There is work and there is play, and on Golden Glow: quality play is important. Ellen and I love our toys, and our Sea Eagle kayak gets more than its fair share of use.
What makes the Sea Eagle so cool you might ask?
Kayaks in general are a great combination of exploration, adventure, exercise, skill and, of course, fresh air and water. Early morning paddles as the sun is rising offer magical moments. The quiet of the morning and the often still air offer an excellent meditative form of exercise.
Our Sea Eagle kayak can hold two people easily. We have even had three on occasion. It is reasonably high off the water so with some attention you can keep dry while you paddle. Making it an alternative dingy for pre-dinner at a beach bar if so inclined.
We have the sailing option so we can hoist a sail on the Sea Eagle kayak. This is great for doing longer adventures. It can point up wind enough to get you back but better if you are on a beam reach in each direction. It is also a great educational tool for new sailors that are visiting. Nothing like complete control of your own vessel to build some respect for the ocean and the wind (be sure they leave with a VHF and keep a tow rope in the dingy 🙂
With all the various things we like to play with, space and weight are issues. We like to be able to keep a clear deck for passages and at the same time be able to load it up with “stuff” when we are hanging out at anchor. Because the Sea Eagle is inflatable we are able to store it below decks . The Sea Eagle Kayak fully deflates to a package about the size of a large carry-on suitcase for below deck storage, in either the forward compartments or in one of the Antares catamaran aft lockers. This eliminates the windage of a deck stored kayak when we are doing crossings. For short hauls it is easy to store forward on the deck and is out of the way while under sail.
It is easy to deploy and put back away: easy enough with a foot pump, even quicker with a wet-dry vac exhaust. It takes about 10 minutes to set-up and about 10 minutes to put away. With the sailing option add another 45 minutes for set up and break down. Alot of that is for cleaning and drying of the sails and various parts added to the kayak to make it sail.
One of the strong advantages to an inflatable kayak is that the two person version is light enough to put on deck by a single person. I have the inflatable paddle board next to the life lines and use it as a fulcrum to pull the kayak up and over the lifelines. This reduces the stress on the life lines and allows the kayak to be brought directly on deck without having to walk from the transom and navigate around the stays. This can done by one person.
The material of the Sea Eagle kayak is durable enough we are not worried about puncture. We do make a habit of keeping it from dragging on rocks or coral and sand, but we have drug it over some bottom and there were now marks left.
The construction of the Sea Eagle consists of two pontoons, so it is a little like a catamaran. This does a couple things I like: it keeps the passengers higher above the water line and it creates a bit of a line for keeping it on point. There is also a dagger board for when you have the sail up so you can head into the wind.
The seats are comfortable for longer trips. We actually have both inflatable “deluxe” seats and pro seats.
The pro seats are a bit more comfortable in my opinion, and they do ride lower. The pro seats offer zippered back pockets to store stuff as well and the attachment straps can serve as a good place to hold a beer in a coozy.
Finally the Sea Eagle Kayak has some stainless steel tie offs so you can lock it up if you go ashore. They are not immune to a sharp knife, but will deter a theft of convenience.
The Sea Eagle is an easy to clean kayak as it rinses with very little hidden areas to hold water. So it dries fast making it quicker to store a dry toy.
2017 UPDATE: Friends Diana and Marcus on a beautiful monohull Allora have nifty “Oru” brand folding kayaks they attach to their stanchions. They fold up, origami-style, and we heard they maneuver well and can be assembled/broken down in 7 minutes!