Monday, April 18, 2011

Test paddling my new Sea Eagle 370 Pro Kayak

After many years of wishing and research, I finally purchased a kayak. Since I live in a condo, and storage is  limited, an inflatable was the only option. I'm sure I could have found a way to turn an eleven foot hard plastic kayak into a coffee table when not using it for it's intended purpose but the elevator at the condo was just not large enough. I settled on the Sea Eagle 370 Pro package. It has everything needed except a personal flotation jacket and fits in a bag smaller than my large suitcase. The package comes with two seats, two paddles, and a foot pump.

The adventure started at West Lake Park, 8:00 am. We parked close to the dock, tossed the parts on the ground, and started the assembly process. The paddles come in  four small parts and snap together in seconds. The seats literally take 5-6 pumps and are rock solid. Now for the kayak itself. There are five separate air chambers and with the provided inflation gauge, a snap to inflate. This being our first time, it probably took us a little longer to get everything together but from the car to the water, including a restroom break and loading water and snacks..... 30 minutes. I am not kidding. We floated from the boat ramp at 8:30. A quick adjustment to the seats, some test paddling around the dock, a tiny bit more air to be sure, and we were on our way. I have kayaked in rented boats for years and I can tell you the Pro Package seats were the most comfortable I have ever used. They also move freely in the boat and cause you to sit a bit high. They took a little while to get used to but I was pretty much settled before we hit the open water. The paddles have a slight curve to scoop the water and propel the boat with little effort. Turning was simple and accurate and tracking was great. A must to negotiate the mangrove swamp that makes up a large portion of the park. The wind had a noticeable effect and a strong wind would probably be annoying in open water but close to the shore it was fine.

Our first day trial adventure lasted 4 hours. If the Florida sun had not started to take it's toll, it could have been 4 more. Bigger hat, more sun screen, and more water go on the checklist for next time. From the time we hit the ramp till we loaded the car, 10 minutes. It was ridiculous. The kayak just deflates and rolls up in minutes. The paddles snap apart, the seats deflate and fold up. We had to wait a bit while a couple of guys with the hard kayaks pulled out of the water. We drove away while they were still loading up.

Now for the cleanup. Since West Lake is brackish water, there was some slime and salt to deal with. We inflated the side chambers, a quick rinse and cloth cleaned the boat in a few minutes, then it was left upside down to drain and dry. The seats, paddles, and life jackets just needed a quick spray. An hour later it was a fast wipe with a dry cloth, deflate, roll up, and in the bag with the seats and paddles. How easy can this be right? We have four other locations to try out so there will likely be several more kayak posts on this blog. I also want to put in a word for Not only did they have a phenomenal price on the Sea Eagle, they had it to my house 5 days after I ordered it.

Sea Eagle 370 Pro -

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Odd Duck Bazaar - Part Two

If you did not make it to the show, you missed a great event. Thanks to the Hollywood Craft Mafia, the show was well advertised, well organized, and very well attended. At least when I was there. There were plenty of booths and so many people, it was a challenge to see them all. Of course I'm always up for a challenge. I had already studied the website and knew exactly which booths I was interested in but actually bought a few items from ones I just found in passing. My favorite find will be a gift for my daughter's 21st birthday which is coming up way to soon. She loves pirates...... so it seemed to make sense when I was there. Not only did I purchase something from LuRu of the Tortuga Tile Works but in talking to her, realized we have friends in common. It felt great to support artists who actually live in the community and who I might even know in a round about way. I tend to prefer art shows more than craft shows honestly and if one of my very good friends was not participating, I may have passed this one by. As typical in these situations, I'm glad I went. There was great live music, good food, and some very fine art in this craft show and now a few pieces of it found their way to my home. I will certainly keep an eye out for future events.

Birthday gift - shhhhh

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lauderdale by the Sea, FL

If you ever find yourself in Fort Lauderdale and wish you were some place less stressful, find Commercial Blvd and drive East. Right before you run into the ocean, you will find the most beautiful location in Lauderdale by the Sea. I have gone there from time to time, usually by accident, but this past weekend I went there with the intent to do something special. Even though it was near noon, I managed to find a public parking spot within a short walk to the beach. To keep in tune with the day, I landed a beach side table at the Aruba Cafe. The beach was packed and most of the restuarants were full so it was quite a miracle. Within a few blocks there are plenty of places to eat and miles of beach. It truly is like driving to a private island. How often can that be said. Check the link above for a brochure that gives a great introduction to the city. If you want sand, surf, fishing on the pier, swimming, snorkeling, or eating, they have you covered. Be like me, make a day of it, and do most, if not all of the above.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kayaking West Lake Park, Hollywood

  I have kayaked with my daughter many times over the years at West Lake Park but now that she is in college, I decided to take a serious kayak adventure. A half day Kayak rental is $30.00. Way outside my normal local fun budget (which is generally free). I thought I had a pretty good idea of the area from my previous adventures but sometimes you just need to take the leap. Well, simply put, it was amazing. There are so many trails I never had seen before on the short trips. Some with pretty tricky paddling required. There was some wildlife but mostly it was the peace and quiet I came for. Hard to believe civilization is a few mangrove trees away. I cruised around for a solid four hours. I could do it again and not touch too many of the trails I saw this last visit. Word of warning - watch the tides. Some of the trails are tidal flats. What may look deep in one spot could be soft muck a few paddle strokes in the wrong direction. Even at low tide, there were no real problems. Just a quick back paddle and slight turn gets you right back on track. I will soon be going again and again but with my own, brand new kayak I've already started shopping for.