By Tom Schlichter
We’ve seen some interesting ways to put Sea Eagle kayaks to good use, but this one from Jay Santos, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is truly unique. Santos uses his Sea Eagle 300x Explorer inflatable kayak to catch Dungeness crabs, which he then sells to co-workers and friends.
“I actually got started when a buddy told me he enjoyed catching crabs in tidal waters from his paddleboard” explains Santos. “One day we went out for a paddle and he showed me how it’s done. He offered to lend me one of his crab traps to give it a try and I pulled six shorts and two keepers on my first haul. I’ve been hooked on crabbing from my Explorer 300x ever since.”
At first, Santos worried that it might be too much work to lower and raise the hoop-style traps in the 50- to 80-foot depths where he’s had the most success. He was also concerned that sitting so low to the water might make the task even more difficult by taking away the leverage advantage of standing that his friend had on the paddle board. But things went smoothly right from the start said the 56-year-old store coordinator of medical supplies at Vancouver Hospital, who now has a regular route of acquaintances awaiting his deliveries. Interestingly, Santos isn’t a seafood lover himself, which, he says with a chuckle, makes it easy to part with his catch at day’s end.
“The combination of crabbing and paddling has really made a difference in my life,” reveals Santos. “It’s been a great way to get outdoors and have some fun, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. All the work and exercise has helped me melt away a few pounds, too. I don’t even realize the weight is coming off while I’m crabbing or covering water on my kayak, and the workouts make it easy for me to sleep at night. So, this has been more than a business venture, it’s really a life-style choice. When I called and placed my order with Sea Eagle, the salesperson told me: ‘You won’t regret this,’ and he was absolutely right. I’m definitely satisfied with my purchase.”
To be sure, Santos was interested in buying an inflatable kayak before he thought about crabbing, and he eventually took the plunge after doing considerable research online. He described his first purchase, from another manufacturer, as “boring” since it had been designed mostly for getting out on placid ponds. Eventually, he discovered Sea Eagle and was immediately intrigued by the 300x Explorer because it seemed rugged, stable and river ready. Additionally, it was rated for tackling up to class 4 rapids, and some reviews even mentioned using it for surfing. “I watched a ton of You-Tube videos on this model,” he stated, “and it just looked like a true multi-purpose kayak that could be a lot of fun.”
Santos does his crabbing along the Vancouver coast, spending time around Jericho Beach, Burrard Inlet and at Deep Cove in the Indian Arm waterway. “I love it,” he says, “but this is hard work. I use Promar Ambush, 32” diameter hoop style crab pots and they weigh about 5 pounds each. When you pull the rope, the sides rise up and the crabs tumble to the center of the pot. I check my traps every 30 or 40 minutes. We’re only allowed to use two crab traps at a time, and a license is required. While my traps soak, I head for the nearest beach or cove.”
That down time between pulls is what Santos calls his special time. “Exploring is what having a kayak is all about. I love looking at maps and deciding which new places to check out. We bring folding chairs, which is fine because the 300x has plenty of room for those, plus my pots and provisions. I put the pots in the bow where they receive good support from the deep pontoons. I never feel squeezed in this kayak because it has lots of leg room. It’s also exceptionally rigid and stable, and it tracks easily in the water thanks to its removeable skeg.”
Another plus for Santos is the Explorer’s toughness. He’s scraped it on barnacles, dragged it across rocks, and bumped it against docks and says it holds up remarkedly well in rugged conditions. It sports self-draining valves – which are key for running rapids or paddling on the ocean – and has D-rings for securing gear. “I attach my paddle leash to a D-ring so I can simply dump the paddle on the side of the kayak when I need to pull a trap,” he says.
Of course, like most who own Sea Eagle inflatables, Santos appreciates that the Sea Eagle 300x inflates in less than 10 minutes and can be left inflated for several days if necessary. They’ll fit easily in a closet or garage and can be placed in a car trunk or on a car roof for transport. In fact, Santos often leaves his kayak inflated for the ride back home so it dries before he gets back. At that point, a good wipe-down is all it needs before being deflated and stored.
“There’s one other thing I really love about this ‘yak,” concludes Santos. “It’s great to loan to friends. Most are hesitant to try it at first but once they see its’ easy to get in and out, and has plenty of leg room, they hop aboard and head right off. It’s a great feeling to see them paddle out and start having fun.”