Here's The true Sea Sled Story, circa1985

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by tonydignity, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. tonydignity
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    tonydignity Junior Member

    The SEA SLED Story circa 1985

    Hickman’s Designs for Sea Sled ,I understand came into Public Domain in about 1985.It was Salvatore Ionati, a Connecticut Gynaecologist with a rare passion for boats ,and a fascination for Hickman’s Design for the Inverted V. reinvented the “Sea Sled Company”.
    To my mind The inventor was both genius and Borderline Personality Disordered, amongst many other ideas he invented the surface piercing Propeller, and a 62 ft Sea Sled which was the first platform to launch an aircraft off its deck ,thus I believe making it the first American Aircraft carrier.
    The 65ft Sea Sled maintained 62 knots ,and the Biplane was able to power off the deck. These and many more idea’s were contained in the details we were able to see from the mans notes and drawings


    Much of Hickman’s thoughts and feelings about his relationship with the Navy were contained in the documents that came into Sal’s hands when he acquired Sea Sled , and although I was privy to them, I don’t wish to comment further on this area of the story.
    Sal opened a big plant in Connecticut and began building a 29 foot ,and a 20 foot Sea Sled straight off Hickman’s Drawings! , they turned out to be a disaster?.

    When I saw the boats for the first time, I was amazed that so much expense had gne into something so obviously flawed, they were flat bottomed scows!. Generating enormous amounts of cavitational air filled water, from this monstrous throat at the bow.
    Everyone was scratching their heads and going back over the designs, but Robert my son and I took one look at it and realised that Hickman had overcome the cavitational problems by inventing a surface piercing propeller, some up to 4 ft in diameter. and later on smaller Sleds which is exactly where he got his idea from, a snow sled with a marine twist, on large diameter props with slower turning outboard motors.
    The 29footer went into production and was shown at the New York Boat Show in I believe 86/87.There was a cuddy cabin model at the show and an open fisher with a tuna tower .It was this tower model that caused a stir when some of Sal’s people took it out into long island Sound and amid the pomp and champagne, I was told the boat fell over! ,when at idle in a swell!. Sal never talked of that time but the tower was removed and the photo of the boat with the tower removed from the brochure. It achieved its longitudinal stability when underway and was to narrow with little draft , for a tower.
    Sal continued to hold ultimate faith in Hickman’s designs, and it was to be his financial undoing.


    At this time I lived with my family in New Port Richey, Florida. My neighbour worked for Sal ,and opened a small Factory on US 19 in that town, you may remember at that time boatbuilding was in recession and continued to be so for several years particularly in the Southern States of the US. Sal closed his operation in Connecticut and moved the moulds to Florida, under my neighbour’s management.
    Joe asked if Rob and I if would help set up and this we did. We prepared the very first 20footer,number 001 out of the moulds ,and fitted it with a 100hp Evinrude. Rob and I thought it absolute folly, and we were to be proved right!. We launched it on a Saturday morning, this was now 1988,on the river at Port Richey ,it cavitated so much it would not make more than 4 knots and never rose on the plane.

    In my mind it wasn’t the Design that was wrong it was the fact the design was specific to surface piercing propellers. And I said so , Sal said well if you know what’s wrong fix it!.
    I was of the opinion that if we could get the propeller in clean water with the anti cavitation plate 1 inch above the hull, we would have a saleable product. We knew the inverted V had enormous potential, so what I proposed was to provide a Pod in the centre and make it TWO inverted Vs, and this is what we did.


    The result was amazing .the boat took off and ran amazingly. I had taken the precaution of making the Pod into a flooding chamber 12ft long , so at rest in a Sea Way the pod would flood ,making the boat incredibly stable it would hold longitudinal track at trawl speeds in 4 ft of swell beam on ,we never really found much more aggressive water in the Gulf of Mexico. But for a 20 footer it worked for me, and Sal was delighted.
    Now came the downside to the new design, it had to2 rooster tails at the stern and insufficient clean area of water for twin engine installation. also the turning was to flat for my liking combined with the vessel almost coming to a standstill head on to a wave as the design had a tendency to dig in rather than ride on a wave.
    The result was the final hull configuration you see in the photographs of the plug we made for Sal before leaving for a new project building docking systems which I designed and we called “Samson Sea Trucks” in the Caribbean. Pic’s attached.
    First I lengthened the design to 22ft 6inches,and set up relief chambers and exhaust ports so much of the turbulated air could escape .You can see the configuration from my pictures, im afraid I no longer have the drawings I made ,they were lost in the Cayman Islands later.
    The plug was tested for stability and manoeuvrability with 6x45 gallon Drums of water on the deck, approximately 1 ton of ballast , photos supplied. The hull was so incredibly efficient it would plane quite normally, with two of us sitting on top of 4 barrels of ballast on the bow, lifting out on to the plane and powering away on a 90 horse power single Evinrude.
    I believe in hindsight that the pod would have been even more efficient if I had made a deeper forefoot with the trim stabilitors that I had moulded on the Pod at a greater angle of attack. This would allow the design to ride even higher out of the water, and give a buoyancy cushion in higher seas to negate some of the suction effect at the mouth of the twin inverted Vs.
    At speed the hull would ride on these stabilitors and the balance of the vessel would slip along on a cushion of slippery aerated water.
    I brought down the rest of the 29’s from New York and sold them for Sal in Florida, but they had a tendency to rupture fuel tanks because of the expanse of the flat bottom.22.6 is I believe the maximum length for the beam ,to achieve similar improvements to the 29, it would have to be considerably wider on the beam with a deeper Pod configuration. and twin Inverted Vs.
    I have always felt the Design would lend itself to Military raiding vessels and did some tentative designs for a 40ft surface effect stealth vessel, and a 22.6ft stealth for Military black ops. They stayed on the board and I forgot about it till now as I write this story.



    What happened to the plug after August 1989 I have no idea , it was the one and only finished plug we made, but I would sure like to know who has it now?.If anyone wishes to replicate the hull, I can send you enough info, to scale up a set of drawings.and I will give a licence to build ,just Email.
     
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  2. nevd
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    nevd Junior Member

    Sea Sled

    Tony,

    How do I see the photos you refer to in this article?

    Regards,

    nevd
     
  3. tonydignity
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    tonydignity Junior Member

    How do I see the photo's

    Hi
    If you will let me have an Email address, I will mail you the files !.
     
  4. Jeff
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    Jeff Moderator

    Hi Tony,

    I don't have any info for you at the moment, but I'd be very interested in seeing the photos too - webmaster@boatdesign.net

    Many thanks in advance :)
     
  5. FAST FRED
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    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    The US Navy will be delighted to hear that the Langley was not the first carrier in about 1923.

    FAST FRED
     
  6. tonydignity
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    tonydignity Junior Member

    Pretty Fast Fred!.but out of context wouldnt you say.
     
  7. thomas mattson
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    thomas mattson Junior Member

    design info

    Please send me info to scale up your design. My email in mattsont@earthlink.net Thanks Thomas. :)
     
  8. tonydignity
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    tonydignity Junior Member

    Sea Sled

    On its way Thomas :)
     
  9. Randytea
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    Randytea Junior Member

    Tony please send me the information also, I would like to study the drawings
    Thanks

    vermarajnet@yahoo.com
     
  10. tonydignity
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    tonydignity Junior Member

    There are no Drawings ,only detailed Photo's ,with sizes angles shapes and a theoretical flow chart drawn on the underside of the plug.I have sent .them.
     
  11. Tim Exley
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    Tim Exley Junior Member

    Tony,

    I enjoyed your comments and observations. I have built a 17' fiberglass sea sled taking some liberties with Hickman's design in the area of non-trips.
    Would certainly appreciate seeing what you have and am more than willing to share my experience with you.

    Thanks,

    Tim Exley
     
  12. Tim Exley
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    Tim Exley Junior Member

  13. tonydignity
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    tonydignity Junior Member

    Hi Tim
    Thanx ,I sent you some stuff to look at ,hope it helps ,I would be interested to see what you have created
    Tony
     
  14. Tim Exley
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    Tim Exley Junior Member

    Tony,

    Thanks for the photos. A very interesting design as you mentioned. It has some characteristics of a design used in competition in APBA several years ago. The design was called Mod VP. However, yours is more sophisticated with the steps. I can visualize what you were trying to accomplish with each feature in your design.

    My work with the inverted V uses the basic Hickman design and incorporating non-trips in the fiberglass version. I used 6-8 degrees of negative deadrise at the transom and although I think it improves the design in some ways it does complicate providing clean water to the prop without lowering the engine excessively.

    The aluminum versions we have built do not have non-trips, but have chines that are about 22 degrees off vertical. These boats do have a tendency to heel outward in turns which I do not like at all. I think I have figured out what has causes this and will make changes in the next prototype to correct the situation. The fiberglass boat with non-trips is the best turning boat I have ever driven.

    As soon as I get some e-pictures I will send them to you for comment.

    Thanks again.

    Tim
     

  15. Don Hunter

    Don Hunter Guest

    Hey guys,

    I just bought what is titled as a 1991 22' 3" Sea Sled. It was at a hurricane damage auction in Ft Myers Fl. I thought it looked like an interesting hull and I plan to use it as a work boat for salvage operations. It has a lot of deck space for pumps, air bags and gear.

    After reading all your posts, I'm curious why production didn't continue?

    I have not used the boat yet as the Johnson 225 is currently being serviced but the previous owner spoke very highly of the vessels abilities.

    The transom has gotten weak over the years and a piece of 2x4 blew off a roof and impaled the port side of the hull above the waterline. Not much damage, but I did notice the hull sides are apparently balsa cored. Does the coring continue into the bottom also?

    Anyway, just thought you'd like to know there is one of these still around in Venice Fl and probably will be for a while, judging by how you all talk about it.

    Don Hunter
    Marine Assist Corp
    Venice, Fl
    (941) 485-0999
     
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