Submitted: 08-20-2003 by Bonneville
I was prepared to sneer at this kayak. My usual lake ride is a glass needle, two feet longer, four inches narrower and with chines for carving that are harder than Hillary Clinton's veneer. I was looking for a boat that a) I could use to poke up rocky coves without fear of scratching b) would be rock stable in the wintery blasts when I needed zero chance of a capsize. I expected the tradeoff to be a water plow. Not so. It moves out real good.
My glass boat has a skeg, the Carolina a rudder. I'm don't like rudders and this one is no exception I can turn fine without one and the rigging puts mush in the foot pegs. I employ a foot shove technique in my stroke and don't like the give or the affect on course when the rudder is down. I pop up the rudder in all cases, except when a skeg effect is required. The Carolina turns surprisingly well for a boat without edges, and even responds to sideslipping technique. Still, it tracks well and isn't oversensitive to wind. The seat and backband are comfortable, although the bottle holder is almost useless. Do they ever test-paddle their boats? You'd think they'd notice.
The interior is very roomy. The bungies are well placed and self-rescue is easy. While it has decent thigh braces, it doesn't roll that willingly. It's a bit wide for that, but that's where it gets its stability. I expected to have to cart this around, but a shoulder carry is practical if the launch isn't a long hike.
Since this was not to be one of my "primary boats," reasonable price was a criterion. You expect to get what you pay for, so here's the nitpicking. The hatches are the rubber snap-on bottle cap variety and not that big. I'd say that the Carolina is more of a touring boat than the Napali, and the latter has a much more elaborate hatch design. The Carolina's hatches are also untethered, so don't let them get away from you.
The plastic seems somewhat soft, but there's a couple ridges to minimize flex. Taking into consideration what I paid, it's a great boat.