Submitted: 06-20-2007 by Dave
After years of fishing from recreational type SINKís, I decided to try a SOT to see what all the ďHooplaĒ was about. After two less than satisfying experiences with a WS Tarpon 140 and a Cobra Explorer, I stumbled across a used Sea Dart 14 in the local classifieds and took a chance. First, let me say that the Sea Dart caught my eye because it looks like a kayak should . Graceful and sleek. Not like a bar of soap or a pregnant surf board. When rigged with a rudder and deck lines ( as mine was), itís borderline handsome!
Anyway, hereís my review:
Capacity: While others claim 250#+ weight capacities, the models Iíve tried/owned, plowed like a barge when my 200# frame got it. This yak took me on and didnít flood the cockpit when I pulled the single scupper plug (like Iíve been subject too before.)
Performance : this yak seemed to get up to and stay at hull speed without a struggle using my narrow blade touring paddle. Very similar effort and speed as my SINKís. MUCH better than either of my previous two SOTís. Iím guessing it would be faster (with less initial stability) with a lighter paddler. (BTW: the sponsons clear the water surface with my weight but they donít have to rock more than an inch to get there.).
It turns a bit slow without the rudder but no worse than most 14í yaks ( of either type) Iíve owned. A wider paddle with more bite might help here. The hull has low, flat decks for and aft and sloping sides amidships. This helps to shed wind, spray ( and even paddling drippings) effectively.
Stability: I was initially a bit concerned on reports of ďtippynessĒ with this unique hull style but they proved (for me) to be inflated. With the sponsons JUST out of flat, calm water, they tend to act like training wheels in a light chop and give me the stability of a full 28í wide hull without all the drag. There is a slight amount of side to side play but itís not distracting while fishing and hardly worth noting IMHO. (Again, a 150# paddler might have a different perspective.).
Features: The good and the bad is that the cockpit is narrow/small and a little deeper than others. You feel like your IN the boat vs on it. It gives a more secure/ attached ( and drier) feeling than you get with many SOTs. However, the tradeoff is that it doesnít leave allot of room for instant access to fishing gear, lunch etc . Here is where the hull storage comes in. My boat has the older style gasketed hard hatches which I personally prefer over the (new) soft type. Two latches give you fast access to a 10Ē D hole ( one fore and aft) that can store quite a bit of lunch, clothes, gear, etc. There is a foam bulkhead splitting the inside of the hull interior just behind the cockpit. Nice for safety and keeping things dry. Not so nice for internal storage of long fishing rods etc. The seat height and angle keeps my butt dry if I do my part. The short backrest is so-so and will be replaced . (I will likely opt for something with a bit more height and a storage pocket.)
At last, a SOT that I can live with! In case itís not clear, I REALLY like this boat and plan to keep it. Itís good looking, well designed and delivers a happy trade off between the performance of a SINK and the safety and convenience of a SOT. I give it an 8 of 10 only because: a) NO boat is perfect, b) itís a little heavy at 63#, c) limited in cockpit storage d) still leaves you exposed to the elements a la all SOTs.
Bottom line: If you want a good looking, quality made SOT style yak that isnít a total log, and can live with limited cockpit space, then BUY THIS BOAT.