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Extreme Boat Launches
Do-It-Yourself Pier Dangle
Gaviota Beach, California
Pucker Factor: High
Best Boat: Any craft under 21 feet and less than 2,000 pounds
Seal Sub Launch
Pucker Factor: High (even for members of Seal Team 6)
Popularity: Very low
Difficulty: Very high
Best Boat: 12-foot roll-up inflatable
U.S. Navy Seals execute the most extreme boat launch of all. They push a 12-foot inflatable and motor out of a submerged submarine and then follow it up to the surface.
Former U.S. Navy Seal Ed Thelander trained other Seals in this technique. “We used a Zodiac F470 roll-up, which was the biggest inflatable we could fit through the interlock chamber,” he says. “We still had to fold the boat up taco-style to shove it through the hatch.”
The Seals’ outboard of choice is a 35 hp Evinrude two-stroke with a special valve system to keep water out, but they take a spare just in case.
“Sometimes we launch boats with parachutes out the back of C-130 aircraft,” Thelander says, “but the sub launches are more stealthy.”
To make it tougher, all takes place at night, and then the Seals need to run the boat in through the surf and then punch back out to meet the sub. “We’ve taken a few tumbles,” he admits. “It’s part of the learning curve.”