Carolina test drive ?

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steveh
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Carolina test drive ?

Post by steveh » Mon Dec 23, 2002 8:37 am

What did Mr and Mrs Rainsley think of the Carolina that you test drove the other weekend. I'm thinking of buying a sea Kayak for whizzing up and down the Heritage Coast that has just appeared down here, and looking for something cheap and cheerful, does it fit the bill ?
Steve h

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Jim
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Re: Carolina test drive ?

Post by Jim » Mon Dec 23, 2002 3:51 pm

"I'm thinking of buying a sea Kayak for whizzing up and down the Heritage Coast that has just appeared down here,"

It's a nightmare isn't it? You wake up one morning, look out the window and there's a bloody great piece of coastline there that wasn't there before..... :-)

JIM

steveh
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Re: Carolina test drive ?

Post by steveh » Mon Dec 23, 2002 6:04 pm

Yes ! Exactly
and what did we look at before it was there ?????? will it need dusting ??? :-)

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Mark R
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Re: Carolina test drive ?

Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 23, 2002 8:48 pm

We have two Carolinas on a sort of (hopefully permanent) loan from Perception. Part of the justification for borrowing them has been that I am going to write an article on the Heritage Coast (or maybe just the Purbeck coast) for the paddling press, accompanied by nice pictures. However we haven't been out on the sea (other than surf) much since we've had them, as the weather has been lousy.

They have been used touring on rivers (even ww up to grade 3, not a bright idea though) and for this they are great. They are not true sea kayaks as they have fairly flat keels which would be a nightmare in a heavy sea. Also, they have huge cockpits. But frankly, I am a fair-weather sea paddler and this doesn't bother me; they're ideal for day trips along the Purbeck coast. They also come in pretty colours and somehow only cost £500 quid a shot.

Anyway, assuming that you do indeed live locally, you're welcome to borrow them or join me for a paddle...there is always Poole Harbour or the Frome. Get in touch.


-----------Mark Rainsley

steveh
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Re: Carolina test drive ?

Post by steveh » Thu Dec 26, 2002 10:13 am

Thanks for the offer I'll be in touch
Steve

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Mark R
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Re: Carolina test drive ?

Post by Mark R » Tue Feb 25, 2003 9:46 pm

I just penned a review of the Perception Carolina for 'Canoeist'. This is the offical blurb...

www.perception.co.uk/html...rolina.htm

And this is mine...

----------------------
Perception Carolina Review

A boat to get paddlers touring again?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, most paddlers used their kayaks as a transport device to get from point #A to point #B. This was fun. But, who still travels from point #A to point #B in their kayaks today? Almost nobody paddles inland flat water for recreation (relative to the size of the paddling population) and very few paddlers tour on the sea.

The lack of inland touring is easy to explain. After (because of??) the advent of plastic, boats started shrinking in length. They then shrank some more. Travelling from point #A to point #B was no longer any fun at all, indeed the only thing these boats could manage to do was go around in circles. Even paddling from Hurley carpark to the weir is an ordeal now.

Whilst UK sea touring is undoubtedly a cult already, its development is held back massively by the fact that younger paddlers simply can’t afford to try it. Unless they have c£1300 for a new sea kayak, they’ll never know what they are missing…and this aspect of our sport will continue to be misunderstood as an offshoot for middle aged eccentrics*. It need not be like this. Take a look across the Atlantic where 'Ocean kayaking' is seen as a fashionable multi-million pound industry eco-friendly lifestyle sport. Only here in the UK do we still associate sea paddling with unkempt facial hair and boiling seagulls for lunch.

Something has been lost along the way. Most paddlers entering our sport sooner or later wind up paddling short boats on whitewater. This is a fine thing. But for the dry six months of the year, these paddlers can be found clawing for eddy space at the Tryweryn or drinking in the charms of HPP (headwaters: central Birmingham). They are missing out tragically; they can’t afford sea kayaks and will never know the joys of touring ‘along’ a river as it’s too painful in playboats. Anyway, where am I heading with this? There are now competitively priced boats which offer an opportunity to solve this problem. Reviewed here is the Perception Carolina. This is aimed at all abilities of paddler for a wide range of touring uses; river trips, lake paddles and sea trips in coastal waters. My wife and I have extensively tested the ‘expedition version’ which has bulkheads, deck elastics and hatches to enable overnight trips. I am a fairly experienced whitewater paddler who dabbles in sea paddling, my wife is also an experienced but less confident all rounder.

The Carolina looks rather showy, with bright contrasting colours rotomoulded in and appealing sleek lines. At first glance the Carolina looks like a conventional sea kayak, with upturned bows, hatches, watertight compartments and deck elastics. The deck offers a wide curved ‘work area’ with elastics in front and behind the cockpit. The rear elastics are ideal for stuffing away your cag etc. and have a groove to locate a flare. The front hatch is a standard round opening and the rear hatch forms a much larger oval. The rubber hatch covers are attached to the boat by internal straps and although leak-proof (they were well tested on the grade 3) the back hatch seems unconvincing in terms of grip; we felt that a freak wave could conceivably dislodge the sides. Perhaps a securing strap is needed here? The cockpit is huge, and will certainly give no-one fear of entrapment. It requires a big spraydeck. We have been using nylon decks which form an adequate seal, but will convert to drier neoprene decks before using the Carolinas on multi-day sea trips later this year.

Internally, the boat has solid fittings. The seat is vast and is presumably designed with the American backside in mind. It will need some padding out at the sides for most paddlers to aid boat control. There is a high supportive foam backrest slotting into the seat which gives a nice ‘armchair’ feel. The footrests are standard adjustable foot pedals and there are long padded thigh braces which combine to give a good level of edge control. Paddling with knees up in the centre is a little awkward without any central footrest and many paddlers will wish to fill the gap between with a foam block.

The bulkheads seem secure enough, foam blocks fixed by copious amounts of sealant. Like bulkheads on any plastic kayak, they are likely to eventually leak some water through from the cockpit and anything stored below the hatches should be dry-bagged. The storage space is very large and easily accessible; no extra arm joints are required to retrieve your gear from the end of the boat.

How does it paddle? The central hull is wide and has little ‘V’ to it. There are grooves from the cockpit backwards to maintain direction stability and both ends narrow to a sharp keel. There is a little rocker along the length (ie. the hull curves end to end). This hull makes for a very stable boat which turns easily for its length. It tracks well with moderate speed. In short, a paddler of any ability could control this. My wife often finds sea kayaks a bit lively but enjoyed the predictable handling in this case. The limitations of the flattish hull are that maintaining direction (and stomach contents) in very windy conditions or in a big swell on the sea or a lake would be tough. To be fair, that isn’t what this boat is designed for. As far as open water is concerned, the hull makes it suitable for paddling close to the shore in good weather; which is what sea paddling means for the majority of paddlers. The boat was also used on whitewater up to grade 3. It certainly isn’t intended for this and amusing consequences will result if you try(!). The Carolina was however quite at home coping with easy grade 1-2 whitewater; sloping weirs, small drops and waves on the river. Breaking in and out is easy to control and the boat can ‘edge’ properly. So the hybrid hull is a success; a boat which can manoeuvre on small rapids, cut through small swells on the sea and get you from #A to #B without acquiring a hernia.

To get back to the point of the boat; here is a kayak which can get paddlers out touring again. This is partly because of the performance described, but also because of the surprisingly low price; £500 for the expedition version, or £350 for the basic version. At this price it is real value and more importantly, affordable as a second boat for those who can’t figure out what to do with the dry half of the year. Here near the Dorset Purbeck Coast and Poole Harbour, we receive a steady stream of visitors weekending from the Thames Valley, at least whenever Hurley isn’t working. These weir playboaters are some of the most tediously one-dimensional people you could ever hope to meet, but the revelation is that they’ve enjoyed paddling the Carolinas on the sea, even, “had my eyes opened”. My wife and I have used the Carolinas on a number of easy river trips which needed doing for the sake of ‘English WW’ research. Although we’d braced ourselves for considerable suffering, we were surprised to be reminded that touring rivers – in the right boat – are great fun. I’ve even been out this week on the local River Piddle (don’t laugh), a river I’ve crossed daily on the way to work for the past two years and never glanced at previously. I enjoyed it too. Either I’m getting old, or touring paddling is getting younger.

Mark Rainsley

*Unlike open boating, which really is an offshoot for middle aged eccentrics.


Length: 447 cm
Beam: 65 cm
Cockpit (inside): 80 x 45 cm
Weight: 20 kg standard version, 25 kg expedition version
Price: £350 standard version, £500 expedition version
Maximum load: 180 kg
Colours: Firecracker Red, Sunshine Yellow, Teal Green, Galaxy Blue & White Rock Colourwash, Firecracker Red & Sunset Orange Colourwash.
Manufactured by Perception Kayaks, Bellbrook Business Estate, Uckfield, East Sussex, ENGLAND TN22 1QQ tel (0) 1825 765891 www.perception.co.uk

------------------------



-----------Mark Rainsley

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Jim
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Re: Carolina test drive ?

Post by Jim » Tue Feb 25, 2003 10:40 pm

Nice one, very timely!

I just pasted it into an e-mail to a work colleague who is thinking of getting a kayak to bimble around the Firth of Clyde and has been looking at the Carolina and Arcadia. His reasoning is that his dinghy is too much to be dragging up and down the beach on his own and he's looking for something lighter.

Come to think of it another colleague was asking advice a couple of weeks ago, although I thought an open might suit his requirements better.

JIM

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