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Submitted: 07-07-2004 by pwl
I bought the Charleston 15 about a month and a half ago. For me it is close to being the ideal boat. First of all, it has a roomy cockpit--I am 6'1" and 220 pounds. Secondly, it is really comfortable to sit in. It has an inflatable seat and back, and really good thigh supports. All are adjustable, making for an ideal paddling position.
I first took this kayak out on some of the local slow moving rivers here in Concord, NH. I was a little worried that a 15 foot boat might not be maneuverable enough in these sometimes cramped conditions, but I had no problems.
I then took the boat with me up to Moosehead Lake in Maine. This is where this boat really showed its stuff. I went out with it on a series of very windy days. This is where the skeg really demonstrated its worth, especially when I had a quartering wind at my back. With my old kayak it was really a struggle to stay on course under these conditions, but with the Charleston's skeg down it was no problem at all. Wow, what a difference. I did not find that it veered to the left with the skeg down like some of the other reviewers. However, I do agree with the last reviewer that the skeg can easily become stuck in the up position. This happened to me one day when the rear carry handle became draped over the skeg line when I lauched; it prevented the skeg from dropping. Now I always check to make sure the skeg is operating freely before I launch.
I was surprised when the last reviewer again mentioned oilcanning being a problem. I strapped my Charleston onto two J Style kayak carriers (Thule) without front or rear tie downs. I then drove 280 miles averaging 75 mph. When I took the kayak off of the car there wasn't even a hint of a dent. I had assumed the new hull materials they were using cured the oilcanning problem. It may have something to do with the fact that my kayak was manufactured in May 2004.
I was going to rate this boat a 9 because of the sticking skeg, but I finally decided that in view of all of its other attributes this would have been nitpicking. Overall the Charleston 15 is a solid 10.
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