Buyers Guide: SEA EAGLE FASTTRACK vs. SEA EAGLE EXPLORER KAYAK

Steve Brauns and his constant companion, Meeker, ply the waterways of Colorado in their Sea Eagle FastTrack Kayak.

Steve Brauns and his constant companion, Meeker, ply the waterways of Colorado in their Sea Eagle FastTrack Kayak.

With nearly a dozen different boat models, Sea Eagle has an inflatable boat for every kind of boater. But how to choose? We spoke recently with Steve Brauns of Glen Haven, Colorado about how he decided on his Sea Eagle FastTrack 385.

“I hadn’t really done any boating prior to getting this Sea Eagle FastTrack kayak. I got it specifically for a trip down the Flathead River in Glacier National Park in Montana. I’ll do more flat water lake kayaking than anything but I wanted something versatile so I could do some Class II and III rivers.

Practical considerations

I didn’t want a hard-sided kayak because I’m driving from Colorado to Glacier National Park and I didn’t want to leave a kayak sitting out on top of the car unattended. So it had to be a boat I could put in my car. An inflatable seemed like the way to go.

Steve's dog, Meeker, takes eagerly to boating. A testament to toughness, the Sea Eagle Explorer's high-pressure fabric is like "crocodile hide" - dog toenails don't phase it.

Steve’s dog, Meeker, takes eagerly to boating. A testament to toughness, the Sea Eagle FastTrack’s high-pressure fabric is like “crocodile hide” – dog toenails don’t phase it.

I needed something I can carry and get on the water without any help. The FastTrack works well for that. It’s quite manageable for one person. For example, I can pull it out of my car, lay it out, pump it up, hold it in the middle, and carry it to the dock by myself. I could easily carry it longer distances if I had to. It’s very simple and manageable and inflates quickly. It’s easy. You don’t have to drag it, you don’t need another person to help carry it – that would make it easier but it’s not needed. You don’t have to trailer it or put it on a car rack.

On the water, the first time my girlfriend and I took it out on a lake, it was windy. I was impressed by how well it kept going, even into a headwind. I’ve read reviews of other kayaks and some have tracking issues.

What are your requirements?

I’ve got two dogs. The one in the picture is Meeker, a border collie mix. He’s one of those dogs who wants to go with you and I take him everywhere. He’d never been in a boat before. I pointed at it and said, ‘Jump in,’ and he did. Boating is probably more for me than for him. I take him backpacking everywhere. He just wants to go.

I got into snorkeling and get to the Caribbean almost every year so I wanted a boat I could fit in a suitcase and weigh under 50 lbs. to avoid extra luggage fees. An hour and a half south of Cancun is where the good snorkeling starts. We rent a casita and go snorkeling. There aren’t a lot of people. We hang out, paddle to the reef, and use the kayak as a platform for snorkeling. Snorkling’s just about my favorite thing to do.

I like to backpack up into the high country above the tree line. I could see carrying my FastTrack a mile to access a remote lake. When we go to Glacier there are two big, remote lakes on the west side —  Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake. We’ll definitely take the boat up there.

Boating’s a different adventure perspective

Steve enjoys boating adventure high in the mountains with his Sea Eagle FastTrack Kayak

Steve enjoys boating adventure high in the mountains with his Sea Eagle FastTrack Kayak. Mountain lakes…whitewater rivers…ocean kayaking…the FastTrack’s ready for just about anything.

I spend a lot of time outdoors. I do a lot of hiking; I live in the mountains. I always want to hike and backpack near the water because it’s scenic. Going boating gives me a different perspective from being on shore – I go out and get an outdoor perspective from the middle of the lake or get to areas I can’t get to hiking. It takes exploring one step higher.

FastTrack or Explorer?

There are a lot of inflatables out there and I looked at all of them. I did a lot of searching for reviews and came up with three or four top brands. I looked at each of them. The Sea Eagle seemed to meet a whole host of my requirements like weight, tracking, and I liked the depth of the information on the website. More than other brands, customer service had a strong presence.

Why the FastTrack? I looked at both the Sea Eagle Explorer and the FastTrack. Both seemed to be of higher quality than Sea Eagle’s Sport Kayaks. That put me into either the FastTrack or the Explorer. From an aesthetic perspective, I like the Explorer kayak better than the FastTrack. But from what I read, the FastTrack seems to be more versatile in both flat water and river running. I bought to fit my needs.

Skeg & Keel create straight tracking

The FastTrack’s skeg and the drop stitch keel have a lot to do with the straight tracking. The keel is under the bow of the boat. It’s narrow, about 4 or 5” wide, maybe 3” long. It’s an inflatable chamber made of a beefy material. When you inflate it, it’s hard, really firm. It probably helps tracking as much as the skeg . It gives the boat something to dig in with.

I bought the 385 FT Deluxe Package. I went back and forth between the Pro Package and the Deluxe. The Pro’s seats looked like they gave more support but I just didn’t want to spend the extra money. I’m perfectly happy with the seats I got but may trade up eventually.

Touch test for skeptics

The last time I went kayaking, a couple stopped while I was inflating my FastTrack. They were quite impressed that it happened so fast. People don’t expect you to pull something like that out of your trunk and be up and running in 10 minutes.

People always ask about it and it’s easy to tell them, ‘Just go to SeaEagle.com.’ It’s written right there on the boat. I run into inflatable boat skeptics, too. I invite them to come over and touch it to see how solid it is, even the floor. You’d feel comfortable even standing up in it. I tell everyone and everyone how cool my FastTrack is.”

Own a Sea Eagle? How did YOU decide which model to buy? Email us – our blog readers want to know!

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“THANK YOU FOR CONTRIBUTING TO MY QUALITY OF LIFE!” — Sea Eagle 330 gives her an affordable way to restore her spirits.

Maria kayaked recently in Florida’s West Lake Park —  the largest remaining mangrove ecosystem in the 85-mile urban coastal zone from Miami Beach to West Palm Beach. The park occupies a 3-mile strip of mangrove estuary and uplands. “It’s a great place for kayaking because of the shallow water and absence of motor boats,” she says.

Maria kayaked recently in Florida’s West Lake Park — the largest remaining mangrove ecosystem in the 85-mile urban coastal zone from Miami Beach to West Palm Beach. The park occupies a 3-mile strip of mangrove estuary and uplands. “It’s a great place for kayaking because of the shallow water and absence of motor boats,” she says.

Dear Sea Eagle,

I just have to tell you how much I love my new Sea Eagle SE330!  I wanted a kayak I could handle by myself and that fit into my currently limited budget!  My Sea Eagle fits in my compact car with no rack, no trying to figure out how to get it on top of my car, or from the car to the water.  It inflates in about ten minutes, and I can carry it to the ramp easily. 

The kayak handles beautifully, and I don’t have to pay $40 for each rental! I am able to keep up with the groups of hard-hull kayakers that I paddle with. My kayak deflates immediately, and rolls up in a bundle I can easily carry to the car. The deluxe seats are awesome — no sore back or butt.

You may be getting some more orders from South Florida, since my Sea Eagle has generated a lot of interest and attention.  How could it not?  Price, quality, convenience, performance…how could you ask for more?  Thank your for this fabulous product!

And thank you for contributing positively to my quality of life!  When the economy turns around, I’ll give these kayaks to my family as gifts!

— Highest regards, Maria Puente-Duany, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Instant stress reliever

“All of us have ways to lift our spirits when things get tough,” says Maria Puente-Duany, Sea Eagle 330 owner from the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area. “Being outdoors in Nature always restores my spirit.” What’s on Maria’s mind? She recently left her job and is in the process of starting her own business. Kayaking gives her the kind of relaxation we all need these days.

Maria’s outdoor stress relievers have included sailing, skiing, and golfing. “I was looking for an affordable way to get outdoors,” she told us, “and I saw the Sea Eagle advertised in Sierra Club’s magazine. I looked at Sea Eagle’s website and found Sea Eagle is priced right. And the testimonials really swayed me.”

Fascinating ecosystem

Maria's not alone seeking some R&R with a Sea Eagle 330. Carol Derer, another Floridian, says, "I am thrilled with my Sea Eagle 330. It has brought me so much peace and  quiet, it brings me to a whole new level of relaxtion after one of 'those days."

Maria’s not alone seeking some R&R with a Sea Eagle 330. Here’s Carol Derer, another Floridian, who says, “I am thrilled with my Sea Eagle 330. It has brought me so much peace and quiet, it brings me to a whole new level of relaxtion after one of ‘those days.” Watch Carol’s video.

“I’m a weekend boater,” Maria says. “I like to get out in the sun on my days off and enjoy the Florida scenery. I don’t have to travel far.” One of her favorite kayaking spots is West Lake Park in Hollywood, Florida. “There are wonderful kayaking trails through the mangroves; they grow right in the water and gradually turn the water into land. It’s a fascinating ecosystem with crabs and fish in the shallow water.

She enjoys kayaking solo and also in groups. “I find my kayaking buddies online at Meetup,” a website that helps people with special interests meet one another. “There are several kayaking groups in my area. Next weekend, we’ll go to River Bend Park in Jupiter FL.” (Editor’s note: Watch video.) “It’s gorgeous, too. When we kayak there it’s like escaping civilization, with no buildings or cars. It’s a great place to go.”

Easy, affordable, stable

“You can get a hard hull kayak for about $350 and then you’ve got to have a car rack and a place to store it.” Her Sea Eagle cost less and, “I just roll it up and put it in my trunk — no car rack.” Storage space? Deflated, the 330 weighs just 26 lbs. and takes about the same space as a couple of sleeping bags. Throw it in a closet, under a bed, or on a shelf.

“I’ve used hard hull kayaks,” she says, but she prefers the advantages of the inflatable Sea Eagle. “The price was right; I can inflate it and have it ready to go in 10 minutes. I can carry it to the water myself. It deflates immediately. It’s easy, convenient, and affordable.” And she reports, “The Sea Eagle is very stable. If there are wakes from power boats, I know my 330 is not going to tip over.”

Attention-getter

Maria says her 330 always attracts attention. “I always recommend it, always refer people to the Sea Eagle website. I tell everyone all the benefits: the attractive price, the fact that there’s a Sea Eagle for every budget; it’s easy to use, inflate, and deflate; easy to carry to the water. It’s convenient and I’ve found no negatives at all!”

— Do YOU have Sea Eagle stories and photos to share? Please email us. Our blog visitors want to see!

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“WE DESPERATELY NEEDED TO ESCAPE so we packed up our Sea Eagle FastTrack and headed north…”

When smoke from a nearby forest fire became too much to bear, Anna and Scott Corwin headed for the mountains and the cool, clear waters of the Green Mountain Lakes of Wyoming with their Sea Eagle FastTrack.

When smoke from a nearby forest fire became too much to bear, Anna and Scott Corbin headed for the mountains and the cool, clear waters of the Green Mountain Lakes of Wyoming with their Sea Eagle FastTrack.

Dear Sea Eagle,

On June 30th, 2012 we desperately needed to escape breathing the intense smoke from the Fontenelle Forest Fire, so we loaded up our kayak and drove north about 40 miles. In these pictures we are kayaking at the lower Green River Lakes…the headwaters of the Green River near our home in Wyoming. What a view of Square Top Mountain and the Wind River Mountain Range! We are really enjoying our 385 FastTrack here in Wyoming. We now get to visit beautiful remote areas on our local lakes! It’s very stable, maneuvers well, and glides easily through our high-altitude lakes! 

Sincerely, Scott & Anna Corwin

God’s country turns hellish

Scott and Anna Corwin live in one of the most scenic parts of America, in Wyoming, just down the road from Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. But when the Fontenelle forest fire roared through 150 acres of nearby woodland, their town was blanketed with heavy, acrid smoke.

When 150 acres of the Fontenelle Forest burned, acrid smoke caused the Corwins to pack up their Sea Eagle kayak and head for clean air and cool waters.

When 150 acres of the Fontenelle Forest burned, acrid smoke caused the Corwins to pack up their Sea Eagle kayak and head for clean air and cool waters.

“We had a tough week of breathing forest fire smoke,” Scott told us. “Our eyes were burning, we had sore throats, and we decided to head north to get out of the smoke.” They packed up their Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack and headed for greener pastures — Green River Lakes, a National Forest Recreation Site of the United States Forest Service.

“Kayaking is something we can do together.”

Their escape from the smoke gave the Corwins some fresh air and a chance to enjoy one of their favorite activities, kayaking. “For us, kayaking is something my wife and I can do together,” said Scott. “We like to get away and be together. We work together and like to play together.”

Renting vs. buying

Scott and Anna were introduced to kayaking on a recent trip to Maui. “We took a guided kayak tour on a trip to Hawaii,” said Scott. “We saw whales close up; a humpback whale swam beneath us.” That experience got them interested in doing more kayaking, and as they researched, they decided to buy rather than own. “Renting a kayak costs a lot,” says Scott. “I didn’t want to buy a hard hull kayak because our big plan is to pack our inflatable Sea Eagle kayak in a bag and take it back to Maui.”

But until their next Hawaiian vacation, they’re exploring local lakes including Wyoming’s Freemont and Halfmoon Lakes. “We kayak to get away and relax, to enjoy each other’s company and the scenery. We love it. We can visit and talk about our kids and what they’re doing. We’re what you’d consider recreational kayakers,” Scott told us. “We’re new to kayaking, we’re not super knowledgeable about techniques but we’re really enjoying our Sea Eagle kayak.”

Online research & reviews

Scott says they keep their FastTrack inflated full time for local kayaking trips. When the day comes that they return to Hawaii, they'll pack it in a suitcase and go ocean kayaking. "Renting a kayak is expensive," says Scott.

Scott says they keep their FastTrack inflated full time for local kayaking trips. When the day comes that they return to Hawaii, they’ll pack it in a suitcase and go ocean kayaking. “Renting a kayak is expensive,” says Scott. That’s Green Mountain Lake and Square Top Mountain in the background.

The Corwins chose the Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack after doing quite a bit of research online. “I like the internet for research,” said Scott. “I read all the reviews on inflatable kayaks and Sea Eagle gets great reviews. And the company has been in business for over 40 years.”

“I liked the FastTrack because the reviews said it responds like a hard hull kayak.” The FastTrack’s skeg at the stern and drop-stitch keel under the bow are like two underwater blades that keep it on a steady course. “It’s fast and it tracks straight,” says Scott. “For us, it’s very stable. My wife loves it and I do, too. It’s steady. You can twist around, kick back, hang out over the sides.

Between their kayaking trips in Wyoming’s pristine mountain lakes, Scott and Anna are busy running their business, Pickaroon Timber Products, Inc., specializing in roundwood fence posts and poles.

Do YOU have Sea Eagle stories and photos to share? Please email us. Our blog visitors want to know!

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PARENTS GUIDE – HOW TO MAKE BOATING FUN FOR KIDS

Charles Neuman, Sea Eagle 370 boater, introduced his young family to Sea Eagle boating this past Fathers Day with an outing on New York's Oyster Bay.

Charles Neuman, Sea Eagle 370 boater, introduced his young family to Sea Eagle boating this past Fathers Day with an outing on New York’s Oyster Bay.

The Adventures of 4 Boys, 1 Dad, and a Sea Eagle 370

When kids enjoy their early boating experience, it can lead to a lifetime of nautical fun and adventure. We heard recently from a Sea Eagle 370 owner who is introducing his brood to the joys of boating at an early age. Avishai is 11; Matan is 8; Nadav is 5; and little Ezra is just 9 months.

Are the Neuman boys going to be long-term boaters? No telling now but Dad's thoughtful introduction to the joys of boating may help them do more boating in their future.

Are the Neuman boys going to be long-term boaters? No telling now but Dad’s thoughtful introduction to the joys of boating may help them do more boating in their future.

Charles Neuman of Long Island sent us photos of taking his four young sons boating in New York’s Oyster Bay in his Sea Eagle 370 inflatable kayak. “Boating with kids is a lot of fun and it was a very satisfying experience for all of us,” he said. “When we got in the Sea Eagle, one of my sons said, ‘This feels like vacation.’ I really enjoyed it, too. It sets the stage for them if they want to do more boating as they get older.”

Kid-friendly boating

Charles shared some smart-parent tips to help introduce kids to boating while making it a positive experience they’ll want to do again.

Living Room Boating — “I inflated the boat in the living room and the kids loved playing in it. So they were excited about getting it in the water. That was a nice buildup to the actual boating.”

Short & Sweet — “Keep the boating kind of short at first. If it gets tedious, kids won’t want to go out again. Short and sweet – that’s my recommendation for other parents.”

Life Jackets Mandatory — “I wear a life preserver the whole time we’re boating and the kids do, too, even the youngest one. I don’t know if they’re required but I always wear one anyway. That sets a good example for the kids.”

Know Your Equipment — “It’s a good idea to get to know how to set up the boat before you go out so you can do it easily and be confident with your equipment.”

Bring Food — “On any outing with kids, it’s a good idea to bring candy or food. But pick the right thing. I brought lollipops and the sticks ended up stuck to the bottom of the boat.”

A boat in a bag

Space is at a premium in the trusty family car when you’re loading four young ones and all their gear for an outing. Charles’s Sea Eagle 370 packs down to the size of a small suitcase and weighs just 32 lbs. so it tucks in easily. “The 370 seemed like a great boat and it’s portable. It’s easy to stow away, take it with you, and inflate when you want it.” And, he says there’s something fun about bringing a boat in a bag on your shoulder then going boating in it. “The kids liked that.”

We asked Charles why he chose a Sea Eagle inflatable. “I’d say it’s the Sea Eagle reputation and because so many people have them that I was able to get a lot of information on them.” While many choose their Sea Eagles on the Sea Eagle website, Charles saw them firsthand. “We live on Long Island and went to Sea Eagle headquarters in nearby Port Jefferson. We saw the boats in person. They seemed really well built. The price seemed good, too.”

A careful shopper

Charles, a physics teacher, told us more about how he chose the 370. “I looked at the smaller 330 but I wanted to be able to fit me and two kids. It seemed like it’s a good balance of size and weight — not too heavy – something I could comfortably carry. I’m glad I splurged for the Deluxe Inflatable Seats because they’re really well done. Everything about them is well built and works perfectly.”

“The 370 also has nice air valves. They’re almost the best feature of the boat. I have an electric pump and it inflates it very easily. And the valves make deflating fast, too. You just open the top of the valve. When you’re shopping, you think valves aren’t that big a deal but when you’re out there, anything that saves you a few minutes, especially with kids, is worth it. If it shaves off five minutes of setup is great.”

(Editor’s Note: Charles is exactly right about the air valves on the Sea Eagle 370. They are Halkey-Roberts one-way valves: use a manual or battery/electric pump and air goes one way, “in only.” To deflate, unscrew the cap and the air’s released with a “whoosh.”)

No-tears adventuring

Some Sea Eagle boaters are adventure junkies, boating 2,300 miles down the mighty Mississippi, sailing among the icebergs in Greenland, or competing in slalom kayak races in Latvia.

Charles does a different kind of adventure boating — every bit as challenging and probably more rewarding. “A boating adventure for me,” he tells us, “is getting the car loaded, getting all four boys in, getting to the water, getting the Sea Eagle set up…all without anybody crying.”

Do YOU have Sea Eagle stories and photos to share? Please email them. Our blog readers want to see!

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“WE LIVE IN PARADISE” — RV’ing & Sea Eagle Kayaking in St. Petersburg

Just another day in paradise — Julie Olson and her Sea Eagle Explorer Kayak on the white sand beaches near St. Petersburg, Florida.

Just another day in paradise — Julie Olson and her Sea Eagle Explorer Kayak on the white sand beaches near St. Petersburg, Florida.

“We live in paradise, and now we can enjoy it even more. Thank you, Sea Eagle!”

Julie Olson and her boyfriend, Larry Allen, live in the St. Petersburg, Florida area and are the proud owners of a brand new Sea Eagle Explorer Kayak. “Today was our maiden voyage in our new Sea Eagle,” Julie tells us. “We cruised around just north of Fort DeSoto Park. Water sports are huge here, and no one here had seen anything like our super cool kayak.”

Tracks “exactly where you point it.”

“Our new kayak is just perfect” Julie says. “Very easy to inflate, launch, and maneuver.  The most notable feature is the stability and the straight-tracking.” Larry adds, “Hard hull kayaks don’t track nearly as well as the Sea Eagle does. The Sea Eagle goes just exactly where you point it and it doesn’t wiggle around side-to-side. It’s a lot more stable. And it’s easier to maneuver, pick up, and move around. It’s light as can be.”

Sea Eagle's new QuickSail quickly mounts to any Sea Eagle kayak. It puts the wind to work. Fewer paddle strokes, more fun.

Sea Eagle’s new QuickSail quickly mounts to any Sea Eagle kayak. It puts the wind to work. Fewer paddle strokes, more fun.

QuickSail propels silently, lets you rest

“We used the QuikSail,” says Julie, “which pushes the boat along and allows you to rest.  I am not even tired.” Larry sees the QuickSail as a perfect way to sneak up on fish. “Paddling makes some noise in the water” that can scare fish away. “With the sail, I can go right up to the fish and throw my line in. You make no noise — you’re just floating without making a bit of sound. It works great. And the Explorer Kayak is so stable, I can stand up in it. When I stand up, I can see where the fish are.” The optional QuickSail works with any Sea Eagle boat as well as most other kayak brands, and sets up in under one minute. Watch QuickSail video.

Both Julie and Larry have lots of kayaking experience. “This new Sea Eagle inflatable kayak was a much better experience than a hard plastic kayak,” says Julie. “It just seems easier and much more stable, and it moves along more swiftly. I am so happy we bought this great boat.  We can’t wait to go out again!”

The Sea Eagle Explorer fits neatly in one cargo box behind Julie and Larry's RV. The other box holds their life jackets and other gear.

The Sea Eagle Explorer fits neatly in one cargo box behind Julie and Larry’s RV. The other box holds their life jackets and other gear.

RV & Sea Eagle – perfect vacation combination

The couple owns an RV camper and is preparing for an upcoming RV camping vacation in Sebastian, Florida. “We plan on taking our Sea Eagle and our RV camping in two weeks and will launch right from our campsite onto the Indian River. We bought two great storage containers on wheels that fit on the back of the RV.” The boat fits perfectly in one container — the other holds life preservers and other boating gear.

“We bought a little mini-vac that has a vacuum feature and a blower feature,” says Julie. “And we bought an inverter so we could run the mini-vac right off our car battery and inflate and deflate the Sea Eagle right at waterside. We timed it and it took only 1-1/2 minutes! Sure better than trying to lug a heavy plastic monster kayak, or even a canoe.”

“We love boating,” says Larry. “And we love exploring. There are waterways all over in this area, all through the mangroves. A kayak is the best way to explore in there because of its shallow draft, and because the waterways are often quite narrow.”

It’s a big kayak

“We saw the Explorer Kayak in an RV magazine,” says Larry. “We liked the durability and construction, the way the seams are put together. Julie wanted the biggest kayak she could find.” Both Sea Eagle Explorer Kayak models are big: the 380x measures 12’ 6” stem to stern, carries up to 3 adults or 750 lbs. The bigger 420x measures 14’, carries up to three adults or 855 lbs.

“I’ve owned 10 boats including several kayaks,” says Larry. “This Sea Eagle is better than the others, better than I ever thought it could be. Even from a price point of view, it costs less than hard hull kayaks. A cheap hard hull I had cost $950. If you’re thinking of getting one, definitely do it. It’s better in every way. You can store it anyplace, even in an apartment. With its stability, ease of use, easy storage, it’s by far better than any hard hull kayak.”

— Do YOU have Sea Eagle stories and photos to share? Please email us today. Our blog visitors want to see!

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CAPTURING A WILD & VANISHING FLORIDA — Professional photographer kayaks deep into Florida’s pristine wilderness

Professional photographer, Richard Auger, uses his camera and his Sea Eagle 370 as he explores and documents the little-known and seldom-seen Florida wilderness -- the natural Florida that's still undeveloped.

Professional photographer, Richard Auger, uses his camera and his Sea Eagle 370 as he explores and documents the little-known and seldom-seen Florida wilderness -- the natural Florida that's still undeveloped.

Ask a friend, “What’s Florida like?” and they’ll say something like this: “Florida’s got wonderful sandy beaches; luxury hotels; tons of shopping malls; golf courses; sunshine; orange groves; great weather; Disneyworld, of course…and the Everglades.”

They’d be correct…but only partly so. They’d be describing the costal Florida, the  tourist Florida, the commercially developed Florida — the popular, modern, manmade Florida within a few miles of its 1,200 statute mile coastline — the attractions that make Florida the #1 travel destination in the world and draw 1,000 new residents each day!

Exploring the vanishing Florida

Richard explored deep into waterways in the Silver Springs area, discovering and recording a seldom-seen Florida.

Richard explored deep into waterways in the Silver Springs area, discovering and recording a seldom-seen Florida.

The common conception of Florida skips right over the native, natural, original Florida with its more than 11,000 miles of waterways, rivers, and streams…its savannas and salt marshes…its groves of longleaf pine, saw palmetto, mangroves…its crocodiles, sea turtles, manatee, bald eagles…and many more rarities that make up a wild and little known Florida.

That’s the secret side of Florida that award winning photographer, Richard Auger, captures in  his remarkable photographs…with help from his Sea Eagle 370.

Boating deep into Florida’s native wilds

“I started as a landscape photographer,” Richard tells us. “I’m currently working on a photo documentary of Florida’s water ecosystems, titled ‘Florida 67.’ I’m creating one of the last records of the original Florida.” His series explores and documents the “wild Florida, the Florida off the beaten path,” says Richard. “This is Florida as it was before parking lots and malls.”

Where is the wild Florida? It’s miles away from civilization and the best way to get there is by kayak. “Even when you go to State Parks,” says Richard, “You may have to kayak several miles to see Florida in its pristine form.”

On a mission

Though he’s a professional photographer on a mission by boat, Richard chose Sea Eagle for the same reasons many recreational boaters do. “I needed a boat that was easily portable. The performance is great. It’s light, easy to turn, great on narrow rivers. I can dodge branches and obstacles easily. I’ve traveled many miles on many of Florida’s rivers in my Sea Eagle 370 and I love it,” he says.

Like other Sea Eagle boaters, Richard goes places where the only boat available is the one you bring with you. “I go to remote places where you can’t rent a kayak within 25 miles,” he says. “I’m on the road a lot and carrying a big, hard hull kayak with me isn’t practical — I’m already bringing a lot of stuff with me.”

Richard prefers to work in black and white. "Color can distract the viewer; black and white equalizes all the features in the photograph," he says.

Richard prefers to work in black and white. "Color can distract the viewer; black and white equalizes all the features in the photograph," he says.

“I got Interested in inflatables and looked at Sea Eagle’s website on the internet. Sea Eagle looked the nicest. No crazy colors, good reviews. I realized I could keep it in my pickup truck, always there for spontaneous adventure or anytime I want to pull off the road. Since I bought my Sea Eagle, I have gone on lot more rivers.”

Richard chose the 370 with deluxe seats. “I thought about the Sea Eagle FastTrack , a large, sleek, fast, light, more rigid inflatable kayak but I ended up with the larger of the lowest priced Sea Eagles.” His 370, at 12’ 6”, is almost a foot and a half longer than the smallest Sea Eagle, the Sea Eagle 330. The 330 is rated for two passengers; the 370 for three. “I can inflate it in just 10 minutes. As I’m setting it up or taking it down, I see other boaters with hard kayaks rigging their hard hull kayaks on roof racks — it takes them 25 minutes.”

Richard’s cargo includes  thousands of dollars worth of photo equipment so boating stability is critical. He keeps his camera in a waterproof case, and says, “The boat’s stability is excellent. I’m constantly getting in and out. Other kayaks turn over easily but Sea Eagle is solid in the water.”

“When I’m on the river, people as me two questions. First, ‘What are you doing?’ And second, ‘What kind of boat is that?’” Most people don’t know you can buy a pro-grade kayak affordably. I recommend it because it’s the easiest, most portable, most maneuverable boat I’ve found. Everything about it has been good.”

For a striking view of Florida as it was, visit Richard’s website or check out his booth at one of the many Florida weekend art festivals where he shows and sells his photos. Or, if you want to see “wild Florida” with your own eyes, kayak deep into Florida’s remote backwater water system. You might just run into Richard and his Sea Eagle.

Richard Auger is a full-time fine-art photographer and workshop educator with a Masters Degree from Florida State University. Richard documents Florida’s woodlands in a traditional black and white photo processes. His most recent work in black and white is titled ‘Florida Noir Series’.

Do YOU have Sea Eagle boating photos and stories to share? E-mail (link here) us. Our blog readers want to know!

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KAYAKING the UPPER MISSOURI RIVER — 6 days, 120 miles, from Coal Banks Landing to Kipp Recreation Area

OR — The Kayaking Adventures of Beatrice Marx

"I traveled 6 days in my Explorer Kayak with no worries. I pulled it over gravel, paddled through heavy current, mud, went through 2 storms, and rapids. I loved it!"

"I traveled 6 days in my Explorer Kayak with no worries. I pulled it over gravel, paddled through heavy current, mud, went through 2 storms, and rapids. I loved it!"

We spoke recently with Beatrice Marx of Kingston, Washington who told us of her recent six-day, six-night, 120-mile kayaking trip in a Sea Eagle 380x Explorer Kayak down the Upper Missouri River…solo. And she told us why she prefers to kayak by herself.

“When I go kayaking, I’m communing with Nature. I’d rather listen to the birds and to Nature’s silence. I tried kayaking with groups, and enjoyed it, but people talk too much.”

Because nothing else matters

Beatrice Marx doesn't just fool around when she goes adventuring. She packed hundreds of pounds of supplies, planned her route, and took an emergency rescue course before setting out.

Beatrice Marx doesn't just fool around when she goes adventuring. She packed hundreds of pounds of supplies, planned her route, and took an emergency rescue course before setting out.

Those who’ve never gone on an extended kayaking trip by themselves may never know the deep attraction this kind of adventuring has, but Beatrice does. “I kayak solo because nothing else matters when I’m on the water and I’m completely connected to my surroundings. I’m simply soaked in the silence of Nature.”

Beatrice did her homework long before casting off. She went rafting in The Grand Canyon. Then, “I started with a hard-hull kayak several years ago,” she says. “I took kayaking classes but felt frustrated because I was afraid I’d fall out of the hard hull kayak and not be able to get back in. I was losing the pleasure of being in Nature because I had to think about falling out. I wanted the experience without the worry.”

Sample of hull material cinched it

So she did what any resourceful adventurer would do. “I did a lot of research on kayaks online. I found Sea Eagle’s site, read your blog, and watched all the videos on your site. I wanted something safe and stable so I could go without being afraid.”

“Because of everything I saw on your site,” she said, “I thought Sea Eagle would be cool. Everything I read was really good. I got Sea Eagle’s free information packet with a sample of hull material and saw it was good quality. I thought, OK, go for it. From then it’s been just a love story – me and my 380 Explorer Kayak I named Meriweather.”

Flatwater to Class III rapids

She chose the 380x Explorer Kayak because, “Other Sea Eagles were too big or were geared to having a motor,” she said. “The Explorer has valves you can open or close so it’s good for flatwater or Class II or III whitewater kayaking.” And she got the EZ Cart to simplify getting her Sea Eagle across the beach and into a nearby bay where she has easy access to Puget Sound.

Then Beatrice tapped people in high places for advice. “I called the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to ask if the Sea Eagle was OK for the rivers I wanted to go on. They said yes.”

She did her homework

How would YOU deal with boating solo for days on end, or camping in the pitch black night, alone, miles from nowhere? “I was prepared,” Beatrice said. And she was. “I took 12 gallons of water with me, plus my tent, food, stove, folding chair, sleeping bag, pad, and more.” She estimates that, “between me and my gear, the Explorer Kayak carried 300 lbs. easily.”

“I took a 40-hour course, Wilderness First Responder Training. I talked to BLM people, bought river guides, read books, and looked at possible problems.”

Seeing history

A program manager in computer science at a Washington university, Beatrice is a history buff, too, so her choice of traveling down the Upper Missouri was an easy choice. “I went from Coal Banks Landing to Kipp Recreation Area in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument,” she told us. “Louis and Clark went through there. I had a book on their explorations with me and I made stops where they did. I followed their steps.” Alone on the river, Beatrice says, “I could imagine people crossing the river where I was. This is where Chief Joseph crossed.”

(Editor’s note: As above, Beatrice named her kayak Meriweather after Meriweather Lewis of  Lewis and Clark fame. We told you she’s a history buff!) 

Beatrice says, “It’s just a love story with my boat, I’m just crazy about it. I go places where I couldn’t go otherwise. I talk about it all the time.” And her story has no end in sight. “This summer, I would like to go more than 200 miles on the Teslin River in Canada’s Yukon Territory, between Johnson’s Crossing and Carmacks.”

You have no idea

There might just be a Sea Eagle FastTrack in Beatrice's future.

There might just be a Sea Eagle FastTrack in Beatrice's future. This picture is from the Sea Eagle website.

What’s off in the future? “First, I want to do the Northern Territories. Then the whole Yukon River, then the Mackensie.” She has her eye on a Sea Eagle FastTrack. “The one with the hard bottom,” she said. “I could carry two people but, honestly, I prefer to be on my own. With a second Sea Eagle, friends could come along in their own boat.”

Before we left her, we asked Beatrice if she had advice for anyone else interested in her kind of adventuring in a Sea Eagle boat. “I think people are worried or afraid” about this kind of adventure. “I can’t possibly fall from this boat, don’t see how it could happen. I never go beyond my capabilities, and this boat is really, really safe.

“Go for it now,” she told us. “You have no idea what you’re missing; you’re going to love it!”

Do YOU have Sea Eagle photos and stories to share? Please email us today!

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