LAND SURVEYOR TAKES TO THE WATER — Civil engineer surveys bodies of water with his FoldCat

Dan Wachob’s tricked-out FoldCat is an on-water survey station set up to tell precisely how much water’s in a reservoir, lake, or pond.

For you and me, a day on the water is a day of sun and fun with some boating, fishing, swimming, a little suntan lotion, a burger or two, and some general goofing off. Not so for Dan Wachob, of Wachob and Wachob, Inc., professional land surveyors from Colorado. For Dan and his partner, boating is serious business.

Water storage capacity surveys

“We are a land surveying and civil engineering firm,” Dan told us. “One of the services we offer our clients is storage capacity surveying; we determine how much water is in a farm’s or ranch’s reservoir, lake, or pond.”

“Water in the west is more valuable than gold,” Dan explained, and the Colorado Division of Water Resources wants to account for every drop. “A farmer or rancher will call us to verify how much water they have on their land.”

No boat ramps

Dan surveys bodies of water all over Colorado but it’s rare to find a reservoir with a boat ramp. So he chose a FoldCat that doesn’t require one.

The bodies of water Dan surveys range from one acre to over 150 acres in area. Some are in high mountain terrain; others are way off in a big field; others are along a river. Most bodies of water they survey have these things in common: they’re off-road, they’re tough to get to, and they don’t have boat ramps.

“With no boat ramps,” says Dan, “there’s no way to bring in a hard hull boat.” That led him to look at the Sea Eagle FoldCat. “I looked for a boat that was portable, that I could pack up and throw in the back of a pickup truck, but that was large enough to hold all our equipment.”

Delicate electronic instruments

Dan and his crew tote an impressive (and expensive) array of equipment as they survey bodies of water. They have a Minn Kota trolling motor and battery, GPS equipment plus a large battery, GPS antenna, depth finder, data collectors, handheld GPS, and more. And life preservers, of course.

“We had a string four very small reservoirs about a quarter mile apart each,” says Dan. “We inflated the FoldCat for the first pond then just put it on the back of the truck instead of carrying it.”

And when your GPS equipment costs $25,000, you have one more requirement in a boat: stability. “Stability has not been an issue at all,” says Dan. “We sometimes have to stand and have had it in some pretty high winds, but haven’t had any issues.”

The FoldCat has a long and wide stance that makes it a very stable platform. Fishermen love the full floor because it catches dropped lures and flopping fish. Dan likes the floor because it accommodates all his gear.

Easy to maneuver

Years ago, Dan was a guide on raft trips. “We rafted the Arkansas River, the North Platte, the Colorado, and the Green River,” he says. “When I got in the FoldCat and grabbed the oars, it was very easy to maneuver.” The FoldCat sits high in the water so Dan can access the shallow parts to get elevations in the water. “We do a comprehensive survey of the whole basin,” says Dan, “including the dam, the downside stream, outlets, and spillway. The FoldCat works well because we can maneuver around the outlet structures and get very close to everything.”

Dan’s friends tease him that his job is just an excuse to go fishing. And he has seen some big ones while surveying bodies of water in his FoldCat. But on the job, a surveyor has much more on his mind than dropping a hook in the water. They save that for weekends like the rest of us.

— Do you have Sea Eagle photos and stories to share? Email us!

Braving the Waves — Kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico

Domanic and Zachary Miele brave the waves in the Gulf of Mexico in their Sea Eagle 370

We regularly receive photos, letters, and e-mails from Sea Eagle boaters. Here’s a note from today’s inbox.

“My family and I love our Sea Eagle inflatable kayak. My son and his friends use it locally in the streams and rivers of Pennsylvania and have had quite a few adventures.  We bought the Sea Eagle because of the information on your website, the ability to transport it so easily, and because of the great price.  I recommend Sea Eagle, it’s one tough kayak that can take a beating.  From the rocks and trees in the streams of Pennsylvania, to the waves in the Gulf of Mexico, my family and I have definitely tested your kayak and it has never let us down. Thank you for an excellent quality product.”  — Terrence Miele

We followed up with Mr. Miele to learn a bit more about his Sea Eagle adventures with his family. Terrence told us his two teenage sons, Domanic, 16, and Zachary, 18,  take river trips in southwestern Pennsylavnia. He drives them to a launch point and they’ll spend the whole day out on the Youghiogheny River, floating and fishing. “They call me six or seven hours later and I pick them up downriver,” says Terrence. “They just love it.”

The Youghiogheny (or “Yough” — pronounced “Yok”), a tributary of the Monongahela River, runs about 122 miles through West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In colonial times, it was a travel route for pioneers. Today, the Yough is a popular kayaking river and fishing spot for brown and rainbow trout.

“They’re amazed at how tough the Sea Eagle is,” says Terrence. “They’re teens and haven’t put a hole in it yet. They get into shallow water, tree limbs, and rocks. It really takes a beating.”

Road Trip

The Mieles take family trips to the Barrier Islands off the Florida Panhandle. And their Sea Eagle packs right along with them in the van they drive from Pennsylvania to Florida. “For as big as it is, the Sea Eagle packs quite small,” says Terrence.

And when you and your boys are all over six feet tall, size matters. “We bought the 330 initially,” Terrence said. “We’re all over six feet tall so we then got the bigger Sea Eagle 370.”  The Sea Eagle 330 measures 11’ 2” stem to stern; the 370 is almost 1-1/2 feet longer at 12’ 6”.

One of the Miele’s favorite spots in the Gulf is Navarre Beach on Santa Rose Island, near Pensacola. It’s one of the Barrier Islands where “Jaws 2” was filmed in 1978.

Surf’s Up

Waves were extreme — all the more fun!

On a memorable day in the Gulf, the surf was raging as Terrence, Domanic, and Zachary piled into their Sea Eagle to brave the waves. Terrence tells us, “The waves were easily 8 or 10 feet over your head. We’d go out in the Sea Eagle and ride the waves back in. It’s just so much fun, we did it all day long until we were exhausted.”

All the kayak adventuring started when Terrence’s wife, Kelly, rented a hard-hull kayak. The Mieles got a taste of ocean kayaking and quickly decided to get a Sea Eagle of their own. “It’s not cheap to rent kayaks,” says Terrence. “Rent a kayak two or three times and you might as well own one.” And, he says, “for the amount of fun we’ve had in the Sea Eagle, it’s more than paid for itself.”

Next up for the Mieles: a summer camping trip to Pymatuning Lake, a man-made lake that spans the border between Pennsylvania and Ohio; a popular spot for fishing, camping, sightseeing, hiking, biking, swimming, and kayaking, of course!

— Do you have Sea Eagle photos & stories to share? E-mail them to us!

Winter Paddling In a FastTrack


This is a tree I pass on my way from Little Bay to Setauket Bay

By Cecil C. Hoge, Jr.

I designed the Sea Eagle FastTrack and I think it is the easiest to paddle, easiest to transport, most responsive, most stable, safest inflatable kayak in the world.

But rather than tell you how good it is, perhaps I should tell about how I use it.

I live on the water and I paddle at least 10 months a year. In the winter, my tidal bay tends to ice over for one month or so and if the ice is thicker than a 1/4″, I forego paddling. Simply put, I don’t want to be a ice-breaker.

Aside from the relatively short period when the bay is frozen solid, I go paddling everyday I can and that includes paddling on every winter’s day when the tide is in, when the ice is minimal and when the weather is passable – yes, I do not like to paddle in driving snowstorms or in winds over 25 mph.

People often look at me like I am crazy when I tell them that I paddle in the winter because it is cold. Yes, it is, but I point out that most people dress warmly and go outside during the winter so it is not that impractical to paddle outside. You just have to dress warmly. I value a warm jacket, warm gloves, warm shoes and various layers, but I find that on most days, no matter how cold it is, I am comfortable. This should be understandable from the fact that paddling is a form of exercise and just the act of paddling keeps you warm.

You might ask doesn’t paddling get boring? Yes, it could if you are bored by endlessly changing scenery. The fact is that when you paddle the same conditions are never repeated even if you paddle along the same general course. This is because the tide is always different, going or coming at one level or another, the weather is always different and what you see along a paddle is always different.


One of the pleasures of paddling in winter are the many different birds you might see along the way.



In the picture above, I am guessing one duck is a Mallard male and the other is his wife. You may have to look carefully to recognize the wife – she is very modest.

The pictures taken for this blog were all taken on January 3, 2011. I did not go out of my way in taking these pictures. In winter my little bay, cleverly called Little Bay, is often filled with swans. Swans pay kayakers little mind (I probably should say kayaker since I am the only one they ever see).  This makes them very easy to photograph. I pass literally hundreds of birds every day I paddle. Here are some more.


This heron is about to fly the coop. When he does, he will emit an otherworldy squawk to indicate his disaproval of me.

Herons do not like humans. I think they remember when they were giant flying dinosaurs and humans were little snacks to be picked off on a slow day of hunting.

I have a theory about winter paddling and that is that it is very healthy. I think breathing the air when paddling on salt water clears out your lungs and helps ward off colds. It’s just a theory – I cannot promise that it will work for everyone, but it seems to work for me.

If you ask a serious kayaker why they like to paddle they may not be sure just what to answer. Yes, they like the exercise…yes, they like seeing different kinds of birds…yes, they like the fact that something is always different. The sun, the clouds, the tide, the wind, the weather, the time of season, the time of day…every time you go paddling the surrounding elements are different and in flux – this is both soothing and exhilirating.

But I think it is not just the changing scenery that makes paddling interesting, exhilirating and plain fun. There is another word I would like to suggest. It is the horizon that is visible when you are paddling – the sheer open spaces that come into view without the obstructions that are so normal to everyday views. Think of it, when you go out of your front door, there a lot of things immeidately in view…a car, a driveway, a hedge, a road, a telephone pole. But when you are paddling, often you come to places where your view is not obstructed by objects. Literally, the horizon in front of you expands and seems limitless.


This may not seem exciting as a description, but I think if feeds an inner calm that most of us seek and long for. Even when you go for a jog, there is not much of a horizon visible. Usually, you are on a road with no great expanse of horizon in view…with houses and telephone poles and mail boxes. This is the great difference with paddling for there is a true horizon and it seems limitless. There is no path, there is no road, there is no set course, you may paddle where you will and along the way you come across unobstructed views. Of course, many will say it is a stupid and crazy idea to paddle in winter when your fingers might get chilled, but I will tell you oh no, your fingers will be as warm toast if your paddling in winter, because your hands are moving and exercising all the time so cold is simply not a factor.

Add to the warmth factor the fact in winter that you generally are out there by yourself – in my case I only see an occasional clamdigger. There are no mighty Mastercrafts charging back and forth with skiers in tow, there are no large yachts or small boats crusing back and forth, the waterways are no longer crowded, they are left empty, pristine, remote and all to yourself. Winter is in fact a nice time to paddle.