Power & Motoryacht Tested:
Sea Eagle NeedleNose 126
Look around your anchorage and you’ll likely notice that more boats than ever have stand-up paddle boards (SUP) lashed to their hardtops or side rails. The boom in popularity of these water “toys” makes sense; whether you’re looking to explore shallow waterways, clean your hull while on the hook, or get some exercise after a day of cruising, the uses for the boards are many. I’ve even noticed boaters bringing their dogs ashore via a SUP, to which I usually murmur, “Show-off.”
But seeing these boards lashed down with bungee cords doesn’t exude confidence that they won’t sail away in a stiff breeze. And as for the popular side-deck mount, you might think that’s a convenient spot until you need to get to the bow in a hurry.
So for simplicity of stowage, it’s hard to beat an inflatable board, which led me to test the Sea Eagle NN126. The first thing I liked about the Sea Eagle was the backpack it came in, which made the 25-pound board easy to carry across the parking lot and down to the water. After rolling the board out across the dock, I used the manual pump (works just like your typical dinghy pump) to inflate it. An optional pressure gauge ($12) is a nice tool to ensure you reach the optimum 15 psi pressure, which makes the board feel as hard underfoot as a solid board. Blowing up the board took about two minutes with minimal effort.
Taking to the water, I immediately noticed how well the 12-foot-by-30-inch board tracks courtesy of two side skegs and a large (removable) center skeg. Indeed, I could paddle three or four times on one side while keeping a straight course. As for the unique neendlenose bow, I thought it was just a marketing ploy until I gently glided through the wake of a passing Sea Ray I was sure would put me in the water. In fact, it was so stable I figure you could probably take a small dog to shore on it pretty easily ... no more judgment from me. When done for the day, I simply pulled the plug, wrapped the board up like a sleeping bag, and stowed it out of harm’s way.
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.