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Carolina Skiff 21 Ultra Review

You Can Run This Full-Featured Center-Console All Day Without Emptying Your Wallet

October 23, 2012
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Carolina Skiff 21 Ultra

Carolina Skiff 21 Ultra

You Can Run this Full-Featured 21-Footer without Emptying Your Wallet Courtesy Suzuki Marine

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: With one step on the wide gunwale of Carolina Skiff’s new 21 Ultra, I was struck by two factors: the boat’s rock-solid stability at rest and the high quality of the interior. Carolina Skiff boats possess a well-earned reputation as stable fishing platforms. While many anglers might still identify the company with its original rolled-edge models, Carolina Skiffs with full liners now populate the company’s line-up of boats. Yet, the 21 Ultra takes the Carolina Skiff brand to an even higher level of refinement.

** TARGET MARKET**: Carolina Skiff targets anglers interested in rugged inshore-fishing boats at competitive prices. Though decked out, the 21 Ultra is still reasonably priced at under $28K (without power), and can run up to 290 miles on a single 52-gallon tank of gas with Suzuki’s new DF140A outboard, featuring lean-burn technology. With a relatively shallow draft, the 21 Ultra serves as a versatile boat for fishing bays and near-shore waters for species such as bluefish, calico bass, redfish, seatrout, snook and striped bass.

** FISHIEST FEATURES**: A wide deck at the forepeak offers an ideal place to mount an electric trolling motor, and this boat comes standard with appropriate wiring and a trolling-motor plug receptacle. Under the forepeak is a roomy anchor locker. The center console incorporates four vertical rod holders on each side, with four more holders across the helm-seat back. Amazingly, under-gunwale horizontal rod racks store 16 more sticks, and four flush-mount trolling-rod holders lie atop gunwales. A 20-gallon livewell is concealed below the aft deck, and my test boat featured a second, optional 12-gallon livewell under the seat forward of the console.

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THE LAYOUT: An elevated, bow casting deck (with voluminous dry storage below) serves as a platform from which to cast net or run the trolling motor while stalking fish. An expansive, aft casting deck easily accommodates a pair of anglers, and twin flip-up jump seats in the forward portion of the aft deck allow both anglers to step down and rest their backs while running to a new spot. The compact motorwell maximizes deck space in the stern. However, the relatively small console does not offer a lot of room for marine electronics, and I could not find a compass.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS: While the cathedral-like hull on the 21 Ultra creates a solid fishing platform, this also results in a rugged ride in big seas. We experienced a few hard landings and modest spray while running in three- to four-foot waves on a blustery day in the Atlantic Ocean off Key Largo, Florida. Once back on calmer water, the 21 Ultra felt more comfortable than any other boat of its size. Carolina Skiff is one of the most popular boat brands of all time, owing largely to the company’s value proposition — a solid, durable boat at a good price. The upscale 21 Ultra carries this tradition forward at a time when many anglers will appreciate it the most.

SPECIFICATIONS

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LOA: 21 ft.

BEAM: 8 ft. 1 in.

DRAFT: 9 in.

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DEADRISE AT TRANSOM: 15 deg.

WEIGHT: 2,500 lb. (hull only)

FUEL: 52 gal.

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MAX. POWER: 150 hp OB

MSRP: $27,707 (without power)

SUZUKI DF140A FOUR-STROKE

TYPE: Inline-4

DISPLACEMENT: 124.7 cid

MAX. RPM: 6,200

HP/LB RATIO: 0.354

GEAR RATIO: 2.59:1

WEIGHT: 395.7 lb.

ALTERNATOR OUTPUT: 40 amps

PERFORMANCE AT A GLANCE

TOP SPEED: 43.1 mph

TIME TO PLANE: 8.5 sec.

0-30 MPH TIME: 11.3 sec.

BEST MPG: 5.6 @ 23.9 mph (3,500 rpm)

MAXIMUM RANGE: 291 miles

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Powered by Suzuki’s new DF140A outboard, the Carolina Skiff 21 Ultra achieved a remarkable top speed of 43.1 mph. Courtesy Suzuki Marine
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Propelled by 140 hp, the 21 Ultra reached planing speed in 8.5 seconds and accelerated to 30 mph in 11.3 seconds Courtesy Suzuki Marine
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The 21 Ultra offers outstanding range with Suzuki’s new DF140A outboard. Best fuel economy came at 3,500 rpm where this Carolina Skiff achieved 5.6 mpg at 23.9 mph, for a range of 291 miles with its 52-gallon gas tank. Courtesy Suzuki Marine
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The elevated bow casting deck is extra wide, and forepeak will easily accommodate an electric trolling motor. Jim Hendricks
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The 21 Ultra offers voluminous dry storage below the bow casting deck and roomy anchor locker in the bow. Jim Hendricks
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The aft casting deck is spacious enough to accommodate two anglers. A 20-gallon live bait well is situated below deck. Jim Hendricks
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A pair of flip-up jump seats in the aft casting deck offer convenient places for crew to rest their backs while running to a new fishing spot. Jim Hendricks
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Under-gunwale racks will accommodate as many as eight rods on each side. Coaming bolsters help cushion anglers’ thighs and knees while fishing. Jim Hendricks
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Our test boat featured Teleflex Bay Star hydraulic steering, but did not include a compass. There is minimal room for mounting electronics on the center console.
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The helm seat back includes four vertical rod holders and has room for a cooler within the seat frame. Jim Hendricks
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Our test boat included an optional 12-gallon live bait well under the seat forward of the center console. Jim Hendricks
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