Sunday, June 1, 2014

Took my new kayak for a spin!

It was warm and sunny this morning—a perfect day to try out my new Sea Eagle!  A couple weeks ago, I decided to go ahead and upgrade my original 2011 FastTrack with the newer, lighter, slimmer FastTrack 385.

First, the unwrapping…
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Then the big launch!

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Before buying this boat (my third boat purchase from InflatableBoats4Less), I exchanged a few emails with the owner, Tim.  I told him I liked my original FastTrack but now needed something lighter and smaller that ideally would turn a bit easier too.  He said the new FastTrack would fit the bill perfectly and he was right!

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The new FastTrack zips through the water a tad faster than the old one, and now turns easier as well.  The smaller side tubes were a bit disconcerting at first, but the new boat still seems as stable as the last one. 

Afterwards, I inflated my original FastTrack to take some photos of it (for posting to Craigslist!), and did some side-by-side comparisons of the two boats.  A bit hard to tell from this photo, but the new boat is less deep and has a slightly longer keel than the original.  It also places the rear skeg a bit more forward.

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The 2014 FastTrack has a number of subtle refinements over the original 2011 model.  The keel is more streamlined (2014 has the all-black bottom and white tip).

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The skeg is also much easier to insert and remove thanks to more rounded edges (2014 on right).

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The side tubes on the 2014 are smaller than the 2011 and more tapered at the bow.  This will likely have some pros and cons—while this design reduces the weight of the boat about 5 lbs (to 31 lbs), it also will likely be more challenging for a  front passenger to stay dry on a windier day with choppy waves.  The rear of the 2014 also only has 2 drains (rather than 4), so definitely more of a flat water boat.  Still, although the original could handle more waves, you never wanted to take it anywhere other than flat water because it liked to only go straight!

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Carrying the new boat is MUCH easier!  When inflated, it’s lighter and easier to sling one of the smaller side tubes over your shoulder.  Deflated, it’s also a few inches smaller all the way around (2014 is the all-black one below), and the carry bag’s straps are now much longer so you can (finally!) use them as shoulder straps—so much easier!

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Best of all is how the new one fits in the back of the Tracker.  The older one was always a bit too wide to stand on end and fit sideways into the Tracker’s narrow cargo bay.  But the new one fits sideways just fine and will now only take up about 8” of cargo width floor space!

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So even though this upgrade seemed a bit frivolous on paper, in reality, this new boat should work out much better in all the areas that really count—performance on the water, transport, and storage!

16 comments:

  1. I just bought my second inflatable kayak. Since there are now two of us we needed another one and so we bought the same one a before. Here is a link to the ones we have. http://www.amazon.com/Advanced-Elements-Frame-Kayak/dp/B000J2Q0C6/ref=sr_1_2?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1401687012&sr=1-2&keywords=advanced+elements. We just took it out last weekend and had a blast checking out a waterfall and a sunset sail. I hope you enjoy your new toy too!

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    1. Well, you wouldn't be interested in a 3rd one, would you? I've got one of those sitting in my garage that's still new (never on the water). Getting ready to list it on Craigslist this week! For my body size/age, that kayak was a bit too small and harder to get in and out of, so I then went the Sea Eagle route instead. But AFs are still great quality kayaks-- glad you had fun!

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  2. I didn’t realize there was a model year difference in the FastTrack but trolling through your blog I was recently inspired to replace my Sea Eagle 330 with a FastTrack 385, a 2014 model. The 330 always felt a little toy-like to me and, being an inherently timid cautious solo adventurist, I was never truly comfortable in it except in flat, sheltered water. I’ve only had the FastTrack long enough for one excursion so far,

    http://travelsofaramblingvan.blogspot.com/2014/05/inks-lake-state-park.html

    but I’m sure it will see more water than my 330 did. Thanks for pointing me to the FastTrack.

    greg

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    1. Glad you're enjoying your new FastTrack Greg! You picked an absolutely gorgeous place to christen it!

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  3. I'm sad to say I missed the boat and pleasure of kayaking, but I so enjoy reading about those who do. I know a lot of women who have a blast as they conquer the lakes and rivers! Keep having a great time.

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    1. Thanks Jack, I sure hope to do that. I've missed the boat on a lot of things in my life, so I guess it all equals out in the end!

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  4. Thanks for such a detailed post on these kayaks. I don't have one and don't want one right now, but who knows? They really interest me. :)

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    1. It's amazing what you can see from the water that you can't see on land-- usually as you turn into some quiet cove, you'll find wildlife that will share a few moments with you-- I've seen bald eagles, loons, beaver, a few hundred white pelicans, and even a black bear all from within 100 feet! None of them would have been there had they seen me walking up to them on land!

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  5. We're shopping for kayaks now. I hadn't even thought about an inflatable model. I'll have to check them out. I like the idea that they're light and portable. We were going to build a rack for kayaks on the back of our RV. An inflatable would be easier to tote around.

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    1. They most definitely are, but they're hard to find in stores. I ended up ordering an Advanced Elements online originally only to realize it was too small for me, so I then turned to Sea Eagles as those seemed to be so popular with RVers. I was so impressed that I eventually sold my fancy hard-sided kevlar canoes and now prefer the comfy seats and easy in/out of the SeaEagle inflatables. So much easier to store and carry, much more stable and less "tippy", and virtually no loss in performance on the water.

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  6. We also carry an inflatable, our is a Hobie tandem, it has the mirage drives, so we can peddle as well as paddle, it is so fast, you can not keep up with us in a regular kayak when we are both peddling. The thing I really love about ours is that it has a sail kit, which works really well, I sail it all the time. We have the same camper as you a 2010 Itasca Navion with the same layout as yours. We don't tow a vehicle though, just our bikes on a rack on the reese hitch. The boat fits in the huge hatch under the bed. The mirage drives ad a bit of extra weight, but its worth it. I love reading your blog you write so well. Nina

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    1. Very interesting Nina, I didn't realize Hobie made inflatables too. I've always lusted after those sailing/peddling/paddling boats-- looks like fun! I have noticed that Sea Eagle sells a couple different sail attachments, so now you have me thinking about spending more money!!! Glad you're enjoying your View. Hope to see you down the road someday!

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  7. Would you use this in the ocean? Nice to gain some storage.

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    1. Only if paddling around a super-calm protected harbor or cove. With it's narrow side tubes and only 2 drain plugs, it's really not designed to handle waves. I was super-tempted by Sea Eagle's new Explorer 300x (that only weighs 22 lbs!!!), but Tim at InflatableBoats4Less said it was mainly a whitewater/ocean boat, and not a lake/calm river boat. Since I mostly paddle lakes, I had to go with another FastTrack. But, boy... just 22 more lbs.... if I only had a Class A to stow more stuff, I'd have both boats!

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    2. Thanks for your answer, but really 2 boats :)

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  8. It must have been hard for you to let go of your boat. But looking at those comparisons, I think your new one deserves a chance. At least, you don’t have to worry about storage and how it handles on open water.

    Marilyn Webb @ Spirit Paddle

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