Submitted: 07-19-1999 by Jason, NC
I've just purchased my 2nd kayak yesterday and got a chance to test drive my new Carolina today. For it's class, this is a great boat. The first thing I noticed about the boat is it's excellent stability. This boat is especially ideal for the novice, and since it's first passenger, my girlfriend, was a beginner, she had no worries with rolling.
Another great quality is the tracking of this boat. Normally I paddle a Dagger Meridian with a skeg, and was quite impressed with how straight the Carolina performed in comparison. Although it doesn't go dead straight, as my Meridian does, it tracks very well, with much less course correction than I expected. The channeled hull on the Carolina works well as intended. If you plan on using this boating only in calm water, the rudder accessory is definitely not needed.
For a novice this is the perfect first boat. You get a large, roomy boat with great performance at a very low price. I was lucky enough to get a brand new Carolina for $500 since the hull was slightly scraped, something that seems to happen anyway the first time you take it out. The only real complaint I see with the boat is the weight, but that's normal for a plastic boat. In regards to the deck fitting flaws that I've read about in the other reviews, I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. Hopefully I got a boat with the improved fittings. :) The hatches are a bit difficult to open, and are small, but I think this is insignificant for a day-tripper. Another big plus... bulkheads... waterproof bulkheads are a big plus on any kayak. If the Carolina did not have them, I would not have bought the boat.
My only suggestion is that if you have $1500-3000 to spend on a first boat like I did, go ahead and get a fiberglass or Kevlar hull. The performance difference is tremendous. This will prevent you from "outgrowing" the boat as you gain experience, thus keeping each outing interesting. However, if you are value minded and/or want just a great boat for a fun day on the water, the Carolina is definitely the boat to buy.