In early 2007, my dad purchased an 18-foot Eagle flats boat to fish Sebastian Inlet and the Indian River near his house in Palm Bay, Florida. I found the boat on eBay and instantly fell in love with her. The hull could not be missed, with its dark green flanks and recessed, eyelid-shaped running lights. I checked the bids daily, then hourly as the auction neared its end. When all was said and done, she was ours.

The boat was in Riviera Beach, Florida. It was a 2001 model with a 115-hp Yamaha, so it wasn’t all that old, and I thought we were getting a good deal, as we nabbed it for $8,500.

The guy at the shop put a set of earmuffs over the water intakes, turned on the hose and cranked over the engine. We did a compression check, and it passed, but we didn’t put the boat in the water for a few weeks. When the day finally came for our maiden voyage, the boat looked outstanding. Dad put coat after coat of wax on her, and the hull shined like a new bunker spoon.

Charlie Levine and his 18-foot Eagle flats boat

Charlie Levine and his 18-foot Eagle flats boat

As we rounded the last marker out of the no-wake zone, Dad gave the throttle some juice. The engine vibrated wildly — then stalled. It ran OK at idle, but the boat would not get up on plane. We limped back to the ramp and headed to a Yamaha dealer. The crank bearings were shot. We also discovered that the engine was a 1990 model with an early 2000 cowling. We’d been duped.

Dad decided to repower with a new 115-hp Yamaha. He elected for a 2-stroke, as 4-strokes were just coming onto the scene back then. And just like that, Dad had about $20,000 into our steal of a boat.

Boats have played a pivotal role in my relationship with my father. We always spent time together on them, carving out little adventures that we still talk about 30 years later, and this boat was no different. It turns out Eagle was known for producing beautiful boats that were close knockoffs of well-known skiffs. One guy on an online forum called the Eagle the “worst boat ever built.” Issues were not with the hull design or ride, but with the stringers and supports. We never saw those problems; our boat was stout. No soft spots, no delaminating. None of that. She runs great with the 115, and she turns on a dime. And unlike most skiffs, you don’t get soaked in a quartering chop.

She became mine in late 2018. She’d sat for almost two years, and after I gave my father plenty of grief for not using her, he tossed me the keys. What this skiff might lack in structural integrity, she has made up for by creating relationships. My nephews fished with their grandfather on this boat. Twice from the foredeck, I told Dad that my wife was pregnant. I’ve had to sink some money into the boat, but she’s running better than ever. I take her out with my boys and chill at the sandbar. She’s a pig to pole, but we’ve managed to put a few nice redfish on deck.

We’ve learned a lot with this skiff. I’m proud to say I own the worst boat ever built.

Charlie Levine is a longtime fishing writer and the editor of FishTrack.com. His recently published first book, Sucked Dry: The Struggle is Reel, is available on Amazon.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Anglers Journal magazine.

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