Kayaking with My Sea Eagle 330

Why A Sea Eagle 330

This is going to be a combination post and product review of my Sea Eagle 330. I am fairly new to kayaking. Over the last few years I started renting them and going to different places around the area. I enjoyed it and was at the point where I could justify buying one vs renting them. However, The cost of a roof rack was almost $500 for my car. I could have just gotten the cheap pads and tie down kits but felt I could not trust them for anything but a short drive. So getting my own kayak was set aside for a while.

While cleaning out my mom’s garage, a large canvas bag was found and since no one knew what it was, it was sent to the dumpster. Later, I pulled it out to be examined later. A Few weeks later, I was online looking for a cheaper roof rack. A link for sea eagle popped up and I saw it was the same bag that I had rescued earlier. I went to the garage and with my brother emptied the bag. I found inside a Sea Eagle 330.

We put it back in the bag and it went to my storage space to wait for more time and warmer weather. When I did have time, I found it was very dirty and missing the paddles. Before rushing out and buying a new paddle, I inflated it and let it sit for a weekend. When I returned, I found that two of the chambers were mostly deflated.

When I had inflated the kayak, I liked it. It looked good and I had no problems bringing it to storage, nor inflating it with the foot pump. I was not looking forward to looking for a leak, plus I was not sure how long it had been in the garage. I knew it had not been used for at least 4 years. The best option was to buy a new one.

I looked at the different packages and got the starter package. It is not on Sea Eagle website right now but it is the same as the deluxe package except it does not have the carry bag. I had considered the Pro Solo package, with the deluxe seat and carry bag. Since I had a carry bag and a deluxe seat with the old kayak, I opted for the starter set that had two seats and an extra paddle, in case I wanted to tandem.

First Impressions

When I took the kayak out of the shipping box, my first impression was the material was a good quality. It reminded me of a zodiac inflatable. After checking everything and preparing the items for the first time, it took me about 10 minutes to actually inflate the Sea Eagle 330. I sat in it a few minutes, then broke it down and packed it away in the carry bag that I had.

A few days later, I took it to Hemlock Lake for my first on water experience. I found a flat section of ground with some grass and laid out the kayak. Pumping it up and getting ready was easy. The pumping took me about 8 minutes. I used the SEC seat that came with it. A few comments that I read about the Sea Eagle 330 said it was unstable. My first impression was the same. However, once I had a foot of water below me and a few full strokes I felt it was stable. I think it was the skegs dragging. I did not feel comfortable with the seats. They just did not seem to support me well. On my third outing, I switched to the deluxe seat and fell they are right for me.

Taking it down takes a while, if you are caring for it properly. It needs to be rinsed off then dried before folding. Invasive species are a problem in my area so this is an important step. Also, it will keep it new looking. Once it is cleaned and dried, it only takes three or four minutes to fold it and place it in the carry bag. The carry bag will also hold the paddles, foot pump and life jacket.

Sea Eagle vs Hard Kayak

I have a dozen outings this year in my inflatable about the same as I had for the previous three years combined in a hard shell kayak. The hard shells I used were sit-ins with a large cockpit opening and 12 foot long. If I were to rate them against each other on a ten point total scale, it would be a 7 for the Sea Eagle and 3 for hard shells. Here are some of my views:

  • Transportation: This is all Sea Eagle. I have a small Nissan Versa Note which is a hatchback. The carry bag fits sideways very nicely, so there is no need to lower the back seats. It stays in the car, so I can just grab swim trunks and head out. As I mentioned before, This is an important point for me.
  • Speed: Hard Kayak has the edge here. I am not very fast even in the hard kayaks. Still, it seems to take more effort to get speed out of the inflatable. I do find it difficult to keep up with others. You will find me kayaking to relax and to enjoy nature, so I really not need to go fast. I seldom do a point-to-point paddle and I mostly paddle alone, so not a major point for me.
  • Stability: I mention this above but will expand a little here. Once you get some water under you, I feel the Sea Eagle is as stable. There been a few times when I needed to deal with a wake from a passing boat. I felt the Sea Eagle handled it better than when I did the same in a hard shell.
  • Yaw: Yaw is the deviation from a straight course. I feel that there is more yaw in the inflatable. It is not so much that it is an issue. Wind has more influence on the inflatables then a hard shell. This noticeable to me when I am kayaking on Hemlock Lake which has some wind at times.

Sea Eagle Kayak Tips:

Here are a few tips:

  • Seat position: Where you position the seat has some impact on your stability but more importantly your control. The instruction video and owners manual recommends that solo paddlers position the seat a little behind the middle. I am more comfortable moving it back a little farther. Also, once you have moved away a little from shore, balance yourself in the seat.
  • Form: I found that I needed a higher stroke because of the higher sides. In the hard kayaks, I used a feathered paddle. I am more comfortable with my paddled unfeathered when I am kayaking in my Sea Eagle.
  • Extras:
    • I have a waterproof pouch with a neck string that holds my car keys and my cell phone if I take it along. I loop the string around the side strap of the deluxe seat and place the pouch portion in the pocket of the seat back.
      Lily pad at mendon ponds taken while kayaking from my sea eagle 330 kayak

      Why you need a camera kayaking

    • Waterproof Camera: I missed some great photos because there was no way I would take my cell phone out of the waterproof pouch, and I was not going to bring my digital SLR. I bough a point and shoot camera that is waterproof. The wrist cord attaches to the valve holder of the seat. Still experimenting on the placement, but I can reach down, release the camera and get some on water shoots.
      Why you need a camera kayaking

      Mendon Ponds Kayaking

    • Inflation gauge: There is a clear flexible plastic gauge that you hold against the hull to measure that the hull is properly inflated. Note clear plastic translates to easy to lose. Buy a couple extra before you need them, only a few dollars each.
    • Cleaning supplies: At the end of the day, I will take a wet towel to get any mud or marks off the kayak, then wipe it down with a dry towel. I also have a towel I can kneel on while I fold the kayak. As I fold the kayak, I might need to wipe it off and dry it. Some marks are stubborn, so I will unfold the kayak at home and clean it with a cleaner designed for marine vinyl. I plan on keeping my kayak for years but looking new.

My waterways:

Here is a brief rundown of where I have used my Sea Eagle.

Hemlock Lake Finger Lakes Region New York sea eagle 330 kayak

Hemlock Lake Finger Lakes Region New York

  • Hemlock Lake: This is one of the minor Finger Lakes of Upstate New York and is the closest to my home. It is also a water source for the city of Rochester. The shore line is undeveloped and is a state forest. Kayaks, canoes and small fishing boats (trolling motors only) are the only boats allowed in the lake. The lake is seven and a half miles long with two boat launches. The northernmost mile of the lake is closed to boating. Hemlock lake is in a valley of sorts with hills on the east and west shores. Conditions can get windy if you move away from the shore as hills can create a wind tunnel. There is less effect at the south end. The south boat launch is at a point where the areas south is more wetlands. The two portions of the lake give you different experiences. Hemlock has great fishing and some nesting eagles.
    Kayaking Mendon Ponds Park Sea Eagle 330

    Kayaking Mendon Ponds Park

  • Mendon Ponds Park: This is the largest park in Monroe County and has always been one of my favorite places to hike. Now it is also one of my favorite places to kayak. The Hundred Acre Pond is a great place to explore. The water is shallow and mostly flat. Like Hemlock, it is for Kayaks, canoes and small fishing boats with nothing larger than trolling motors. Great place only a few people on the water. The first time I went there, it had only 6 kayaks, all inflatables.
    Wellesley Island State Park: The park is located in the Thousand Islands region of New York in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River.

    Ell Bay at Wellesley Island State Park

  • Wellesley Island State Park: The park is located in the Thousand Islands region of New York in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River. The park has three boat launches with two being hand launches. The Ell bay side of the island has less boat traffic and is perfect for kayaking. I did get a little nervous when four turkey vultures kept an eye on me. Two of them had wingspans that must have been five feet.
     Wellesley Island State Park st Lawrence River Kayaking

    Wellesley Island State Park. St Lawrence River Kayak launch site

From the Sea Eagle Website

About the Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak

Our lightest, most portable kayak is America’s most popular, the versatile Sea Eagle 330. It weighs just 26 lbs. and packs down small enough to fit in the smallest car trunk. Don’t let the lightweight fool you, it’s a rugged kayak able to hold 2 people or 500 lbs and yet easy enough to be carried and paddled by one.

Specifications

Person Capacity

2

Hull Weight

26 lbs.

Length

11 ft. 2 in.

Width

2 ft. 10 in.

Interior

9′ 6″ x 15″

Load Capacity

2 Person or 500 lbs.

Deflated

24″ x 16″ x 7″

Chambers

3 (port, starboard, floor)

Tube Diameter

10″

Air Valves

5 Deluxe One Way

Inflation time

6 min

Seam

High Frequency Welded

Material

33 mil Polykrylar (K80 PVC)

Floor

Inflatable I-beam construction

Whitewater Rating

Suitable up to Class III

Inflation Pressure

1.1 psi

I have really enjoyed my Sea Eagle 330, and for me it was the right kayak to buy.

Thousand Islands

As Summer was winding down, I decided to take a trip to the Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands has a rich history that helped shape both the United states and Canada. It was a factor in the War of 1812, was popular with Presidents in the late 1800s, and many millionaires built summer retreats here in the 1930s. The area is still a very popular summer getaway.
Thousand IslandsHover over the photo above to show the next arrow. Click on an image to go to the flicker album

For those not in the know, The Thousand Islands is in the area where the Saint Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. The Saint Lawrence River is the passage allowing the Great Lakes to empty into the Atlantic Ocean. The first fifty miles or so has many islands. While the area is known as the Thousand Islands, the official count is 1,864 islands. To be considered an island, the land must have at least one square meter of surface always above water. It also most have at least one tree and additional vegetation.

The Saint Lawrence River also forms the border between the US and Canada. So some islands are in Canada and some in the United States. The border is not a straight line nor does it follow the center of the river. A treaty at the end of the War of 1812 divided the islands so that each country received the same land mass. However, Canada received more islands. The division impacted the border.

The largest island is Wolfe. This island is about 29 kilometers (ca. 18 miles) long, with its width varying from around 9 kilometers (5.59 miles) to a few hundred meters at some points; its area is about 124 square kilometers (48 square miles). The smallest island is Tom Thumb.

tom thumb island

Tom Thumb Island

Just Enough Room Island /Mother-in-Law House

Just Room Enough Island, also known as Hub Island is the smallest inhabited island in the world. The island is about the size of a tennis court. Purchased by the Sizeland family in the 1950s, the island has a house, a tree, shrubs, and a small beach. Local tour guides often misrepresent this house as being built by Bolt for his mother-in-law. Heart Island home of the Bolt Castle is the closest island to Just Room Enough Island.

Just Enough Room Island by Charles Davis

Just Enough Room Island

Just Enough Room in front and Bolt's Boat house behind. Please note the telephoto lens makes them look closer together than they are.

Just Enough Room in front and Bolt’s Boat house behind. Please note the telephoto lens makes them look closer together than they are.

Heart Island and Bolt’s Castle

Bolt Castle is a 120 room mansion that was never completed. There are many stories about it. I am going to borrow some text about it from wikipedia 

“George Boldt, general manager of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and manager of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, and his family enjoyed an earlier frame cottage on Hart Island (the island’s original name) for several summers, which they greatly expanded. In 1900, George Boldt launched an ambitious construction campaign to build a huge masonry structure, one of the largest private homes in the United States. He engaged the architectural firm G. W. & W. D. Hewitt and hundreds of workers for a six-story “castle” as a present to his wife. In addition, four other masonry structures on the island are architecturally notable. Equally distinctive is a huge yacht house on neighboring Wellesley Island, where the Boldts had another summer home and a vast estate, incorporating farms, canals, a golf course, tennis courts, stables, and a polo field.

Heart Island and Bolt's Castle

Heart Island and Bolt’s Castle

The construction of Boldt Castle ceased abruptly in early 1904 after the death of Boldt’s wife, Louise Kehrer Boldt. Boldt never returned to Heart Island, leaving this structure as a monument of his love. For 73 years, the castle and other stone structures were left exposed to the harsh winter weather and occasional vandals. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired Heart Island and the nearby yacht house in 1977, for one dollar, under the agreement that all revenues obtained from the castle operation would be applied towards restoration, so that the island would be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. In the two decades after acquiring the property, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority spent some $15 million for restoration and improvements here, and work continues annually. The initial goal of the restoration of Heart Island was not to finish what had not been completed, but to restore the island to the state it was in when construction was halted.”

The Shortest International Bridge Hoax

The Fake News International Bridge

The Fake News International Bridge

I remember 30 years ago taking a boat tour of the Thousand Islands and the tour guide pointing out the “shortest International Bridge in the world”. On the tour I went on, they also pointed out the bridge and added a story about the owner having to pay taxes in two countries. However, maps from both the US and Canadian governments show that both islands belong to Canada. Still, it a nice story and great photo op.

Alexandria Belle, One of the tour boats of Uncle Sam boat tours

Alexandria Belle, One of the tour boats of Uncle Sam Boat Tours

Boat Rides

There are boat rides from both side of the border that will take you around the islands. Uncle Sam Tours from Alexander Bay is the one I used and highly rate it. The boat stops at Heart Island before returning to Alexander Bay. You can get off here and pay the entrance fee to visit the island and the castle. To return to the mainland you can take the next tour boat or a shuttle.

Paddle Wheel

Paddle Wheel