Video: Testing the Sealegs Amphibious Vehicle
January 9, 2014
Like some weird evolutionary reversal, the first Sealegs rolled off the shores of New Zealand and into the ocean in 2004. The high-tech amphibious vehicle, developed by a team of Kiwi inventors, is based on a rigid-hulled inflatable boat sporting a deep-vee aluminum hull and surrounded by rugged Hypalon-covered tubes. A 24-hp Honda 4-stroke inboard engine powers the hydraulics that raise and lower the wheels and assist with terrestrial steering, while a 150-hp Evinrude E-Tec 2-stroke outboard pushes the boat through the water to speeds in the mid-40s.
I got a chance to test the Sealegs 7.7 (25’) full-console model in Hingham, Massachusetts, with U.S. Sales Representative Josh Trout. Trout’s office is located in the Hingham Shipyard Village on Hewitts Cove, so we simply drove the Sealegs down the road to a nearby launch ramp (top road speed is 6 mph, by the way). To make the land-to-water transition, we lowered the outboard and rolled into the water. Once the wheels were raised, we fired up the outboard and we were a boat!
As we idled out of the cove, Trout showed me some of the Sealegs 7.7’s many features. The boat comes standard with comfy bucket seats with flip-up bolsters, as well as a chartplotter/fishfinder unit, stereo and VHF. A transom tower fitted with rod holders, antennae and LED floodlights is also standard, as is a retractable stainless steel boarding ladder. The boat can comfortably seat 8 adults, thanks to the stable, buoyant hull and bow seating area. A Bimini shade can be ordered as an option.
Once in the open water of Boston Harbor, we put the Sealegs through a series of sharp turns and wake-jumps. I was impressed by the boat’s responsiveness, and by how smoothly it cut the waves. It truly is a great marriage of a deep-vee bottom and inflatable tubes, which dampen the impact when coming off a wave and provide stability.
Next we took the Sealegs to a nearby beach, where we lowered the wheels, engaged the hydraulic system and simply drove up the shingle. The shore was bordered by large cobblestones, but the Sealegs’ fat tires had no trouble scrambling over them.
Once ashore, Trout raised the wheels and allowed the boat to rest on its side. He pointed out that the thick aluminum hull is made to take a beating, so owners shouldn’t worry about rough treatment. Further, the 316 stainless steel hydraulic fittings and other metal parts are all corrosion-resistant and made to withstand the marine environment. Just hose the boat down in your driveway at the end of the day and you’re good to go.
Overall, I was impressed with the Sealegs, and can easily see how waterfront-property owners or those who live near a launch ramp or other water-access site would love this thing. Of course, such a nifty vehicle isn’t cheap; price of the 7.7 full-console as tested is $159,000. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about bottom paint, dock maintenance, slip rental or a trailer, so the investment might just pay for itself over time.
- 2 Essington Drive, Hingham, Massachusetts, 02043
- (888 4SEALEGS)