Submitted: 01-30-2005 by Luisa
My two friends and I all bought the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 in Nov 2004. The outfitter, Mad Paddlers of Tampa, took us out to Philippe Park for a nice long demo of several boats. We had previously considered Necky Spikes, Ocean Kayaks (can't remember the models. We tried the Tarpon 120 and 140, and the Perception Castor.
The Castor was not a bad boat, and had we never tried the Tarpon 120, it would have been added to our list of "maybes". The Tarpon 140 was a nice boat too, but just a bit too large and unwieldy for us. (We are all roly poly very short middle aged ladies).
The Tarpon 120 impressed us all so much that we bought on the spot. Two of us opted for the beautiful mango color that shades from almost red at the stern to yellow at the bow. Another chose the red.
We have had some wonderful adventures on these boats. The large well in the stern has been great to hold a cooler and other misc. and the other hatches are more than enough storage for us. One friend had hers fitted for fishing, but has not fished yet, as she has been just enjoying the paddling experience so much. The boats are pretty easy to get into, even with one of us having rather poor balance. The forward scuppers to tend to let some water in...I think we will all be plugging these. The seats are comfortable, though we will all probably fit them with those stick on foam pads for longer paddles. We stay very dry, especially the seat, unlike any of the ones I have paddled before. The boats are very stable, and handle beautifully, with accurate tracking. We have not needed rudders, but we have only paddled creeks and rivers, no bay or ocean except at the demo. The only downside at all is that they are a rather hard for us to put onto the roof of my Trooper. (I am designated hauler). We bought two step stools, and have the rack that can carry up to 4 on their sides, but our first time out saw us dropping one boat twice from the roof of the Trooper. (The boat held up well). I think it will just take practice. Luckily, two of us live on the water and we can go out often. I would recommend that anyone looking for a versatile SOT kayak to search out a Tarpon 120 and try it out.