User Review of the Sea Eagle 465 FT Fast Track Kayak and SailboatsToGo Sail Kit
"The first sail left no doubt that I had made the right decision and I was really happy with how it handled and the performance"
Here are my thoughts on the 465 FT and the sailing rig. I will go on a bit but I don't want to leave anything out
The boat arrived first and Lily and I took it up river to see how it handled. It paddled easily of course but we were surprised by how comfortable the Sea Eagle was. I use the inflatable Sea Eagle seats for sailing and paddling.
When the sailing rig arrived the rain had started and we were getting some minor flooding on our river. It was during the Christmas break and my son Andrew was staying with us so he and I rigged it up in the backyard during a break in the rain. We went through it methodically while referencing the manual and since then I find it very simple and straightforward to rig.
I'm impressed with the general look of the frame and the machining. It's an appealing mix of design and finish that is obviously strong and sturdy but has a certain elegance. I'm not an engineer in any sense but I can still appreciate a good design. The size of the tubing seems nicely proportioned.
Andy and I finally got it into the water in a fair breeze/wind during a rain stoppage. We rigged it reasonably efficiently at the waterline and pushed off down river into a steady light wind but with the river running out slowly. I was seated on the inflatable Sea Eagle seats butted up against the rear frame at the helm and Andy sat on another seat midships. I notice you tend to lie over the tubes sitting on the floor. I find those seats support the back well but I still lounge over the sides and stay comfortable however I can.
My immediate feeling when it picked up the breeze was how much in control I felt. Partially because of the comfort and security of the inflatable and the lateen sail at forty five square feet was easy to control but also the rig looked and felt solid and braced. We pointed up as close as she would go to the wind and at about forty-five degrees it was what I expected and it sailed well. It was when we came about though that I realised how good this boat and rig was going to be. It was very nimble and easy to manoeuvre and was quickly back under way which was important on our 160 yard wide river. I assume its because of how light the boat and rig is. She was still carrying two sizable adult men but she responded instantly even as the wind dropped. We tacked a few more times and ran back with a dying breeze until the river current took over. We then paddled it back a couple of hundred yards. It paddled well with the rig. The frame does hinder the paddling a bit but we could get a good speed in spite of that small inconvenience.
So, the first sail left no doubt that I had made the right decision and I was really happy with how it handled and the performance. Since then we have had her out at every opportunity and have sailed her in some heavier winds. The rig always feels like it can take any wind and the lateen of that size was always controllable. I was impressed by the way it ran downwind once I got a good wind. There's no violent jibes and it was certainly more enjoyable and relaxed than in a larger boat. There are other things that impressed me. The stabilisers are effective and look good too. The double tiller is a great idea. The sheet directly from the middle of the boom is a good physical workout. It certainly enables you to feel the wind effectively. (I tried running it through a ring on a tube but I was a bit concerned about how much pulling that could take). An excellent feature of the design is the high clearance of the boom. Its one of the main reasons why I decided that this was what I wanted. The Sea Eagle stays dry and the drop-stitch floor is stable and comfortable.
In summary this boat with the sailing rig is the perfect craft for me. While two people can carry the boat easily it is one-person portable. The boat inflates quickly enough with a simple foot pump. Attaching the frame and rigging seems to take some time at first but the procedure is not complicated and becomes quicker and easier with organisation and experience. It sails very very well and scoots along at an impressive rate to give plenty of excitement in heavier winds. It responds well in light winds and never feels sluggish. The rig with the lateen sail is extremely easy to sail. I cant see how it could be easier. I would have no hesitation in pushing someone out in the boat and telling them to "sail!" The whole package pulls down and packs away simply and quickly.
As I said Jim, I couldn't be happier with the purchase. I think it says something about this sailing kayak that it was what I chose in the end after a lot of research. Apart from the positives I have spoken about, it is a good looking setup. I may have told you before that I think the videos are a great idea. The boats and rigs look really good in action and I thought the Sea Eagle under sail looks very sleek. She even looks great when I catch a glimpse of her from afar sitting at the waterline waiting to go out. A very good looking setup. The sailing is very safe and care free which is something else that made a positive impression. Not being a lifelong sailor I have always been tense on the water while skippering a sail boat. Fibreglass catamarans are inherently uncomfortable and skittish while my sailing in a twenty foot fibreglass sloop was sometimes a lesson in dealing with terror (on Sydney Harbour).
Another result of owning the sailboat is that we have begun to find a good variety of sailing locations within our area of Australia that wouldn't be accessible or worth driving to without the boat. Of course being portable in the boot of the car means that it can be launched from just about any shoreline. We came across a local freshwater lake while scanning Google Earth that I wasn't aware of and its now our little secret. Its only about a mile across but from the single road access point it becomes a lake completely surrounded by uninhabited national park with vegetation that looks the same as it would have pre-European settlement. Its shallow, clear, private and quite beautiful and I'll be doing some trials there sans stabilisers in strong winds to see how she handles.
Finally, I was very satisfied with the retail price of the package and I found that it was much lower than some of the more commercial sailing craft packages from major companies. From my point of view I feel that I have found the best package at the best price. And I love it."
Tony H. -- Australia, March 2011
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