Friday, July 1, 2011

My Sea Eagle 370 Kayak takes on Key Largo


I have been very pleased with the performance of my new Sea Eagle 370. It has handled well on the local lakes and rivers. Even better, it stores well in the back of the car or the spare bedroom in my condo when not in use. It was time to put it to use as I intended so off I went to Key Largo for sea trials.

If you are following my blog, you know I was recently staying right on the Florida Bay. You also may have noted I took the opportunity to use the complimentary ocean kayak provided by the motel for a 3 hour trip around the bay. I've never before kayaked in open water and it seemed best to give it a try with the proper equipment. Also it would make a great comparison to the Sea Eagle.

The next day I was on the East side of Key Largo at John Pennekamp State Park. The weather was not ideal and the water not as friendly with a steady breeze and much more boat chop. This was going to be a great test.

I started by easing the Sea Eagle off the little sandy beach and right into the current of the flowing tide. No problem at all. I was sitting higher than the Ocean Kayak and there was not nearly as much drag. I already knew the Sea Eagle tracks well and navigating the mangroves was a piece of cake. I also noted the curved paddles gave a lot more power over the flat paddles I used the day before. The current was noticeable but no problem at all going with it, against it, or being pushed sideways by it. Actually it added to the fun to anticipate which way the water was moving and paddle the boat to compensate.

After an hour or so in the mangroves, it was time to head into open water. I'm not sure why all the rental kayaks were staying on the shoreline but I left them way behind me in moments. The water was not calm but it was nearly so for the most part and there was a lot of it as far as I could see. The wind became a factor though. For the first time I was having some trouble managing a straight track. It was not like I was going anywhere in particular in all that water but I was being pushed around pretty well. I was also very close to the channel and fairly sizable boats were making some nice bow waves to play in. I aimed for a big one and waited for the ride. Wow. Nothing. It was like I was on flat water. The Ocean Kayak was taking a hop on jet ski waves. The Sea Eagle hardly moved. Even taking them on the side was not that impressive. Taking a chance, I sped right across the channel and into the salt marshes. I was miles from my starting point and I let the wind slowly blow me farther out while I watched sea grass drift by in the two foot deep clear water. I could have easily been lulled into a nap but I would have woke up off the Georgia coast. The weather started looking a bit ominous so I high tailed it back the three miles or so to my starting point.


I spent about four hours from start to finish in the Sea Eagle and could have done another hour or two. I was only out 3 hours on the Ocean Kayak the day before in much calmer water and no wind whatsoever but the hard seat, flat paddles, increased drag, and no back support really took a toll. Lets not forget that Kayak rental at Pennekamp is $30.00 an hour. Now that my Sea Eagle is tested in all the waters I intend to go, I'll be going a lot in the coming years.

2 comments:

  1. Glad you're enjoying you new toy so much, I guess way better than the bike.

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  2. Sometimes both in the same weekend. Like this weekend.

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