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.
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.
Chief Weston tells the story…
“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.
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
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.