By Bill Marts

My hat is off to Sea Eagle Boats. I had been looking for the exact right craft to guide clients in skinny/shallow waters for bass, panfish, trout and carp. And to explore waters where a normal boat can’t access. Two years ago I found it! It is the FishSkiff 16′ inflatable boat from Sea Eagle Boats. I searched blogs, YouTube, Google, advertisements and I finally came across Sea Eagle and checked them out. There it was. Under fishing inflatables. I ordered one, but they were already sold out of their first order. Maybe some others with the same idea as I had? I finally got it in late August of last year but I didn’t get it on its maiden voyage until later in September. It is really a skiff/SUP designed for big and small waters. Sort of a SUP on Steroids.

Unpacked and ready to inflate.

I went equipped with directions (yeah, I’m one of those) to the lake and unpackaged everything including the Watersnake electric motor and electric pump to inflate the skiff. It has three chambers; each side and the deck. So safe and stable. I got it pumped up hard-rock solid. Noticed the fish measurement scale on each gunnel. Attached the rear seat, launched it. Stepped on and paddled out to deeper water. So far so good. I borrowed a farmer John wet suit (the water was cold) and a one-piece pushpole. This was exciting stuff for me. I was imagining some favorite Eastern Washington shallow waters where this was going to be awesome. I turned on the electric motor and was scooting over the water. This was fun. After about an hour playing around, I made my way back in to the shallows to try my pushpole. I was a little harder to get control with the pushpole. It was not like poling a flats skiff or panga. As I kept searching for the sweet-spot for poling, I got a little better. I have found, since, that with a person on the bow seat, it is much easier, stable, smoother and quieter. I had quite a few people looking it over and inspecting it when I brought it ashore. It was easy to disassemble and deflate and wrap it up in its protective carrier. It is a little heavy when loading and unloading and an extra person is helpful carrying it. I couldn’t have been happier.

Stand Up Paddle, Pushpole and motor…I was ready for anything.

The following months drove me crazy not to be able to get it on the water during winter and spring cold-water conditions. I don’t have a wet suit, yet, but it is on my list. This will get me on the water early during shallow warm-up in the spring. It will add two months to my fishing, exploring and guide season.

Ok, now skip forward to early July 2019. The water was cold during the spring and didn’t warm up until late June. I had it out a few times to get used to it in windy and calm conditions and then took out my first client. It was tough conditions limiting us to very protective waters. The wind conditions were 15 to 20 mph constant with gusts to 35 to 40. The air and water temps dropped suddenly. We did find some water but the fish were difficult, only hooking a few large carp. But my boat handling abilities in the wind improved. I made a decision to add an outboard for next season for safety and the ability to get to better waters easily. I did make some changes to the FishSkiff. I do not use the seat in the back. This gives me better maneuverability for poling. I sometimes use a watertight, heavy-weight ice chest as a dry-box I can sit on and use for items that I don’t want to get wet. I also use an adjustable pushpole. This is handy to make the pole shorter when running from place to place and to use as a stick-pole. I added a long post to the seat in front to give my clients a better view and make it easier to stand up for a better view of spotted fish. They can also use it for support when standing. We fish only for sighted fish except in extremely muddied up waters where we use an indicator and retrieve it VERY SLOWLY at a depth just above the bottom. With the alterations to the FishSkiff we are able to move slowly and quietly along the shoreline where we can find fish easily and also observe the wild and bird life carrying on their routines at the shoreline. I am a happy guide.

The FishSkiff provided a steady platform for fly fishing.

This July I organized a fly fishing only tournament for carp at Banks Lake, in Eastern Washington. We had about 30 participants who had a chance to use the FishSkiff and a FishSup 12.6 during the event. The FishSup was donated by Sea Eagle as the overall grand prize. The winner was ecstatic with his prize. He won with 9 carp landed on the fly. Congratulations to CraigSchumann. I have a feeling he will get a lot of use from it. There were several other prizes from top tier fly fishing companies as well. Everyone committed to next year’s “Schmoots Clooper”, the name of the event. Its comes from the book “Another Day In Paradise” by John Gierach – “It was a hot, windless day and the carp were clooping the schmoots.” It means the carp were eating food from the surface.

I am heading to Eastern Washington soon to do some exploring of new carp waters with a friend. A regular boat cannot get to this water. We will inflate the FishSkiff and lower it down a hill to get to the lake and then explore the shallow waters. I will report about our trip in a future blog.

I am excited about this next trip and using my skiff.

Labyrinth Canyon in the Sea Eagle FastTrack 385ft

by Corey Thayn

After owning our inflatable kayaks, the Sea Eagle FastTrack 385ft for a year, it was time for a multi-day adventure. The premier flatwater river trip in the western US is floating the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon, in southern Utah. The canyon stretches 46 miles from the popular put-in spot at Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom, just north of Canyonlands National Park.

There are several alternate start points that can stretch the river miles to almost 70 miles, but those extra miles are through rolling hills of sagebrush and farms, not quite as picturesque as the high red sandstone walls of Labyrinth Canyon. Floating this section of the Green River requires a free permit from the Moab office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This can be obtained through contacting the BLM office, or on-line. The permit requires carrying specific gear (portable toilet, fire pan, safety equipment, etc) on your boat, along with other stipulations to help ensure safety and maintain the back-country conditions of the area.

You can’t help but take it slow in the FastTrack 385ft while enjoying the beautiful Labyrinth Canyon.

The flow of the Green River varies widely based on the annual precipitation and season of the year. Ranging from 2000-4000 CFS (cubic feet per second) in late fall and winter, to over 20,000 CFS during the spring runoff. As we monitored the flow in the weeks leading up to our trip, the river flow ranged from 13,000-15,000 CFS. A little high, but within the expected flow rate for an early June trip. However, just days before our trip was scheduled to start, the water managers at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, 300 miles upstream, significantly increased the output from the dam. The purpose was to lower the reservoir level enough to make room for the expected snowmelt runoff. It takes about 3-4 days for increased flow from Flaming Gorge to travel downstream to Labyrinth Canyon, so 2 days before our trip, the flow of the river jumped from 15,000 CFS to 25,000 CFS. This was a slight concern, but after a call to a local river guide and the BLM office, the trip continued as planned. The main downside of the increased flow was a significant reduction in the available campsites along the river and increased difficulty of exiting and entering the river due to the flooded river banks.

The 385ft is the perfect boat for this type of trip. The carrying capacity is adequate for hauling camping gear for a multi-day trip. The geometry and style of the boat allows for easy paddling and control, even when it is fully loaded. The portability of the inflatable kayaks increases the options for setting up the vehicle shuttle for this multi-day trip.

For this trip, my wife, Eva, and I each paddled our own 385ft kayaks. This provided plenty of room for the gear required by the permit and all the other niceties that make for a comfortable camping trip. We chose to launch from Ruby Ranch, a working alfalfa ranch south of the city of Green River, Utah. After a 40 minute drive on gravel roads from Green River City, we arrived at Ruby Ranch. The ranch owner charges a nominal fee ($10/boat + $5/person) to park and launch from their river access. There are also camping sites ($5/night) and a picnic area at the boat launch.

We dropped off our kayaks and gear at the ranch and proceeded to set up the vehicle shuttle between Ruby Ranch and the takeout point at Mineral Bottom. For our shuttle, we chose to use an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) as a second vehicle. We left Ruby Ranch and trailered the ATV to Mineral Bottom. This leg of the trip was 20 miles of pavement and 50 miles of dirt road. We parked our vehicle and trailer at the overnight parking site at Mineral Bottoms and rode the ATV on 40+ miles of dirt backroads back to Ruby Ranch. The entire shuttle setup took almost 4 hours to complete. We made it back to the launch point and were on the river around 2 pm.

Sea Eagle 385ft Kayaks Fully Loaded for a 3 Day Trip

The river was running high and fast and we quickly covered the 2-3 miles to the start of Labyrinth Canyon. As we entered the canyon, the riverside terrain changed from flatland desert to sandstone cliffs rising on both sides of the river. The cliffs continued to rise as we floated deeper into the canyon. The canyon was true to its name and the river wound back and forth between the high cliffs. The beauty of the canyon increased as we traveled down the river. The river flow was such that paddling was only required to keep the kayaks pointed down the river.

The unusual high flow of the Green River reduced access to many of the campsites but did have the advantage of flooding the side canyons. Normally these side canyons are high and dry above the main river. Seven miles from Ruby Ranch are the three canyons of Trin-Alcove Bend. Where you would normally need to hike into these canyons, the river was backed into the side canyons leaving calm waters to paddle up the canyon to explore. These side canyons felt like a jungle river as we paddled through the treetops, with the canyon floor buried below the waters. This was a completely different experience from those who travel the river during lower flow rates. We continued until we found the campsite for the first night on the river. We camped on a sandy beach below a high sandstone cliff. We enjoyed a quiet night as we watched the sunset create a glow on the red sandstone surrounding our camp.

Sunrise at camp.

The next morning we broke camp and got an early start on the river. The rising sun on the walls of the canyons met us as we left the side canyon and entered the main channel. I estimate the river was running at about 4-5 mph so little paddling was required to move down the river. After several more miles, we took a side trip down 10 Mile Canyon. This canyon wound through the thickets of tamarisk until it opened into a deep walled canyon. We paddled about a mile down the canyon until we found a nice shady spot to beach the boats and have lunch. Again it was a beautiful area as we watched a Blue Heron fly around the canyon, and we were visited by a family of geese as they paddled down the creek.

Hey Joe Canyon was the next stop. This was the site of a historic uranium mine and we explored the abandoned equipment and mining site. There were many other points of interest along the river, but the high water level kept us from finding a place to beach the FastTracks and explore.

We did make a stop at Bowknot Bend. This is a location where the river flows alongside a high sandstone cliff. Over the next 7 miles, the river makes a 180-degree bend and flows back to within 1/2 mile of itself on the other side of the cliff. We were able to find a spot to get off the river and complete the hike to the top of the Bowknot saddle and view the other side of the cliff and river.

View of the river from Bowknot Bend.

After 23 miles of travel, the second night’s camp was in Spring Canyon. The entrance to this canyon is similar to the others, but it quickly turned into a tamarisk jungle. The tamarisks were so thick it quickly became too difficult to move forward, but there was also no place to turn around.

Tamarisk is an invasive species that has invaded many of the western US waterways. The species was introduced in this country to combat erosion but has quickly taken over the banks of many western rivers and lakes. Tamarisk chokes out the native species and prevents other plants from growing. Each tamarisk can produce 200,000 seeds each year and spread quickly along the shorelines. Along the Green River, tamarisk has blocked shore access along much of the river. The tamarisk is so thick that it can be impossible to pass through.

The entrance of Spring Canyon had 2-300 yards of thick, thick tamarisk. I went in first while Eva waited at the entrance. It took 20 minutes to fight my way through the overgrowth of tamarisk, not paddling most of the time, but using branches to pull myself hand-over-hand and weaving the kayak through the mess. The FastTrack kayaks again performed great. The tough skins of the kayak were not damaged at all by the sharp branches of the tamarisk. Once through the thicket, the canyon opened up into a beautiful campsite below the high sandstone walls with a clear pool to park the kayaks. The night treated us to a dark star-filled sky we watched through the mesh roof of our tent.

The Flatwater of Labyrinth Canyon.

Day three was another beautiful day with perfect temperature, no wind, and clear blue skies. We only had 15 river miles to go until we arrived at the Mineral Bottom take-out point. We didn’t want to miss Mineral Bottom as the next takeout point was 4-5 days and 60 miles downriver. We were having such an enjoyable time, we did not want to hurry down the river. We rafted the kayaks up and floated the last miles of our trip, with a stop at Horseshoe Canyon for lunch and to explore Hell Roaring Canyon.

The final miles of Labyrinth Canyon was as picturesque as the rest of the canyon. We paddled into the boat ramp area of Mineral Bottom at around 3:30 pm. We broke down the kayaks and loaded the gear to make the trip back to Ruby Ranch to pick up our ATV before heading home.

Takeout point at Mineral Bottom.

The Sea Eagle FastTrack inflatable kayaks were perfect for this trip. They easily held all our camping gear and supplies, with room to spare. They were easy to paddle and control as we explored the tight side canyons. The durability and high-quality construction was evident.

Luggage Goes Fishing in Patagonia


Abe with fish caught with luggage

 By Denis Isbister, Fisherman and TV Personality on Wild Fish Wild Places

The southernmost reaches of the Patagonia region in Argentina boasts some of the most unexplored and rich fisheries in the world. Producing television shows for the last 12 years I have been to some of the most remote and wild places on earth but this area of the world is without a doubt, one of the best.

Our good friends at Estancia Laguna Verde aka Jurassic Lake, invited the crew back to fish, film and explore some new waters on the big lake that they had just opened up by building an outpost camp. This massive lake is famous for producing some of the biggest rainbow trout in the world with many rainbows in the 15/16 pound range and a good handful over 20 pounds.


Jessica and myself launching luggage

The goal for this trip was to fly the Sea Eagle Packfish 7 boats with us as luggage! This would give us the advantage to explore some of the off shore reefs and shelfs that are out of casting distance from the shore. We wanted to figure out what the fishing was all about and for a few key reasons, the Packfish 7 boat was the perfect fit. Here’s why:

  1. Approximately 20 pounds and comes with a bag! When checking luggage you can take 50 pounds so the extra room in the Sea Eagle bag allowed us to pack waders, boots and other essentials so we didn’t waste any space!
  2. Safe and Stable! Jurassic Lake is a big windblown body of water so safety is the number one concern. Two air chambers and tough construction make this boat the right tool for the job.
  3. Fishes great! When you are planning on being on the water for hours on end comfort and maneuverability are huge. We fished with sinking lines moving very slow and precisely to get these fish to eat a streamer and spent 10 hours a day in them! The PackFish inflatable boats have a 4-keel system on the bottom that keeps this boat tracking perfectly at all times. You don’t get the annoying kick off from side to side you get with regular pontoons and the boat does not spin around in circle in a high wind.
  4. Rows great! A big difference between the PackFish and a traditional float tube is the fact that you can row it really long distances and cover a lot of fishing ground. That was particularly important in Patagonia where we were fishing a very large body of water and where the wind can come up bigtime in a heartbeat.

Jessica and me rowing luggage (aka 2 PackFish 7s)

When we first arrived at the outpost camp side of Jurassic Lake we were looking at a giant bay with steep drop offs and some off shore weed beds that had to be holding fish. In a matter of minutes the boats were ready to go and we were in the process of figuring out what these fish were after. Brian Oakland from started one direction with a sinking line and black streamer while Jessica and I worked olive buggers on floating lines. It didn’t take long and Brian had a pattern figured out, black streamer on the ledge and real slow! We all started changing lines and streamers to match and making a very slow and subtle presentation that the big fish could not refuse. Brian landed over 20 fish with most of them double digits and one 18 pound giant. The boats gave us the advantage of presenting a fly in a unique way as well as in the place they were holding. Unfortunately the guys on shore had a very slow day (for them, that is).


Out fishing with Jessica

Over the next couple days we explored a big area of this side of the lake that had never been fished from a boat….Ever! Due to the Packfish 7 size and design we were able to unlock the true potential that this fishery has to offer, as well as having a great time ripping fish!


Two boats along the shore



Big Rainbow, Little Boat with Fisherman


Luggage catching fish or the PackFish strikes again!


Big Salt, Big Adventure

By Warren Maddox

At first glimpse of the chocolate powerhouse, I knew we were in for an epic river run. I hadn’t seen water this powerful in person since running the Lions Head section of the Matanuska River in Alaska. The difference was that I had taken that current in a huge raft; I’d be taking on this challenge in a Sea Eagle Explorer 380x. Seeing others at the Big Eddy put-in quickly dispelled any apprehensions, and I began suiting up.

Watch as we head down the Upper Salt River.

The Upper Salt River — a true Arizona classic, and one I had run before at low flows. At lower flows the river manifests as a technical bump-and-grind with crystal clear water. Surrounded by a beautiful landscape of towering canyon walls in a unique Sonoran riparian ecosystem, Cottonwoods and the mighty Saguaro guide you down the river in the heart of White Mountain Apache country. At lower flows the major danger is drowning from foot entrapment on one of the many boulders or ledges throughout the river requiring prior knowledge and experience with “defensive swimming”.

Originally, I ran this river in the Sea Eagle 330 with great success. Looking forward to what the river would become with a little more power. The Salt River was running at ~3750 CFS. (CFS or Cubic Feet per Second is the rate of the flow, in streams and rivers. 1 “CFS” is equal to 7.48 gallon of water per second). At this level the dangers change from foot entrapment by boulders and ledges to flipping and flushing down river unable to retrieve equipment or worse, drowning unable to swim to shore because of the powerful torrent. Self-Rescue becomes difficult at these levels and should only be attempted by competent teams of at least two but preferably three Class III to IV boaters or better in separate white-water crafts. Bailing early is made difficult by the remote and steep Salt River Canyon. So I knew we had to be careful on this trip and take every prudent precaution.

The plan was to kayak from Big Eddy off of Highway 60 to Cibicue takeout. This is the same stretch we had done before, approximately 4 miles and about 10 marked rapids ranging from Class II-IV Leading through the first drop (Kiss and Tell) and our first taste of the power and just how different this river trip would be. I charged through to the eddy on river right. It was a huge, pushy tongue above 3k. When paddling out of the eddy (eddies are sections of water that flow upstream when an obstruction blocks the main flow of water) the eddy line where the downstream current meets the upstream current caught one of my inflated tubes and tried to flip me out. Ready for the pull, I quickly counter-balanced the high side of the boat and rode it out. I was using an older model Sea Eagle Explorer 380x that I had used on many previous river trips. It was incredibly forgiving when boating off axis. My paddling partner using the Sea Eagle 300x which, being lighter, shorter and more nimble, had no problem making a clean line down the middle.

Boating off axis out of the eddy through Kiss and Tell

Next, we faced a true test of what the Big Salt would have in store for the rest of our paddling trip. We crashed through “haystacks”, a series of waves found on a rapid often referred to as a wave train. Haystacks tend to occur after a drop or on high volume or flooded rivers. Charging full speed, the river was big, splashy, fun and fast! That was the tale of Tailings and Bump and Grind. Where once we were carving around boulders and shooting lines, those boulders were replaced by holes and waves to punch. Holes are features on a river where the surface water is actually moving upstream creating a hydraulic. A big enough hole can flip a boater and keep them recirculating within the hydraulic. After a short break from the action, we met at a fork in the river. Trying to remember what we did last time, we discussed and then headed to the right, entering MayTag. The river split and narrowed then chewed us up in holes and wave trains and spit us out the other side! The Sea Eagle Explorer 380x took everything the river could throw at it, charging through in high-flying wheelie fashion! The whooping was in full force, and we knew we were in for an epic ride! The SeaEagle 300x handled everything just as well but I was glad to have a bigger boat in the bigger water.

We opted to pull out above Grummins and sit on a large, fallen cottonwood, arguing over whether or not we were seeing elk hoof prints or those of the bovine variety. We hung out for a bit and talked safety when we spied another raft coming up from behind. Not wanting to miss this chance, we quickly hopped back in our Sea Eagles to chat about the upcoming rapids, attempting to leach some information. Fellow paddlers graciously told us their lines and offered to let us follow. We swallowed our pride and did just that — no room for egos on the Big Salt!

A massive hole in the middle line of Grummins

Following river right we threaded small trees, avoiding massive holes river left and in the middle, while launching off haystacks until we made our way around the bend, continuing to stay hard right to avoid becoming a tribute to the Mother Rock. You know it when you see it!  What followed was a short break and quick discussion about the next rapid, Eaglesnest/ Overboard, this proving to be the most intricate and beta-intensive rapid. Right and through the willows, we punched holes, back ferry (a maneuver where you turn to paddle upstream) to river left, just skirting the hole at the bottom of the rapid. After a short conversation about the rest of the river, we parted ways and were once again left to our own devices. The rapids ahead were, in comparison to what we had already done, much simpler — that is until Exhibition

My paddling partner in his Sea Eagle Explorer 300x enjoying the calm before the storm

We heard the thunderous power of this rapid far before we saw it. I stood in my Sea Eagle Explorer 380 in hopes to scout out a line with the least mayhem. I didn’t see one. I only saw a huge diagonal wave that I knew I wanted to miss if I could. I picked a line and began charging ahead. The drums of war beat in my ears. The paddle and boat were now just an extension of my body as I smashed through holes and plunged through waves. I saw the wall of water. The massive wave I knew I wanted to avoid. I no longer had time to maneuver away and would have to hit the wave straight on. I took one final stroke, launching myself off of the massive beast and saw nothing but blue sky. My Sea Eagle had learned to fly! In that moment, it all occurred in slow motion. Like a car wreck. I knew I was going into the water and that I was about to flip, but lo-and-behold I came crashing down still in my boat! Hitting that next paddle stroke in auto-pilot, I turned to watch my paddling buddy make his way through the Exhibition. I let out one battle cry and then another. Those incredibly testing and triumphant moments are the ones you know you’re truly alive!

Learning to fly the Sea Eagle 380

I Laughed out loud at nothing, throwing my hands up in exclamation at the canyon walls. I was “right here, right now”, running a river through your nat’ geo. There’s no place I’d rather be.

One of the more mellow read and run rapids

We splashed our way through the last rapids, joyfully floating over wave trains backwards with child-like grins from ear-to-ear. After 2 hours, we had our first site of the shuttle parked beside Cibecue rapid. I found a nice eddy and took out halfway through the rapid to run to my friends, whooping and giving out high fives and sharing in the stoke.

“WE MADE IT!” I exclaimed.

After an epic, exhausting run, the small mining town of Globe and a huge Roberto’s burrito couldn’t come soon enough.

Staring down the wall of water in Exhibition

Warren Maddox is a long time white water enthusiast and has been using different Sea Eagle models for many years.


This CFO knows you work hard so you can have time to play.

By Tom Schlichter

Rob Samuelsen is a serious world traveler who strives to get the most out of every adventure he undertakes. The 60-year old Vail, AZ, resident has been to 48 of the 50 U.S. states, visited 40 countries, and lived in Utah, Indiana, Ohio, Ecuador, New York and California.

“I have an MBA in Finance and I’m a chief financial officer right now. Over the years, I have served as CEO at three different companies, one of which was public. I’ve done a lot of different things in my professional career, but mostly I work so I can play.”

And play he does. A certified canyoneer with significant climbing and repelling experience, Samuelsen also enjoys back-packing, owns a boat and drives a Jeep. “I have all the outdoors toys,” he says unapologetically, “I have a solid group of friends who love outdoors activities and we are always looking to challenge ourselves. Together, we’ve traipsed across much of this country. ”

Rob & his friends ready to retrace the journey Lewis & Clark took over 200 years ago.

With such impressive outdoors and business resumes, we were thrilled to learn Samuelsen chose the 11’ 2”, 26-pound Sea Eagle 330 Sport Kayak as his transportation of choice on a recent 108-mile passage down the Missouri River. He and his friends were planning to follow the trail blazed by Lewis and Clark more than 200 years ago, taking in the sights, reveling in the history and enjoying being on “The Big Muddy” for the four-day journey. As you might expect, the experienced paddle sport enthusiast did his research before making his determination.

“This was going to be my first time in an inflatable kayak,” explained Samuelsen, “so this was something new. Initially, I wanted an inflatable kayak (IK) for this trip because I planned to fly to the launch site rather than drive. As it turned out, we eventually drove, but having an inflatable Sea Eagle still proved a big plus because I could just put it in the trunk. At home, I could store it in the attic instead of the yard.”

Samuelsen also wanted an IK “that didn’t seem like a toy,” he stated. “I needed something that was a more serious expedition-type craft, more of a commercial grade kayak that could take a beating and keep up with the Kevlars,” he continued. “That narrowed the search to just a few vendors offering more serious expedition-type craft. Sea Eagle was on my radar at that point and then they put the 330 Kayak on sale. The price seemed crazy good, so I bought it.”

With a busy life, Samuelsen never actually got to try his new Sea Eagle until the day he set off on the big river, so he was real pleased when everything came together smoothly. He liked the stability when he first climbed in, loved how quickly it could be inflated and was happy with how well it transported. He would have liked a few more tie grommets for strapping in his gear, but he managed to get everything aboard by rigging a few extra tie downs and bungee cords.

“I’m a big guy, 6’ 4”,” says Samuelsen, looking back on the experience. When I look at pictures of myself in that kayak, it looks Lilliputian, so I’m already contemplating a bigger version. Sea Eagle’s 370 Sport Kayak is a little longer at 12’ 6”, so I’ll probably step up in the future. Still, I was very comfortable in the 330. I was really surprised at its stability and how well it tracked. I thought it might be a little “tippy” but it wasn’t’ at all.

Packed up and ready to go. Rob says the SE330 was comfortable, stable and tough, handling up to 37 miles a day.

So, how’d the trip go?

“It was wet, very wet,” said Samuelsen, “but it was fun and amazing, too. We launched at Coal Banks Landing in Montana and ended at James Kipp Recreation Area on the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River. We covered as much as 37 miles per day, banging rocks and carving through all sorts of water. My friends were concerned I might pop my inflatable on the boulders and rough points, but it was absolutely fine.”

While the group had to deal with a lot of rain, they found the scenery spectacular, made great time, and viewed amazing sights.

“We saw a paddlefish that weighed a couple-hundred pounds moving upriver against the 4-mph current; that was something. We also got to see the White Cliffs and Missouri Breaks areas. The White Cliffs were astounding. Because of volcanic action, there are lines that split the white cliffs with vertical and horizontal black stripes. We saw a ton of swallows and swallow nests in the cliffs, too. We also saw big horned sheep, bald eagles, beaver and lots of deer on our route.”

Some of the many beautiful sites Rob & his friends enjoyed on their journey.

For their second night on the water, the team camped at a place called Slaughter Creek. Lewis and Clark had a base camp there – and the first skeletons of dinosaurs in the Americas were discovered there, too.

“It’s named Slaughter Creek because Lewis and Clark found hundreds of dead buffalo at the base of the cliff here. They assumed Indians had driven the herd over the edge while hunting but it turned out that a flood had actually washed the huge creatures away.”

It turned out to be a good thing that Samuelsen and friends kept moving right along, for significant flood waters were building upriver and headed their way.

“The first couple of days,” revealed Samuelsen, “we noticed small debris floating in the in the river. Every morning I’d post a stick in the water and see how much it had risen from the day before and we could tell it was going up. The last day we took out on a beach to set up camp and the following morning found our vessels all afloat – the beach was completely underwater. At that point, we started seeing bigger stuff like whole trees coming down the river so we decided to come out a day early and shuttled our vessels to our end point. That turned out to be a smart choice because they closed the river half-an-hour after we pulled out. A ranger told us that in another day our cars would have been submerged. Always better to be safe than sorry.”

All this bears out how important it is to be prepared on any expedition that takes you off the grid, points out Samuelsen. “You’ve got to cover all the bases before departing,” he advises. “We had a satellite phone and put tracking on so friends could follow us on Facebook. I gave a separate link for the map share to my wife and family so they could track us as well. Nothing beats having fun, but you need to do it safely. Always keep that foremost in mind.”

Editor’s Note: You can see some of Rob Samuelsen’s excellent photography on his website: To read a more detailed account of his 108-mile Missouri River kayak trip, check out his newspaper column here. To view a short video of his trip, visit here.

50 Years of Selling Inflatable Boats – Part 2 – A Winding Road To The Internet


This is an early picture of our Sea Eagle 8 – note the headband on the young lady – a must have fashion accessory of the time.

By Cecil Hoge

At the time we had decided to launch our website,, our line of inflatable boats had shrunk from 12 models to 6 models. A major reason for this is that our supplier for supported fabric boats had been taken over by a competitive inflatable boat company. So our supplier of Sea Eagle Explorer kayaks and Sea Eagle transom boats, who at that time was Hutchinson Marine in France, got bought out by another French company making Bombard inflatable boats. The founder of Bombard boats was a man named Alain Bombard. He was a French biologist who became famous for taking an inflatable boat across the Atlantic Ocean.

After a few years of having the manufacturer of Bombard boats make our Explorer kayaks and transom boats, they got bought by Zodiac. At the time, Zodiac was the most famous inflatable boat company in the world and they politely told us they had no intention to make inflatable boats for a competitor. That temporarily put us out of the Sea Eagle Explorer kayak and Sea Eagle transom boat business.


This was a 1994 catalog cover showing our GT 15 with a rather unique product we called “The Glass Slipper”. It was a fiberglass bottom that attached to the GT15.

So, in 1996, our line of inflatable boats consisted of the Sea Eagle 330 and 370 inflatable kayaks, the Sea Eagle 8 & 9 Motormount boats and the Sea Eagle GT-10 & GT-15. The GT-10 & GT-15 were unsupported special formula PVC boats that had truly excellent motoring performance at quite a reasonable cost considering the fact that they took 10 and 15 hp outboard motors. Because these boats had no actual inside fabric threads (the strength of materials came from the thickness and the special formulation of the PVC), they could not be inflated to the same working pressure as fabric supported boats. So they worked at around 1 psi instead of 3.2 psi. Nevertheless, because the material was a super thick, special formula material, they were quite excellent inflatable boats and we sold thousands of them in the years leading up to 1996.

My brother John Hoge first came into the business in 1989. John’s first focus was to upgrade our clunker computer system. In the late 1970s and the 1980s we had an IBM 36 with about 14 work stations. This mainframe computer got us through some ups and downs in business and, after we got it to work, took everything we could throw at it. It was a big computer, but it took almost 10 years to get this beast of a computer to work the way we wanted for our strange and quirky business.

This is a picture of our 1997 Panther Martin lure catalog cover. Our lure business was started in 1958.

I should point out that we had two businesses to keep track of and they both were quite different in their own way. Panther Martin was a trade business selling fishing lures to retailers like Bass Pro and Cabela’s and wholesalers servicing everything from Mom and Pop stores to WalMarts and Kmarts. Sea Eagle boats was primarily a mail order company selling directly to the public by classic mail order – about 70% of the business was individual orders going to individual customers, about 30% of the business was to small dealers and some mass merchants.

Because we had two different kinds of businesses, it meant that we sold products at different prices and at different discounts. And even in the early 90s we had over 800 different sizes and colors of Panther Martin fishing lures and while we had only 6 models of inflatable boats, we still had over 200 different kinds of accessories that we sold with the boats. If you add to the fact that we had already 1,000 items to keep track of, the fact that in the fishing lure business we had to pay the government excise tax in the boat business we did not, the two businesses represented a pretty complex computer problem. Complicating that was the fact that we were buying in different foreign currencies which were always going up and down. Keeping track of all those variables was a pretty tall order.

And then there was the simple fact that we had two different customer bases, with each company having sales divided between individual mail order customers and trade companies…so, in fact, we had four sets of different customers. All this meant that my brother John was kept quite busy in the first few years implementing a computer system to keep track of it all. Fortunately, it did not take ten years to get the new computer system working the way we wanted it. The new system was pretty much up and running and keeping track of almost everything in the first six months. Still, it was a mammoth job, taking a solid year and half of my brother’s time.

Strangely enough, the mix of the two businesses is roughly the same today. What was different in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s was that the Panther Martin lure business was the larger part of the overall business while today Sea Eagle boats is the larger part of today’s overall business.

I now need to mention an important fact: My brother and I had a father, named Cecil C. Hoge, Sr. It is quite common for sons to have fathers, but our father was a rather interesting man. In the mid 70s he had given official ownership of the two businesses over to me and my step-mother. I have a theory about that and my theory is that he decided to turn over the business because he realized that I would never amount to anything unless I had true responsibilities.

At the time, my father was really in the prime of his business life, so turning over the business to us was a really unique and noble gesture. And that is particularly true if you knew my father. He was a particularly active and intelligent businessman. He came at the world of business from a marketing perspective…something he picked from his father, Huber Hoge, who owned an advertising company in the 1920s called Huber Hoge, Inc.

I have posted a story about my father on my personal blog site called In a story entitled aptly: “Cecil Hoge, My Father” I give a lot of details about my father’s rather colorful marketing and business career. Should you want to learn more, please feel free to check it out.

Here is a brief summary of my father’s career. My father was happily going to the University of Virginia and living the original party life, when the Depression occurred and he realized that my Grandfather was going to lose his business. So my father left the warm and friendly clime of Charlottesville and headed back to New York to help the family. I believe my father’s first job was at a now defunct newspaper called the New York Sun. In the Depression, selling anything was hard, but my father found a way to become quite a good salesman for classified ads in the New York Sun considering the sad state of the economy.

My father told me some stories about those times. Almost as soon as he got back from the University of Virginia, he and his family got kicked out of the very nice apartment they were living. You would think that would be a catastrophe and no doubt it must have seemed like it at the time, but it turned out this happened to many formerly prosperous families. That meant that many apartment buildings in even the best part of New York City had very few tenants who could actually pay the rent.

What do you do when nobody can rent? You cut deals and that is what many of the best apartment buildings did at the time. So, my father and his family, which at the time consisted of 3 other brothers, a sister, a mother and father, moved from one fine apartment to another, each time cutting a better deal and each time running out of money and having to move on. It was a trend of the times.

Another trend is the fact that taxi cabs could no longer get full fare. My father told me that he might be coming back from a party, strangely dressed in a tuxedo or tails, with almost no money for a cab. What did he do? Knock on the window of each cab, and in those days there were plenty of cabs sitting on Park Avenue or Fifth Avenue patiently waiting for a lone fare to show up. So my father would knock on a cab’s window with one nickel in his fingers. As soon as he caught the attention of the cabbie, he would hold up the nickel. While many cabbies refused that as a fare, my father said he always found a cab willing to take the nickel. Those were the days of desperation and depression.

So, my father came from a prosperous middle-class family, went to the University of Virginia and after two years of thinking the prosperity would never end, he found himself and his family destitute. It was a story lived many times in many homes and apartments at the time.

“It took ten years out of your life,” was my father’s description of the Depression years. No matter, my father first sold classified ads at the New York Sun and then, because he was such a dynamic salesman, moved up to selling display ads. For those of you are not familiar with the difference between classified and display ads, classifieds were little one column one or two-inch ads with 30 or 60 words of copy and no picture, while display ads could be anything from 1/8 of a page to a full page. Display ads were called that because they usually included one or more pictures or drawings.

As the depression rolled on, my father moved up in the world first earning $20 or $30 dollars and then earning several hundred dollars a week. This was possible at the time because part of the pay came from commissions earned from sold ads. This newfound relative prosperity caused my father to get married and change jobs. For a while, he did a stint selling ads at Vanity Fair Magazine, which must have been pretty exciting since it was a very trendy magazine run by a gentleman who, according to my father, liked his drinks a little bit too much. The original Vanity Fair Magazine did not make it through the 30s, but my father did.

When World War II arrived my father said, “Suddenly, everybody had a job and the Depression was over.”

After the war, my father joined forces with his brother to re-institute his father’s advertising business. The new company was called Huber Hoge & Sons Advertising. This became a force in mail order advertising during the late 40s and early 50s. My father handled advertising for Double Day Books, Jackson and Perkins Roses, Arthur Murray Dance Studios and a number of other pretty prestigious advertising accounts.

In that period my father got the mail order bug bad. In doing so, he decided instead of running direct mail advertisements for other people, he could do a lot better running mail order ads for himself on products that he controlled. And that is what he ended up doing.

This is the little pocket adding machine that my father sold millions of in the 1950s. It added and subtracted with the aid of the stylus that is clipped to the side of the device. It sold for $3.98…a magic price in those days.

In the mid 50s, my father was advertising and selling a diverse selection of products…pocket adding machines, dress forms for ladies, paint brushes, art instruction courses, dance instruction courses, TV repair books, fertilizer for lawns and gardens and many other odd and quirky products. If you are looking for some common product thread you will find none. In fact, the common thread was that my father would try to sell anything that could be sold through mail order. And that is how we first got into the fishing lure business. Not because my father was an avid angler, not because my father knew something about fishing, but because he had an accountant who liked fishing and who told my father to run an ad on a particular fishing lure.

My father ran the ad as a favor to the very persistent accountant. Somewhat to my father’s horror and amazement, the ad worked and he sold over $1,000,000 of our original fishing lure called “Vivif” in the first year. That was quite a feat in 1956. In those days, one million dollars was real money. That experience convinced our father to go into fishing lures big time and shortly thereafter my father bought a company that had, among a myriad of fishing tackle products, Panther Martin fishing lures.


This is one of my father’s first ads on Vivif, the fishing lure that launched us into the fishing lure business. It is typical of the “heavy copy” ad that my father wrote at that time. Because of the success of this lure, my father bought a small company that had Panther Martin fishing lures. That led to us selling over 110,000,000 lures.

The year before my father bought Panther Martin, it had sold about $8,000. The year after he bought it, it sold about $15,000. That was not a big success for my father, but Panther Martin lures turned out to be one of the greatest fishing lures ever made. Fast forward to today and we have sold over 110,000,000 Panther Martin lures. So from a small acorn came a large oak tree.

Over time, our father migrated away from some, but not all, of the many weird and wonderful mail order products that he had previously sold. By the time I came into the business in 1968, we had already become primarily a fishing lure business that happened to buy in that same year an inflatable boat business. By the time my brother came into the business, in 1989, we were a fishing lure business that happened to own an inflatable boat business. As I mentioned in Part I of this history of Sea Eagle Boats, Sea Eagle boat sales went up and down year to year. By the late 80s, it had a couple of years when it was actually bigger than our Panther Martin business, but most years, Sea Eagle was the smaller business. Panther Martin was a different kind of business in that its sales generally did just one thing: increase.

Now I also mentioned that my father did something very unusual for a man who had been pretty successful most of his business life – he turned over the business to me and my brother. The first few years of my brother coming into the business, the boat business was owned by me and my step-mother. That changed in 1993 when John’s mother passed away. From that point on John was my full partner.

After turning over his ownership in both companies, my father went on to a pretty successful career as a business writer. His specialty was mail order marketing and the evolution of mail order marketing into online marketing. He wrote and published 5 separate books on marketing. His first book, called “Mail Order Moonlighting,” sold over 100,000 copies. In 1983 he wrote and published another book called “Electronic Marketing”. In that book, in 1983 he predicted what he called “electronic catalogs”. This was really before the internet got going, but our father was already predicting its arrival.


This is the cover of a book my father wrote about how Sears and Roebuck ended up beating Montgomery Ward. It is an interesting tale that might be informative to Walmart and Amazon.

Given our father’s background and his new writing career and the fact that it was related to the type of business we were already in, my father could not help but make suggestions on how my brother and I should run Sea Eagle.


This is a picture of our GT15 Sportboat from one of our catalogs. As you can see, the price of this boat was quite reasonable and we sold over 5,000 over a 7 year period.

In the early 1990s, Sea Eagle was selling about 4,000 or 5,000 inflatable boats a year with most of them being our unsupported PVC inflatable dinghies, kayaks and sportboats…the Sea Eagle 8 & 9 motor mount boat, 330 & 370 kayaks and the GT10 and GT15 sport boats. While we have discontinued the GT sport boats and the Sea Eagle 8, the Sea Eagle 9, 330 & 370 remain popular models that we continue to sell year after year up until this day.

From my father’s point of view, our fishing lure and boat business had descended into traditional and rather boring businesses. We had a brief period in the 1980s when the boat business had surged ahead for a few years and surpassed the fishing lure business. But after that, the boat business again slowed while the fishing lure business kept growing. In my father’s mind, it was all kind of boring. He liked the frenzied activity of a promotional mail order advertising campaign and in the early 1990s, while we had direct sales of the inflatable boats that generated considerable sales, we had no one promotional program that drove the whole business forward.

Our father had one suggestion: “Get on that goddamn internet.”

As I have mentioned in my blog story on my father, he rarely took the Lord’s name in vain or cursed in any way, but when he got agitated about something, as in this case, sometimes the words would slip out.

Now I was the marketing guy who knew nothing about computers while my brother was the computer savvy guy who loved computers. So my brother led the charge in actually setting up and getting us online. We had many discussions on how to do this. One big question was whether to create an order cart where customers could place orders online or to just put up a phone number and an address to call or mail for more information. In the first year, we chose to forego the order cart and we just listed our phone number and address so customers could either contact us by phone or write in for a catalog.

One of the debates we had was whether anyone would order online in the first place. In 1995, when we started the process of going online, not many companies were taking orders directly on the internet. Amazon was just getting started – they came online in August of 1995 – and at the time they were thought only to be a bookseller. So, the first question was, would anyone actually order an inflatable boat on the web. The second question was if they ordered on the web, when and how would they order. That was important because while we could take phone orders or input mail orders during working hours, we had no way to take orders after working hours.

So our thinking was that we would probably not gain much having an order cart, but maybe we would get additional orders when people either called or mailed us. It still was an alien concept to us that someone would order in the middle of the night without being able to ask questions of a live person. We thought, in our infinite wisdom, very few people would actually order outside of working hours.

Why we thought this is still something of a mystery. After all, most people work during the day and therefore they supposedly would not have time to order during the day. But our long history in mail order boat business told us differently. All the orders we ever got was during the day and even when we had “800” phone numbers ready to take orders at night, we almost never got an order after 5pm.


This is part of our original Sea Eagle website – it was pretty crude and simple!

In March of 1996 we put up our website showing 2 basic models – the Sea Eagle 8 and the GT15 – and giving an 800# to call us to get a catalog, if interested. It was about as simple and as low key as a website could be, but then in 1996 there were not many websites, and of those that were up, they were not very sophisticated. When someone called for a catalog, we would give any inquiries we got a special website code, which, if I remember, was MW096B. The MW was to indicate it was a miscellaneous web inquiry, 096 was the year and B was for boats.

For the next 10 months, we did not do anything but wait and see what happened. The first reaction in the immediate months after we started the website was underwhelming. So underwhelming that after a month or two we stopped monitoring how many sales were coming from it. We just let it sit and mellow.

And mellow it did. By the end of the year, to our surprise, we found that we had sold $56,000 in the first year on the web. Hmmmh. We pondered this a while and then surmised that even if we counted all the time it took developing the website, the sales were profitable. You see it did not take a whole lot of time to make a few single web pages with some images, some brief description of each product and an 800#. Yes, there were a few links to some other pictures and some more detailed construction features, but all in all, the website was amazingly simple. I do not know how long my brother spent on this, but I doubt it was more than 2 or 3 days, if that. So $56,000 for two or three of work was not bad in our minds

This led to making some further development of the website in 1997 and 1998. We added a few more products, we had some more description and pictures of accessories. We put in more links for explaining more features and benefits. In truth, the website was still very crude. In spite of that, the sales we tracked directly to the website went from $56,000 in 1996 to $108,000 in 1997 to $256,000 in 1998.

At that point, we still had not added an interactive order cart. We had a lot of discussions about adding an order cart. It involved quite a bit of extra work and we really wondered: would people actually be comfortable giving their credit card and placing an order. We were not sure. Another question that we continued to ponder was whether people would actually order at times when we were not open, when the customer could not call up and ask specific questions about our inflatable boats.

Now, we could see that if people ordered when we were not open, that could be a real benefit. That might be added business. However, we were still not sure if there would be an overall benefit for the consumer. Even though we did not have the same number of boats in those years, we thought our products were pretty unusual and because of that we thought answering people’s questions about our products over the phone was the most important thing we could do.

By the time we had sold $256,000 in one year on the web, our views were beginning to change. Web sales were becoming a significant part of our overall Sea Eagle direct sales and we could see that they were contributing to the growth of Sea Eagle overall sales.

March of 1999, we took the plunge and added an order cart. It took several weeks of hard work on the part of my brother to get it up live and running. At the moment of launching our interactive order cart, we still had several questions:

Would people give their credit card information and place an order directly on the web?

Would people order off hours without calling us and without asking us a lot of specific questions about the product?

Would online orders increase our overall sales?

We knew the answer to all three of the questions above within a month. It was a categorical “yes”.

In 1999, our web sales again more than tripled while regular in-house phone and mail orders also went up, but more marginally. Not only that, the fact that we had a website seemed to also help our trade sales. And most strangely of all, the fact that we had website sales seemed to attract the attention of other websites. So, in 1999, Amazon came to us and first starting selling our boats on their website.

This was counter-intuitive at first. We figured that our direct sales might be seen as a threat to their sales. But Amazon seemed to take a more benign view of it and think, if we could sell our boats on the web, then they could sell our boats on the web.

I have to say from 1999 on we enjoyed substantial organic growth each and every year thereafter. Now, as I have mentioned, in the past, the 1980s for example, we had some periods of great growth followed by dramatic slowdowns.

From 1999 on, growth was different. It was both rapid and a steady. There was no falling back in sales as we got into 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2004…we just kept growing. Of course, we did a lot of correct things…we expanded the website, we added videos, we added new exciting products. And the growth came both in our direct sales and in sales to trade customers. What did change was our trade customers became almost entirely other websites, rather than Mom and Pop dealers. That was good and that bad.

We were suddenly exposed on lots of websites and the total awareness of our brand went up accordingly. But we were no longer in many physical stores and Mom and Pop dealers. Physical stores and Mom and Pop dealers had, in the past, provided a very important function. They demonstrated and explained our boats directly to customers in an environment where the customer could feel and touch the actual product. That experience has a whole lot of benefits.

If you compare the various ways we have sold our products…through dealers, through mail order, by catalogs, by ads, by phone, through our websites, through videos, through other people’s websites – each of these mediums have advantages and disadvantages. However, I have to say the advantages that the website brought, along with the other advantages of being on other people’s websites, resulted in the greatest change and growth of our business.

In 1997, another thing happened that changed the course of our business. A Korean lady named Kara called us, saying she represented a Korean company making supported fabric inflatable boats. She asked if they could quote making inflatable boats for us. We were dubious, but since we still were making plastic floorboards, we asked if the Korean company could make supported fabric boats that could use our plastic floorboards.

To make a long story short, in 1997 we began working on a new fabric supported series of transom boats that used the plastic floorboards we had first used with of GT-10 and GT-15 inflatable boats. We introduced the new fabric supported boats in 1998 and it turned out that the combination of our plastic floorboards and the Korean supported fabric boats produced really good transom boats that could take up to 30 hp engines at a quite reasonable price.

By this time, our Sea Eagle website was getting more elaborate and so we added 3 fabric supported transom boats to our lineup of 6 unsupported PVC boats. In the year 1998 our web sales went up dramatically and we also sold almost 1,000 fabric supported transom boats. So you can say that year we had a kind of double success.


These are some of the Explorer kayaks that we introduced in 1999. These particular kayaks have been used in Peru by a company running eco tours using our kayaks. They have been in use for the last 12 years running rivers in Peru.

In 1999, we added 3 supported inflatable kayaks and an interactive order cart. The kayaks were really a re-introduction of our original line of Explorer kayaks that we had first introduced in 1976. So, once again, by 1999, we were offering a fairly full range of supported fabric and unsupported boats. And the redesigned Explorer kayak also was an instant success.

So you can say from 1996 on we had a lot of new things going on. Not only did we go online and quickly expand our web sales, but by adding two new series of supported fabric boats, we greatly expanded our line of inflatable boats. By 1999, we had 15 basic inflatable boats. And as soon as the order cart was up running, our web sales went into overdrive. And by having our full range of boats online, we also attracted a lot of new online trade customers. By the end of 1999, our web sales went up to $746,000. At the time, web sales still only accounted for about 30% of our direct sales and in addition to that, we had developed a pretty nice trade business of about $1,500,000. This meant our Sea Eagle business was now over $5,000,000.

Thus, began a whole new stage and evolution of Sea Eagle Boats. Many other changes and product innovations were soon to come. To learn more about that you will have to wait until I finish Part III of the History of Sea Eagle Boats.




Easy Portage: An easy portage of the Jim Bean Distillery dam on the Elkhorn in central Kentucky.

By Tom Schlichter

Sidney Stuffle didn’t have a lot of help getting started with kayaking. Like a lot of people without friends or family who take to the water, the 26-year old from Tucson, AZ, had to mostly figure it out himself.

“That’s all part of the fun, I guess,” laughs Stuffle, who after just three years in the sport is already on his second inflatable kayak. “There’s not a big kayaking community out here in Arizona, so I didn’t have anyone to warn me to avoid the rough water starting out, either. As you might imagine, the first few trips were a little hairy before I got the hang of it.”

Salt River AZ: Looking over the front of Stuffle’s 330 sport kayak down Salt River Canyon on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. This beautiful Class III run is his favorite in the Grand Canyon State.

Since then, it’s been non-stop fun for the affable outdoorsman. To get his feet wet, Stuffle explored the typical barriers to entering the kayak game. “I wanted something safe, affordable and easy to transport,” he said. “With an engineering background, I could tell the Sea Eagle line was well constructed. A little more research revealed they were also the safest, most affordable kayaks I could fit in a car. I quickly decided on the Sea Eagle 330 because it felt sturdy when I got in and could be put in a carry bag, hauled to the water and inflated in only 10 or 15 minutes.”

A serious hiker, Stuffle had often focused on pushes to the tops of mountains and high peaks. Eventually, however, he realized he’d rather float through the valleys. Perhaps that explains his favorite stretch of kayaking water.

Big South Fork: Stuffle’s paddling buddy, Warren Maddox exits one of the more relaxing riffles of Big South Fork Gorge in his Sea Eagle 330 Sport kayak. This location is the continuous ¾-gorge on the Big South Fork (1100 CFS). Lower on the river is a long class 2 canoe camping stretch with comparable scenery and excellent bass fishing that Stuffle hopes to paddle in the future.

“I really love the Salt River Canyon right here in Arizona,” he says enthusiastically. “There are 2,000 foot vertical walls on either side and you are on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation. It’s awesome terrain; secluded once you get going. It’s on some of those stretches where I actually learned to kayak.”

According to Stuffle, the Sea Eagle 330 is a ton of fun on the white water and big wave trains you’ll find over the first few miles of this stretch, known as the Mule Shoe. Inflated to 1 psi, the two-person, 11’ 2”, 26-pound inflatable “bends with the waves” to stay on top the whole time. “It actually gives you the feeling of doing ‘wheelies’ at some points. It’s an adrenalin trip for sure,” he says.

His new single-person Sea Eagle 300x Explorer, by comparison, measures 9’ 10”, weighs 30 pounds and inflates to 3.2-psi. “That one is more rigid,” explains Stuffle, “It rides lower in the water and absolutely punches through the waves and holes. It has sixteen self-bailing valves which are critical for runs that see continuous whitewater. Without those, you would be paddling a bathtub down the river after the first big hole.”

The beautiful Elwha river has recovered after two of the largest dam removal projects in United States History (see: DamNation, 2014 documentary). These shots are from the Madison Falls access where Stuffle went on to solo run the class IV+ rapid through the old dam site. “

To get the most out of either of these Sea Eagle kayaks, Stuffle cautions it is important to know which flows are safest wherever you go. Try to stay in the big waves and the main flows as much as possible, he suggests. The deepest water will help you avoid a lot of potential hazards like submerges trees, bridge pillars and large boulders. “Don’t take on more than you can handle or enjoy, either,” states Stuffle. “I start to feel pretty wet after 10 miles so I like to keep my kayak ventures less than that, but I have paddled up to 22 miles in my Sea Eagle 330.”

Earlier this year Stuffle camped on the Verde River, a class 3 – 4, Wild and Scenic River in Arizona. “It had plenty of rough passages,” noted Stuffle, “and I chose my 300 Explorer for that trip. It performed great – even though it was packed full of camping gear.”

On the beautiful Elwha River, Stuffle went on a solo run through class IV+ rapids passing though the site of a removed dam. “The 300x Explorer kayak punched every hole and breaker I went into,” he said. “The kayak would fill with water, then drain right away through the 16 self-bailing drain valves. Few people have run this rapid. I’m thrilled Sea Eagle made it possible for me.”

Stuffle also recently kayaked the Elwha, Hoh, and Queets rivers in Olympic Peninsula National Park. “It was so special to kayak through the old Elwha Dam site,” he relates. “This Class IV+ rapid really put me to the test, but the 300X Explorer Kayak was incredibly stable! I took out on the beach and carried the boat to the little Toyota Yaris I rented. What other kayak can you put in a Yaris?” he asked. Stuffle added that Alaska Airlines, Delta, and Allegiant were all really cool about the kayak, too. They let him carry it on as a normal checked bag, no questions asked. If you are taking your Sea Eagle on a flight, he suggests using two bags: one just for the kayak and one for your helmet, lifejacket, paddle and other gear.

Catching a glimpse of local wildlife can be one of the highlights of any kayak adventure and Stuffle has seen some interesting creatures in his travels. In Washington State, he came across numerous beaver and otter, then found king (chinook) salmon staging at the river mouth. Closer to home, on the Mule Shoe, Stuffle has spotted bald eagles, huge mule deer and a big male coati – a raccoon-like animal he said probably weighed over 40 pounds.

Future runs on Stuffle’s wish list include a trip downstream of Big South Fork Gorge on the Tennessee-Kentucky border that offers a 30-mile canoe camping run and some great fishing possibilities. He’d also like to kayak the Grand Canyon, but hasn’t been selected in the yearly drawing for permits.

“I’m looking forward to some family kayaking down the line, too” adds the paddling enthusiast. “My wife is pregnant and we have a young son, so I’m mostly getting out on my own these days. I can’t wait for them to come along.”

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.



J.P. shared an expedition with friends on the Papaloapan River in Veracruz, Mexico.

By Tom Schlichter

“I’m all about adventure,” says J. P. Garza, 51, of Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. “I love to explore and discover natural new places, especially by water in the southeast of my country and in Central America.”

Garza has traveled most of these regions by roads, terraces and trails, not only by car but by mountain bike as well. In fact, until recently, he considered himself a serious cyclotourist. These days, however, he prefers touring with his Sea Eagle RazorLite® 473rl inflatable kayak (IK). He has paddled over 3,000 kms (1,900 miles,) he says, never repeating the same river, lagoon or sea shore.

“Water is a resource that abounds in this area,” explains Garza, “and it offers a different perspective when exploring and enjoying the natural world. Rivers are the oldest paths of my country and while many have forgotten their importance these days, they have served as the main means of communication in the jungle since the pre-Columbian era. That’s why their shores host old churches and abandoned ancient cities – and it’s why I think waterways are the best and most interesting means to discover and learn about the natural beauties and historical places that we have.”

Garza stresses such adventure and contact with nature must be accomplished with respect for the environment and an ecologically healthy approach. If it can also be inexpensive, so much the better. Inflatable kayaks, he says, are the perfect fit as they allow him to achieve all of the above. Being able to maintain a decent speed without the noise of an added motor lets him quietly cover plenty of water and leads to more wildlife encounters.

The Champoton River in Campeche, Mexico, says Garza, is a beautiful stretch you can really only see and enjoy fully by way of an inflatable kayak.

“Using my IK, I come across a lot of wild animals on these trips,” reveals Garza. “Some, like a jaguar I spotted in the Belize River, few people ever get to see in a natural setting.”

Another important reason for kayaking on these expeditions, states Garza, is that it allows access to places larger vessels can’t navigate due to rapids, shallow waters or other obstacles. What you can’t push through on the water, you can sometimes bypass by carrying your IK, he explains.

In his expedition search for the beginning of the Champoton River in Campeche, Mexico, Garza had to back-pack in his Sea Eagle RazorLite® 473rl inflatable kayak.

“Many of the places I explore have never been navigated,” continues Garza. “I do serious expedition tours, so I need a kayak that’s inflatable to have the freedom to transport it in any way: taxi, bus, Uber, car or even carrying it on my shoulder. Using my Sea Eagle RazorLite® I have navigated rapids, flat waters and the open sea. It’s extremely versatile, easily portable and – inflated at 10 psi -incredibly hard. Its overall performance is as good as a hard shell kayak yet it remains as portable as a regular IK. Sleek and narrow, it goes real fast but remains tough enough to take far from the nearest road with no concerns about getting back. Stability is another issue that kayakers are always worried about, but not me. My RazorLite® handles anything Mother Nature dishes out.”

Given his need to travel long distances – not always an easy task in the areas he explores -Garza especially appreciates that he can simply pack up his RazorLite® and bring it anywhere. He also loves that it folds into a small square that can be easily stored. Storage room is at a premium in many Mexican homes, he notes, so being able to put it away neatly is a real plus.

“My Sea Eagle RazorLite® weighs only 35 pounds,” says Garza, “and it packs-up nice and tight. It can also take a beating and keep on going. My girlfriend Xiomi and I took it close to the Guatemalan border recently and paddled over 400 kms (250 miles) down the Usumacinta River to the Gulf of Mexico. We needed the fastest two-person inflatable kayak in the world to travel such a distance in only five days and the RazorLite® was it. On the last day of the expedition, Xiomi and I had to paddle over 100 kms (70 miles) from Jonuta to Frontera City as there were no places to stay the night. I’m convinced the Sea Eagle 473rl is the only two-person IK in the world that can cover so long a distance in a single day.”

The Usumacinta River, which flows though southeastern Mexico and northwestern Guatemala, provided Garza and Xiomi with a more than 400 kms (250-mile) IK adventure.

It would be almost impossible to do the expeditions he and his girlfriend undertake twice a month using a hard shell kayak, believes Garza. “The logistics would be too complicated, especially when you have to cross international borders. For us, it doesn’t make sense to waste the extra time, money and effort to travel with a hard shell. Many traditional kayakers don’t know about the latest IK technology. They don’t know how fast and how tough these kayaks can be, especially with drop-stitch design like Sea Eagle uses in its RazorLite®. Hopefully, my fellow kayakers are starting to see this when they view my adventures on social media or read the articles I write in magazines and Mexican newspapers.”

As for the RazorLite’s speed, Garza finds it exceptionally fast. “My girlfriend and I entered a 37 kms (23-mile) hard shell kayak race with it and finished third overall. We were the only IK in the race. The RazorLite’s sleekness is one reason for its great speed; another is that it is so steady and solid it feels like a hard-shell kayak. It’s as tough as they come, and very responsive. It lets you get in a lot of exercise without feeling like you are doing that much work.”

J.P. and his girlfriend, Xiomi, recently took third place in a 37 kms (23-mile) kayak race. Their Razorlite was the only inflatable in the field.

Garza says there are places in Mexico and Central America that can be reached only by kayak such as the lost archeological site Arrecife, which is hidden in a small islet in the north of Cozumel. The entire Champoton River, from its remote beginning to its terminus at the Gulf of Mexico, is another example. Here Garza had to backpack in to find the narrow creek which served as the river’s origin. (You can see a clip of this trip on JP’s Facebook page, here.)

“I push into places other people rarely see and I find that tremendously rewarding,” surmises Garza. “When you get into these places, you never know what you might see. Last winter Xiomi and I navigated in Expedition Gran Arrecife Maya, paddling more than 500 kms (310 miles) from Majahual, Mexico to Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Over 17 days we used our inflatable kayak to explore the second largest coral reef in the world. We saw amazing islets and breath-taking scenery. There were many kinds of wild animals here including sea turtles, dolphins, alligators, monkeys and a great diversity of fish.

“I think if more people kayaked, they might have a better appreciation for the environment and all things beautiful, peaceful and wild. That might help them to be more conservation-minded – and that’s something we really need in today’s world.”

At Sea Eagle, we couldn’t agree more.