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
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 water
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
- 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!
Systems Tarpon 100 Sit-In 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.