confused newbie - rudder or not?

hello again

I have a dilemma - sort of. After arriving home wtih my Perception Carolina, I found the Manufacturers Statement of Origin had “2nd” under Quality and my receipt has “Carolina 14 2007 Blem”

I contacted the dealer who said: " I am sorry if I did not express that the Carolina package boats were “blems.

I do want you to know that the boat is sound in its construction. If you look at the stern of the boat the rudder post has been filled in - this is the cause for being a “blem”. Be assured you have a great boat that will serve you for many years. If you ever have a problem with it, simply let us know and we are happy to satisfy you. Likewise if you want to return it for something else we are happy to do that as well.”

Now my question: Will I even need a rudder? Being so brand new at this, I wouldn’t know if I might want a rudder later or not. If it is something I might need later, as I get better at this sport, should I get a different boat? I was only planning on getting this one kayak. Also, I will be on mostly lakes and slowish rivers, no ocean. What do you all think?

There is no definitive answer
You may or may not want a rudder, and you may or may not want another boat. You have a good craft and should get many years of enjoyment from it.

My personal advice: fuggadaboutit and go paddle. This isn’t worth a second thought.

I took the rudder off my 14.5 foot
touring/ sea kayak. If I had a 17 foot kayak, I would want a rudder to supplement the turning efforts of my paddle. But for a shorter boat, especially on inner waters, I find the paddle quite adequate for steering.

Forget the rudder …or rutter

You do not want a rudder

rudder as a crutch
many people learn to paddle with a rudder, so use it as a crutch. My instructor was pretty adamant about not using a rudder, so that was how I learned. You should use your paddle stroke and edging to make you go the direction you want.

But, after going for a few years without ever using a rudder, I have found that there are time a rudder can be very useful. First time this hit me was when I was with a friend going crosswise to the wind. he used his rudder and had no problems. I was paddling about 3 times as often on the upwind side as the downwind (skipping strokes on the downwind side to compensate for weather cocking), so was falling behind him. Once I dropped my rudder, I was able to paddle with him. This taught me that there are times you will want a rudder - particularly when wind is causing your boat to weathercock. So I do find that about 10-20% of the time I do use my rudder.

So, do you need one - probably not. But there may be times (more prevalent on open water with strong winds) that a rudder would help.

Carolina experience

– Last Updated: May-31-07 10:47 PM EST –

I just got a Carolina w/o rudder. I have Daggers: Crossover (with deployable skeg), Cortez with rudder, and Savanah w/o rudder.

The Carolina behaves much like the Savanah: fairly easy to manage until the wind gets above 15 mph. But you can learn the trick of using a shorter high angle stroke on the lee side and a longer low angle stroke (more turning power) on the windward side... etc. Just paddle a lot and it will come to you. No need to add a rudder to this boat.

Now my Cortez is a different cat! Needs rudder in all but direct upwind.

George in Wyoming

Enjoy it!
No big deal…and you don’t need a rudder. Cool boat that does well. Have fun! BTW rudders, like skegs are just tools. Both have their merits.

thank you!
thanks for all the responses! You guys are awesome. I feel much better now and will just take what I have and go paddle!

No need for a rudder…
My wife and I both have Tsunami 140s, day-touring boats similar to your Carolina. I do not have a rudder on mine, while my wife does. After a couple of years, I believe she has only used her rudder twice. We paddle mainly on protected coastal waters, and she has only dropped her rudder on exceptionally windy days. On those days, I would have liked to have had a rudder or skeg, but for 99% of our paddling, there has been no need for one. Besides, it’s better to learn to control your boat without one…

Enjoy your new boat…


Yes you should have the rudder
Learn all the basic strokes without it, and don’t use it, but there will come a day when you are out on a lake or in the ocean and you will have a strong quartering wind, and you will be mighty glad you have it.

Don’t say that I didn’t warn you several months from now.



Try paddling a longer boat…
…before you make such statements. With a well designed boat and proper technique, turning is not a problem. Moreover, kayak rudders ARE NOT meant for turning the boat, rather for maintaining a course in wind and waves.

…probably with the Carolina, you culd get by

without it, but my first touring boat was a

Prijon Barracuda. Which was really built for

flatwater racing.

With no primary stability, it was quite a ride

until I got used to it.

IN those early months, the rudder helped me add

a bit of badly needed stability to it.

Now I rarely use it.

or not is a more of a personal decision in my book. I am of the school “learn how to paddle without” Then add if nessesary. However I think this is more a question of the sale of the boat she bought. It sounds as if she was not informed the boat she was buying was a blem. I have seen this happen all to often. And is a very diseptive way to do business. That aside, She now has a boat that if she did want to add a rudder she can’t. I’m in the business and That is considered a strucural blem and not a #2 but a #3 or worse. lessening the sale or resale greatly!! My advise is to talk to dealership that you purchused it from and see if you can get a replacement boat. If there was some “hidden” advertisement that it would be a blem. Then see if you can get a blem that is none structural. If you don’t have any luck there. E-mail the Kayak manifacturer and explain the situation. They should be notified that one of their dealers are using deseptive practices selling their products.

Just my $.02

Good Journey’s


Great post, Jackl
Agreed. I have one, I learned to paddle without it years ago. But on those windy days when it’s blowing over 20 plus knots, with the current going one way and the wind smacking you from another, it’s nice to have something.

save the money
the carolina is a high volume boat and if you’re light you’ll be going sideways a bit in high winds which is when most folks would put the rudder down, the problem is the stock rudder doesn’t go that deep in the water and isn’t that tough,I’ve seen the blades chip and the rubber rudder block break easily with rough use. Save the aftermarket cost of installing an inexpensive yet expensive Perception rudder and if at some time you experiment with sails or want a rudder for high winds check out Seaward rudders with pivoting,not push/pull, foot controls. It’s a tougher blade and will sit a bit deeper in the water.

With the nearly $250 not spent in a rudder you could be buying a lot of gas, good spare paddle and pfd., etc.

five reasons to have a rudder
1) They look cool

2) If you’re a beginner and don’t know how to turn, you’ll need one if you ever want to turn. Once you learn how to edge and turn with directional strokes, you won’t need the rudder any more.

3) Caché. The first kayaks ever to round South Georgia had rudders. Skegs eventually made it around.

4) Any racer will tell you: if you wanta go fast, you need a rudder. Otherwise you waste time on directional strokes. A Carolina 14 WITH rudder will take a Pamlico 140 WITHOUT any day of the week.

5) Pick up chicks.

Just ask for a 10% rebate
and keep the boat. The boat will work for you fine, and you’ll be very happy with it. But they should have been up front with you about it being a blem. Did you pay retail for it? If you did, and they don’t offer you a discount, then just make sure all your future purchases are at another kayak shop. I think the real issue here is sizing up whether or not this was an “honest” mistake, and whether you want to patronize the shop in the future.

I have a rudder and I have used it only
once and I was very glad I had it. The wind was just right and the only way to keep the boat going straight was by paddling only on the right side and still having to correct for the wind. Dropped the rudder and I could now go back to normal strokes. This must have been the quartering wind Jack talks about.

That is it.
A couple of years ago during the Adarondak ninty miler, we were in a tandem canoe crossing one of the lakes, and there was a horrendous quartering wind.

The two of us were paddling our hearts out both on the same side, and the boat was still turning away from us.

There were experienced kayakers around us blessing their rudders, and as much as I am a purist when it comes to canoes, I would have welcomed a rudder on it that day.