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Submitted: 07-06-2004 by capedoc
Recently I purchased a Dagger Charleston 14 after considering the Perception Carolina 14.5. I paddled the two and found that the Charleston was more of dynamic performer than Carolina. given Charleston's shorter water line, it still seemed to be quicker and easier to accelerate. Carolina was a bit cumbersome due to its high volume and flat bottom. Even though Perception and Dagger are actually the same company (Watermark), the Dagger line is more of "performance oriented" line. The Charleston's multi chined hull allows for exceptional secondary stability, lean turns and carving. The boat performs nicely in slow rivers, flat water and mild chop. It performs "OK" In the sea conditions. The minimal rocker and lack of flare in the bow permits a lot of wash-up on deck. After a messy experience with this boat in swift moving water it is quite obvious that it was NOT designed for downriver!
The Charleston tracks like a plum line when the skeg is down, feels like it compromises some hull speed though. It would be nice if the skeg could've been springloaded it gets stuck a lot and always at the worst time! I love the aircore inflatable lumbar and ass support! (new for 2004) it makes for one of the most comfortable kayak seats ive ever sat in. the seat was even more comfortable then Wilderness Systems hyped-up Phase Three seats. Im a little curious as to how long it will last before it stops working though. watch out for the air release valve, it comes off easily.
I did a multi day trip with this boat in the in the Raquette lake area of the Addirondacks. I was able to bring enough "stuff" for three nights. pack sparingly in this boat! The internal storage capacity is limited carry a lot on deck.
An innovation that Watermark has introduced to the 2004 roto-molded boats is a new "revolutionary" plastic they call, Exolar. Exolar is supposed to be " 40% stronger and stiffer" then the previous plastics used. they say that it will take bigger hits and last longer. From what I have seen so far I think its bull crap! I have only had my Charleston for about three months and it is already covered with some pretty significant gouges and scratches. and this is not from abuse either. the plastic scratches just as easy as my older kayaks.
As previously stated in some of the last reviews. The oilcanning in this boat is terrible I would recommend cartopping it upside down. v Though there may be a few flaws with this boat, you cant go wrong with the price. Im a poor college student so for me a composite touring kayak is out of the question. the dagger Charleston is a great combination of responsiveness, speed and touring ability at an attractive price.