“Love it!!! The main reason we chose our 385 FastTrack was the ability to store it under the bed in our campervan. This works great. We’re impressed with how quickly it inflates with the pump. But equally as good is the comfort and stability. All in all, we are rapt with it and can’t wait to do some overnight trips.”
When we received the above email from New Zelanders, Alison and Ken Polglase, we had to know more. Alison tells the rest of their story.
“We live in Nelson, New Zealand, which is on the coast at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. We have access to three National Parks within one hour’s drive, so there is plenty of opportunity for sea, lake, or river kayaking. The Marlborough Sounds is also within one or two hours drive from home. We enjoy campervanning, tramping (the New Zealand term for multi-day bush/mountain hikes), biking, and fishing.
“Towing a boat trailer is unpractical.”
We own a Fiat Ducato, 6-meter, 2-berth campervan. We have owned a 13-foot aluminium dinghy with a 25hp motor for a number of years and have towed that behind the van on occasion but it is unpractical for longer trips especially to the North Island as the cost of crossing with your vehicle between the North and South Islands onboard the Cook Strait ferries increases hugely the longer your vehicle is. It is also harder parking in towns when towing a boat on the back.
When heading off on holiday, we’d go without our aluminum boat. We’d put our bikes on a rack on the back of the van, tramping packs under the seat, and we’d be off to enjoy the great outdoors. And then we’d park next to a lake or a beach and the water would be beautifully calm and glass-like and we’d wish we’d brought a boat, too. There’d be fish out there waiting to be caught!
Their boat search begins…
So began the process of searching for a way to get on the water. We deliberated for about two years, looking at different options. We considered a folding boat quite seriously but it was always the same problem of where to store it in, or on, the van when driving. Rigid kayaks presented the same problem. With solar panels, skylight hatches, and a satellite dish to work around, there’s not a lot of space left on the roof. Plus with bikes on the back there’s not much room for a ladder needed to get kayaks up on top.
Ken started researching inflatables generally on the internet and came across the Sea Eagle website. We compared kayaks with dinghys. We compared Sea Eagle with other brands. We read reviews. We liked what we saw and Sea Eagle was competitively priced with anything else we could buy in New Zeland even after paying freight and import duty. We debated between the FastTrack and an Explorer. We chose a FastTrack 385. Payment was straight forward and freighting was quick. It only took five days to get here.
Slightly squishy is better.
We also deliberated about which seats to order and finally decided the inflatable seats would mean we were sitting a little higher which would be better for fishing. I first thought the inflatable seats looked funny and unsporty, but now I love them. They are so comfortable. It’s like sitting in an armchair at home, especially if you don’t overinflate them. Slightly squishy is better.
Inflates in the time it takes to pack afternoon tea
We are impressed with how quickly the whole kayak inflates with the pump. We drove into a campground on a beach front, opened up the back doors, and pulled out the kayak from the storage space under our bed. In the time it took me to pack a dry bag with afternoon tea, sunscreen, camera, and got fishing rods out, Ken had the kayak inflated. Our neighbours from England in the next camp site said, “I can see you’ve done that a few times before.” It was only the third time.
“Laughing my head off.”
On about our fifth trip out we had to get through heavy surf off a sandy beach. A big black cloud came over and the rain pelted down. We decided we were wet anyway so we stayed out fishing. No luck on that score! Even though we headed home with no fish and wet, I was happy in that I had gained confidence in how the kayak handled surf. It felt very stable. Once we got back to shore, we emptied the fishing gear out and Ken headed back out to play and ride the waves, while I stood watching and laughing my head off. He canned out a few times!
“Go this way! Go that way!” — Grandchild directs
After that trip I felt it was stable enough to take our two little grandchildren (aged 14 months and 2-½ years) on a calm day. We sat one between each of our legs on the floor. The youngest nearly went to sleep, while the elder one directed us, “Go this way” and then a few minutes later, “Go that way.”
We like to fish but also enjoy just paddling. You get a close up look at beaches, islands and estuaries from a different viewpoint other than the road.
They love traveling light
As it is with tramping and cycle touring, we love the concept of travelling light, being close to nature, and getting to places under your own steam. (Burning off calories, enabling you to eat whatever you want is the bonus!) Kayaking is just another form of this. We are looking forward to doing some multi day trips. We’re within an hour’s drive of Nelson Lakes National Park with its white water rapids; Kahurangi National Park with Class 5 river rafting; and Abel Tasman National Park with its beautiful sandy beaches.The Marlborough Sounds have plenty of camping spots. Roll on summer!”
— Alison Polglase, Nelson, New Zealand
Do YOU have a Sea Eagle boating story and photos to share? Email us today!