As most of our regular readers know, Charlotte and I are truck camper RV’ers and love the freedom of being able to go just about anywhere with our small four-wheel RV. We can park wherever we can park the truck and camp in friends’ driveways when visiting. No packing suitcases, for us we take our home with us.
We enjoy canoeing which has always required we pull either our Jeep with the canoe on top or our recent build of a small camper utility trailer. We never forget our trip the beautiful Elk Island National Park near Edmonton, Alberta when we decided to leave the canoe at home. Not knowing what the park was like, it was to be a quick check it out trip. Upon arriving we discovered a beautiful lake full of small islands on which any form of motor boat was banned…wow our style of lake and no way to get out on the water.
Sitting there looking out over the lake we realized it would be a hiking weekend, that was OK as well but the lake kept calling. A small Toyota car pulled up and an older couple got out and unloaded a bundle from their trunk, approximately 10 minutes later they were hauling a full 14 foot kayak to the lake. Interrupting their paddle for a few minutes as we checked out the craft, it was not cheap plastic like the corner store dinghy but very well constructed and durable. They loved it and always used it to get on the water, finding it very durable as well as stable. I cannot remember the brand name but it was enough to get us doing some research on inflatable boats.
After months of looking at many different options from various piece-together kayaks to inflatables we decided the inflatable would suit us the best. We decided on the Sea Eagle. The company builds many different styles of inflatable kayaks, canoes to fishing boats and paddle boards. An established company we checked out customer reviews and found they really stood behind their product…good to know. Still not totally risking paddling out on a cold northern lake in a plastic boat I remained skeptical. What sold me was I found a video where they drove a Jeep over an inflated Fast Track Kayak.
We decided on a 16 foot Sea Eagle 465FT Fast Track kayak. This was not a cheap model but felt we would take the chance and order it on line from Sea Eagle, something at our age were not accustomed to doing. It was painful to wait wondering what type of craft would really arrive and checked the delivery tracking number daily. Of course being Canadian we lost on the exchange and there was extra shipping costs but if it was what the company and others said it would be, it would be worth the price.
It finally arrived. It was only -35 celsius outside, our lake was frozen over and another three months to break up. We just had to set it up all 16 ft. of it in our small cabin. It came complete with a foot pump; we opted out being kinda cheap on the electric pump, paddles, inflatable seats and a patch kit. Timing our first set up, it took us approximately 20 minutes, not bad for just out of the box; we sat in it, kicked it and were impressed – it was more than we had thought. How would it paddle? Would it replace our canoe?
Last summer we traveled with only the Sea Eagle and have to say we loved it. Easy to set up and take down and we stored it behind the passenger seat in our Ram truck along with the pump, paddles, life jackets etc. I made a set of wheels out of plumbing pipe to haul it from campsite to water, as this is not a really light unit, approximately 65 lbs. Our 16 foot Swift canoe is lighter at 45 lbs., so the wheels came in handy as it was not as easy to throw over the shoulder and carry. The solid blow up floor in the kayak gave us a very secure feeling; we could even stand up in it. It was incredibly stable even in large waves. At no time have we ever felt concerned, even went places where we would never have gone with the canoe. The low profile was good in the wind, it paddled very well, tracked well, however it was a tougher paddle than our 16 foot canoe. I would give that up for the stability. We landed it on rocks and find it very tough. As we are canoeists, we scrapped the kayak paddles for our canoe paddles which we find quieter and easier for us and works and handles very well this way.
Will it replace our canoe…well I picked up a Lund stern back aluminum 16 foot canoe and added a small 3 hp. Honda motor which we can paddle or motor for days when we stray a distance from camp and need to get off the lake or home quickly. No it will not, but we never go anywhere without our Sea Eagle and we will always be able to get out on the water even when it’s rough and when we don’t want a tow behind.
We consider it one of our better investments. I’m not just pushing Sea Eagle, there are lots of brands and prices out there, but the idea of an inflatable for the sake of travel should not be overlooked.
Enjoy the RV lifestyle and we hope to see you “Down the Road”…Charlotte and Gerry, the RV Cowboy.
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