Demaree Inflatable Sea Sled

Courtesy D.I.B.

Long intrigued by the Hickman Sea Sled, Dave Demaree, a maker of commercial inflatable boats, decided to approximate the hullform with several air-filled chambers.

Following publication of Jim Kyle’s years-long effort to improve the legendary Hickman Sea Sled (see “Tough Sledding,” PBB No. 178), we were contacted by Dave Demaree at Demaree Inflatable Boats (D.I.B.), which makes industrial-grade boats for commercial and military clients. He sent us several photos of the Demaree Inflatable Sea Sled, accompanied by this e-mail:

“My first exposure to a sled was on Great Salt Lake in ’87 or ’88. Winninghoff had built an all-aluminum 60–65 [18.3m– 19.8m] workboat for the brine shrimp harvesters. I was impressed with its shape, speed, and ability to carry a load.

“I’ve always wanted to build one!

“In the early 2000s we started doing some innovative work using flat panel inflatable drop-stitch coated fabrics. These panels are built to shape from uncured neoprene-coated fabric, then vacuum-cured in our dry heat autoclave. This lets us run the panels at higher-than-normal inflatable pressures with great reliability.

“We built this sled in 2015 to turn a few heads in the special ops community, demonstrate the functionality of drop-stitch panels, and because I wanted one. Great fun on all counts.”

In addition to its workboats, rescue boats, whitewater rafts, and other designs—from the 14 (4.3m) Mini Snout hard-deck rescue boat to the 32 (9.8m) River Freighter, both made from 60-oz/yd Mil-C14505 Type 7 material—the Friendsville, Maryland, company also specializes in custom fabrication.