Read reviews for the Charleston by Dagger as submitted by your fellow paddlers.
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What they won't tell you...
This thing dents / deforms fairly easily if you're not cognizant. I loaded the kayak on my racks around 5pm. By the time I reached my destination at 9 pm, the kayak racks had dented the side of the boat in about 1 inch. The funny part was the shape of the dent conformed to the closed cell 2 inch thick foam protection that's wrapped around the arms of my rack! Within the span of 20 minutes or so pacing back and forth starting at the 2 symmetrical indentations, they finally oozed back into their original shape and felt... normal.
Were my straps too tight? Probably not. I'm fully aware of how easy this boat deforms after leaving it sitting in the bed of a truck with about half of it sticking out - I have a fully formed dent under the seat that pops in and out at will. I've since added a small chunk of foam under the seat to keep it "popped out".
I hate having to handle this kayak with kid gloves. I'm more careful in loading / racking / storing this kayak than my composite yak - which shouldn't be the case. Yet, despite how easily it deforms - it seems to sort itself out by its own accord as if it were haunted.
I still love using it though. On super flat water without the skeg down, its wonky like Mr. Toad's wild ride, always correcting. I attribute that to some of the hidden lumpy features that may still be present on the hull... I could be wrong. When the skeg's fully down, it tracks super straight - but turning becomes a chore. So I usually run around 1/2 skegged on flat water -
Out in choppy water / big water is where this guy really shines. Its my go-to kayak for a mile trip across the bay to a secluded island.
If you're a bigger clydesdale-eque paddler (6 foot / 200 lbs) this kayak will fit like a glove. Cockpit is super comfy, spacious and wont leave you feeling cramped.
comfy seat, decent quality...
comfy seat, decent quality plastic, but the seat back isn't ideal for rolling, as compared to backbands. The cockpit of the 14 foot version is big enough for most paddlers.
I am a canoe coach in the...
I am a canoe coach in the UK, and bought the Dagger Charleston 15 last year in August. It was bigger than i thought and in my view, bigger is better. When I tried it out first I found it was very twitchy when leaning to one side or the other, skeg required, I also found that the skeg can't drop down when the string is released, it needs a bit of encouragement to properly drop totally, I also discovered not so long ago that the plastic was thin where the skeg is attached because of trapped air bubbles.
I bought from Dagger because of its build quality but this was unexpected. It tracks, and controls exceptionally well on the sea and was very happy with the ample of space in the hatches, very comfortable seat for long journeys and well outfitted.
Overall, I would recommend this kayak to anyone, i am very happy with the kayak and i enjoy paddling it
I purchased a '02 Dagger...
I purchased a '02 Dagger 'Charleston' from CRAIG'S List in May 2011! I will use it for Florida's Inter Coastal waterways near Daytona Beach. This is a really nice comfortable craft! It is well suited for these waters. I am 6'& about 195lbs, so it is a perfect size for me....& easy in & out. The low bowlines make for some bow splash, but it is not too affected by cross wind.
This Yak NEEDS the skeg/rudder system down all times! It handles like it was a 16' Yak with some mild rocker. With the rudder up...the hull will turn with no forward movement...great for gymkhanas & figure 8 races!! One has to use too many corrective strokes, so the rudder is a must! This rudder (aluminum) needs to be kept free of sand or it will jam, so I redesigned it with a mounted spring attachment & Zip ties!!!! The spring keeps the rudder forced down & the zip movement help flush out any sand!! This modify works great & I use the skeg/rudder all the time!!!
All in all really nice & did I mention some speed! I own a 17' Tempest & a 12' Pungo, with I used to compare too. I also have paddled many other Yaks, as I belong to a Paddling Club.
I bought the Charleston 14...
I bought the Charleston 14 after deciding to sell my Valley Aquanaut sea kayak, I paddle a lot less than I used too so I wanted something stable, easy to handle in tight spots, most of my trips are solo, exploring the rugged west Wales coastline.
I am very impressed with this kayak, it doesn't feel too sluggish, is fun in chop and waves, and is very responsive without the skeg deployed,and tracks well with the skeg down, it could do with a bit more buoyancy in the bow to give a drier ride but considering its designed as a flatwater kayak it performs very well in waves and chop, it's good fun in a following sea, comfort is good, I'm 6ft, 75kg and the 14ft model fits me better than the rather fat-assed 15ft version. Hatches seem pretty good at keeping the water out, I painted mine black for cosmetic reasons.
Recommended as a good general purpose kayak for easy sea trips, easy rivers and flatwater.
Had mine about 7 weeks now...
Had mine about 7 weeks now - first boat I've owned. Using it for small local paddles on placid and slow water (that's all we really have in this part of England). Intend to use it in and around Thames Estuary and for overnight trips but want to get used to it before then. Also learning to roll it in a local pool - warmer than doing it outdoors at this time of year - haven't yet succeeded. I'm novice level, 48 years old 6' 1" and 190 lbs.
This boat is great for me - stable, comfortable, easy to get in and out of. Thighbraces sit well on my legs and I don't have aches after 2 hours on board - first boat I've had that on. As I said it is stable - but obviously not like an Acadia - which allows me to focus on paddling technique, understanding water conditions etc but it is still dynamic enough for me to learn about how kayaks work. It leans over quite well - I can just about get the spraydeck wet on the left - need to work on the other side - and is predictable so I know when I've reached that point. And when it goes over it's very stately - plenty of time to get a brace in (and take a precautionary breath) and when you do go over the generous cockpit lets you get out easily (all capsizes have been deliberately induced just in case you thought I was contradicting myself about the stability).
Crosswinds and the skeg seem to work well - I like the idea of a skeg compared to a rudder because I think I'd struggle to co-ordinate my feet on a rudder and also it makes me work more on sweep strokes and leaning to induce a turn (which is wierd 'cos it's the opposite of how you do it on a motorbike - leaning out!?)
So 2 final points - Firstly - Am I qualified to post a review? I'm not an expert kayaker so this review is only relevant to an average sized novice looking to test or buy a touring/coastal type boat. These people can decide for themselves from what I've put above.
Secondly - why "only" a 7? Easy - 5/6 is average. This boat is above average - it does what I expected it to do in the way I expected it to do it. It's clearly not perfect - all kayak designs are a myriad of compromises - it's great for me now but in 2 years time I may want something a bit more lively for some occasions which means I'll have to buy another boat (don't tell my wife). So it can't evolve with me. That's a 7 in my perfectionist view.
I have been paddling for a...
I have been paddling for a while but my wife is a relative newcomer to the sport. We just purchased a matched pair (well, almost; one blue, one orange sunburst(?)) of Dagger Charleston 15's. They are great.
The boats handle exceptionally well for their size and construction material. Acceleration is good and tracking, sans skeg is also excellent. I have not used the skeg except on one occasion on the Hudson River where a quartering wind was being particularly obnoxious. It turns fairly tightly for a 15' boat.
The fore deck design allows chop to easily break over the bow and, if you're not wearing a skirt, you'll end up with a wet bottom (perhaps, if the chop is bad enough you'll end up with a wet bottom whether or not you're using the skirt!)
Storage capacity is excellent for day trips and possible short multi-day trips. The hatch covers seem to work pretty well in keeping things dry within.
The fancy seat, for me, seems to be a mixed blessing. It is a little too sophisticated and, I fear that the pump/hose/valve mechanism may be short-lived. In addition, I don't find the seat particularly comfortable (I am 6' tall and fairly thin). This aspect will probably end up getting modified as I get more used to the boat.
Another "drawback", if you can really call it that, is the fact that there is not provision for fastening a back-pack or other "bundles" on deck, nor a compass for that matter. I very much dislike, if at all avoidable, drilling holes in boat. I resolved this issue by forcing wire-ties through the holes through which the deck bungees are laced and attaching a 1" ring (Home Depot variety) to each wire tie so that I now have an attachment point for a bungee cord or line to hold anything that I may want to carry on either the fore or aft decks.
Our use of the boats so far has been on lakes and estuaries near home (fairly bland stuff) and on the Hudson River for short stints. We are looking forward to more extensive "sea-trials" on bigger, rougher water but as the end of the season nears this may have to wait 'till next spring.
We have been using a Thule J-Type cartop carrier (usually without the front and rear ratchet ropes, only with the straps) and have had no indication of "oil-barreling" or deformations of any kind. We normally cinch those straps down pretty tight to ensure that kayaks stay in place in spite of my driving style(!?).
Overall, I would buy mine again and my wife, although very happy with hers, feels that a 14' version might have been a better choice.
after jsy one day out with...
after jsy one day out with my new kayak, i have to say it was great,,, considering im used to useing a OT otter at work, the charleston 14 is much better, and that skeg work wonders,, i did notice some dents on the hull after transport, but very little, and soon ill have the j style carryer, so that problem will be solved,, i will write more after i test it out on bigger water.
My wife and I recently...
My wife and I recently purchased a Charleston 14 and 15 after 1 month of demos and talking to a lot of sales people. I am 6' 2" and finding a kayak that fit was a real task. After finding the perfect kayaks for us (Tempest 170 and 180 Pros) we decided to start with more basic kayaks to develop our paddling skills. The Charlestons definitly fill the bill. They are stable yet nimble and work great for day trips around the local lakes. The skegs work great for those long straight legs and windy days, and I hope to add cleats for skeg depth adjustments. For now, they both fit in the back of the pickup with the tailgate down while we shop for a trailer capable of handling the future Tempest Pros. During the purchase we were suprised to see that the Charlestons are not in the 2005 Dagger line up. Hopefully that will work to our advatage when we decide to trade up as these are really great entry level day touring kayaks that can take some moderate abuse. Being able to launch the wife, then stradle my kayak, sit down, and then get my legs in makes launching a breeze and will definitly lessen the abuse on our new Swift graphite shaft paddles.
I had been paddling an 11'...
I had been paddling an 11' Dagger Element for about 5 months, and started to find it a bit small for what I wanted to do. I took a bunch of boats on demo, having the Wilderness Systems Cape Horn 150 or Perception Monterey 14 in mind. I then stumbled upon the Dagger Charleston 14 and knew right away that it was the right boat for me. The first thing that you notice is the comfort. This thing has the Lazyboy of kayak seats. I actually feel like I am wearing the boat, rather than sitting in it. I am prone to a sore back, and this seat just may fix that. The boat tracks well with the skeg down, and is highly manuverable with it up. Its actually pretty fast as well. There is ample storage for a 14' boat, and the dual density hatches are much easier to deal with than systems with a cover, and neoprene seal. Other reviewers spoke of oil canning, but I have had no problems at all with it upside down on foam cradles. For the money, I can not imagine a much better boat.
I bought the Charleston 15...
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.
Recently I purchased a...
Recently I purchased a Dagger Charleston 14 after considering the Perception Carolina 14.5.
I paddled the two and found that the Charleston was more of dynamic performer than Carolina. given Charleston's shorter water line, it still seemed to be quicker and easier to accelerate. Carolina was a bit cumbersome due to its high volume and flat bottom.
Even though Perception and Dagger are actually the same company (Watermark), the Dagger line is more of "performance oriented" line. The Charleston's multi chined hull allows for exceptional secondary stability, lean turns and carving.
The boat performs nicely in slow rivers, flat water and mild chop. It performs "OK" In the sea conditions. The minimal rocker and lack of flare in the bow permits a lot of wash-up on deck. After a messy experience with this boat in swift moving water it is quite obvious that it was NOT designed for downriver!
The Charleston tracks like a plum line when the skeg is down, feels like it compromises some hull speed though. It would be nice if the skeg could've been springloaded it gets stuck a lot and always at the worst time! I love the aircore inflatable lumbar and ass support! (new for 2004) it makes for one of the most comfortable kayak seats ive ever sat in. the seat was even more comfortable then Wilderness Systems hyped-up Phase Three seats. Im a little curious as to how long it will last before it stops working though. watch out for the air release valve, it comes off easily.
I did a multi day trip with this boat in the in the Raquette lake area of the Addirondacks. I was able to bring enough "stuff" for three nights. pack sparingly in this boat! The internal storage capacity is limited carry a lot on deck.
An innovation that Watermark has introduced to the 2004 roto-molded boats is a new "revolutionary" plastic they call, Exolar. Exolar is supposed to be " 40% stronger and stiffer" then the previous plastics used. they say that it will take bigger hits and last longer. From what I have seen so far I think its bull crap! I have only had my Charleston for about three months and it is already covered with some pretty significant gouges and scratches. and this is not from abuse either. the plastic scratches just as easy as my older kayaks.
As previously stated in some of the last reviews. The oilcanning in this boat is terrible I would recommend cartopping it upside down.
Though there may be a few flaws with this boat, you cant go wrong with the price. Im a poor college student so for me a composite touring kayak is out of the question. the dagger Charleston is a great combination of responsiveness, speed and touring ability at an attractive price.
I purchased this craft...
I purchased this craft used from a friend at the pool where I took rolling classes. As of this date (4-22-04) I have only used it three times outdoors. I have been using it in the pool for several sessions to practice rolls. I have successfully righted the craft at least once in every session the real difficulty is the lack of thigh bracing and I must add that I may have to replace the foot pad rails and pegs as the pegs drop out when I roll. This is not a problem in the pool as it is easy to dive down and retrieve them. In open water this would be a problem. Reading the reviews indicates that others have had similar experiences.
Last week we had a beautiful spring day with winds of 10-15 mph. several of us met on a small lake for some exercise. I was working on everything except rolls. The boat tracked well with and without the skeg. I like the idea of installing a cam on the skeg line to enable finding the neutral position for the skeg.
I expect to be doing some day touring on Lake Michigan this summer. I will tender my experiences in this regards. My rating is based upon very limited experience to allow room for reappraisal.
The Prijon that we used in the roll class was signifcantly easier to roll due to the narrower beam providing a lower aspect ratio.
Another point that may have value regarding cartopping. I have a Cadillac DeVille, I am six foot even. I find it very easy to place the boat on either foam blocks or an old pair of racks made for rain gutters which I adapted to the gutterless top of this '95 Caddy. Significantly I would like to offer this thought to the person that is using bungy cords. I used bungy cords for years cartopping canoes. I never had a bad experience, however, I credit that to the fact that I inspected and changed them frequently at the first sign of weather, sun, or any sign of a crack or weakness in the rubber. Today I prefer the web straps with ratchets. One over the center thru the open doors and one on each end. I recently had a chance to demonstrate my system of using foam blocks without rack and three web straps as above to a friend under quite extreme circumstances. Forty to fifty mph crosswinds alongside of tractor-trailer rigs with no movement of the craft. I usually place the kayak, cockpit down. It is my belief that this is the most streamlined profile and it does not cause denting of the hull from the stress of the ratcheted down web straps. My vehicle has an instant fuel usage readout that informs me as to the efficiency of the vehicle at all speeds and wind conditions. In addition, it provides me with an average fuel usage. Over fifteen hundred miles of driving I am averaging 20.1 mpg.. This started with a 750 mile trip without any bike or kayak on the vehicle. At this point the average was 21.6. The next 750 was more urbanized driving with kayak or bike or both affixed.
I bought a Charleston 15...
I bought a Charleston 15 last summer. It's a sweet boat. It's a 24.75 inch-wide, swedeform hull that offers comfortably strong initial stability for top-heavy paddlers, and extremely firm secondary stability. I'm paralyzed from the base of my sternum downward, so I built a backrest extension to reach up into my functional musculature. Overall, this is an excellent light touring boat. Its speed can't match a full touring boat, of course, but it does move quite nicely, and you feel that you're getting somewhere. The boat has notably quick acceleration. I like to use it on Class I rivers. With the skeg retracted, the boat is reasonably nimble. With the skeg deployed, tracking is very good. The Charleston also handles wind and waves on Lake Superior very well.
The only negative I have is that with the skeg deployed, the boat wandered to the left. So, I put a small bend in the skeg blade, which made the tracking perfect. Also, the velcro strips that the factory put in the skeg slot came loose and then jammed the skeg, so I removed them. They're unnecessary.
I believe all larger people would enjoy the Charleston 15. I feel that it's too big for a smaller person though. The bottom line is that I really enjoy paddling this boat. It's a keeper.
I just purchased the...
I just purchased the Charleston 15 and I am very pleased it. I've used it on calm lake water where I find it tracks well with the skeg up. Putting the skeg down is like holding down the 'shift' key while drawing a line in a computer graphics program--it holds you to a STRAIGHT line. I use it mainly when resting to keep the kayak from veering while I coast. As a taller kayaker (6'3") and as one who is no longer limber (54 years old), I find the oversize cockpit a real joy to get into and out of. It's 55 pounds are definitely car-toppable, even on my Volkswagon Beetle's short roof rack. I secure the whole thing with rubber tie-downs and bungee cords. I'm also pleased with the stability and handling of the craft. Good boat!
I have the 2002 model,...
I have the 2002 model, which has slightly different seat than 2003 model I am told. The boat is very stable, responds well and the skeg definately keeps the boat tracking perfectly. With the skeg up, the boat turns nicely. My first trip in the boat was a 12 mile long lazy blackwater creek that after about 6 miles becomes wide and wind/tide affected. The wind spent most of the time in my face and the boat handled very well. The end of the trip requires a paddle across a 3/4 mile open water bay to the opposite shore. This was done in about a 15 knot headwind and again the boat handled extremely well. It is fairly fast for it's width and I would say comfortable to paddle for extended trips. It is really designed for small to medium paddlers and I am 5' 7 200 lbs. Not sure if that qualifies as medium paddler or not but I am very happy with the boat. I recommend a spray skirt very highly if the paddling in any waves. Like most small boats, the bow does not fend off waves too well and water tends to roll into the cockpit. This is one of several boats I own but it will be one I use a lot. I would give the boat a 10 rating but I want to paddle it some more to get a better feel for it in open water. I recommend the boat tho as a good day tripper. The 14 foot length is very suitable for this type of paddling.
I would like to add to my...
I would like to add to my review of the Charleson that I placed earlier. I have had a bit mor time with the boat and have a better feel for it now. First I really like this boat and believe it is an ideal all around boat.
I have had no trouble keeping it straight without a skeg unless I am in a quarteing following sea. It takes a bit of practice and skill to go really straight but as I get better as a paddler I find that some problems disappear. I use the skeg in bad water and admit that the skeg on this boat drops very deeply so when it is deployed turning is more difficult. I came up with a solution to this. replace the hook cleat with a clench cleat and it will then allow you to use different levels of the skeg and you can fine tune the ride. If I drop the skeg just a little it will make going straight easier but still turns smartly. The more skeg you use the easier the tracking but the less quickly it turns.
The boat is quite fast for a 14' kayak and is comfortable to sit in. I really like this boat I just wish it had thigh braces. No oil canning yet and it is easy to heft on one shoulder. I really like this boat and it is a keeper.
I posted a review 2 months...
I posted a review 2 months ago after just purchasing the Charleston. At first I found that I had great difficulty in getting the boat to track straight unless I used the skeg. After much pratice, I found that the problem was me, not the boat. I have learned to get the boat to track straight without using the skeg. Unless there is a strong current or wind, I never use the skeg. This is an excellent kayak. I have not experienced any of the 'oil can' problems mentioned by others, even after storing it on the roof rack in the sun for days on end.
I just traded for a...
I just traded for a charleston yesterday, I had purchased a Prijon Seayak from my local dealer and found the boat to be a fast and excellent performer. The problem was the cockpit size. The first saleman that put me into this boat didn't take my size into account and as I was able to squeeze into the cockpit figured it would be ok. The biggest problem was getting out, I almost couldn't so another saleman advised me if the boat dumped me I could be in real trouble. As I already have an 18' Cape charles(phenominal boat) I really didn't need another expidtion boat. After trying a number of boats I settle on the charleston.
It has front and rear hatches and bulkheads which I still wanted and a spacious cockpit, which I also wanted. I found that even without the skep I could track well enough but with the skeg down it runs like its on a rail. The boat also handles well and can be turned adequately with the skeg down. Popping the skeg up gramatically improves the turning ability but as most of my paddling is in the Gulf of Mexico with strong currents the straight traking is more important to me so the skeg will probably be used a lot. The seat is comfortable and the boat had good speed for a 14 footer.
I'll admit I prefer the Prijon double hatch covers to the rubber ones on the dagger boats but I guess you can't have everything. The boat also seems to be totally unimpressed by wind, probably due to the low rear deck. All In all I really like the boat and recommend it highly.
I have been paddling now...
I have been paddling now for the past 3 years or so, but only in my recreational kayak, the Rascal from Wilderness Systems (fun boat, by the way). I got my Charleston about a month ago as I was looking for a boat with more storage space and more length to handle some light ocean kayaking in addition to my usual lake, pond, and estuary kayaking. I love my Charleston. It tracks very well with the skeg down and has good speed and glide. Without the skeg, it has amazing manuverability and can get into as many tight spaces as my Rascal with ease. Very easy turning with the skeg up and somewhat harder, but possible, with the skeg down. It is perfect for lake shore scouting, shallow areas, and rock gardens. I have had one trip on the ocean so far and was impressed by the way it handled the 2-4 foot chop and cut through the wind...very nice day. As far as oilcanning, I haven't had any problems with the boat carried upside down on foam cradles attached to my rack. I have thigh braces on my boat and they definately add comfort and security. It is lightweight and easy to carry and cartop solo. Overall I feel the Charleston is an excellent choice for the beginner and intermediate kayaker.... perfect for those looking for day trips as well as weekend camping with a boat that seems able to handle most conditions and perform quite well.
Just bought my boat...
Just bought my boat yesterday. I took it right to the water for my first outing. Got a great end of the season deal so that made this well equiped boat a great choice for a rookie kayaker. I took it out on a small inland lake here in Western Michigan. It performed great. I have to get some pactice at my turning skills. I did notice quite a bit of differnce in handling with the skeg down. Tracked straighter and felt I had more control over where I was going with each stroke. It's raining today so unless it stops no paddling today. I will update my review as I get more experience.
My one and only boat is a...
My one and only boat is a dark blue and red Charleston. I agree 100% on the oil-canning on the roof rack - that's why I now always transport mine upside down. You can get the dent out if you put the boat on the ground and stand on the dent from inside the cockpit. Another quirk was that there are no thigh braces made for this boat, so I had to special order some and wait 2 months after consulting with Dagger tech support. As far as weight, it is 49 pounds which seems kind of heavy, but I suppose it's not bad for a 14' boat. The Savannah definitely weighs more if you're carrying the back end of it. One more gripe: the bulkheads are foam and not welded plastic and the hatch covers are one-piece rubber, but they seem to seal pretty well. I've only found a few drops inside after 2-4 foot chop for an hour. I haven't had any real concerns about comfort or storage capacity - it all seems adequate. The skeg makes the boat track very well, although very difficult to turn (I pull the skeg up for tight turns). I thought it was just me and my one season of paddling experience, but the previous review agrees with my observation that the boat seems to want to go slightly left. I love the deploy-and-forget nature of the skeg, whereas a rudder requires constant adjustment, reduced pressure on the foot pegs, and can leak at the rudder cable. It does fairly well on speed, although it clearly can't keep up with the composite standard. The bow is high and knife-edged, so it really cuts through the waves. The front can ride a little high, but a little gear in the front will solve that. The deck is higher than some other boats, but I enjoy it. The paddle holder at the top of the deck is good. I can't get a bow or stern light to stick to the boat, so I had to build a system using the deck rigging and small boards. It's very stable, and you really have to lean it to flip it. It is rollable, but requires some effort (and you HAVE to have braces or you will just about fall out). The cockpit is rather large, so getting a spray skirt or cockpit cover to fit can be a challenge and require a lot of strength. My overall impression of the boat is that it does have the performance of a light touring boat, but design compromises were made to make it closer to the recreational category in price. I did get mine for 10% off the list price. If I could do it again, I might buy this boat again but I might also consider the Dagger Savannah or one of the equivalent Wilderness Systems Cape Lookout or Cape Horn models. The Perception Carolina is an equivalent model, but I didn't like the way it paddled - seemed like a bus in build and responsiveness compared to an SUV for the Dagger. I suppose that's about it. It's a nice boat and good choice for this price range and the beginner, but it's clearly not perfect.
I bought a Charleston last...
I bought a Charleston last June. I thought it would be a decent, lightweight, affordable light touring boat. I was very dissapointed. The weight is kept low because the very low quality of plastic Dagger uses. The boat would oilcan significantly when it was put on my roof racks. Unlike other plastic boats I have owned it would not regain its shape after it was taken off of the racks. I paddled two or three times with rack dents still in the bottom of the boat, not the best for performance. Speaking of performance, no boat should be made that MUST have a skeg down to paddle straight. Just too many corners were cut in the design of this boat. It may fit some people's needs but it was well below what I expected.
I purchased my Charleston...
I purchased my Charleston at Benchmark Outfitters four weeks ago. This is my first kayak; I was looking for an intermediate level boat so as to try and prolong an upgrade. I feel this meets that criteria. The boat is relatively fast and quite manuverable with the skeg up. I've spent 16 hours on the water learning to control the boat and it does require a lot of effort to keep the boat tracking straight (with the skeg up). The boat also seems to have a propensity to veer left. I do find that the boat has good stability and speed. As I am a beginner, I chalk the control issues up to my lack of skill and not to inherent design flaws. I love the peace and quiet of paddling and plan on spending many more hours on the water. After I have several dozen more hours under my belt I will offer a more informed review.
Just bought a pair of...
Just bought a pair of these. We took them out on Lake Huron and an inland lake last weekend. Excellent thus far. Tracks very straight witht the skeg down and the boat is VERY nimble and manuverable when the skeg is up, considering the length. Also, this boat is very lightweight.