The Case of the Sinking Sit on Top

So I’m in Hawaii on Oahu (Kailua beach). Wind is mellow, 7 to 11 mph. I want to start my sister off gently so I suggest we start with a short distance, a half mile out to flat island, Popoia on google maps. My sister has a friend who owns a 2 person sit on top. So we borrow it to save the rental fee.

The trip out to the island was smooth. Coming back I noticed with each small swell it felt like an anchor was pulling us back. The boat seemed to be getting less stable and more difficult to steer as we paddled to the beach. I suggested that we paddle into the canal (toward enchanted lake) where it was calm. After dragging the boat a bit we entered the canal. The boat was very heavy to drag. I suggested we turn around in the canal when the back of the boat (where I was sitting) had about 2 inches of freeboard. By the takeout we were down to 1" and sitting in a giant puddle. I pulled the drain plug and 10 minutes later got it fully drained. I’m glad I didn’t try the two mile trip over to the Mokes. Cracks around the scupper holes were the culprit.

In the high performance kayak thread the op says they want to feel connected to the water. A sinking boat is about as connected as you can get. Our whole trip was only about two miles but we’ll sleep well tonight. Paddling a sinking SOT is tiring.


Wow, it could’ve been worse than a tiring paddle…

Just curious, did the friend also provide a SOT cart? One with the verticle bars that go into and through the scupper holes? This type of cart is notorious for contributing to scupper hole cracks.

With the newer Hobies, I heard that additional material and support are molded around the scupper holes to minimize the damage you experienced. In my older, preowned Hobie and OK Scupper Pro, I have filled the interior unused space with air bags and pool noodles to minimize an unpleasant surprise while offshore.

Maybe the moral of the story would be to do a thorough visual inspection with any borrowed, rental or demo kayak and, perhaps, to follow this with some minutes of paddling near shore with another inspection of the interior hull/bulkheads.



so the cart didn’t go through the scupper holes but the boat was faded and old. Part of my plan in keeping it short was also to try out the equipment. There was even a mention that it might leak a little bit and we were shown the drain plug. I suspect things had gotten worse since the boat was last used.

1 Like

A friend picked up a used SOT with a slow leak. At mile 10 I noticed she was working way too hard and the boat was sitting very low. Just like the OP experience, it was filling up.
We took it home and filled it with water in the driveway. No leak in 2 days . She gave it away.

Sound approach, especially with unfamilar equipment.

On the other hand, I can attest to “complacency” with equipment that I am used to. I was fishing a choppy day on “Hospital Shoals” a sort of underwater sandy reef between a couple of the outer Boston Harbor Islands. Its SE end faces open ocean where the swells, if coming in from that direction, can really jack up and catch small boaters unaware. Anyways, those shoals are a real fish magnet for stripe bass and fluke. I was in my Scupper Pro, doing multiple passes using wind and wave to drift fish over the shoals. Caught some smaller stripers to keep it interesting. Over time, began to noticed the kayak was feeling a bit tippier and sluggish. I turned around finally and looked to the back where the drain plug is located. The drain plug was hanging by its plastic container and the waves were washing right over the open drain hole. I don’t think I would have gotten into serious trouble since the hull interior was outfitted with some small (white water) float bags and pool noodles. Still…


1 Like

yeah, I do my share of forgetting to check the drain plug. I got kind of used to having water sloshing around in a ww boat- I had a work boat (for videoing rafters) that had holes in the ends (from hitting stuff). It was actually an improvement when the 2nd hole developed on the opposite end. It meant you could pull the boat up to film and it would automatically start to drain regardless of how the boat was oriented. I had to get out 6 or 7 times to film anyway so it really wasn’t a big deal and the leaks were manageable.

I have a Scupper Pro TW …the drain plug is at the very front of the yak

Hmm… Gotta check that. Scupper pro or the RTM Disco?

Thank you, coronaboy. I stand corrected.

Scrupper Pro bow with drain on bow (left side) and RTM Disco stern with drain (right side):


Both good boats.

I was sailing a Laser in Hickam harbor back in the 70s . Wind was light and the boats just get slower and sloppy as time went in. The boats plug was out.

We were in Wisconsin at a big boat rally. There was a large woman in a small Sun Dolphin. A following wave started as the wind increased. Waves were coming up over the rear deck and into the hatch. She started toward shore . People were getting out of the way…she was very vocal about sinking.
I finished a Jimmy Skiff II. Loaded up wife and grand son and we motored out to test the boat… At power water splashed up the dagger board well. We stuffed a towel in . After an hour or so they boat seemed to lean , shifting load corrected, but it didn’t seem right. I removed the flotation tank water came out the drain plug. We went back to the dock. Seems a seam didn’t get fully epoxies in the dagger board well.

I list these storied to illustrate that you need to check you boat, configuration, condition and load . For a the OP all boats can leak.