Kayaking Technique Forum

Find advice on all aspects of kayaking and using small boats on big water

Sit On Top vs. Standard & Safety

I would be interested in comments on Sit On Top kayaks vs. the Standard Cockpit that requires a skirt to prevent flooding in open water.

Much of the danger in kayaking seems to revolve around the Standard Cockpit. Following a capsize, if the captain can't perform a successful roll, he or she is out of the boat in the water and the cockpit at least partially flooded. This exposes the captain to a wide variety of dangers. Getting back in is difficult without lots of practice in rescue techniques. Even when the captain is back aboard, there is the water to be gotten out and the skirt to be reattached, both difficult jobs in rough conditions. There are techniques and equipment for dealing with all of the above, but it seems like there are still a lot of places for things to go wrong. Magazines like Sea Kayaker are full of articles where conditions made it next to impossible to perform these techniques. The answer always seems to be "more practice"!

Sit On Top (SOT) kayaks, on the other hand would SEEM to possibly have answers for much of the above. I have no experience, however, in actually using them. I would like to hear from anyone who has experience with SOT kayaks in the size and configuration of a standard sea kayak or 16'-20'surf ski. Questions I am pondering are:

- What are the upsides and downsides of the SOT configuration?

- What is the technique for getting back in if you come out in open water? Can you just climb back in?

- Are these boats rolled or do you simply bail out and climb back in?

- Do you end up sitting in a puddle of water all the time?

- Is the lack of protection on the lower body an issue or do you just wear protective gear such as a wet suit?

- Why is the SOT configuration so popular on surf skis? (Because they are easier to get back into?)

I don't know the answer to these questions and am hoping some of you have experience and can steer me straight.