KAYAKING & CAMPING in California’s Channel Islands — a FastTrack™ adventure

Glen Cuff explores one of the many fascinating sea caves in California's Channel Islands in his Sea Eagle 385ft FastTrack.

Glen Cuff explores one of the many fascinating sea caves in California’s Channel Islands in his Sea Eagle 385ft FastTrack™

Glen Cuff has owned four Sea Eagle inflatable boats over the past 20 years. His newest one is his new 385ft FastTrack™. Glen lives just a mile from the Pacific Ocean in beautiful San Diego, California. One of his favorite excursions is paddling around Coronado Island off San Diego, and he recently camped for four days on pristine Santa Cruz Island, one of California’s famous Channel Islands.

San Diego has some of the most beautiful weather in the United States and it’s a great place to go kayaking. Glen goes boating for exercise and recreation. He says, “It’s a wonderful way to get away from everything after a tough day at work.”

Glen enjoyed paddling upwind then catching the wind in his QuickSail for a free ride downwind.

Glen enjoyed paddling upwind then catching the wind in his QuickSail for a free ride downwind.

Glen calls himself a “casual boater” but he’s owned several Sea Eagles over the past two decades. “I’ve owned Sea Eagle inflatable boats for years. I’ve used and abused them and I’ve always gotten a lot of use out of them. Sea Eagles are very durable. I’ve had no problems even though I’ve taken them in sea caves, slid them onto rough beaches, over barnacles, and more. My older ones are still being used by other people.

Exploring sea caves

Friends and I have gone boating in California’s Channel Islands for the last 20 years. We go fishing, diving, swimming, and exploring sea caves. My 385ft FastTrack™  is the fourth Sea Eagle I’ve owned. I had a SE8 in the ‘80s, then a big Sea Eagle 380x Explorer kayak in the ‘90s, then a couple other Sea Eagle dinghies.

I got this new one a month ago, the 385ft FastTrack™, and took it out to the Channel Islands off Ventura, California. Commercial boats take you from Ventura and drop you at the islands. They’re beautiful and wild because they’re under the protection of the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy. I camped there for four days. You can’t take more than 60 lbs. of gear on the boat that takes you to the islands so the FastTrack is perfect: it weighs only 31 lbs. Even with all the equipment — pump, paddles, and seats — it’s still under 40 lbs.

I got the QuickSail universal kayak sail, too. Going before the wind with the sail, I’m not even paddling. It folds down easily. If you’re coming into the beach in surf you don’t have to worry about a bunch of rigging getting tangled up.

Which would you choose? The faster FastTrack (left) like the one Glen owns? Or the roomier Explorer Kayak (right) his friend owns?

Which would you choose? The faster FastTrack (left) like the one Glen owns? Or the roomier Explorer Kayak (right) his friend owns?

The sail is really nice and a lot of fun. It’s easy to put up and take down. The winds can pick up really fast around here. On a recent trip, I paddled upwind a couple miles, turned the boat around, and opened the sail. I clipped it in and cruised all the way back before the wind. It was fun! Then my friend put it on his Explorer kayak and it was great there, too. His Explorer kayak is much larger than my FastTrack™ and has more room, but mine is much faster. My friend is jealous!

Maybe faster than a hard hull kayak?

This FastTrack™ is fast. It’s faster than my older Sea Eagles by far. It’s much more rigid than the others I’ve owned, and the skeg on the bottom makes it track straight. I own a hard hull kayak that weighs 55 or 65 lbs. The FastTrack™ weighs just 31 lbs. and the lighter weight makes the FastTrack™ as fast as a hard hull – maybe faster.

A lot of people have asked me about this boat, how much it cost. Fully equipped it was something like $1,300. That’s pretty good. The hard hull I bought was about $750 without any extras. You have to have a place to store a hard hull, and you have to buy a car rack that costs $400 or more. Then you have to get locks and you’re looking at a lot of money for all the gear that you need just to get it to the beach. Then you have to worry about someone stealing your racks! It’s a hassle to put a kayak up on the rack and take it down and the rack rubs on the car and scratches the paint.

Store a full size boat in your closet

He calls himself a "casual boater" but we think he's pretty serious...and pretty fortunate to live in one of the world's great kayaking areas.

He calls himself a “casual boater” but we think Glen’s pretty serious…and pretty fortunate to live in one of the world’s great kayaking areas.

I’ve chosen inflatable Sea Eagles for their portability. They’re light, you can store them easily, and they’re much more convenient than hard hulls. Storage is a big factor. The older you get, the more junk you have in your garage and the less storage space you have.

This Sea Eagle is perfect for anybody who doesn’t have space to store a hard hull kayak. That’s a big plus. I have a house and I still don’t have enough storage space. Deflated, you can fit a full size FastTrack in your closet. I have a tiny Fiat 500. It’s fun to drive, great on gas, and I can throw the kayak right in the back!”

— Glen Cuff, Sea Eagle Owner, San Diego CA

Do YOU have Sea Eagle stories and photos to share? Please email us today!

6 thoughts on “KAYAKING & CAMPING in California’s Channel Islands — a FastTrack™ adventure

  1. Hi there,
    My husband and I serve as Stewards / Lightkeepers of a lighthouse off the New England coast (about 8 miles out on the rocky islands known as the Isles of Shoals) Thinking about trying to kayak out to White Island Light from Rye Harbor on an optimum day. Currently we own two sporty style hard kayaks (not long thin sea kayaks) and an older Sea Eagle inflatable (not a Fast Track). Sounds like your Fast Track might be the right thing ???
    Marg Whedon Franklin, NH

    • Marg,

      We’re not too far away in Long Island and take the FastTrack out all the time in the Long Island Sound. I think it would be a great boat for the trip you are thinking of. If you have any questions please call at 1-800-852-0925
      John Hoge
      Partner, SeaEagle.com

    • You can’t beat the Long Island Sound to paddle around on a sunny day, especially around Norwalk and Westport while fishing & clamming about! The Thimble Islands in Guilford are next for us in our SE370!

  2. Hi,,lovely reading and pictures. I am thinking of byuing the new fasttrack. Is your experience because of the tapered and narrower side tubes does it take in a hole lot of water then its wavy and choppy?

    • The FastTrack™ was designed mainly as a high performance flat water kayak. However many of our customers paddle in all sorts of varying conditions. With the self bailing drain valves located in the rear left open the FastTrack™ will continually self bail and will never sink due to its buoyant design. Rough waters, rain, etc. will always make for a little water in the kayak as expected when participating in kayaking. Keep in mind, you may get a little wet.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.