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!”

Do YOU have Sea Eagle stories and photos to share? Please email us today. Our many, many blog visitors want to know about your adventures and experiences!

12 thoughts on “HARD HULL vs. INFLATABLE Sea Eagle? — Phyllis shares her experience with both

  1. Hi Phyllis,

    Just our of curiosity and because I want to do that myself, how do you secure the boat when inflated on top of your car, we have the same model.



    • I have two Sea Eagle Explorer kayaks, which are a little different from the FastTrack, but there wouldn’t be any difference in how to secure them on top of a vehicle. You need at least factory-installed luggage rack/railings and either ropes or straps. Depending on how concerned you are about scratching the top of your vehicle (I figure no one sees the top of our SUV, anyway!) you may want some simple cross-pieces to get the boat off the roof. (I’ve got a couple of PVC pipes with endcaps that I simply lash to the railings of the luggage rack to carry hard boats, too; pieces of pool noodle works to pad the pipes against the roof. I tell my paddling friends my rack cost me $2.78 at Lowes!) Carry the boat upside down.

  2. I did not find a gauge included with my kayak. A friend showed my his. It makes it so much easier to inflate my Sea Eagle correctly. Please send me one right away. I am a 79 year old woman
    and enjoy my new kayak. I find it much easier to use it as a one person kayak. It is quite short
    for two adults. JoAnn Roullier, 4740 Indepencence Drive, Helena, Mt 59602
    Order # 20071147

  3. How does it do in the wind, I live in the pungent sound area and it is quite windy here. I am not sure this would be easy to keep on track in the wind

  4. I’ll bet the FastTrack does OK. I’ve got a couple of Sea Eagle Explorer kayaks with removable skegs or stabilizer fins purchased along with the boats. They track alright, but honestly not as good as a sea kayak would. The biggest issue I’ve had in open water is the non-aerodynamic design; these very stable boats seem to present quite a drag in windy conditions on open water. Character-building paddling.

  5. I bought the Sea Eagle 330 and just took it out for the first time. It felt a little “tippy” to me. I am new to kayaking but think that I may have made the floor chamber a little too firm. Am I on the right track by decreasing the firmness of the floor chamber?

  6. Has anyone tried the new QuickSail Universal Kayak sail?
    I have an SE 330, and am very interested. Would love to hear your feedback.
    I bought a Windpaddle for it, but think the Sea Eagle product is likely much better.
    Or should I just spring for a more expensive sail boat? Most importantly, the boat
    has to fit in the trunk of my Corolla.

    I love my SE 330 by the way, and would also like to hear the reasons why I should upgrade to a Fast Track or more expensive model. I’ll keep my SE 330 as a spare for friends to use, but would like to hear your thoughts. I bought the SE 330 in mid July and have used it over 25 times. I mostly use the boat in calm lakes, and it has been fantastic. I live in the Ocean state, and suspect the more expensive Sea Eagles can handle the windy conditions on the ocean better.

    Would like to see a Sea Eagle inflatable that fits in my trunk I can go water skiing with, and also a clear bottom when I take it to Florida.

  7. “Has anyone tried the new QuickSail Universal Kayak sail?”
    I have made my own Quicksail – it`s about 1sq m and has a similar window. I love using it. Especially when the waves are big, and the sail pulls forcefully. With good planning and winds you can do amazing trips.

  8. The Sea Eagle boats may not be as good in open water as one person says.
    However the hard hull boats ned to be stored.
    For all around river camping and trips the Fast Track can’t be beat.
    have two and it is in a back pack locked under the rear floor of my old wagon.No need for high priced racks and special gear.
    The bigger SE 370 can’t be beat and others can have a small electric motor mounted.
    If you want to go out in the ocean then I would not use any small boat

  9. The newly designed fastrack is a lot slimmer now, it should handle wind better, i placed my order last week and will make sure to try it on windy condition to find out 🙂

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