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SEALEGS: It floats on water & drives on land

SEALEGS: It floats on water & drives on land

by November 15, 2015

At the Paradise Point boat ramp, our crew stood waiting for the arrival of Tom Carlisle of Sirocco Marine North and his amphibious boat the Sealegs 7.7F RIB—a New Zealand-designed and built watercraft that has made a splash around the world by offering hassle free drive on land launching and retrieving.

As the Sealegs moved towards us, all three hydraulically controlled wheels were lowered into the water as the craft effortlessly crawled up the sandy beach. And with the same flow of a resting camel, the wheels were again raised slightly to allow the hull to sit on the shore. Out stepped Tom, a burley sailor with a gift of the gab, who knows every aspect of the Sealegs range, and wants the Gold Coast to appreciate that these boats are an ideal addition to waterfront living during low tides, and “for those wanting to avoid queuing at boat ramps,” he jokingly adds.

Onto the Pin!

“You’ll never keep up!” Tom warned us as we set out on the trip to Jumpinpin. And right he was. The Sealegs’ plated aluminium hull painlessly cut through the chop. At his command, a 200HP Mercury outboard powered over the wake of oncoming cruisers with the hull taking flight off the water. Once at out destination, Tom circled our crew boat showing off the Sealegs’ agility that has impressed recreational boaties, military, coast guard, emergency services, police and navy the world over.

As the Sealegs drove out of the water onto the beach, all heads turned as dozen of curious onlookers gathered to watch. The 24HP Honda engine powering the three all-wheel drive 25-inch nubby tyres made easy work of the soft white sand and mud flats. Witnessing the Sealegs emerge from the water onto land, one cannot help but feel the absolute brute power and strength that these boats utilise.

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The test drive

It was now time for our onwater test. Tapping the sand off our feet, our crew boarded the boat, licensed to carry eight persons. (We number just five.) Triggering the hydraulics, the boat stood tall on its wheels and rolled off the beach. Once floating, we retract the legs, turn off the hydraulic motor, and switched the 200HP outboard on.

Unlike the bus-shaped amphibious tourist boats used to transport tourists from Surfers Paradise to Southport, the Sealegs is an absolute high-performance boat. With the wheels up and out of the water, the boat maneuvers like a performance RIB. Even with our 500 kg of well-fed passengers, we get on-plane quickly and headed towards the Seaway at a very respectable top speed of 40 knots, the V-shaped 5mm marine grade aluminium hull with seven longitudinal stringers creating a rigid strength, and the inflatable Hypalon rubber tubes that line the gunwale providing balance.

As we neared the shore of the ever-changing northern tip of South Stradbroke Island that is defined by its vast sand flats and large sand dunes, while being coached by Tom, our team’s designated driver prepared to leave the water by firstly lowering the front wheel, at the same time raising the outboard while still maintenance forward thrust. After lowering the rear wheels, the outboard pushed us along until the front wheels touched the sand and began to drive us forward. Both engines are controlled from the center console, with the steering wheel capable of steering the outboard and the wheels simultaneously. Alternating between the controls, cutting the outboard and raising the leg, we steered towards the vast dunes of powder white sands transforming the Sealegs into an all-terrain vehicle.

A drive stick on the console controls the speed of the hydraulic motors. In either forward or reverse, the boat moves like a tractor with a top speed of 7kph. The three-wheel drive system allows the Sealegs to climb and descend up to 25-degree grades on soft sand, rocks and concrete making inaccessible beaches and receding tides of the least concern. Slowing down our stride, we come to rest by lowering the hull onto the sand for our photo shoot, with the Pacific Ocean as our backdrop.

Smooth Operator

Tom drives the Sealegs with a smooth skill honed by repeated practice of launching and landing, making for an effortless transition from land to sea and back again. Our first test drive was faultless, new to the controls the process was not too complicated, and can easily be perfected with a few more repetitions.

At $190,000, you will not only be the envy of every boatie who witnesses the marvel of your amphibious landing. You will enjoy easy access to previously inaccessible waterways and sand bars. Tom explains that he often takes friends and family out in the late afternoon. The boat loaded with food and drinks, they travel by water to the destination, then drives right up to their chosen picnic spot, lowers the hull to the sand, and they all disembark to enjoy the sunset. When the group is ready to leave, they have immediate access to load the boat, and he then raises the Sealegs and simply drives away to the water’s edge. “There is no need for a long hard walk over the sand dunes with a full esky. With the Sealegs, we just drive there.”

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Conquering sea and land

The Sealegs story is one of remarkable international success. First launched in 2004, more than 500 boats have been delivered worldwide. Sirocco Marine North of Coomera recently delivered a Sealegs to a family who own a Redlands waterfront property on South Moreton Bay.

Capable of immediate action that can save a larger expenditure of effort and time, the Sealegs offers top performance on the water and on the land. Who wouldn’t love it?

By Andy Kancachian



Length (overall)              7.74m

Beam                              2.61m

Draft                               0.42m

Dry Weight                    1500kg

Deadrise                        21 degrees

Payload                          700kg on land/sea

Maximum HP                200HP

Max Speed                    Sea 85kph, Land 7kph

Fuel Capacity                180L


Increased protection from the full width console, dual house/start battery system, Outboard Pod for better utilisation of deck space, two (2) pedestal seats with gas strut suspension, engine boat seat and backrest, integrated starboard helm station


Wide dash for electronics, bow anchor system, Maxwell winch, boarding ladder, compass, bimini top and console cover


Editorial by Andy Kancachian