Hickman Sea Sled - Inverted Vee

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by ClarkT, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member


    As I understood it, Boston Whaler came up with the cathedral type hull to avoid Hickman's lawyers with infringement suits. I think it is a step up from the flat bottom of our local Carolina Skiffs. Like all such boats, it tries to follow the surface of the water, which is fine is the water is not too rough. In rough water it does tend be tough on the human occupants. My experience is limited to Whalers and Whaler lookalikes and have never been in a real Sea Sled or IVB.
  2. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    The Hickman Sea Sled and the Boston Whaler

    When Albert Hickman launched the first Sea Sled in about 1913, she was revolutionary. A lightweight box which flew across the top of the water using an (also revolutionary) surface piercing propeller. Compared to the narrow and heavy boats of the day, the “sled” was stunningly fast. To be sure the box shape and flattish bottom would pound itself to pieces in a sea, and it was not pretty, but speed made up for those shortcomings in many minds.

    Hickman was to spend the rest of his life, until 1957, promoting his Sea Sled as the best form available for high speed in any conditions. But the boats never really quite made it to popularity, perhaps it was the look (that of a box), or perhaps it was the strident self-promotion by Hickman, most likely it was the drawbacks of the Sea Sleds themselves. There were numerous big contracts for various governments that just never came to pass.

    In October of 1955 another big opportunity for Hickman was imminent. He reached a tentative agreement with the Fisher-Pierce Company to produce small outboard powerboats using their fiberglass encapsulated foam construction method. The boats were to be called Sea Sleds. But something went wrong between the parties and this project was abandoned. Fisher was friends with Ray Hunt and encouraged him to come up with something close they could build. Hunt was a researcher, he built a prototype box and they started modifying it. The central hull was added, and then got bigger. Hunt’s official story was that this was to “eliminate cavitation”. This heavily modified box became the plug for the Boston Whaler which was introduced in 1958. Hickman died in 1957.

    The original Boston Whaler is heavy and hard riding, and somewhat un-controllable down wind in a sea. But no one could deny they are tough and stable at low angles of heel. Meanwhile hull forms by-passed the Sea Sled in favor of the prettier deep-vee, coincidently also popularized by the designs of Ray Hunt. Today Boston Whaler retains a slight boxy nod to it’s Hickman ancestor, but utilizes the vee bottom for it’s planing surface
  3. girvin
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    girvin Junior Member

    There is a guy here by the name lawson the did his take on one for his dad. Built out of aluminum about 22 feet with 2 70 hp outboards. The thing is a beast i have seen it with panels of ply piled a couple feet high with 4 guys on it and some other lumber go through 4 ft chop like it was nothing. I have seen them offshore with it on some goos siezed days and it seemed to do pretty good but you deffinetly have to throttle back when having a following sea. But for utility and the heavy chop we get here on the protected or semi protected 4-6 ft it plows through that stuff without slamming. I would rather have my deep v off shore when its 20ft and blowing. Its a neat boat though he lives on a island so its his car.
  4. girvin
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    girvin Junior Member

    Ohh an TAD we use the old style boxy whalers and I just noticed they do look a little like the sea sled. We have a new outrage, it has a more modern look to it. I have had that boat in some nasty stuff and am very impressed with it. The old ones we have are still very sea worthy but a wet ride in a crosswind. I have noticed that the newer design lets me go a little faster with out pounding. Today was 6-8 ft and 15knts with 20 here and there and I was running offshore at 25 knts and got up to 27 without a single pound but it was raining and I get dirty looks after a certain speed. The rain starts to hurt after 25. In the old boxier hull I would be doing 22 maybe 23.
  5. ClarkT
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    ClarkT Senior Member

    "...not dead yet!"

    No, the sea sled concept is far from dead. Check out the latest from M-Ship. They have added their own marketing a spin to the concept, but it looks a whole lot like a sea-sled to me.

  6. wojtek86
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    wojtek86 Junior Member

    We have just finished building a new redesigned sea sled. It is 28ft long. The boat has already been in the water three times. It was finished about 3 weeks ago and is still being tested.
  7. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    All boats of this kind do tend to dynamic instability, including fast power cats, the factors that exacerbate it are light weight, high speed, and angle of approach to a wave train. Higher centre of gravity never helps make anything more stable, but these boats typically have higher COG anyhow. A lightweight cat driven hard and fast, with the seas substantially on the beam can flip as the rapid rotation generated by the windward sponson may not countered in time by the leeward side being similarly lifted as the wave passes. I would also think the sea sled idea being around for an eternity but not finding much marketplace acceptance tells the story, intuitively it is hard to see how they could ride smoothly into a steep chop, the annihilation of such waves is going to give a decent thump. The entrapped water has nowhere to go but downward.......
  8. T-Topless
    Joined: May 2008
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    T-Topless Drop your top!

    Have any pictures? The Sea Sled concept is still very interesting from a speed, efficiency and surface drive perspective.

    My father was an aeronautial engineer who went to U of Michigan just as WW-II broke out. Uof Mich has a great naval engineering school, and he became interested in that as well. We designed and built dozens of model boats together back in the 70's, and he always said that the tank testing of Michigan showed the most efficient, fastest design to be a flat board ... The Sea Sled optimized that by pushing some air under the hull.
  9. cthippo
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    cthippo Senior Member

    So basically it acts like a primitive surface effect design?

    Everyone has played with that concept, but AFAIK only the Russians have built production hardware with their Bora (or dergatch) class corvettes
  10. dcurtiss
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    dcurtiss New Member

    Hickman Sea Sled

    I built a 12ft LWL model sea sled hull.

    J. Timoshenko & I tow tested this model compared to a 12ft LWL Coleman canoe. Both models had the same weight. The results:

    1. Below 2 times hull speed both models had the same drag force.
    2. Above 2 times hull speed the Hickman had less drag force than the canoe.
    3. The Hickman had very good straight line stability.

    Winninghoff boats has built at least 2 Hickmans.
  11. sottorf
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    sottorf member

    I know of one sitting in a store in Hong Kong. I think around 25-30' in length. If there is REAL interest I can ask a friend to go and find out more.

  12. Village_Idiot
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Village_Idiot Senior Member

    Check out the Laguna Tiger for a jon boat version of a Sea Sled...
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