Kayaking on the Hudson

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kayak Review: Sea Lion 17ft. by Perception

Sea Lion Kayak
The Sea Lion was one of the first roto-molded production sea kayaks on the market.  They haven’t been produced since the mid 1990s, but many of these kayaks are still around and still for sale on the used market.  These may be labeled as Perception or Aquaterra brand.  These are humongous sea kayaks—over 17ft. long—and weighing in at over 60 pounds!  The outfitting is minimal: dual hatches, some deck bungees and usually a rudder.  The seat is basic plastic, but comfortable.  I added new thigh braces, new deck bungees and deck lines to my Sea Lion for about $50.  
The old style hatches on the Sea Lion still functioned perfectly

Despite the size of this kayak, the performance is quite good.  The hull is stable, yet responsive and the size means you can go for an extended trip and bring along every item you want.  The Sea Lion is a bit slow to get going because of the size and weight, but once it gets up to speed, it cruises along and can handle any rough seas you encounter.  The hull shape gives it decent initial stability and very good secondary stability.  The cockpit is comfortable, but small enough to give you good control over the kayak.  You can get a good brace with your thighs.
I added deck lines and bungees to my Sea Lion kayak

The best part about this kayak is that you can buy one for around $500 or less!  Just make sure to check it closely for fading, cracks and damage.  If it has been well cared for, then a Seal Lion will still have many good years of paddling ahead.  Mine was made in the early 1990s and it looked like it just came out of the showroom!

If you want a full-sized sea kayak, but don’t have much money to spend, this might be a good a kayak for you.
This kayak fits a wide variety of paddlers.  I am 5’7” and had the foot pegs on the closest setting, so I’d say 5’7” or taller.
Uses: Sea kayaking.  Not good for tight spaces, creeks, marshes, etc.

See you on the water,
Don Urmston


  1. Kayaknut-

    I, too, have an old RM Eclipse Sea Lion, and was wondering if your boat is the same as mine. I do not have a Sea Lion decal, and the graphics on my boat bought used (undated year of origin) are both "Eclipse" and "Sea Lion" in print on it. This was my first SINK, which I purchased used 10 years ago after years of paddling SOTs. It finally got too old trying to hoist 72 pounds up on the roof rack heavy and I bought a Valley Aquanaut (now, ironically, also discontinued) when I retired 7 years ago. I'm wondering what your cockpit dimensions are, and if they match those of my Eclipse/Sea Lion.

    I note you list it as a sea kayak for "Sea kayaking. Not good for tight spaces, creeks, marshes, etc."

    While that is true, we've also taken it, and our 16'6" Hurricane Trace and 17'7" Aquanaut in the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida's coastal Ten Thousand Islands, including marshes, tidal creeks, and narrow (cannot swing a paddle narrow!) mangrove tunnels, as well as wider waterways, and bays and the open Atlantic and Gulf waters.

    Thanks for anything you can share about the sizing of your Sea Lion.

    ScupperFrank in Miami

  2. ScupperFrank -
    The Eclipse was the next generation kayak after the Sea Lion. The early Eclipse models sported both names. The Eclipse was a bit more streamlined, but roughly the same size. Unlike the Sea Lion, the Eclipse came in a smaller version known as the Shadow. I no longer have my Sea Lion, so I can't measure it for you, but it should be similar in cockpit size.
    I too bring my 16-18 ft. boats into marshes, etc. It can be tough to turn around sometimes, and I have had to paddle out backwards on a few occasions!

    Thanks for commenting and keep on paddling!

    P.S. If you want to date your Sea Lion, look for a serial number etched in the tail. The last two digits of the serial number represent the year it was manufactured.

  3. What is a fair price for a used Perception Sea Lion in good condition?

  4. This is really a tough question because it depends on the condition of the kayak. Usually, used Sea Lions go for $300-$600 with most of them being in the $400-$500 range. It also depends on where you are in the U.S. I live near New York City and I've seen the same kayak sell for $200 more here then just a few hours' drive north of here.

  5. Out of curiosity what did these cost when they were brand new?

    1. Mine was in the showroom, new in 1992, for $3000, got 10% off. Recently sold for $1000, with spray skirt, in excellent condition. No fading, all lines good, tight hatch covers, very minimal scraches on bottom. It was always diligently cared for and, tho heavy, was lovely to paddle and camp with and certainly has many years ahead still.

  6. Hey Don - I picked up this exact kayak this summer. I am new to the sport and love this craft. Glad to see you give it a good review. I have been systematically re-rigging and learning the various systems and skills; flipping and egress, wet entry, bailing. Haven't mastered the roll yet but will in time. I live in N.C. and look forward to some off - shore trips in the future. To date have just had in the river near my home. Cheers! Bruce'ster

  7. I just picked an Eclipse Sea Lion last spring for $350 in Wisconsin. It's a fantastic boat, very agile and dry. I own a couple other SINKs of the composite variety and this is my go to boat. Added bonus for a lifetime in fresh water. I'm excited to take it home to the Gulf Coast and enjoy it on the Intercoastal and the Mississippi Sound.

  8. Tengo uno en Argentina en Fiberglass y es muy buen bote.