What to Do With Your Sea Eagle in the Winter

Our fearless leader, Cecil, loves going for a morning paddle no matter the time of year.

by Tonya Ferrara

School’s in session, the leaves are turning, cooler weather is coming in, pumpkin spice is everywhere and days are getting shorter.  Though we don’t want to think about it, sadly for many of us, boating season is coming to an end (insert sad face, bring on the tears and get ready to hunker down).  Here at the Sea Eagle headquarters in beautiful, historic Port Jefferson, NY, that means we won’t be going out on the water…as much.  Our fearless leader, Cecil C. Hoge, Jr. does brave the cold for a daily morning paddle in the local bay in his FastTrack or RazorLite or a quick trip around Port Jeff Harbor in his FishSkiff.  And we also must continue to test new boats and products so, on nicer days we’ll man up, bundle up and go down to the water.  And sometimes, the cabin fever just gets to us and we have to head outside.  I mean, we are an inflatable boat company after all and we do live on an island so…

Probably not the nicest of days, but it didn’t keep Hawaiian Dan from doing a quick test of the NeedleNose iSUP.

Though summer’s our busy season, we do sometimes get to have a little fun.

It’s not that our boats can’t take the cold, of course (see PADDLING WITH SEALSOn the FastTrack™ to Copenhagen and SAILING AMONG THE ICEBERGS).  It’s just that it can get a bit too nippy for us mere mortals. I mean, standing on a dock or beach or in a boat taking photos all bundled up in a heavy winter coat, hat, and gloves may seem glamorous but trust me, as near & dear to my heart as they are, it’s not always fun standing in bitter breezes taking photos and videos of our boats. But one must do what one must do for the sake of ingenuity, quality, and fun.

T-shirts & shorts to winter coats and gloves, as long as it’s not raining or snowing, we’ll take to the water.

Now, just to be clear, the cooler months are a fabulous time to go out for a paddle or to motor around.  Our bays are far less crowded – that means very few boats and no swimmers to navigate around. Also, the water is cleaner and clearer since motorboats are not churning up the bottom. Plus, the weather is brisk, so no danger of mosquito bites (fist pump!). And on sunny days the air is clear and refreshing.  So, as long as the water and weather conditions are favorable and it’s not snowing (except for crazy Hawaiian Dan that one time) or raining hard we can head down to the water for some photos or testing. And because developing new models seems to often take far longer than anticipated, we often find ourselves testing final prototypes in November, December and even January.

A warm autumn day is a perfect time to hit the water in the FishSkiff.

Safety and Comfort First

If you do go paddling in the colder months, remember to dress properly.  Wear layers, you’ll warm up especially if you paddle hard, but its chilly out this time of year so it is better to overdo it.  Waterproof gear is a great way to go – gloves, jacket, pants, shoes.  You may even want to keep an extra set of clothing in a dry bag just in case. Also, be sure to know the weather and water conditions and to let someone know of your float plan – where you’re going, when you’re leaving and when you plan to be back.  You can even fill out a U.S. Coast Guard Float Plan form with all your information.  Basically, use common sense when going out on the water no matter what time of year it is.

Most important of all, do NOT forget to wear a life jacket. It is always a good idea in spring and summer to wear a life jacket, but in fall and winter this is even more important. In our parts it is the law to wear a life jacket when paddling November through March. This is because the water temperature can be close to freezing and any exposure to cold water for more than ten minutes can put you in serious jeopardy of hypothermia or even death. So please always wear a life jacket when going out in the colder weather. This is particularly important because in the Fall and Winter there may be no boats to come to your rescue.

Don’t be a “NO.” Wear your life jacket the correct way all the time! Especially in fall & winter when hypothermia sets in quickly .

We also especially recommend the Sea Eagle Waterproof Kayak Blanket to keep you warm and dry.  This polartec lined waterproof blanket protects against wind, cold and the dreaded paddledrip that somehow works its way from your paddle to your clothes. Yes, even if we are pretty hardy people, it is nice to be toasty and dry while out paddling or boating.

I used the Sea Eagle waterproof blanket while riding in one of our Sport Runabouts one chilly winter’s day and let me tell you, this puppy works like a charm!  Obviously, I wasn’t paddling in a kayak, but it was a pretty brisk day when we headed out of Port Jeff Harbor into the Long Island Sound to get some photos of the FishSUP, I believe.  As we were heading through the channel another boat passed us going way too fast for the area and SPLASH! I got soaked!  Well, I should say I would have gotten soaked, but thankfully, I had the blanket covering my feet, legs and arms (yes, the blanket’s 53″ long, but I’m only 60″ tall so most of me was covered).

Staying warm & dry with our Waterproof Kayak Blanket – it’s not just for kayaks!

Safe Storage for the Winter

When we’re not out on the water, we keep our boats folded and in their storage bags, when possible.  The best place for them is in a temperature controlled room, but like you, we don’t always have that option.  So, we’ll stack the folded boats in our annex in a spot where they cannot fall or something cannot fall on them.  In frigid temps, our unsupported PVC boats (SE 330s, 370s & 9s) can become rigid and sometimes brittle, so it’s always best to store them where a sudden impact is not possible and where unfolding them is not necessary.

Piled up for the winter.

Storing an inflatable boat in a closet, garage or basement in a high place is best. But if that’s not feasible and you need to keep your boat in a shed, find a clean garbage can or plastic storage box with a tight lid – one that is big enough for your boat and inflatable seats to fit in completely with the lid firmly closed.  This will help prevent mice and other critters from chewing a big hole in your boat.  They might be little, but they can do some major damage, even rendering the boat useless.  At the very least, it could ruin a planned trip and cost you time and money to patch the holes.

A little rodent can do MAJOR damage to inflatable boats. Store your inflatable properly to keep it safe!

At Sea Eagle, we love…I mean LOVE being out on the water. We’re totally in the wrong business if we didn’t.  Sometimes, though, the weather just doesn’t cooperate here in the Northeast and we have to pack up our beloved inflatable boats, kayaks and SUPs and begin the countdown to spring or hope for the odd warm winter day. If you live in an area where the weather is warm and the conditions are perfect all year, you’re very lucky, take advantage of it.  If not, be sure to pack up your boat and store it properly, so when warmer days do come, you can just unpack, unfold, inflate and go!

EARTH, WIND AND FIRE – the week it only got worse, but all was good in the end

Catching a beauty like this makes any day better!

by Bill Marts

I had just received my new Sea Eagle FishSUP12.6 inflatable SUP and wanted more than ever to get to fly fishing for carp. I am new to fishing from a SUP. But I have day-dreamed, thought about, imagined, planned for and was making it happen on this trip. I KNEW it would be a perfect platform from which to hunt for carp. I, 99% of the time, sight fish for carp and shallow-water fishes (bass, bluegill, crappie etc.) and fishing from a SUP had to be the answer. It is all about stealth with shallow-water-flyfishing and sighting the fish. I also wanted to fish the SUP during a Carp Tourney I organized for Emerald Water Anglers, a fly shop in Seattle, WA. It was being held in Eastern Washington at Banks Lake about a month later. I wanted to know what I was doing at the tourney so I finally traveled to Eastern Wash (over by Vantage), the temps were near and at 100 the whole week. But, have to tell ya, I loved fishing in it. This was in preparation for the tourney. I had fished with the FishSUP the week before and got towed around (fun ride) by a few BIG carp before the hook straightened out on both fish and I was looking forward to trying again with stronger hooks. The FishSUP is designed for an electric motor, so I put one on. I was at the downwind leg, of my first drift of the week, fishing on my new SUP and, so far, it was great, casting to a carp here and there.

Heading out to find some carp.

Got to camp a little late and set up after sundown and looking forward to dinner. Then, I couldn’t use my stove because the wind was blowing soooooo hard. It got up to 60 mph (official) during night and morning. That was OK, my tent held up with no problems, except at 4:30 am, the fire trucks set off their sirens and flashing white and red lights in the campground with the announcement of a level 3 evacuation. GET OUT NOW!!! I could see the wildfire’s glow barely a couple hundred yards away. I got everything thrown, including my SUP, in my truck except my tent when they came by again and said, “leave the tent”. At least I got out OK. Everything was all good then until I rear-ended the guy’s trailer in front of me. Just little dents. Idling in my truck while looking in the rear-view mirror at the fire closing in on the campground. The guy in front of me was good about it.

I calmed down some and went to a nice place at Burkett Lake; made some phone calls to let everyone know I was OK; took a nap and decided to go fishing at another place. Good plan EXCEPT the truck battery was dead. OK…… I just joined AAA this year and they would come to where I was and give me a jump. Great! Three hours later he showed up and jumped the truck and the world was good again. Backing up, I didn’t realize how close the tow truck was to the rear end of my truck. UNTIL I hear this crunch and I look back in the side mirror to see my passenger-side tail light (the whole unit) hanging from its wires (good thing for wires). This kind of got to me and I yelled F*%$ so loud it was still echoing off the canyon walls two days later. All is well —— Just like Red Green, I go nowhere without Duct Tape. The tail light still worked. So, I taped it back on. Too late for fishing so I stopped into a small cafe in Mattawa. I was looking forward to a quesadilla and a cold beer. Slept out under the stars (my tent back at the campground) and it was great. Had my cot and pad. Had some tunes (Allman Bros Eat a Peach album). Had a cold beer. Watched the clear, star-speckled skyway late into the night. Had a great day of fishing the next day with a friend. Went back to the camp and they had taken my tent down and stored it at the ranger station. What a kind thing to do. Went to another lake campground where I was to meet another friend; set up camp again, settled in to have a hot dinner of brats and chili. BUT, I couldn’t get the stove to work. Cold dinner, but I had cold beer. So, it wasn’t a total loss. Beautiful night with calm winds.

Busted tail light won’t keep me down!

The stars are aligned again. My friend arrived at 9 am and we went out on the lake fly fishing for carp. Great fishing. Except for my broken rod on a huge carp. Not to worry, tho. I had a spare back in the boat. Got it rigged up and got back to fish. We both hooked more, that is- UNTIL I slipped in the mud in the lake in a hole and then pulled a muscle in my neck as I was looking UP at the water surface. My feet were doing that forward shuffle (like when snow skiing) and your upper body is leaning back and your feet are up in front of you like trying to walk up a wall. I was still straining, looking up, trying to get to the surface to gulp in some much-needed air. The oddest thought went through my mind while under water, I was thinkin’ “it would be so embarrassing if I were to drown while wading a lake in 3 feet of water. I finally came to the surface. YEAH!!! Another great day as hot as it was there, I am super cooled off.

Well, now it is lunch time, Thursday. Good lunch with a couple of cold pops. Went to one more place. Fish everywhere. Hungry fish. BUT, the mud was up to ankle-deep and was like walking in glue. Every step required rocking your foot back and forth to release the suction, I wished I had the FishSUP at that time but we were fishing out of my friend’s boat. The fishing was better every step forward. There were so many feeding fish that I finally figured it was better to stop and stand still and cast to passing fish. It worked! EXCEPT….. the longer one stands in one place, the more the mud sucks in/down one’s feet. I had been there quite a while and saw a particularly large carp just out of casting range. I took a step toward it, but only in my mind. My feet were Stuuuuuuck. I took another dip in the lake. Since I had some experience in this type of event, I only went in up to my chest. I got up quickly and tried to rock my way out of this predicament. My feet stayed put but my body went forward again. By now, I am very skilled at this game. I started to move but no fish around. All is good again. It is still hot and I am very cool. All in all a great day!

Packed up the next day to head home and it went smoothly. Got home in good shape. I THOUGHT….Later that night I discovered that I had been chewed on around both knees. Little round red marks. No big deal. UNTIL the next day when they appeared much redder and blistered. They broke later in the day. So, life is great again. But, I still have marks some 6 weeks later. Wonder what it was??

I am heading back in 6 days for 4 more nights of camping and carp fly fishing at the 2nd Annual Carp Jamboree. If only it can be as good as last week!

The 2
nd Annual Carp Jamboree, 2018.

Well, I went to Banks Lake at Coulee City Community campground (our headquarters) the next week three days ahead of tournament day of the Carp Jamboree with my brother (Boyd). We got camp set up by mid-day and some friends showed up early, too. Water was calm and perfect so we went fishing. The fishing was awesome. Next day was the same. Great water, skies (need clear skies for good sight fishing) and fish were on the feed. I was getting excited for the tourney. Friday was also good, but Boyd and I stayed in to prepare for other participants arriving and getting ready for a Carp Fly Fishing Clinic I was to give that late afternoon. It went well. The forecasts were for some winds in the AM, getting calm by afternoon. That is good enough!

BUT…..the forecaster forgot to tell Boreas (Greek god of north wind). The North and West winds blew hard bringing the air and water temps about 10 degrees lower than the last three days. No using the FishSUP this day. I just don’t know how to paddle against heavy winds. Where fishing had been excellent the last three days, now there were no to hardly any fish, unless you could go miles up-lake where the wind was not as much of a problem. I was not going to fish for any of the prizes, but I wanted to fish on the FishSUP. No luck this trip.

The winner, Matt Paluch, landed 7 carp this day. He took home the FishSUP 12.6 as his choice first prize. Other participants won rod, reels, fly lines, chest packs, hats and stainless-steel water bottles. Everybody got something whether they caught a fish or not. I had delivered to our camp, pizzas, chicken wings and salads and, of course, the keg was tapped and everyone enjoyed the party into the evening. Can’t wait for next year’s jamboree.

I am now waiting for the arrival for my next craft from Sea Eagle; the FishSkiff16. I will use it for guiding shallow waters in a silent, stealthy manner, next year. We’ll “Fish like a Heron”.

True story, Bill Marts.


It was a crazy week – wild fires, busted tail light, broken stove, broken fishing rod, bug bites…but at least the carp were still biting.