I walked down the dock in Newport, Rhode Island, and there she was: a rugged-looking rigid inflatable with…four wheels? Meet the Sealegs 777.
The concept is at once simple and ingenious: You press a button, raise or lower the four 25-by-12-inch wheels via marinized hydraulic cylinders and drive the 777, compliments of power steering and all-wheel drive, in and out of the water at a boat ramp, a beach, or even the backyard of your waterfront home, as one Newport resident does with his Sealegs RIB.
On land, the 777 (25’5” LOA) motors down the road at about 5 mph thank to its 24-horsepower Honda four-stroke inboard engine. At this speed, the RIB avoids a motor-vehicle designation, and in turn, doesn’t need numerous other equipage and standards such as seat belts, turning lights, etc.
My RIB was powered for the water with a 150-horsepower Evinrude E-Tec gasoline outboard, and moving across the bay’s short chop at 28-plus knots was quite comfortable thanks to her heavy-duty construction and deep-V (21-degree aft deadrise) hull form. (The 777 is reported to handle up to a 200-horspower outboard and is said to reach speeds of up to 37 knots.)
This craft is built of 5083-grade aluminum with a 5-mm-thick hull bottom and six Hypalon inflatable tubes. Seven stringers add backbone, and there’s a bulkhead set every 18 inches. Suffice it to say, she can take whatever you dish out.
The 777, which also comes in a cabin version, runs about $169,000 loaded with every option from electronics including a Lowrance plotter, VHF, Fusion stereo, choice of engine, windlass, etc.