I am trying to figure out what my options are for sit on tops that can handle two people and overnight gear. My wife doesn’t mind some rough water and camping or long distances but hates being skirted in. So far all I’ve seen is the Ocean Kayak Zest Two. Any thoughts on how this boat would handle on mild expeditions along the coast? Are there other options? Thanks for all input! (if you’d like to tell me that tandem SOT and coastal expeditions don’t go together that’s fine too but admittedly I’m pretty set on the idea)
tandem options and opinions
If I was going to do that the only boat I would consider and trust is the Feathercraft Gemini:
Not a lot of cargo room, but seaworthy, self bailing and about half the weight of a rotomold tandem. Plus you can fly anywhere in the world you want with it. Pricey, yes, but a quality boat that paddles well.
Yeah, I know you are convinced a tandem is the way to go for this, but if I was doing an extended two person coastal tour I would want two boats. If you run into trouble, having both people out of the boat really limits your options on self rescue, even with a sit on top. And the roto tandems are such barges!! Do you have a way to haul something like this? Have you rented one and tried it for any period of time?
Of tandem SOT’s the only one I’ve ever paddled in the ocean (Caribbean) was a rented Hobie Oddysey. Seems to have a bit more cargo space than others of its ilk I’ve seen, but I recall it being kind of stodgy to paddle. And with the flattish hull we got tossed around a lot by wave action trying to paddle parallel to the shore. It sits a bit high, too, which helped keep wave spray out but made it catch the wind. Made me miss my own hard chine sea kayaks. But I appreciated the fact that it was narrow enough (33") to paddle comfortably.
I think I would use a canoe
It will limit what water and weather you will paddle in, but that might mot be a bad thing. Lots of canoes are used along the coasts with care.
I really like sit on tops but have yet to see a tandem that is coastal touring ready.
Ocean Coast ?
Most tandem SOTs are going to be a bit marginal for camping with two people. I did not know they still made the Zest II. If you pack very lightly and stick to mild surf launches and landings the current Ocean Kayak, Hobie, and Cobra tandems will work. Honestly you would have a lot more fun and be able to carry more gear with two single SOTs. Also safer if there is a mishap. if you wife is worried about not being able to paddle herself, probably not a good idea to think about extended coastal paddles any way. Post up where you will be paddling and we can give you some advice on more specific kayaks.
I’m a confirmed SOT paddler but for extended coastal trips with camping I prefer a boat like the Prijon Kodiak. One option would be to have a boat like that and your wife could paddle a more nimble SOT and you would both be happy. Also try posting at www.sit-on-topkayaking.com lots of posters there with real SOT experience.
Don’t know if I would trust it in strong surf, but we did some coastal paddling in a rented Mad River Adventure 16 while in Florida last winter. Almost a kayak-like canoe, rotomold plastic with low gunwales and a curled over kayak-like lip. We paddled it with 240 cm standard kayak paddles – it is narrow enough for that. We are ardent kayakers who also canoe sometimes but we were favorably impressed by this boat which offers decent cargo area and a drier ride than any sit on top I have ever used. The boat tracked pretty well and was not as vulnerable to wind as our standard canoe due to the low sides. Nice seats, too.