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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A Sea Eagle Inflatable Boat & a Jungle Hammock: KAYAKING AROUND PHU QUOC, VIETNAM

Tim Rann lives in Hanoi. While working for an adventure travel company, he worked for a company that hosts tours for socially-conscious travelers who want to give back during their travels. He currently works in “social businesses” — sustainable enterprises that address social inequalities, providing training, employment, and career growth opportunities to women who have suffered extreme human rights abuses.

Tim travels widely in Southeast Asia. Here, he's kayaking along the Kampot River in southern Cambodia.  "I gave a few kids a ride along the way," he says.

Tim travels widely in Southeast Asia. Here, he’s kayaking along the Kampot River in southern Cambodia. “I gave a few kids a ride along the way,” he says.

“With a week off of work, I began thinking of traveling. An advertisement for a resort in Phu Quoc appeared in my Gmail window. For many years I had taken in the beautiful view of Phu Quoc island from the shores of nearby Kep, Cambodia.  I had always wanted to visit that vast, mountainous island that is, at points, just four kilometers away.

Fun Fits in a Dry Bag

My goal while traveling is to carry as little as possible for the greatest amount of freedom. My pack raft, a Sea Eagle FastTrack 385 rolls up into a 20 kg backpack, and I fit my other belongings (a cook pot, jungle hammock, steel hobo cup, change of clothing, some granola bars, coffee, and a few books) into two dry bags.  I’ll buy food and anything else I fancy on the island.  Thanks to the free PDF map from Visit Phu Quoc I decide to leave my GPS at home and focus on the scenery. With everything I need on my back for a week of adventuring, I set off to Phu Quoc.

Day 1-2: One of the Most Beautiful Beaches in Vietnam

The airplane touches down at 11:30AM. I check into a hostel and am paddling along the aptly named Long Beach by 12:15.

As the sun begins to set, I paddle ashore near the lighthouse in Duong Dong Town and pack up my kayak. With an hour or so to kill until the night market is in full swing, I wander around the lighthouse and sit down at a cafe for some pomelo juice.

Soaked in seawater and carrying my Sea Eagle, the touts at the night market seafood stands know they have a hungry customer – kayaking burns a whole lot of calories. I settle on a grilled baguette with garlic butter. A few BBQ fish and grilled potatoes later, I am waddling slowly down the road to my hostel.

My plan is to spend one more night in the main town, Duong Dong, before heading to the more sparsely inhabited northern part of the island.  I hire a motorcycle driver and head to Sao Beach, often highlighted as one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam. It absolutely lives up to its reputation – certainly the best beach I’ve visited in Vietnam.

After a lunch of grilled shrimp with fresh peppercorn sauce I pack up my boat and return to the other side of the island to watch the squid fishing boats head out to sea and I paddle around until sunset.

Day 3-6:  Vung Bao Beach Solitude

Early the next morning I catch a taxi to Vung Bao Beach. I inflate my Sea Eagle kayak and paddle out into the bay with no destination or itinerary – I just want to enjoy my movement in the water, see what I can see, and spend a whole lot of time in solitude.

I paddle along a long, empty beach and pull into shore near a willow tree for a respite from the lovely sun. I hop out of my kayak into the clear, warm water and pull my kayak onto the beach. The willow tree embraces me as I roll out my favorite mat and lie down.

I wander up the beach a bit. To my delight, I find a beautiful river behind a small dune. I run back to my kayak, paddle up to the dune and portage the kayak across the five or so meters of sand that separate the river and sea during low tide.

Kayaking Deep Into Phu Quock National Park

In the calm river, my kayak glides along silently. Winding around a small mountain, I let the river guide me deeper into Phu Quoc National Park. Birds sing a welcome tune, while monkeys hoot to each other in the distance and toss themselves from treetop to treetop. At times, the river flows through mangroves and splits into various directions. I am fully aware this is the only time I’ll be here; that this trip upriver and this calm tropical day are gifts.

With the sun beginning its descent, I reluctantly head back to the bay and search for a spot of sand to rest for the night. Setting up camp is one of my favorite activities.  It’s funny how I daydream and plan trips that get me away from my normal routine, yet they thrust me into a new, arguably more menial, one: unpack kayak, deflate/roll-up kayak, clear campsite, check for fire ants on trees (a critical step!), string up hammock, scavenge lots of driftwood, pull out necessities, hang extra bags, bathe.

A Gift

I do all of these tasks in deep, peaceful awareness – a prayer with all of my body participating. This late afternoon is a gift; from whom or what is another question entirely.  I’ve pushed aside philosophy and theology on this trip, for I want to experience my connection to the world.  I thank everything around me for this gift: the tree for providing shelter, the sun for its gentle warmth, the water for cleaning my body, and the tiny crabs for the companionship and endless entertainment on this lonely beach.

As the sun melts over the trees in the distance, I build a small fire to keep me company. It’s only seven-thirty, so I lie down, watch the stars and let my fire slowly consume itself. I’ve come to realize, there’s plenty to explore on the surface of our lovely, albeit fragile, planet.

Kayak Bought on a Whim

Tim readies to kayak near  Koh Karang in southern Cambodia. Like many adventurers, he learned kayaking by doing.

Tim readies to kayak near Koh Karang in southern Cambodia. Like many adventurers, he learned kayaking by doing.

I consider the fact that I don’t know a thing about kayaks or kayaking. I only learned how to swim properly two years ago, and I bought my pack raft on a whim after hearing a friend talk about how much he loved his. Along with my bicycle, I suppose, it’s my vehicle to experience the world.  I don’t paddle or cycle for fitness (though being fit helps make journeys more enjoyable). My kayak, then, is quite literally my raft to the other shore, as one extraordinary individual put it before.

I awake before dawn and coax my fire back to life. I have a couple of hours before it is light enough to set out, so I boil a few fresh, speckled eggs and meditate next to the water.  I sense something in the tree behind me.  I turn around slowly and, much to my pleasure, a hornbill has settled down on a low-hanging branch. I’ve never seen a colorful tropical bird in the wild before – quite a special treat on a cold, breezy morning. At that moment, I am in awe of nature’s chaotic beauty. We share a glance at each other and then it flies away.

Just a Visitor Experiencing Beauty

Excited for another day of wandering, I pack all of my belongings and push my kayak into the calm morning water. I am simply a humble visitor and the trees and beach will go about their changes as they have for millions of years – high tide, low tide, sunrise, sunset. My only semi-permanent mark will be sharing this story.

I paddle my kayak between a tiny islet and the rocky tip of the bay. As I round the corner, a new stretch of beach slowly appears. I have no destination or schedule; just a desire to see what is around the next bend. Free from any established path, I can experience this beauty however I choose: I can view the whole area from afar, drop my rock-rope anchor and go snorkeling, paddle in closer to see the details of the fishing boats and beach, or land my kayak and wander around on foot. My kayak moves fast enough to stave off boredom, but slow enough to allow me to soak in every detail. It is a lovely way to take in new sights.

I paddle around one last outcropping and, just a few strokes later, Cambodia comes into view. I paddle onward, fried fish w/pepper sauce on my mind. I arrive back at my campsite just before sunset and settle in for the night. I wake up late the next morning.

Gratitude

This was a trip of gratitude.  A trip I needed to confirm that, indeed, I am a small part of this world but at the same time connected to it, in debt to it and in awe of it.  I don’t find it important who or what I should direct my gratitude. What matters is that gratitude has been cultivated and experienced, and I can draw upon it as from a well. So, I give my thanks to all that was around me on this trip: the hornbill, the mangroves, the tin cup of hot coffee, the kind woman selling chicken eggs on the road, campfires, my kayak, the flying fish, and many more.  It is not often that one has the opportunity to sit and get to know oneself for a few quiet days. As I paddle past the islet, I drop my makeshift anchor and lay down in my kayak to watch the sunset one last time on Phu Quoc.

Read more about Tim’s travels and adventures on his blog.

Do you have Sea Eagle travels and adventures to share? Please email us your stories and photos — our blog visitors want to know.

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WORST TORNADO IN MISSOURI HISTORY — water rescue & recovery aided by Sea Eagle 14SR

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

Sea Eagle boats are in use by hundreds of fire departments and rescue teams all over the world. The work these men and women do forces them to use (and abuse) their boats far, far harder than non-professionals do.

Newton County Rescue & Recovery is one of hundreds of rescue services that rely on Sea Eagle boats in their professional rescue operations.

Newton County Rescue & Recovery is one of hundreds of rescue services that rely on Sea Eagle boats in their professional rescue operations.

Justin Weston, a professional rescue team chief contacted us recently with photos and his performance report on his team’s Sea Eagle 14SR (Sport Runabout). It’s a testament to Sea Eagle’s durability and reliability.

NOTICE…DON’T DO WHAT TRAINED PROFESSIONAL RESCUE TEAMS DO WITH THEIR SEA EAGLES.

May 22, 2011 — Joplin, Missouri —  An EF-5 tornado devastated the city with winds exceeding 200 mph. 160 people are reported dead. See articles and videos here.

Chief Weston tells the story…

Hurricanes come only once in awhile but this rescue team is ready for anything. Here, two members search for forensic evidence thrown off a bridge.

Hurricanes come only once in awhile but this rescue team is ready for anything. Here, two members search for forensic evidence thrown off a bridge.

“The 2011 tornado that went through Joplin was one of the largest ever recorded. You just can’t comprehend a tornado of that magnitude. Devastation was a mile wide in some spots.

Our team does land and water-based rescue. Outdoor missing persons, wilderness searches, crime scene investigations, search and recovery operations. We’re volunteer, non-profit, we’re on call to help in emergencies. Newton county helps us out but we pay for our own insurance and equipment. We do fundraisers, car washes, bake sales, and get public support. We bought our Sea Eagle.

After the tornado, we spent three weeks clearing every river, pond, and stream for the city of Joplin. We used our Sea Eagle SR14 to clear it all. The waterways were full of 2 x 4’s, blown off roofs, metal debris. We thought we’d ruin the Sea Eagle but it didn’t get scratched.

Flood evacuations

Our water-based work includes diving operations, underwater crime scene investigations, rescue, missing persons, water accidents, vehicles in the water, flood evacuations. During floods, we’ve cleared a lot of people out of their homes with the Sea Eagle, including handicapped people. We’ve gone house to house to get them to higher ground and safety. The Sea Eagle has a hard platform floor. We pull right up to front door and roll them in their wheelchairs.

We’ve had it out when the weather was 25 below zero, and when it’s 114 degrees. We’ve hauled wrecker cables across rivers to hook up to vehicles in the water — areas with lots of rocks and boulders you can’t avoid. Your first instinct is, ‘This is an inflatable, better be careful.’ But that thought went out the window after the first month. We’ve pushed it down  ravines into rivers. We really push it, we abuse it badly.

“It doesn’t even tip.”

The Sea Eagle’s stability is phenomenal. We’ve had two guys leaning over one side of the boat lifting a diver out of the water and it doesn’t even tip. There’s no way you could do that with an aluminum boat.

It floats higher than other boats. In the stern, the inflatable tubes go further beyond the boat’s transom than other boats’. That adds stability because every bit of flotation helps. We’ve encouraged all the fire departments around here to have a Sea Eagle. Some have already purchased them.

“Budgets are tight but…”

We searched for four years for the right rescue boat. We’re a volunteer operation, not for profit. Budgets are tight and it took us forever to choose. There are a lot of strong inflatables out there but not another with the value and quality this one has. The value-for-your-dollar is much higher with Sea Eagle and the customer service is great. They stand behind their products.

Watch the videos carefully

In an indoor training session, Captain Weston piled his crew onboard the Sea Eagle WELL BEYOND its rated capacity to demonstrate its stability and payload. DO NOT do what these professionals do!

In an indoor training session, Captain Weston piled his crew onboard the Sea Eagle WELL BEYOND its rated capacity to demonstrate its stability and payload. DO NOT do what these professionals do!

Sea Eagle’s built a little differently than others. When you see the videos on the Sea Eagle website, you can look closely and see how this boat is moving. It doesn’t rock side-to-side. It has larger diameter tubes than any other and with a hard floor, it doesn’t bow or flex; doesn’t collapse in half. Other boats twist.

In training sessions, we’ve had 17 members in the Sea Eagle just to prove a point: to teach that if you had to evacuate many people, you could.

We chose the 14SR because it was the biggest they had in that style, and it comes in high-visibility orange. If they had a bigger one, I’d get it. We do want to buy a Yacht Tender for evacuations: it’s smaller, more versatile for smaller bodies of water, and we could tow it as an equipment boat.”

We asked Justin what it was that motivates his crew to jump when duty calls, at any time of the day or night, rain or shine, boiling sun or freezing water. “Taking care of our community,” he said. “That’s our only motivation.” Why’d he choose Sea Eagle? “We wanted a boat we could stick with, and now we want more Sea Eagles.”

— Whether you’re a rescue team member OR an everyday boater, please tell us your Sea Eagle story. We want to know and so do our blog visitors! Email stories and photos today.

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CREATURES OF THE KUZURYU — Kayaking unknown waters in rural Japan

”My Japanese friend, Yuko, pumps up my Sea Eagle 330, We are about to launch on Lake Manahime in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. At first Yuko didn’t seem to appreciate the untouched beauty of the lakes, but after several trips together she finally confessed, “OK Sam-san – this lake is beautiful after all.”

”My Japanese friend, Yuko, pumps up my Sea Eagle 330, We are about to launch on Lake Manahime in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. At first Yuko didn’t seem to appreciate the untouched beauty of the lakes, but after several trips together she finally confessed, “OK Sam-san – this lake is beautiful after all.”

“I stopped paddling. The boat glided in perfect silence. I strained

"For Fukui's Sake - Two years in rural Japan" by Sam Baldwin

"For Fukui's Sake - Two years in rural Japan" by Sam Baldwin

hard, scanning the depths. There was something down there. And it was moving. Deep down, just on the very limits of visibility, a large, dark form glided beneath me.”

— from “For Fukui’s Sake — Two years in rural Japan” by Sam Baldwin.

At Sea Eagle, we hear regularly from all kinds of boaters from weekend warriors to those dedicated souls best described as “adventurers.” We spoke recently with hiker, backpacker, author, and boater, Sam Baldwin, about his kayaking adventures in his Sea Eagle 330 in the wilds of backcountry Japan.

Sam Baldwin kayaks the wilds of back country Japan in his Sea Eagle 330

Sam Baldwin kayaks the wilds of back country Japan in his Sea Eagle 330

Where bears prowl

“Welcome to a Japan where snakes slither down school corridors, where bears prowl dark forests and where Westerners are still regarded as curious creatures. Welcome to the world of the inaka– the Japanese countryside.

Saying sayonara to laboratory life in the UK, I took a job as an English teacher in a small, rural Japanese town that no one – the Japanese included – has ever heard of.

Arriving in Fukui Prefecture, where the guidebook says there’s ‘little reason to linger,’ I at first wondered why I left England. But as I slowly settled into my unfamiliar new home, I discovered the secrets of a Japan still clutching its pastoral past and explored a landscape of, rice fields, lush mountain forests….and lonely lakes where SOMETHING lurks…

Undiscovered Japan

I love the beauty and escape of the great outdoors. As a kid it was all about fishing, then I got into cycling, and in my late teens I went on my first snowboarding trip to the tiny country of Andorra in the Pyrenees. There’s something I love about being in majestic surroundings.

Most people think of Japan as a sprawling, neon-soaked, overcrowded mega-city. I wanted to experience a Japan that few people think of. When I first took my Japanese friend Yuko kayaking in beautiful Lake Kuzuryu, she said it was ‘spooky’ rather than attractive due to the lack of human development and lack of other people around — the exact reasons I found it such an amazing place.

I’ve done numerous bits of boating over the years in various craft, from canal narrow boats in Ireland, to small sailing dinghies in England, to larger yachts in Greece, and various day trips in canoes and kayaks all over. But my Japanese kayaking adventures in my Sea Eagle were the most rewarding so far.

Layers of mountains fade in to the haze. A solo exploratory trip on Lake Kuzuryu in Fukui prefecture, in my Sea Eagle 330

Layers of mountains fade in to the haze. A solo exploratory trip on Lake Kuzuryu in Fukui prefecture, in my Sea Eagle 330

The most magnificent lake I’d ever seen…and no boats

High up in the mountain folds in Fukui Prefecture, there sits a lonely lake. Clear, blue-green and contained by steep, forested slopes, Lake Kuzuryu is one of the most magnificent I had ever seen. It was impossible to hire a boat locally, so I started thinking about how else I could explore these lakes in the Japanese mountains. I was so taken by their beauty that I knew I had to get on the water, so started looking online, reading forums and magazine articles.

At first I was looking at hard shell kayaks, but as I began to read more about inflatables, I realized that they would be a far more practical solution. I could store an inflatable kayak in my apartment, and transport it far more easily than a hard shell.

10 minutes

I did a lot of research before buying. I kept on reading good things about Sea Eagle. I really liked the website and the general feel to the brand. The boats seemed like really good value for money. I settled on a Sea Eagle 330, Sea Eagle’s most basic craft but exactly what I needed for my adventures.

Living in a fairly small Japanese apartment, there would have been nowhere to store a hard shell, so the fact that I could stash my Sea Eagle in the cupboard was a huge selling point. Also, not having to worry about car racks and trailers was another massive plus point. And the fact that it can be pumped up and on the water in under ten minutes means the Sea Eagle is perfect for my needs.

My original goal was pure exploration in Fukui Prefecture on the main island of Honshu. I also went to another lake in Fukui called Lake Manahime. Several times I took it to Fukui’s coastline and explored small islands near to shore. I also took it on a long road trip to the northern island of Hokkaido, where I went kayaking in Lake Shikotsu, a beautiful body of water edged by smoldering volcanoes.

Easy to sell

My Sea Eagle had many admirers in Japan so when it was time for me to return to the UK, I had no trouble selling it to my Japanese friend Yoshi who took it down the Kuzuryu River and had a great time.

When I got back to the UK, I bought another Sea Eagle to help me explore some of the many lochs in Scotland. I’ve found some really beautiful ones, great for camping/kayaking trips.

Thanks for making such an excellent product that is well priced, and makes it so much easier to get out and enjoy the water. I learned that if you take a chance, exit your comfort zone, and follow your heart, doors that you never even knew existed will open. Without my Sea Eagle, I would never have been able to explore those lakes up in the Japanese mountains, and I never would have seen the monkeys, the giant hornets, or the creatures of the deep that I got to write about.”

And just what were Sam’s Creatures of Kuzuryu? We won’t spoil Sam’s story. Read it for yourself in “For Fukui’s Sake — Two years in rural Japan”

Sam Baldwin is an English writer living in Scotland. His travel articles have appeared in numerous magazines, guidebooks, and online travel sites. Sam founded SnowSphere.com, a website for snow travelers. His recent book, For Fukui’s Sake – Two years in rural Japan, chronicles his adventures in a little-known Japan.

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