HARD HULL vs. INFLATABLE Sea Eagle? — Phyllis shares her experience with both

Phyllis and friends get ready for an adventure. Her inflatable Sea Eagle (center) is surrounded by her friends hard hull kayaks. She feels she’s made the better decision and is happy to tell us why.

Phyllis Williams shared her Manatee adventure on our blog recently. Now she’s back again comparing her experiences with hard hull kayaks and her inflatable Sea Eagle FastTrack

Phyllis compares hard hull boats & inflatable Sea Eagles…

She’s owned hard hulls and inflatables and, in the end, prefers the inflatable Sea Eagle FastTrack 385ft

“I had a 16’ kayak and a 9’ rec boat. The kayak was heavy, and the rec boat filled up with water too easily.  People with hard hull kayaks are curious about my FastTrack. They say they prefer the speed of a hard hull but I stay a right with them. And I don’t worry about tipping and rolling. They watch me and see the inflatable Sea Eagle’s advantages — mobility, packability, easy handling.

There’s a lot of water in this area and I do a lot of boating on the Tennessee River and the creeks in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. Some trips have been with the Tennessee Valley Canoe

The Tennessee Valley Canoe (and Kayak) Club http://www.tvccpaddler.com/  has frequent paddling events on the rivers and creeks in the Chatanooga, Tennessee; northern Georgia; and northern Alabama areas.

(and Kayak) Club, but most by myself. One thing I like about my Sea Eagle FastTrack 385ft is that I can handle it completely by myself: I load it un-inflated into the back of my camper-top pickup, carry it to the water, inflate it and be on my way. I have also hauled my boat inflated on top of my camper.

“I can handle it myself.”

I don’t need help getting in and out of it, and I’m very comfortable in waves (most caused by power boats on the river), in shallow areas and beaching just about anywhere there’s room to step.

My friends with hard-shell 16-footers always have to have someone steady the boat while they get in and out, and on the water, they can’t move around. I can move around in my boat on the water, and it’s very stable.

Safe & secure

I use all safety precautions when paddling by myself and don’t do anything unsafe, but when there’s no one to paddle with, I’m very comfortable paddling alone. I wasn’t when I had a hard shell.

Another thing the 385ft is very suited for is piloting open water swimmers. We have an active group of open water swimmers in Chattanooga, and I pilot for them on occasion on the Tennessee River. It’s a great way to make the swimmers’ supplies accessible to them, and if I had to take a swimmer into my boat, I believe I could with just a little assistance from another boater.  That’s much easier than pulling a swimmer in the water!

Peace, quiet, and a Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron catches dinner. Photo: Terry Foote at en.wikipedia

I paddled yesterday at Chester Frost Park, a popular camping, fishing and boating area in Hamilton County, just north of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It ties into the Tennessee River.  I found a placid area and followed the shoreline for a couple of miles, where I saw flowers, bald cypress trees, a Great Blue Heron and other birds, fish, turtles, frogs and such.  In my Sea Eagle FastTrack 385ft, I pulled up in several shallow places and took photos and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Other boaters are always curious about her Sea Eagle

My 385ft sparked a lot of curiosity from people at my put-in. A couple in a canoe (who took my photo on the water) were hugging the shore because of the waves. With wet PFD’s (personal flotation devices), they had obviously departed the canoe at some point. I could tell by the look on his face and the way he talked that the man was petrified. The lady wasn’t as afraid, and said she didn’t know when she’d get him back out there. They had just gotten their canoe.

The lady said, “Can you get back in that boat while you’re still in the water if you capsize?  I told her you surely could and said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to run and jump into your boat?” I guess that was mean.

“Is that a blow-up boat?”

Another curious guy was fishing on the shoreline with his family, and he said as I pulled up, “Is that a blow-up boat?”  I said, yes, it was an inflatable Sea Eagle.  He said, “I saw you coming across the water real nice and straight, and I thought it was a kayak.  When you pulled up, I said to myself, ‘That’s a blow-up!'”  He was amazed that it tracked so well and was swift, being a “blow-up” and all.  I explained all the good details about my 385ft, and he said that’s what he and his family needed.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple in a canoe and a shoreline fisherman ordered some Sea Eagles in the near future!”

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A TRASHY STORY — Sea Eagle Owner gets down & dirty in Tampa

Bob Luce makes it his mission to drag debris from the Hillsborough River with help from his Sea Eagle boats.

It’s a dirty job but Bob’s happy to do it. He’s made it his personal mission to remove litter from the section of the Hillsborough River near where he lives in the Tampa area. His tools? Litter-grabbers, cut-proof gloves, and 3 Sea Eagle inflatable boats.

There’s a lot of trashy stuff in the news these days but here’s a story about the GOOD kind — a Sea Eagle boater who’s on a personal mission to clear trash and litter from the Hillsborough River near Tampa, Florida.

“I go out in my Sea Eagle boats to bag and remove the litter that’s there. Cans, tires, bottles, washing machines, anything you can imagine,” says Bob Luce. And, by the way, Bob owns three Sea Eagles.

Cleaning up Tampa’s Hillsborough River

The Hillsborough River is a beautiful, placid waterway. Bob's helping keep it that way -- one piece of litter at a time

The Hillsborough River is a beautiful, placid waterway. Bob’s helping keep it that way — one piece of litter at a time

Bob is on a mission — a personal, volunteer mission to help restore a local river to its natural, pristine beauty by removing tons of accumulated litter. Unlike so many Sea Eagle owners, Bob has no particular interest in boating as a sport or leisure activity. He merely finds his Sea Eagles are the best means to an end; the best way he can reach and remove man-made debris from a river near his home.

Bob told us, “I like to visit and enjoy nature. I cherish the wild places in the world.” He calls his one-man cleanup efforts ‘community service’ but adds, “I do it for myself and the ‘critters’ that live in wild places. It’s great if others appreciate it but I’m happy when I do it.”

Wildlife abounds in and around Florida's Hillsborough River. A snoozing turtle catches a few rays on a warm Florida afternoon.

Wildlife abounds in and around Florida’s Hillsborough River. A snoozing turtle catches a few rays on a warm Florida afternoon.

There’s plenty of nature in the Tampa area where Bob lives. Along the banks of the Hillsborough River, you can spend a pleasant day at numerous beautiful parks including Hillsborough River State Park (“the real Florida”), Rowlett Park, Rivercrest Park, Riverfront Park, and several more.

Started in his backyard

His personal campaign started simply enough. “There’s a creek behind my house where I noticed litter, glass bottles, and plastic water bottles so I picked them up. Soon I was buying litter grabbers, hip waders, and cleaning up three-quarters of a mile of shoreline along the Hillsborough River.”

“I wore waders to clean the shoreline but you can only go so far in chest wanderers,” he told us. “So I got a Sea Eagle 330 Sport Kayak. Then I bought a Sea Eagle Fast Track 385ft and immediately saw it is a stable boat with a lot of cargo capacity and is quite fast. The 385ft is great. I recommend for general kayaking. It’s stable, fast, and holds a lot. You can take someone else with you, even if they don’t paddle.”

He has a Sea Eagle Explorer Kayak 340x, too. “I like the 385ft because it’s fast, but my 340x is my collector boat. I can get into tighter spaces than the 385ft. It’s a little shorter and the skeg kicks up” so he can go litter-picking in very shallow water. “I run the 340x right up onto an islet, step out, and clear the area. It’s very tough and it holds a lot.”

Low risk purchase if it didn’t work out

Bob's wife, Chris, gets out on the water, too, though you'll most likely find her paddling the couple's 330 than litter-picking like her husband.

Bob’s wife, Chris, gets out on the water, too, though you’ll most likely find her paddling the couple’s 330 rather than litter-picking like her husband.

We asked Bob why he chose the inflatable Sea Eagle in the first place. “I live in a town house,” he said, “with no space to store a hard-hull kayak. And managing a hard hull that’s big enough to carry bags of litter would be a wrestling match. And hard hull kayaks are tippy. The Sea Eagle inflatable is very stable.”

Bob’s a careful shopper. “I went to a non-partisan boating website seeking advice. Sea Eagle was repeatedly mentioned as high quality, tough, and a big bang for your buck. They recommended the Sea Eagle 340x but mentioned the 330. I was hesitant about boating and got 330 because it was the cheapest and I wouldn’t be out much if it didn’t work.”

“I knew of the other brands but some were outrageously expensive, approaching $2,000 dollars,” he says. “Sea Eagle’s cost was modest and the boats seemed well regarded. I think Sea Eagle’s great. Everything’s perfect. I’m very happy with the boats and I’m doing cleanups now I couldn’t do before.”

Several hundred lbs. of litter at a time

Bob’s made arrangements with local parks and has drop-off points for the materials he drags out of the river. And the sheer volume, mass, and weight of what he picks up are astounding. “Car tires are 30 or 40 lbs. when filled with water. Some are still on rims, some are big truck tires. And I often have 100 lbs. of litter in 42-gallon contractor garbage bags.”

Bob offered a simple suggestion to boaters and others who use and enjoy wild areas. “When you bring something in, take your trash out with you and deposit it in a litter can.” This brings to mind the familiar nature-lover’s admonition, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

“It makes me happy”

Preparing for yet another collection run, Bob summed up why he does what he does. “When I do this, the river’s a cleaner place than when I started. And that makes me happy.”

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