Carolina 15.5 - Opinions?

I am a novice kayaker and have a Kestrel 12’ rec kayak. I wanted something a bit faster to use on the local lakes - nature observation and just general fitness. Down the road I might try to do a couple days on the Erie Canal just for fun. I have been looking locally for a used kayak 14-16’ that would be a bit more efficient than my rec Kestrel. My goal was a Prijon but those are pretty rare in my area - I have seen several over the last few years at a local outfitter and always appreciated the quality.

There is a Carolina 15.5" that is probably about 15 years old - looks to be in pretty nice condition. Stored inside most of the time. I know it is a pretty popular model. But I think they made some changes to the design since this 15 year old was made.

I am 60 about 6’ and just a bit over 200lbs. So I do need a larger boat.

Do any of you have any experience with the 15.5 Carolina you could share? Or in general about these older Carolinas - how they are to paddle and build quality? What is a reasonable offer for this?

Had a shorter model a few years ago of about the same vintage. The key hole cockpit wasn’t the easiest in and out of, but that’s not necessarily specific to just this boat. The seat wasn’t the most comfortable for me but good enough for a few hours on the water without undo discomfort. I also found bracing up in it for extended periods to not be the most comfortable. However these comfort issues are very specific to the individual so you very well might not have the same takeaway as me. Also I’m not a fan of the hatches they used.

Mine paddled and tracked decent. With my skill level at the time I couldn’t make the most of it’s performance, but I could still see where it’s shortcomings were. There’s more efficient, better balanced hull designs. But if the price is right, you could do a lot worse.

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I have some friends who believe the Carolina line of boats are one of the best. I would almost agree if I wasn’t what I am, a fan of really fast, skinny boats.

They are a simple hull that is stable, tracks well, but will still turn. They seem to be compatible with inclement weather, most of the time. Sometimes the weather can beat up any boat.

I like them better than any Prijon I’ve tried, Prijon always just seemed overpriced to me

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Yeah the Prijons are not cheap - but that blow molded plastic seems pretty darn tough - but probably not as thick as the rotomolded stuff maybe. The cockpits are a bit tight compared to my rec kayak.

The design of the Carolinas changed substantially over the years, so it’s hard to comment with surety unless the specific year range is known. That having been said, if it is the Airalite Carolina that is being referenced, I believe that boat was a sister to the Airalite Dagger Specter. I would recommend the Dagger Specter enthusiastically as one of the best boats I’ve owned (including lots of Prijons). BTW, you might want to check out Prijon Hoarders on FB. Sometimes you can see real bargains and rare finds on there.

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What model Carolina? I have a Carolina Perception 14.5 and like it. I believe they only made it for a year or two and then did something to the size (14 ft only?) It tracks well and with the rudder turns easily. It’s stable. It’s reasonably fast, but not as fast as the Current Designs Squamish that I used to have. The latter was an uncomfortable kayak to sit in for me.

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I’ve owned a 14.5 Carolina for quite a while. It’s a rudder boat and turns nicely. Wet ride when the water is choppy. Holds a lot for camping. I’ve used the paddle site’s for sale on used boats to actually drive a considerable distance to recently buy a 14’ Kestrel composite w/rudder for $900 that was used for one hour!