Read reviews for the Osprey by Heritage Kayaks as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
Great for a day boat on lake, slow river, close to shore ocean; more than enough room for camping or filling a compartment with ice and fresh sea food for a killer BBQ, First surf boat (side surfing). Strongly suggest you get knee supports and a small back band and "clamp: yourself into this boat to get the most out of this boat.
This is not your typical barge-like sit on top.
With the back band and knee supports, combined with the rectangular well that you sit inside, you can practice all of the classic sea kayak skills. Edging on turns, sweep strokes, draw sweeps, backwards paddling (aggressively if you like; up and over incoming waves). It's really a sit-in, sit-on-top and feels more like a traditional kayak because you are not up on top of the water line.
This SOT boat is a bit tippy (initially) for beginners but the tri-hedral hull creates mini-outriggers up and out from the main section of the kayak hull. This boat therefore is extremely stable (secondary stability) in bumpy water. The secondary stability is so good you can tilt the boat at a 75% angle and sit in it sideways. (This is a good skill to play with to fully understand how stable this boat is in bumpy water, especially once you learn the value and safety of loose hips. I believe my confidence in paddling over or through waves is due to this hull shape.
I had a great time once in a Pacific Ocean bay during a storm when the only things on the water was sea foam and gnarly sail boarders. And I felt very comfy bobbing around and keeping out of the way of the sail boarders.
When paddling on flat water, with a minimum of balance consciousness you can keep the mini-outriggers out of the water, thus reducing the hull width which in turn increases speed. This has got to be the fastest SOT for the length. Don't think you will keep up with friends in sea kayaks but you can keep them in sight. The hull is shaped with a permanent skeg which makes paddling straight a breeze and the bow is shaped to slice through the water.
Cons: The tippy initial stability makes it difficult to get in from the water from the side so the "cowboy straddle" from the stern is the only practical way to climb back in. (However, now that I think of it, I've never tried to tilt the yak and haul myself in from the side with my back to the kayak. I and gymnasts should try this.)
Because of the initial "tippy' stability, this is not a great boat to fish out of but you can if you are cautious when turning around for gear. My supervisor/friend kept the boats for years for fishing exclusively. Also not great for hauling up crab nets. He is quoted in saying, "Those boats! They're fast. I couldn't get my wife off the lake on our vacation."
Has one hole for drainage which means it takes time for the water to drain. If a venturi type system like those on surf skis was added it would help with the speed of drainage. If you're paddling a SOT and don't want your butt wet, stay in the harbor when the wind doesn't blow.
Don't ever try to eskimo roll this thing. But SOT paddlers never want to do this anyway.
If you find a Heritage Osprey on Craig's List, you've been educated.