Over land and sea
Sealegs vessel hits the streets of NelsonBILL MOORE
Doing a lap around the South Island is a bit easier when you've got a boat that can also traverse land, as Sealegs International co-founder David McKee Wright showed on the Picton-Nelson leg yesterday.
Mr McKee Wright and his crewman, design engineer Warren Farr, trimmed nearly 140 kilometres off the sea journey by driving their 7.1 metre amphibious boat on a 1.6km stretch gravel road from Queen Charlotte Sound to Pelorus Sound, emerging at the Te Mahia resort, and from Elaine Bay in Pelorus Sound across the land to Samson Bay at Croisilles.
Speaking from the boat en route to Nelson he said the trip had gone very well, offering some "mind-blowing sights" that people on the conventional boat route would miss.
"It's just beautiful. I can't help pinching myself."
The boat has a 200 horsepower Evinrude motor that gets it up to about 80kmh on the water, and a 24hp Honda that will reach 10kmh on land.
It's the 750th Sealegs boat the Auckland based publicly-listed company has built since 2004.
Mr McKee Wright said the circumnavigation of the South Island was expected to take eight days, with today's trip planned to cover Nelson to Haast, with Milford the next destination.
He said it was the "last bash test" for the 7.1m model, which was introduced in response to customer demand for a bigger boat.
At $200,000 or so it was an expensive craft and the new size had been "very well received", he said.
Sealegs produces several models of rigid inflatable amphibious boats sold to recreational, commercial and government customers in many countries.
The boat was due to leave the Port Nelson marina at around 8am today.