Sea Kayak

I was just wondering. I have an 8 year old Perception Carolina 14. I noticed this kayak is much different than the ones they are selling now. It was a small cockpit and looks more like a small Sea Kayak. I’ve had the boat out in pretty decent size waves enjoy how it handles. I was just wondering how much different a full sized sea kayak would handle. I’m comtemplating building a Night Heron by Nick Shade and just wanted to know how much better that boat should be than my Perception on rough water. Is it even comparable?

Any Idea?



14 feet is big enough
For longer you get more capacity for stuff and a higher top speed. But longer also means it is harder to turn and it is harder to paddle at cruising speed.

There are so many different shaped sea kayaks that you could find a long one that turns as easily as the 14 footers or one that just wants to go fast and straight.

More details
What is your height and weight? That makes a difference.

I have a 10 year old Carolina that I got for my son. He’s no more than 140 lbs and he does great in it. But when I put my 185 lbs in it, it feels like a barge compared to my 18’ composite kayak.

Beg to differ
Long/narrow boats can be edged for turning and tend to be more efficient.

Watch this…

Loose boats
Nick’s designs are generally known for being loose and very maneuverable boats. Nick likes to surf and play in the rough water, so his designs tend to be good in those conditions.

I’ve only paddled a Night Heron briefly, on calm water, but I recall that it tracked much better than my Guillemot.

Sign up here and see if anyone near you has built one and would be willing to let you try it.


– Last Updated: Sep-14-10 11:51 AM EST –

That depends on what you mean by efficient.
Which raises the question: what do you mean by efficient?

too generic a comparison
Look at rocker and hull shape to determine how the performances will differ. It isn’t all about length (whew!).

Yes I noticed that the Pygmy Arctic Tern seems to be very rockered compared to the other boats. I wish there was a place where I could try these out before I bought one.

size and weight
I’m 5’10" and weigh 175lb. shoe size 10.

demoing kit boats

– Last Updated: Sep-14-10 1:22 PM EST –

Ask the kit manufacturer for a list of owners/builders in your area. In my experience, most are happy to show off their boats, and some are willing to let you demo them.

Not sure about the Carolina 14

– Last Updated: Sep-14-10 4:13 PM EST –

since I have not paddled it but I do paddle (being taller and just a little heavier than you) a 13.5 foot Perception Sonoma in rough days a lot.

I can tell you that I generally run circles around folks in longer kayaks when the waves get steep and short and in clapotis. When going straight at leisurely pace I have easier time than longer boats. When going above 4.5 mph I start to work harder than longer boats to keep up. And if they paddle faster than 5mph for more than a mile or two I am overworking -;)

The shorter kayaks in general will zig-zag downwind more compared to longer ones. And if the waves are not very steep you will fall behind longer boats that can surf them more easily due to higher top speed. Going upwind you will probably have a slight advantage in some waves and perhaps a disadvantage in others.

Consider that the F1 and the Coaster are 14 feet and I have not heard too many complaints about them -;). Do they compare to the Carolina? Don't know.

All that said, I would not mind personally having a 16-18 footer for rougher days, especially downwind surfing wind chop. But for general fooling around there is no reason for a longer kayak and a shorter one is usually an advantage when it gets rough...

P.S. Unless you are into top speed, consider the Petrel - that seems to be Nick's choice of a sea kayak for rougher days and I can see why. I've paddled it (actually his copy) a couple of times in mild weather (up to about 2 feet wind chop with 20+ mph wind/whitecaps) and it felt great to me. A lot easier to roll than most higher-decked or chunkier kayaks I've tried. The Carolina has a lot of exposed hull and some deck above water, so I would imagine it would be more susceptible to winds compared to something like the Petrel or the Night Heron. The Heron feels a bit faster than the Petrel and tracks a little better too, I thought, but I thought the Petrel was more fun to play in more nimble.

Not sure if you get down to the DC or the Chesapeake Bay area at all (your profile shows NY), but if you do, may be it would be worth a drive to Annapolis where the CLC store is. They have a Heron and a few months back told me were building a Petrel so I hope they got one ready by now. They can let you demo these so you can figure it out.

There is also the Delmarva paddlers' retreat coming soon and perhaps a little closer to where you live - there might be folks with such boats there to hook-up with and try the boats.

I had a old Perception Catalina 14
which I believe is same or similar as the Carolina of the mid-late 90’s. I’m 5’10" and 185 lbs and I hated that boat. It felt unstable and at my weight it plowed through the water. It also tended to weathercock and needed the rudder a lot, despite the molded “tracking rails” on either side of the keel. I’ve since upgraded to a perception Shadow, then a Necky Chathan 17, and finally I built a wood stitch n glue Arctic Tern 17. It took some time to put together, but I’m very happy with the weight and paddling performance. I wouldn’t want to bash it around rocks like my previous plastic boats, but it blows the Catalina out of the water in every way. Nick Schade designs fabulous boats and if you decide to build one and if it comes out anything like my first amateurish attempt to put a boat together, then I’m sure you’ll gladly ditch your old hunk of plastic! You will get compliments left and right btw.

As others have said, the amount of rocker makes a huge difference. For example, my Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 ( ) has substantial rocker so it turns very well when placed on edge.