Submitted: 09-07-2011 by Jennifer C.
I've been yearning for a Tarpon since my first flatwater expedition last year in a borrowed Otter. I'm a single parent to two boys (7 & 5) and was really hoping to be able to include them in my river travels. I also have access to a place at the beach and wanted a boat I could take out in the surf, so I knew it'd be a SOT.
I picked up my new Tarpon on Friday. I loaded up my boys, life jackets, water and snacks, and headed for the takeout on the James. The area we were paddling is entirely flatwater, and much of it is shallow enough to walk in. The boys lost any trepidation they might have felt as soon as they hopped in the water. I'd packed a couple of thick cotton bathmats, just in case anyone needed some padding, but I think we'll leave them at home next time.
I'm 5'10". I put my 5yo in front of me and the 7yo in the rear well (he wanted to sit in the front hatch, but I talked him out of it). I'm not sure of exact measurements, but they're both above-average size, and the 5yo is in the 97th percentile for height and weight. I'm guessing we had about 280-290lb in the boat. I was able to paddle fairly comfortably despite the large noggin in the way. I ended up putting the scupper stops in the rear well, although my 7yo was annoyed with me for doing so, as he really wanted to play with the bilge pump (there was only an inch or so of water, though). My favorite part of the trip was my older son's request to try paddling - he was able to paddle about 20 minutes back to the takeout by himself, from the rear of the kayak. He was able to course-correct very well with a little direction.
I'm thoroughly impressed with the stability and maneuverability of the boat in the water, although non-superpersons who solo should probably invest in a kayak cart and a load assist bar...getting the Tarpon back on the Subaru was not in the least bit graceful.