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Submitted: 07-10-2001 by Tom

I bought 2001 Carolina (expedition model) yesterday and took it today to the lake. Being a beginner (this is my second kayak) I can only comment based on my previous boat which was OT Loon 138. I had it for two months but returned it because it had warped hull. At this point I knew that I wanted a boat that would allow me to go a little further than Loon could (perfectly nice boat for fishing, birding and weekend cruising with kid or dog - but it is so rock solid stable that you cannot learn much from it). So I decided to overcome fear of tight-cockpit and give Carolina a try. Took it for 20 mile spin around Lake Travis (Austin TX). All the positive reviews from this site proved correct. Boat is very stable and not intimidating for a beginner. It fits very well even larger paddler like me (6'/230lbs) although I would advice to sit in it for few minutes when you buy it just to be sure. Because of the tighter contact with the boat you develop better sense of stability and Carolina seems to give you quite a bit of advance warning if you do not pay enough attention. Seat and paddling position are very comfy (I think that padded back support is 2001 feature). Deck rigging seemed solid - there were some complaints about it on this site before. Rear hatch is big (again I think it is 2001 feature) enough for any tent or sleeping bag. Boat is fun to paddle - it is responds very nicely and it is easy to keep it cruising at a decent speed without too much effort. If you are a beginner and you want a boat that will allow you to expand your skills toward sea kayaking then you should take a look at Carolina. I would advice buying one with the rudder - in a strong wind that boat tries to go into it. My only complaint with it is that plastic hull is not very stiff (as compared to eg. Polylink3 on Loon) and you must be extra carefull when you move the boat - if you are using foam blocks to tie it on the top of the car then you MUST tie it upside down or else you will distort the hull. It scratches but not excessively.
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