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*** The Short Course On Tunnel Boats, Part I (by Jim Russell, P.Eng.)

Sir John Thornecroft designed a hollow-bottomed craft in the early 1870's that resembled what we modern boating enthusiasts would call a sea sled.  In 1908, he designed a boat of a similar configuration, combining the features of the sea sled and a cathedral type hull form. 

- A Canadian might have been first:
Although not the first boat boasting a tunneled-hull, the Hickman 'sea sled' was probably one of the first of this type of craft to attain higher speeds.  A native of Nova Scotia, Canada, Albert Hickman patented his design of a partially tunneled hull in 1914.  The sea sled was an inverted Vee hull in the fore section reducing to a flat transom and a tunnel between the two 'hulls'.  When at planing speed, the air trapped in the tunnel finds it difficult to escape, since the tunnel is below the water level at the transom.  A certain amount of lift was realized from this 'trap' or high-pressure pocket.  This could also be dangerous however, as at very high speed, the boat could become totally airborne and extremely unstable (since there would be no boat left in the water!)
I thought this may be of interest to you.  From the latest issue of PowerBoat Reports, July, 2003 , I found this about the catamaran's characteristic "whale blowing" similar to the sea sled that Marcus Lee described in Boatbuilder, February 2003:

"Semer and Fidler have made some improvements to the Sea Cat’s design. They’ve increased the height of the tunnel by about 3 inches and built in a “sneeze shield,” sort of a lip that extends the width of the tunnel at the bow. These two modifications help reduce “sneezing.”   When the bow of a cat comes down on a wave, air and water are trapped in the tunnel, and as the hull descends this mixture has nowhere to go but out the front. The heavy mist that shoots forward is often blown back into the boat. Not fun. The old Sea Cat sneezed quite a bit, said Fidler."
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A "spin-off" of the inverted V design became one of the most respected boats of all time, the Boston Whaler. Another builder  (www. produces 50-foot sea sled barge-type vessels, powered by standard six cylinder outboard motors. These boats are used for harvesting kelp. They can carry payloads and run at speeds three times that of conventional work boats. And all from a 1914 design.
The Hickman Sea Sled first came to my attention in an article in Boatbuilder Magazine, August 1998. At the time I was thinking of building a boat, but could not find a design that satisfied the four major items on my wish list: speed, comfort and seaworthiness combined with fuel efficiency. Until I saw the Hickman design, it seemed impossible to have all four qualities in one vessel.
After reading about the Hickman design I searched for information on the subject at maritime museums, on the Internet and in old magazines. The research revealed that the original sleds in the 20-25 foot range were fast, extremely seaworthy and quite economical to run. They also had a high load-carrying capacity, because the early engines were very heavy. Another fact that came to light was that the Sea Sleds were rough riding boats, when lightly loaded.

It appeared that if a way could be found to reduce the pressure inside the tunnel, the unnecessarily large (for my needs) load-carrying capacity could be exchanged for a softer ride. The obvious answer, since modern power catamarans resemble sleds, was to attempt to modify an existing, lightweight cat design. The idea that slowly developed, was to incorporate the two most important features of the sleds: the beautiful sweeping bow sections and some of the tunnel compression features, into a proven design.

My research and redesign work took three months.

The process of building the 23-foot wood, fiberglass and epoxy boat pictured here could also be a long story. But here's a very short version:
Construction started December 1, 1998. The first sea trial was early March, '99. Full testing began in June 1999. The boat can comfortably run from King Harbor to the Isthmus at Catalina Island, a distance of 30 miles, in 50 minutes, on seas that would keep most boats behind the Redondo Breakwall.
It is powered by two 115 horsepower (about half the power most fast production boats require) Evinrude FICHT outboard motors. Fuel mileage is remarkable and top speed is 53 mph.

We carried out a lot of testing during the summer.
One run was from King Harbor to the west end, around Catalina, past Avalon,
and returning to King Harbor - over 85 miles --
in just under three hours on a rough day.
The fuel consumption was less than 25 gallons.
In moderate and worse conditions, the vessel covers twice the distance at
half the fuel consumption of any conventional boat her size.
Even though Albert Hickman might not approve of my changing some of his
design, I am still very much in his debt for the boat I call
Aero Cat.
Ken Handman @ ...
Development of the IVB is also being done in the USA by Winninghoff Boats  e-mail:
although their design is slightly different to ours the basic concepts are the same it goes to show that all ideas have different concepts..


We have now built 7 inverted Vee hulls, 36-50 feet, generally based on the "Hickman Sea Sleds" of pre World War I. Our experience with these hulls began in 1992 with a telephone inquiry for a nominally 44 foot boat which would have a top speed of 45 mph, carry 48,000 pounds, draft less than two feet loaded, and behave safely. After the idea of a hull "shaped like a brick" was rejected, we suggested trying an inverted Vee, a shape with which we had no prior experience. On the surface this idea had merit as the hull form is known to be fast and capable of carrying significant cargo, but it was unproven in recent time- at least in this size range and for such a rigorous application. The general concept of the inverted Vee is that the hull "swallows its bow wave" and rams air into the tunnel which thereby increases lift. We were fortunate to have Parker Marean, President of Woodin & Marean, Naval Architects work on the hull and structural design. Parker had available significant historic information on the Hickman designs and was able to draw up an improved version.

These hulls have been amazingly successful, providing speeds up to 50 knots, maneuverability and seakeeping. One of the 50 footers reportedly carries 70,000 pounds of cargo at 18 mph! We do not advise such operation, but 40,000 pounds at 30 mph is routine.

10.7m IV- 35' x 10' (35' x 12') twin outboard
15m IV- 50' x 12', triple outboard (triple I/O)
Owner:- Alfred Proulx Jr.
Year:    Mid 50's?
Make:  Sumark
Model: Matador
Boat's name: Red Sled
Power: (1) 1965 40 hp. Evinrude "Big twin" 
Back in the 1920's a Nova Scotian named Hickman had designed a novel boat called the Sea Sled. Unlike traditional boats, the Sea Sled had two widely separated hulls or "runners" and was blunt bowed. In Hunt's view, the Sea Sled had never been properly exploited. So his initial design for Fisher was very similar to a Sea Sled.

Juan had been told that this type of hull, called a Hickman Hull, I believe, had gained some popularity for lake boats, the advantage of its extraordinary feature being that once the boat gained a little speed, an air bubble formed in the hull cavity and the boat would plane, thereby gaining greater speed
Head On View Whaler 13 Hull
The original Whaler hull evolved from the Hickman Sea Sled. The two outer hulls are "runners". Fisher and Hunt evolved the third central appendage to reduce "airy water" being created by air trapped under the boat and flowing into the propeller. This photo shows a more recent hull evolution. The wrap-around bow chine--the "smirk"--was not in the original molds
The New Inverted Vee Bottom Hull!

Although it's still a work in progress, the initial results of testing this hull are very promising.  Our prototype is a 15' model with a Honda 4-stroke which we have run in both 50 hp and 35 hp configurations.  Since information on this hull was so scarce, we've been operating by Braille in the tuning process.  The hull works great, but matching the motor to the hull properly has been an extensive trial and error process.  During our testing, we were able to set it up for 50 hp pretty easily and the boat performed great.  There was very little wake, in fact most of the water disturbance was created by the motor, not the boat.  It has taken a lot of tinkering to get the boat to run with 35 hp and we are still in the process of working out a few bugs.  This hull has a lot of promise for a larger size and higher horsepower rating for a Cook Inlet boat.  It's fast, has a large cargo capacity, lots of deck space, and doesn't draft much water.  We are hoping to get it dialed in to work on the Kenai River with the 35hp motor soon.
  This is the Lo-Wake Hull during construction.  The floor hasn't been installed yet so you can see the shape of the bottom.  The sides are perfectly vertical which allows it to cut through the water like a knife and directs the bow wave toward the center of the boat where it is flattened out as the boat goes over it.  This trapping of the wake also makes the boat ride higher in the water which requires less force to move it, giving you better fuel economy and higher speed over traditional hulls using the same motor rating.

Another version of the Hull is being built for
Kiwi Engines who are supplying a surface drive unit for it.
We are planning to offer kits this fall for 17 foot boat
We have developed a light wt. Subaru engine 135hp 270lbs and surface drive for this boat
Do not have web site but plan to have shortly.
We just had article published in July addition of  OFFshore Magazine

Hal Parisen  Gen Mgr.
Kiwi Marine Engine Systems
175-2 Elm St
Old Saybrook, CT 06475  USA
Phone 860-395 0032

Some of these articles have been found on the web and I have  copied them here so if I have stepped on any toes please notify me and i will rectify it , am only using articles to get as full as possible HISTORY of this revolutionary hull created so long ago.
I finally found a Sea Sled for sale.  I am getting more information on it.  Kevlar construction.  Twin OMC Sea Drive 115 Hp outboards with Stainless steel props.  29', 1988, aluminum tandem axle trailer.  Folding fly bridge.  Its virtues are documented in Wooden Boat, may / June 1991; Offshore, July 2002 & January 1989; Boatbuilder, September / October 1998.  Ultra efficient, low power to speed, low power to load capacity ratios; extremely seaworthy, stable; nearly wake-less; soft ride, no pounding, like tunnel hull designs.
Photo's courtesy of Randy Jones .. By his farther Harry Eugene Jones...Greebe's Shipyard then Sea Sled Industries Inc., Skokie, IL. owned by a man by the name of Mr. Norman McDonald who  then moved to Beardstown, Southern Illinois,
Matador Boats
Hi Hal Link Not working Please advise
Boatbuilder, January / February 2003 issue, pp 10-13, "Sea Sleds Glide Again:  How Boatbuilder Magazine brought the amazing Hickman Sea Sled back to life", by Dave Gerr; September / October 1998 issue, page 6, "The Hickman Sea Sled:  The Best High-Speed Hull Ever?" by Dave Gerr;

Offshore,  July 1997, pp 67-71, "Hickman Sea Sleds:  The Fastest Hulls Ever?" by Dave Gerr; July 2002, p20-25, "Sea Sleds Glide Again:  The Amazing Hickman Sea Sled, first designed in 1914, is turning heads again." by Dave Gerr; and  January 1989, pp 95-102, "Cult of the Sea Sled:  Seeing is believing- and then some" by David Seidman;

Soundings,  December 2002, p. 3, "DIY Kit for Boatbuilders: Businessman revives the Hickman Sea Sled as a finish-it-yourself boat kit" by Steve Knauth
Following Kindly supplied by John Fleming
28' built 1989 in Connecticut, USA
38' Sea Sled
Marcus Lee
"Miss Demure" -- (1920's)
A beautiful Sea Sled
owned by Mr Joseph F. Knapp of New York and Mystic, Long Island. Designed and built by the Sea Sled Company, Ltd, of West Mystic, Connecticut. Length 30'. Beam 7'9". Draft 18" . Powered with twin Type LM-6, 200 H.P. Hall-Scott Marine Engines, turning two 29" diameter,  31"  Pitch.  Hyde surface propellers at 1675 RPM .  Speed 45 Miles per Hour
Recently advertised at the Antique Boats ..
Recently advertised
John's Project
Following supplied by Choppy building a Bream Boat in Australia..
An Australian Version of the Sea Sled
55' Glass Sea Sled Twin 454's "BoatTrader"
28' Hickman Sea Sled
Year: 1925
Current Price: US$ 195,000 
Located in Carnelian Bay, CA
Hull Material: Wood
Engine/Fuel Type: Single Gas
YW# 72412-1233447
Contact Sierra Boat Company. P.O. Box 69
Carnelian Bay, CA 96140, USA

To our knowledge, this is the only Hickman Sea Sled still in operation condition. This boat was completely retored in 1994 and received "best of show" honors that year. Hickman was way ahead of its time and featured a catmaran , "lifting hull" and surfacing propeller. These innovations were not seen again on power boats until the 70's. Driving this boat verifies that Albert Hickman was on the right track with his innovations. This is a very collectable boat.
The "Kewanee" was owned by a local hardware store owner who was also a Hickman boat dealer from the 1920's.  She measures 22 ft; with a 5.5ft beam; double cockpit, barrelback design.  I can not stress enough the incredible original condition.  Nothing has been touched. The varnish could be original from the Hickman factory, as well as the botom paint pin striping.  The boat has 24" prop; and there are 2 large rudders.     ,
  Eric , Genoa Ohio
Estimate:  US $50.00 - US $600.00 
Lot number: 2151
View all lots 
Auction Date:  Jun-26-04 08:00:00 PDT
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