by Tom Schlichter
Suzanne Daigle had wanted an inflatable kayak for a long time. She wasn’t quite sure where to start looking, but she did have a pretty good idea of what she needed.
“Fortunately,” she said, “a friend steered me over to Sea Eagle and it turned to be a perfect match. What great advice!”
Daigle, you see, was planning to sell her house, buy an RV, and drive around the country checking out places she had always wanted to visit while finding new spots to investigate along the way. It didn’t take long for her to do some research and narrow her potential kayak choices down to a few Sea Eagle models. As soon as she sold her house, she was on the phone to place an order.
“For me, that was a symbolic moment – I had the proceeds check from my house sale in my hand, ready to deposit and was already making the call to Sea Eagle from my car. I was heading out on the road with no turning back. It felt exciting, refreshing. It would be the adventure of a lifetime. Having that new inflatable kayak and RV was just the starting point.”
Initially, Daigle, who works full-time as a business consultant, both nationally and internationally, was thinking about a different kayak model but the Sea Eagle customer representative who answered the phone helped her find an even better match for her new lifestyle.
“He took the time to ask me about the kind of things I wanted to do on the water and what I thought was important in a kayak,” revealed Daigle. “After a bit of conversation, he suggested the 385ft FastTrack™ Pro Carbon Package. It turned out to be a sweet fit for my new lifestyle. I’m an organizational transformation consultant. I work hard to help businesses give their employees a greater say in important decisions. I wanted to live my personal life the way I invite organizations to step out and take more risks.”
Two things Daigle knew she wanted in a kayak right from the start was the flexibility to handle both small and large bodies of water, and the feel of a “good kayak” ride. She had previously owned a hard-shell sea kayak that she took on New York’s Long Island Sound and even used to paddle across the Hudson River. These days, based in Florida, she hopes to paddle on the Gulf Coast, tuck in and out of inlets and bays, plus poke around on rivers, lakes and ponds.
“I’m not planning on whitewater rafting,” Daigle explains, “but I still want the flexibility of a smooth ride in gentle waters as well as the stability and ruggedness necessary for wide open spaces. A little extra room to carry stuff along is necessary, too. I like to bring my breakfast on the water, a towel and enough gear that if I happen to find a little deserted island to relax on I’ll be able to just hang out for a while. The 385ft FastTrack™ has plenty of room, a pair of clip-on dry storage bags, and a great set of paddles that are both exceptionally strong and lightweight.”
Daigle says she is still just getting to know her inflatable, but she’s real happy with it so far. She said she was “blown away by the quality” of the kayak and its accessories. She loves the comfort of the pro high back seats and how easy it is to inflate and deflate. On a recent trip to Lake Placid, FL she paddled on expansive Lake-June-In-Winter before transitioning to a smaller lake and found her FastTrack™ easy to transport, paddle and maneuver in both situations. She’s had it out in strong winds, on quiet mornings, and even on a Florida pond that held a few alligators.
“My brother, an ER doctor, was very concerned that I launched on that one,” she chuckles, “but I felt quite safe since the Sea Eagle is so tough. The company has a video where someone drives a Jeep over one of their inflatable kayaks and there’s no visible damage at all. In that same video, they repeatedly put the claw of a hammer to the hull and it just bounces off. That’s one rugged inflatable, so I haven’t felt worried at all.”
On her most recent trip, Daigle found herself all alone on a beautiful lake, which she instantly realized was exactly why she wanted a Sea Eagle in the first place.
“Sometimes, I just want to get away from it all, to explore, to relax – whether I’m going around the corner or across the country. With my new kayak, I just pull it out of the RV, take ten minutes to inflate it, and go. It’s so easy – no renting, trailering or dealing with anyone else. I’m fully self-sufficient when it comes to kayaking now. That gives me a tremendous feeling of independence.”
As for setting up, transporting and storing the 385ft FastTrack™, Daigle reports it’s been a breeze. She viewed videos on the Sea Eagle website that explained how to easily assemble, inflate and fold-up the kayak for storage, which got her up and paddling in no time.
“Really,” she says,” “it’s nothing you can’t handle. I decided on the Carbon Pro Package because it had everything I needed. It has two tall-back clip-in seats with good back support, two double-end paddles with carbon shafts and asymmetrical blades, two stow bags, a foot pump that works just fine, a slide-in swept-back skeg, plus a repair kit and carry bag. Buying everything together as a package deal saved me about $500 over buying each piece as an accessory.”
One accessory Daigle did add recently is the EZ Cart, which can make transporting a little easier if you have to cover some distance between the car, RV or truck and the launch site. This innovative thinker, however, took the wheels to another level.
“One day my brother-in-law said he saw someone towing a kayak behind their bike,” she reveals. “The first chance I got, I was doing the same. A few straps lashed to the rack on the back of my bike and I was on my way towing my kayak like a pro. So, here I am in my early 60’s, riding my bike, hauling my Sea Eagle inflatable kayak and ready to hit the waters wherever it takes me.. I’m thinking to myself: ‘Wow! I can kayak anytime, anywhere.’ That is so cool. Just pull my Sea Eagle out from the RV and go.”
Where is Daigle headed next? She claims to have no specific destination in mind yet but travel she will.
“For now,” she says, “it’s mostly where my business leads me – maybe out west. I’ll just take things day by day – but wherever I go you can bet my Sea Eagle FastTrack™ is coming along for the ride.”