Sea Eagle 8

December 31, 2002
Filed under Products

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It’s been said that boats are holes in the water into which owners throw their money.
People wishing to ply lakes, reservoirs and rivers must certainly weigh the expense of a
boat purchase (as well as the craft’s portability, storage and cost of upkeep) against the
benefits of being out on the water. Since the aqua-inclined among us generally believe that
drifting a river, trolling a bass-thick reservoir or simply floating an alpine lake
lengthens and enhances quality of life, we do what we can to justify our waterlust. One way
RVers can ensure that the cost/benefit scale tilts toward outdoor fun is to hit the water
in the inflatable Sea Eagle 8. As with most inflatables, the primary benefits of this craft
are its deflated size (making for easy storage and portability), its versatility and its
affordability. Springing from a rolled-up bundle not much larger than a sleeping bag and
weighing only 32 pounds, this boat inflates quickly into a 9-foot 7-inch ¥ 4-foot 8-inch
vessel that can support 950 pounds. RVers can stow the deflated Sea Eagle 8 (without the
Fisherman’s Dream upgrade used in this test, which includes floorboards, two seats and a
motor mount) in almost any of their rig’s storage units, whether they drive a classy coach
or tow a pop-up trailer. Of course, the oars and foot pump take up additional space, and
the Fisherman’s Dream package adds about 40 pounds. But even after adding the Fisherman’s
Dream package, as well as the motor, the total dry-land displacement is far less than a
canoe, a rowboat or a hard-sided fishing boat. None of these other vessels travels as well
on land or is as storage-compartment-compatible as the SE-8. This ability to be easily
transported eliminates the need for a roof rack, which canoes, kayaks and some small boats
require. And, unlike the boat-trailer towing headaches and off-season-storage hassles that
large rowboats and hard-sided fishing boats create, the SE-8 simply needs to be wiped down,
dried off to prevent mildew, deflated, folded and rolled back into its out-of-the-water
form. This process takes about as long as it does to make and eat a submarine sandwich. The
simple, step-by-step procedures for inflating and deflating the boat are illustrated and
described in the instructions that come with the boat. Versatility is the second benefit of
the Sea Eagle 8. Since it’s made of PolyKrylar, a durable PVC that is impervious to UV
exposure, oil and gas, and allows for high-frequency welds on all of the boat’s seams, the
Sea Eagle 8 can withstand any and all flat water – lakes, ponds, reservoirs and pools – as
well as gentle rivers. The oarlocks didn’t perform as well as we would have liked,
basically because they don’t pivot, so my father and I quickly abandoned the idea of
rowing, and exchanged the oars for canoe paddles. This method of propulsion worked fine,
though obviously not as well as the electric motor we found to be so beneficial to our Sea
Eagle fishing pursuits. The motor we purchased was an Endura 46, which easily clamped on to
the Fisherman’s Dream motor mount. The motor, marine battery and battery charger cost about
$300. The motor mount itself, supported by chamber 2 of the five air chambers on the SE-8,
affixes easily to the stern and is obviously essential to motorized transport. The easily
installed marine-plywood floorboards are also integral, since standing and casting a
fishing line without them is virtually impossible. The boat cut through the water more
easily and provided more internal support when inflated about 10 percent beyond the
company’s specifications. The inflation process took us about 15 minutes with a 12-volt DC
pump, as the foot pump required an expenditure of energy that seemed inconsistent with our
idea of relaxed lake fishing. We went with a pump that plugged into the cigarette lighter.
I’d recommend, however, spending the 30 bucks or so on a battery-powered pump that can be
transported to the water’s edge; it’s easier to carry the deflated boat from your vehicle
to the water than it is to carry it after it’s filled with air. We would, however, like to
suggest that the company add a carrying handle on the stern of the Sea Eagle 8 for easier
handling. Obviously, the Sea Eagle 8 is not for everyone; no boat is. A luxury yacht makes
for lousy river running, and a kayak makes for difficult water skiing. That said, the Sea
Eagle 8 got us where we were going and proved remarkably stable. Though we wouldn’t call
the interior of the boat spacious – especially with the tackle box that goes along with
bait fishing and the coolers that accompany a day on the water – the two of us managed to
fish for a week without once going splat. We zipped across lake after lake under the power
of the electric motor, and the boat seemed none the worse for wear. Yes, the marine battery
and the motor are heavy, but carrying them back and forth once each day was far easier than
relying on our paddling muscles for hours on end. In fact, the boat was so responsive to
the motor that, with the tiller cocked at its sharpest angle, I did aquatic doughnuts in
the SE- 8 and seemed to have no turning radius at all. And since the draft of the boat is
almost nil, we managed to lift the motor and paddle into coves so shallow that we could
have walked to shore without getting our shins wet. Put another way, the Sea Eagle 8 can
access water that float tubes can’t; it provides stability that canoes don’t; and the boat
and all its accessories stow nicely under most RV beds. Finally, price contributes greatly
to the fact that more than 53,000 of the Sea Eagle 8s have been sold. The boat, two
inflatable seats, two oars, a foot pump and a repair kit sell collectively for $299. The
Fisherman’s Dream package sells for $479. Add a sun/rain canopy to the Fisherman’s Dream
package and pay $629. All options come with a 30-day on-water trial and a three-year
warranty. Sea Eagle also makes inflatable sport boats, kayaks and a PaddleSki. Based on the
value evident in the Sea Eagle 8, it’s no wonder the company’s slogan is: “The quality
alternative to high-cost boats.” Sea Eagle, (800) 852-0925, seaeagle.com

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