I have an embarrassing confession to make: Because I get to travel all over the world and fish and run the finest boats built, I fear I have become a snob. I hate to admit it. I try to be open-minded and fair, but I realize that I have not succeeded. I confess that I had preconceived notions about Carolina Skiff, the best selling boat in the southeastern United States. Some years ago, I rode in a few of the company’s flat-bottom skiffs; those flat hulls made for a pretty jarring ride. But they also happen to be some of the most affordable boats on the market.I recently ran Carolina Skiff’s new 1800 RG Sea Chaser (the V-bottom line). It brought me up short. I had fully expected to thumb my nose at it. Instead, my opinion has been rearranged by 180 degrees.It struck me that two distinctly different kinds of people will buy this boat. PerformanceThe wide-open sound off St. Mary’s, Georgia (home to the impressive King’s Bay Naval Submarine Base), raised quite a chop in the 20-knot winds. Normally, I’d want a pair of trim tabs in these conditions. However, despite the very slight torque heel (the leaning to one side at speed due to the torque of the prop) that this Carolina Skiff exhibited, I would say that it didn’t need the optional trim tabs for bow-up/bow-down adjustment; the engine accomplished that handily. That said, I still don’t think any skiff should be without tabs. You need to be able to lift the windward side for running beam-to the wind and seas. That trim will always keep you drier and give you a smoother ride. A single Suzuki 115 four-stroke powered the 1800. Though you may not hear as much about Suzuki, it’s an industry leader in four-stroke technology, and this engine ran flawlessly. Hopping up onto plane in about two seconds, the 1800 RG hit a top speed of 45 mph at 6,000 rpm. You can execute sharp turns at a high cruising speed, but past a certain point the 1800’s rear end will break free and the prop will ventilate. One shortcoming I found concerned the placement of the kill lanyard. (I’ve seen enough accidents, so I always wear it.) I needed to attach the lanyard around my leg rather than my belt; doing the latter caused the lanyard to foul against the steering wheel. Unlike most rolled-gunwale skiffs, the 1800 ran quiet in the extreme, thanks to full-foam flotation sandwiched in the bottom. In fact (here’s where my snobbery gets swallowed whole), it’s a truly remarkable ride. It’s probably the quietest, most solid rolled gunwale I’ve ever been on. When I launched it off a wave, the hull landed perfectly every time with no bang, thud or bottom flexing. The 1800 actually took waves a little better at higher speeds. You don’t want the bow dropping between waves if you can help it because it’ll cross them much more comfortably if you can span them. I consider the helm cooler seat a very nice addition. But the pipe around it bothered the back of my calves. I’d opt for either the captain’s chairs or maybe put in a Palm Beach-style helm stool. FishingWhen it comes to fishing, simple is good. You can’t get simpler than a rolled-gunwale skiff (that’s what the ''RG'' stands for). It makes for a very comfortable fishing platform. Both bow and stern offer enough unencumbered open space for casting or netting. Fishing in a wind-against-tide condition, the 1800 drifted beam-to the wind. Like most such skiffs, it’s light, so it moved right along. Drifting beam-to produced a gentle roll moment -- more up and down than side to side. I had no problem standing up without holding on. The self-bailing cockpit emptied instantly when I washed grass to the scuppers. Carolina Skiff included a thoughtful standard feature: a trolling-motor-plug outlet on the bow. Vertical rod storage for three rods on each side gives you flexibility when fishing. If those aren’t enough for you, Carolina Skiff laminates backing plates into the hull sides so you can screw on more rod holders if you wish.Design/ConstructionThe Sea Chaser line of Carolina Skiffs boasts moderate-V bottoms and closed-cell-foam transoms. The Sea Chasers won’t run quite as shallow as the company’s flat-bottom skiffs (which have undergone massive improvements recently and ride much more smoothly now).The anchor locker in the bow keeps the hook and line out of the casting space, while copious dry storage in the bow step hides everything else. You’ll find more storage under the forward seat on the console. Maintenance could not be easier, with little place for dirt to hide. The splatter finish on the interior stands up to even the most horrendous abuse. Two types of people will buy this boat: 1) those just entering the boating and fishing world who don’t want to spend a lot at the outset and 2) those with boat smarts and experience who want ultimate functionality and performance –- and no longer feel the need to impress anyone. Whether smart, frugal or both, anglers will be hard-pressed to find a better, more rugged fishing skiff at any price.
LOA18 ft.BEAM7 ft. 7 in.DEADRISE20 deg.DRAFT 11 in.WEIGHT900 lbs. (w/o power)FUEL 30 gal.MAX POWER115-hp OBMSRP$8,929 (w/o power)
Suzuki D115-HP Four-Stroke
TYPE4-ILDISPL.118.9 cidMAX RPM6,000HP/LB RATIO0.28FUEL SYSTEMDigital MPIGEAR RATIO2.59:1WEIGHT416 lbs.ALT. OUTPUT15 ampsMSRP$9,375Nobody builds a better four-stroke outboard than Suzuki. It has the best torque and has proven reliable enough to be the power of choice for many offshore oil and diving operations where a day’s downtime means serious money loss.NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT * Helm console w/front cushion seat * 70-qt. cooler w/seat * Livewell * Six vertical rod holders * No-feedback steering * Bow/stern rails IMPRESSIONSIt’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with owning a Scout bay skiff.
Scout BoatsSummerville, South Carolina843-830-2180843-821-4786-faxwww.scoutboats.com