOT. Handle rough water well.

Ocean Kayak hulls
I owned a Scrambler and a Prowler 15 and both are very stable but VERY slow in rough water(compared to any of the ‘normal’ sea kayaks i’ve paddled). Prowler 15 is very comfy with the high backrest and seat that’s higher than the footwells. The Necky Dolphin i briefly owned wasn’t a fast boat either but it was much better at making progress in chop and wind and seemed to have minimal weathercocking. this made me think that the ocean kayak hull design with the bubble keel is just not the way to go,at least if you want performance in any kind of conditions.

Ocean kayaks
I own two scupper pros and woudl stand them up against any siton tops out there for rough water paddling.

RTM now has the molds and makes the Tempo which is the same boat essentially.

for a plastic sit on top, it would be hard to beat it as yousit lower for better stability, you have less beam (26 inches) and I have friends who can keep up with the longer ocean kayaks just fine on trips. (course a lot of that may be the engine :slight_smile: )