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!

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.


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.

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


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.


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.