Mention Carolina Skiff, and many boaters think of simple flat-bottom, rolled-edge boats. Indeed, just such a no-frills design helped build Carolina Skiff into one of the most popular boat brands in the United States.
But today, Carolina Skiff offers more than just, well, skiffs. The new 21 Ultra Elite is a prime example. This beamy, bull-nose center-console fishing boat offers a full liner as well as fit and finish that take the brand to a new level of refinement, while also retaining Carolina Skiff’s penchant for stability.
Though dressed to the nines, the 21 Ultra Elite sells for under $28,000 (without power) and can run up to 260 miles on a single 52-gallon tank of gas with Suzuki’s new DF140 AP outboard, featuring lean-burn technology.
The gunwales are wide, especially at the forepeak, under which resides a roomy anchor locker. The console incorporates four vertical rod holders on each side. There are also under-gunwale horizontal rod racks on both inwales and four flush-mount trolling-rod holders atop the gunwales. A 20-gallon livewell is concealed below the aft deck. The small console does not offer a lot of room for marine electronics, and I could not find a compass.
Seating for the captain and co-pilot is a bench seat with a backrest featuring four more rod holders.
An elevated bow deck (with cavernous dry storage below) serves as a platform from which to run a bow trolling motor while stalking fish. An expansive aft deck can accommodate a pair of anglers, and twin flip-up jump seats in the forward portion of the aft deck allow for both to rest their backs.
The cathedral-like hull on the 21 Ultra Elite offers amazing stability — a Carolina Skiff trademark. Step up on the gunwale, and the boat barely lists. However, there is a price for such stability — the hull rides a bit hard in big seas. We experienced a few hard thuds and modest spray while running in three-foot waves off Key Largo, Florida.
On calmer water, the 21 Ultra Elite felt more comfortable than any other boat of its size. Carolina Skiff has always offered boat buyers a value proposition — solid, durable boats that sell for reasonable prices. The slightly upscale 21 Ultra Elite carries this forward at a time when many boat buyers might appreciate it more than ever.
Comparable model: Sea Fox 209 Commander