I purchased my 2003 Perception Carolina 14.5 used for $375.00. It is my first kayak, and I have had it out only about a half a dozen times. At this point, I notice an enormous difference in maneuvering ability when the rudder is employed. With it engaged, turning quickly is a snap; without it, turning is a long and relatively slow process. I'm new to the sport, and I'm sure that my ability to turn well will improve as I gain more seat time and improve my strokes. When it comes to tracking, once again there is a huge difference with and without the rudder.
For the price I paid, the Carolina is a good boat to learn in. It is tippier than my wife's Prodigy, but I prefer the Carolina's smaller cockpit opening. If you can find one for a similar price, I'd recommend picking it up. The 24-25 inch width is wide enough to give beginners a secure feeling of initial stability, but it still encourages one to work on their mechanics.