“This past January,” she says, “I was one in a group of about 22 members of the Tennessee Valley Canoe (and Kayak) Club who spent five days camping and paddling in the Ocala, Florida area.” The plan was to kayak; hanging out with manatee was a bonus.
“We paddled with the manatee in Three Sisters Springs,” says Phyllis, “and the manatee loved my Sea Eagle inflatable kayak! I guess they thought it looked like a member of their family. They cruised under my boat, beside it, and raised their noses to look into it a couple of times.”
Kayaking in sparkling clear springs
The TVCC is a very active and popular boating club from Chattanooga, Tennessee that organizes kayaking trips, adventures, and events all through the year. Recent group excursions to Florida have featured flat water kayaking in major springs including Silver Springs…Rainbow Springs… Three Sisters Springs…and Juniper Springs.
Why springs? Because Florida’s spring-fed pools are pristine, beautiful, sparkling clear, and often quite warm. And a remarkable bonus is the occasional opportunity to kayak with manatee.
Gentle giants…with the emphasis on GIANT
“Manatee are big sea cow-looking mammals,” says Phyllis. Closely related to elephants, the sea-going manatee is truly super-sized. Adults can measure more than 12 feet long and tip the scales at over half a ton. But these are gentle giants who spend half their lives munching vegetation in shallow water.
Hers was the only inflatable in a fleet of hard hull kayaks. “Something about the inflatable Sea Eagle resonated with the manatee,” Phyllis says. “They hovered around and under my inflated boat and followed me wherever I paddled. Those in hard hull kayaks had to come to me to get close to the manatee.”
In fact, Phyllis’s FastTrack was so popular with these marine mammals, her kayaking partners began to call it the “manatee magnet.”
Of course, spending quality time with manatee was not her goal when Phyllis chose her Sea Eagle FastTrack 385ft. “I can handle the boat very easily by myself,” she says. “It’s lightweight, stores under my bed, and doesn’t need trailering. I can put it in the back of my car with a blanket over it and nobody knows there’s a valuable boat there.”
They used the keel as a back scratcher
The stability created by the FastTrack’s rigid drop stitch floor is a big plus, too, especially when there’s a 1200 lb. manatee using your keel as a back scratcher. “They lifted me up a little but I had no fear of getting tipped,” says Phyllis.
Manatee are curious about her Sea Eagle, and hard hull kayakers are, too. “They can see the FastTrack is a handsome boat that’s sharp and sleek in the water. I can keep right up with hard hull kayaks,” says Phyllis. “With the drop-stitch keel, it moves straight in the water with no yaw (no serpentine movement) and handles waves very well.”
Even if mixing it up with manatee is not on your to-do list, Phyllis offers good thoughts for anyone interested in boating. “I encourage people to look at Sea Eagle. From my experience, their inflatable boats are affordable, user friendly, and give you a way to get outdoors and enjoy all the beauty that Nature has to offer.”
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