Catamarans Offer a Host of Advantages on the Sea

The catamaran has a unique history among seafaring vehicles.

In fact, it was its unique design that made many Western people skeptical of its usefulness and led to it being ignored for over a century and a half by western civilization.

Fortunately, the world caught on and now catamarans are a very popular watercraft that are used for a variety of applications. 

The What, When, Where, and Who of the Catamaran

Catamarans have been in use for centuries. Their unique history may be attributed, in part, to their unique design. They are very distinctive vehicles with a range of uses. Below, we will explore their history and discover why they are such useful, dependable, sea vehicles. 

What

The word catamaran comes from the word kattumaram, which translates to logs tied together. A catamaran as we know it is a watercraft that has multiple hulls (the hull is the watertight body of a boat). The two hulls of a catamaran can be connected by simple netting, or elaborate structures that offer increased cabin or cargo space. The catamaran’s multi-hull design offers a few advantages. These advantages include;

  • Better handling/easier steering
  • Most types of catamarans have more room than single hulled boats
  • Because of their design they are typically faster than other boats in the same class
  • You can beach them

 When

There is evidence that catamarans were built and used by ancient peoples throughout the world, especially in the pacific. Their sturdy design allowed these ancient people to travel great distances. There is no record of their use in Europe until 1662, but they were still not widely used in the west until the late 1800’s. 

Where

The first known catamarans were developed in the Pacific. More specifically, they were used by the Austronesian peoples in the areas including  Madagascar, Polynesia, and Southeast Asia. The English adventurer, William Dampier, encountered these people in the late 1600’s and brought word of the strange vessels back to Europe. 

The technology didn’t catch on in the west until the late 1800’s. Once sailors in Europe and America understood the benefits of the catamaran, they began to use them extensively.

Who

Other than William Dampier and the early Austronesian people, there are many names that helped to spread the word and use of catamarans. 

  • William Petty designed the first, documented, European, double hulled boat, in 1662. 
  • Mayflower F. Crisp built a two hulled merchant ship in the late 1800’s. It was described as “a fast sailing, fine, sea boat”.
  • In 1876 Nathanael Herreshoff registered a U.S patent for his double hulled craft which was named Amaryllis. This boat performed so well that catamarans were banned from regular sailing races for almost 100 years. 
  • In 1936  Eric de Bisschop built a catamaran in Hawaii and sailed it to his home, in France. 

There are many people who have contributed to catamaran technology throughout the centuries. These are just a few that we decided to highlight. 

Catamarans have their roots in antiquity, but the design is so effective that they are still used extensively today. Catamarans offer increased stability, great steering and handling, and the ability to beach them (lay ashore in shallow water). 

The Austronesian people understood how a double hulled craft would offer important advantages when sailing the seas. The technology allowed them to safely reach islands that were very far away, and almost impossible to reach on other types of ships. Though it took centuries for the western world to adopt this clearly advantageous maritime technology, the catamaran eventually became a staple of the sailing world. Today, catamarans come in all shapes, sizes, speeds, and levels of luxury and can be found all over the world.

Personal Watercraft: From Water Scooter to Jet Ski

Almost everyone knows what a Jet Ski is, but have you ever heard of a water scooter? We didn’t think so! 

From Water Scooter To Jet Ski

The idea for the first personal watercraft, originally designed to be a one-person recreational vehicle, emerged in 1950s Europe under the term “water scooter.”

These leisure vehicles weren’t exactly popular in their early years, leaving their designers to toy with the idea for almost a decade before getting it right. It was Australian Clayton Jacobson II who designed the first standing version of the machine in the 1960s, but with a revolutionary twist: he traded the traditional outboard motor for a more efficient pump-jet. Thus, the personal watercraft we have come to know by the name Jet Ski came to life!

These small, self-powered vehicles went through a number of changes over the years, and was even the center of a  lawsuit over the rights to who created it. Kawasaki, the prolific Japanese vehicle producer, finally surfaced as the victor, releasing the first stand-up personal watercraft available on the market and claiming the rights to the term Jet Ski. Though Jacobsen was compensated for his idea in lieu of a lawsuit, the vehicle manufacturing tycoon continues to use the name today. The name Jet Ski is widely used to describe crafts of the same type, but the moniker remains trademarked specifically to its parent company. Other vehicle manufacturers eventually produced numerous similar vehicles under their own trademarks, but “Jet Ski” really stuck with consumers, much like Kleenex has laid claim to facial tissue.

Summer Staple

Some 20 million Americans use personal watercraft every year. Is it even summer if you’re not cruising the nearest body of water aboard one of these iconic leisure vehicles? Though sales of the personal watercraft have had their ups and downs, it’s clear that their influence in the recreational world of water sports is still prominent. 

There are tons of makes, models, and types of personal watercraft available on the market. A large number of those sold are multi-person vehicles that make them suitable for up to three people, without having to spend the big bucks on separate crafts. Among those available, some come with advanced technology that makes them (somehow) even more fun to own. One such craft is the Gibbs Quadski, so-named for its unique ability to convert from a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle into a personal watercraft of the same power! With the touch of a button, the wheels retract into the body, leaving you with a fully amphibious vehicle that goes 45 mph, on land or at sea. While it isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept, owning one of these versatile toys can open the door to new, exciting vacation possibilities.

Evolution and Improvements

The evolution of the modern personal watercraft transformed it from a standing, one-person craft into a multi-person, recreational vehicle. More power and streamlined bodywork made these crafts easier to control and even less dangerous than boats, and environmental consciousness brought them into the present where electric motors reign supreme. Consumers’ desires for a more environmentally friendly watercraft contributed to the production of more efficient jet-propelled vehicles. Additionally, due to its thorough evolution, the craft has significantly improved its emissions ratings over the years, leading it to be one of the more environmentally-friendly recreational watercraft available!

StrandCraft V8 Wet Rod

If you’re in the business of extreme luxury, the StrandCraft V8 Wet Rod is the model for you! This ultra-lavish, celebrity-quality personal watercraft is not only super powerful, but it’s all about living fast and loose. The V8 Wet Rod is capable of achieving speeds of up to 65 mph and has a powerful 300 horsepower engine that will bring out the racer in anyone. The whopping $49,000 bottom-dollar price tag might have you reeling, but the luxury craft’s speed and design make up for it in spades. 

Explore the Underwater World on a Sea Scooter

Also known as “underwater scooters,” the sea scooter will have you zipping around underwater like you’re on a jet ski!

What is it? 

The sea scooter is a SCUBA diver’s luxury vehicle! Also called a Dive Propulsion Vehicle (DPV,) as an underwater mode of transportation, there are a number of different options.

More personal and portable scooters are simply a torpedo-shaped motor that divers hold onto with both hands as it propels you through the water. Divers use these to cover more area faster either for recreational or working purposes. Indeed, there is a need for SCUBA divers as an occupation. When a person is diving for a living, it often requires rapid travel underwater. The ability to move quickly is a huge advantage for those types of divers. 

Non-SCUBA Options

There are some other really cool options for those that want to ride a sea scooter, but have no SCUBA experience. A video presented by the YouTube channel Oddity Mall showed that there are underwater scooters with a breathing chamber that let you ride approximately 15 feet underwater. These scooters look very much like actual street scooters but include an oversized helmet that allows you to breathe freely underwater.

These vehicles are very expensive and not typically an impulse buy for private use. To meet the demand, they are often found in major diving destinations for rental and group tours. 

Sea Scooter History

The Diving Almanac identified that the first Dive Propulsion Vehicle was “The Torpille” in 1952 by Dimitri Rebikoff from France. But the sea scooter as we know it today was first called the Aqua Scooter. The story, according to H.I. Sutton, is that an East German chemical engineer named Bernd Boettger created the scooter as a way to flee East Germany to get across the Baltic Sea to Denmark.

This daring escape plan made the sea scooter an instrument of necessity that has evolved into many different options from recreational to professional. It has become a huge hit though in the recreational diving market because it can allow a diver to see more underwater, getting more mileage out of your air tank—literally! 

Options in Sea Scooters

The price point for a sea scooter has a very wide range. How deep do you want to go? How fast do you want to go? What additional features do you want it to include? These are all pressing questions that have a range of answers. You can get sea scooters rated to a more shallow depth that travels only a few miles per hour at a very reasonable cost. Many scooters also include a camera mount, so you can do a little cinematography while you explore the underwater landscape.

The amount of time you get on one run is also another consideration. While you won’t be underwater for hours on end anyway, you want to make sure that your battery won’t give out on you mid-trip. Professional quality sea scooters will take you to much greater depths at faster speeds. These are not at all cheap, but then again are not necessary for recreational divers.

People have always wanted to see what life is like underwater. SCUBA allows this, but sea scooters provide an opportunity to see and do more of this beautiful world. The functionality of sea scooters has come so far over the years with options for virtually any budget and certainly any level of dive experience.

With options available for people to enjoy without SCUBA experience, the sea scooter has definitely come to a point where everyone can enjoy life among the fish for a little while. 

Flyboards: The Safest Jetpack Alternatives Around

A flyboard is the closest and safest way to feel like you are jet-powered.

Many facts about the flyboard are also almost, but not quite,  as fun as watching someone pilot it.

What Exactly is a Flyboard?

A flyboard is a brand new invention having been created only in 2011/2012. Basically, it uses water jets to lift up a board platform so you can fly around above the water. The board itself is connected by tube to something that looks like a little boat that floats on the water. The water is sucked up by the boat on the water and pulled up the tube into the air so it can be shot down from the board. So, just like that, you have an instant board that’s water-jet powered.

The nice thing about it is that you’re only ever above water, so it’s a little safer than jetting around on land where your fall is going to be a lot less pleasant. You’re also never going to run out of fuel since the entire lake you’re on is your fuel supply. You’re not very likely to run out of that!

The Flyboard’s Inventor: Franky Zapata

Franky invented the board after being a huge watercraft enthusiast.  It ‘s mesmerizing to watch someone do tricks on the board including backflips, figure 8s, and more. Mr. Zapata first rolled out the board at a Jet Ski world championship in China.

Anyone Can Learn

While owning your own may be out of the question for cost reasons, there are plenty of places to rent them, and the claim is that anyone can learn to ride a flyboard. You just have to have a basic level of fitness to use the vehicle, but people over the age of 50 regularly do it. One site even said that they’ve seen an 89-year-old woman master it in just 5 minutes. So, there’s no age limit, though it may be more difficult to do tricks. However, you still have a shot to fly around on what is essentially like a jetpack.

You can either fly it by yourself with a special module, or you can have another person help control the flow of water up into the jets as well as the unit on the water.

There’s also An Air Version

Zapata invented an air version of the Flyboard that he just calls the “Flyboard Air.” This one requires Franky to wear a backpack full of kerosene that connects to five turbines. Recently, he achieved feats like flying over the English Channel. This version is more difficult to fly and requires a lot more care because it’s dangerous as it can reach up to hundreds of feet in the air. The military is actually interested in possible applications from the device as a way to scout. Zapata got millions of dollars from the French military in the form of a grant to develop the flying machine.

Frank actually had to land on a boat in the middle of the English Channel to refuel before going out the rest of the way. As a result, people call him the “French Green Goblin” from the similarity to the vehicle the supervillain rides.

It looks a lot like the water-based flyboard, except without the secondary tube part. It’s just a platform with an area to strap on shoes and the tubes where the jet air comes out to provide lift and propulsion. Frank has said that it’s tricky to learn to fly since you have to do a lot of flying with leg movements.

Overall, it’s a unique water vehicle that will give you a taste of living in the future.