I found a used 2005 Santee Tandem ($380) that was in great shape. My first reaction was WOW, what a beautiful kayak. Even after three years of being stored on a community outdoor rack, the finish was beautiful (was shaded by kayaks all around it).
I've used a couple singles in the past so my knowledge is limited, but for a couple, this boat is great. I can paddle alone from the back for hours without getting tired (wife likes to chill in front and weighs about 120), and the boat tracks straight and true. The boat is super stable, we never felt threatened in some large lake white-water that blew up in the afternoon.
I can lift the yak onto the roof racks by myself (I'm 52 and in pretty good shape) so single trips are very doable. The one and only drawback is that the foot-rests for the back seat are somewhat cramped. The seats are good but I may upgrade to the newer seats from Hurricane, they're supposed to be much better. All in all, a really great tandem kayak.We have used our two Hurricane Santee 140T tandem kayaks heavily for over a year and are very pleased. These boats were purchased from Lancaster County Marine as family boats, but they are speedy performers on quiet water creeks, rivers and lakes, and quiet coastal waters. The hull is light, fast, family friendly (stable and with a larger cockpit). It tracks extremely well.
Before buying, we rented many different tandems including multiple models from Wilderness Systems, Necky, and Old Town, among others. While all seemed more rugged, none of them come close to the Santee 140T in speed on water and tracking. The cockpit is enormous. We have a tow rope, but have never needed it to get the kids to shore in time. The 140T’s have us arriving sooner than planned every time. It’s that easy to paddle.
Speed: You have got to experience it for yourself to believe it, but paddling with the “help” of a 7yr old girl, tandem loaded with an overstuffed 23lb deck bag, and a standing 85lb Chesapeake Bay Retriever (yes, standing)… we still easily speed across lakes fast and true, passing most other yaks of all shapes and sizes. For the cockpit size alone I was willing to trade off speed, but got greased lightning –a pleasant surprise. Runs upstream with ease of a narrower shorter boat.
Stability: Very stable. Late night fishing our 11yr old curled up sideways (!) to nap. I didn’t notice until I looked forward. As I said earlier, our 85lb dog can stand in it and as long as his paws are in the cockpit and not up on the side deck, we’re fine. If I have to grab his collar and settle this muscle dog down off the deck, the kayak is usually still coasting purposefully toward our horizon marker. Amazing tracking.
Transport: A Santee 140T weighs only 52lbs, wet. I can load two Santee 140T’s on a Toyota Sienna by myself faster than the inside of the van gets packed. Carrying to/from the water is so easy, my kayak dolly purchase was a waste of money. Gone are the days of dreading car-top loading. We run to the water on impulse now. Do not underestimate the benefit of a very light boat. We’re probably on the water nearly twice as often because the 140T’s are so easy to transport.
Flotation: Covered bulkhead in stern with plenty of flotation. We stuff it with an inflated drysack for rougher water in case the hatch cover comes off. (It never has.) Closed cell foam insert in bow is adequate. Capsize practice shows that front floatation works but for this coming season I’m gluing two small bricks of closed cell foam on either side of the under-deck bow foam for a bit more buoyancy.
Seats: Comfy, comfy, comfy. Old model seat backs didn’t always lock in position. New seats fold forward, can not slip, and besides all the usual adjustments, even allow for thigh angle to be adjusted so that support is spread over more of your legs. Neat design. Pay extra if you have to to get the new fold forward seats. If you can’t find a 140T with new seats, try Lancaster County Marine, because they know all about the design change.
Storage: Get four of those foam pool noodles and lay them alongside the edges of the hull on the floor. Works great. Wouldn’t advise storing on side. Might be okay, but hull is very light and has some flex.
Appearance: (for those who factor such things in). The Santee 140T turns heads, on the water and on the van. On a final glide to shore we sometimes hear “nice boat,” or “man, your boat looks sweet, what is it?” or some such remark.
Wear/Tear: Over a year of heavy use. Both kayaks still look almost new.
Cons: Stating the obvious, it’s not for whitewater. Too pretty, lightweight and cockpit not configured for it. We stick to quiet water... mostly. Rear seat should be able to slide forward. Design doesn’t seem to need it, but I still would like the option. Forward flotation needs a little boost (see Flotation). Not yet available as a wii simulation. ;-) Get out and play!
Surprise benefits: Smooth deck and hull allow suction cup running lights (the LED kind) and fishfinders to stay attached the entire trip.
Hints: Put some stow weight forward if the front seat passenger is a small child (true with most tandems).