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The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond
Kayaking Product Reviews

I am not an expert on kayaks. I sometimes put the motor up on the Gheenoe and paddle for a bit, I've canoed Turkey Creek twice, and I've been in two kayaks - one sit in model and one sit on top - for maybe a total of an hour. But here's my opinion on the kayak I bought. Maybe it will help you in deciding which boat is right for you.

People told me to go to large kayaking events and try out different types, but no opportunity to do that ever came up. I didn't care at all for the sit in kayak I tried, and the sit on top model I test drove I found to be wobbly and wet.

I explored the web and learned more about the kind of boat I would want for my conditions.

  • The creeks I want to explore are narrow and winding, with still Crane Creekwater except when passing wildlife stir things up. I wanted something very stable (see above: passing wildlife), so that meant a short, wide boat.

  • The kayak I tried didn't drain well and I was constantly sitting in a puddle. I wanted something self-bailing, with a good seat.

  • Molded footrests seemed good. One less moving part to break, and you can change position more easily than with the adjustable ones.

  • I looked at ocean kayaks with no dry storage, but decided it would be good to have at least one dry hatch and an open deck.

  • Cost was a factor. I had tried to find a used kayak with no luck, but if I was going to pay for a new boat I wanted just the right boat at the best possible price.

  • Weight was a consideration, as I am a short, fat, old woman who will be hauling this darn thing around by myself!

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Sit-In Kayak

Tarpon 100 Kayak

I am extremely happy with my selection of the Wilderness System Tarpon 100.

It has molded footrests, a large forward dry hatch and a small hatch behind the seat. The drainage is good, and even when there is water under my feet the seat is comfortably dry. It is 10 ft long, 30 inches wide and 50 pounds. It is a bit heavy and hard to haul around, but I manage and I'm getting better at it!

It is very easy to paddle, even against a wind, and it maneuvers well in small tight spaces. It tracks well, but I usually leave a zig-zag wake anyway while I'm putzing around taking photos.

This kayak is very stable. Even when dolphin and manatee have passed close by I've not felt any rocking or worried about tipping over. (I should probably go to a good place and intentionally fall out a few times just to make sure I have the drill down for righting the boat and getting back in.)

The hatches give me the dry storage I wanted, and the open deck is just the right size for Harley's crate.

My one complaint is the seat back. The seat bottom is attached to the boat and is fine, but the back is the problem. It is adjustable, but it doesn't work very well. It gets stuck and won't go up or down when I want it to, and sometimes just collapses completely. That's rough on the back! I find that if I stuff an old boat cushion behind my back it helps, but I've been kayaking the last two days in a row and my back is aching now. (I've had the boat 7 months now, and still the seat back is a pain in the...back.)

I got lucky with the cost on this one. I had been looking at a different boat that wasn't as good and was only a little bit less money than this one. The dealer only had a few 2008 models left at the old price, and I managed to get one before they were all gone. The 2009 models were going to be out of my budget range, so it worked out well.

If you have a kayak or canoe you would like to review, submit your comments and photos here.

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