The Sea Legs is unique because it has wheels that enable it to drive (slowly) on land and into the water. The wheels then lift out of the water and the boat performs like a normal RIB. It will go 40 knots (which is actually too fast for most conditions).

Wheelie Fast, Sea Legs 23.5′

Interview with the Captain – Philip Smith

About the boat

Why did you choose to buy a Sea Legs?
For many years we had an 18’ foot boat called a Sea Otter which was designed by Don Aronow and looked like a yacht club launch. Its looks were deceptive because it had a 140 hp Volvo I/O and would go 30 knots (which was just fast enough to be dangerous). When we purchased a Sabre 42 in addition to our J-46, by a stroke of pure luck, we were able to trade the Sea Otter mooring for a mooring for the Sabre that had become available. Around that time we saw the Sea Legs at a boat show in Boston and almost bought one on impulse at the show. After we sold the Sea Otter, we purchased the Sea Legs. It doesn’t need a mooring and is a really cool boat.

The Sea Legs is unique because it has wheels that enable it to drive (slowly) on land and into the water. The wheels then lift out of the water and the boat performs like a normal RIB. It will go 40 knots (which is actually too fast for most conditions). The wheels are driven by hydraulics. There is a small internal air-cooled gas engine in addition to the 200 hp Evinrude on the stern. The small engine runs a hydraulic pump that lifts and lowers the wheels and powers them for forward and backward motion. The maximum speed is about 4 knots. The boat is not legal for the road. In addition, we are not insured for diving on the road. Our insurance policy says that the boat must be on its trailer if it is on a road. The trailer is specially designed for a Sea Legs. It has a ramp in the middle for the front wheel to drive on when putting the boat on and off the trailer. Unlike most boats, the Sea Legs can be driven onto the trailer under its own power.

The design was created for Northern New Zealand. The tide goes out so far on the Northern shore that it is impractical to have a dock. People who want easy access to the water can keep a Sea Legs on their lawn and then drive the quarter mile or so over the sand until they come to the water. A number of commercial enterprises in New Zealand and Australia have the same tidal problem and use the Sea Legs to go from land to their working boats that are moored a little way from the shore.
The Sea Legs can accommodate 6 to 8 people and has Bimini to protect against the sun.

What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this particular model (and how did they compare)?

How did you come to find/locate her before purchasing (and what’s the boat’s history if you know it)?
We bought the boat new from Sea Legs International in Bristol Rhode Island. Josh Trout, the US factory representative, was very helpful. Actually, this is our second Sea Legs. The boat was designed and built in New Zealand. We first purchased a smaller version, but when we were at a yacht club conference in New Zealand, we saw the new model which had two helm seats, a wider wind screen and console and more space inside because Sea Legs moved the engine to an extension on the back of the boat. Within a week of coming back from our trip, we had traded the original Sea Legs for the newer version.

What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
We upgraded the chart plotter and the fuel tank sensors. The boat is very well equipped so nothing else is needed.

What are the features you like most about your boat?
We keep the boat in the EYC dry sailing area. When we want to use it, we start up the small engine that runs the wheels and drive down the ramp to the harbor. At the end of the day, we drive back up the ramp. All this takes about 10 minutes. The boat is very stable. I use it to take regatta photographs and it is fun to use to go for harbor tours and trips along the coast.

Who first introduced you to boating/sailing?
I learned to sail at a summer camp in Vermont when I was 12.

Do you belong to a yacht club or other boating/sailing organizations?
We belong to the Eastern Yacht Club and the New York Yacht Club.

What boats have you previously owned?
The Sea Otter, an International 210 Sailboat, a Contest 30 sloop, a Cabot 36 cutter, a J-46 sloop, a Sabre 42 power boat and a Sabre 45 powerboat. In addition, we have a Saffier 33 named Puff which is a Dutch designed day-sailer built in Amsterdam.

How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
We just use it around the harbor and as a runabout.

What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
Because of the internal engine and hydraulics, it is desirable to go to someone who is familiar with the Sea Legs. Someone else might be able to figure it out but dealing with a yard with direct experience is easier.

Do you have any notable boating resources you use?

Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a Sea Legs like yours?
Call Josh Trout of Sea Legs International in Bristol Rhode Island. He is the direct factory representative. The number is 888-473-2534.

What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Ann is in charge of naming boats. Since the boat is unique looking and seems strange as it drives in and out of the water, she figured that people would chuckle when they saw it in action. Wheelie Fast is our way of laughing with them because the boat is actually wheelie fast!! 

Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Wheelie Fast!