Cecil Hoge doesn’t see problems, only solutions. The owner of Sea Eagle Boats has designed more than 30 inflatables from high-performance whitewater kayaks to a six-seat blowup party barge.
During a recent interview at ICAST tradeshow in Orlando, Florida, Hoge explains how inflatable boats allow him to experiment. “There are endless possibilities,” he says.
The most recent release from the Sea Eagle workshop is the 385fta FastTrack Angler. Versatility is the keyword in modern kayak design and the FastTrack Angler is ready for anything.
The boat looks like the work of a mad genius. Is it a canoe? Is it a SUP? Kayak? Skiff? The answer is yes!
Sea Eagle’s FastTrack Angler
Weight 45 lbs
Capacity 635 lbs
The FastTrack has an open cockpit like a canoe. Then, the boat’s low gunnels allow it to be paddled with a kayak paddle. A wide-open, drop stitch deck makes FastTrack a solid standup paddleboard. There’s even enough room to add a second seat to make it a tandem. Oh, and Hoge designed an optional motor bracket to take a 12-volt battery and trolling motor.
“Everyone else is charging thousands for an electric motor,” Hoge says, then points out the trolling motor and marine battery he bought at a box store for a few hundred bucks.
The only question is, does it work? Again, the answer is yes. The FastTrack Angler arrived to the Kayak Angler office in two boxes. The boat, paddle, pump and seat frame fit in a carry case. The swivel seat travels separately.
The carry case offers plenty of room and the boat unfolded ready to inflate. The down side to using an inflatable is pumping up the air chambers. Sea Eagle included a high-velocity, twin-action pump inflating on both the pull and push.
The FastTrack has three air chambers: two low-pressure gunnels and a drop stitch floor. Drop stitch technology uses thousands of internal threads between the top and bottom layers allowing increased increase air pressure and rigidity. The floor inflates to 10 psi, lower than other inflatables to save time and effort pumping up the boat. The gunnels are low-pressure chambers, quickly inflating to three pounds per square inch.
On its own, the FastTrack Angler would be a great grab-and-go kayak or SUP. Without the seat, the boat only weighs 45 pounds. I love to abuse an inflatable boat. Drag it across the yard, throw it in the truck, drop it on the ground, whatever I dish out, the FastTrack Angler bounces off.
I ordered a FastTrack Angler to do damage on a series of neighborhood canals and ponds I can reach by pulling my kayak on a cart. I tried a standup paddleboard, but I fell off in front of my neighbors. So, I was looking for a more forgiving option.
And, I want to fish all day. I opted for the FastTrack swivel seat. Leave it to the do-anything designers at Sea Eagle to put a swivel seat in an inflatable. The word impossible doesn’t exist. A folding, plastic seat bolts to an aluminum frame. The frame is held onto the kayak with webbing straps snaked through D-rings on the gunnels.
I was skeptical. As soon as I put the boat on the water, I had to test the swivel seat. I lifted my feet out of the cockpit and spun around 360 degrees. After the first spin, I was still dry. I added “Wheee” to my next spin.
The swivel seat has a practical value, too. As the boat drifts and spins, I could turn the seat to face my lure or target nearby structure. And the frame hosts two Scotty 280 Baitcasting Spinning rod holders. I angled one vertically to transport my rod and the other is turned at an angle for drifting and trolling.
Inflatable boats sit higher in the water with less draft, making them susceptible to the slightest breeze. To combat the wind effect, FastTrack Angler has an inflatable keel in the bow and a fin box in the stern.
Yes, the boat gets blown around, but the keel slaps it back on track with a paddle stroke. The boat spins on a dime and still manages to paddle pretty straight.
The FastTrack Angler was a perfect fit for the neighborhood bass trail. I was able to launch the boat down steep banks and drag it over drainage pipes and rip-rap. The boat spins in place and scoots along with little effort to easily work into boat docks and sea walls.
I threw a small tackle tray, a bag of tools and a bottle of water into a drybag, jammed a rod in the holder and dragged the FastTrack between ponds and canals. I was looking for a platform lighter than a SUP, tougher than a kayak and more stable than a canoe—Sea Eagle’s FastTrack Angler was the answer.
What is it? Who cares. | Photo: Roberto Westbrook