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Land and seaworthy

Aussies and Kiwis do like to be beside the seaside. And with a Sealegs amphibious RIB, bayside living is truly a breeze at one sublime coastal crib.

Written by Jeni Bone

22 March 2024


It’s not every boat that has its own shed tailor-made to house it. And shed is surely as much an understatement as boat is in this case, because KarlaLeigh – named for the owners’ daughter – is a customised Sealegs 9m Hydrasol amphibious super RIB and her home is waterfront at Redcliffe, on Moreton Bay.

Known as the home of the Bee Gees – for this is where the brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin launched their career in 1958 with a regular gig at Redcliffe Speedway – this peninsula paradise by the bay is, to use the hackneyed, a hidden gem.

It’s a mix of modest post-war bungalows, iconic Queenslanders and imperious palatial piles taking advantage of views to the shimmering sandhills of Moreton Island, known as Kooringal. And it’s here, after a career in logistics spanning Asia, Africa and America, that Lindsay and Karen have built their dream beach house.


Originally from Owaka, New Zealand, Lindsay says it’s refreshing to enjoy Queensland’s year-round sunshine.

“I spent many holidays and weekends at Purakaunui Bay at our crib [southern South Island vernacular for holiday home],” he offers. “It was freezing!” he says. “We wanted somewhere warm to enjoy semi-retirement. When you travel a lot, you want to come home to the sun, sea and outdoor lifestyle that Australia’s famous for. Sealegs is a turnkey operation, so when we want to go boating, we reverse out of the boat shed, straight onto the sand, into the water and we’re off.”

“Most people downsize, but we did the opposite,” adds Karen. “We wanted a home where all the family could spend the holidays. Our kids live in Sydney, and we have a grandchild now, so when we all get together, it’s a place for us all to enjoy.”

The Sealegs fits in perfectly with this plan. “The boat house had to be factored into the design,” says Lindsay. “It’s built using New Zealand timber that is thermally modified – kiln-dried and cured for that real beach-house look.”

Lindsay says they’ve always been a boating family, enjoying larger motor yachts when they lived in Fort Lauderdale. “Our boat was moored in front of our house, which made for very easy boating, and we’d go out two or three times a week,” he says. “But when we moved here, we didn’t want the commitment of owning a motor yacht.”

He originally envisaged a sport fisher, but the family needed something more comfortable and safe, suitable for day trips, fishing, visiting the Tangalooma wrecks and enjoying beach picnics and whale watching – and something with grunt as well.

Their Sealegs 9.0m Hydrasol represents a series of firsts. “This our first RIB and first amphibious boat,” states Lindsay. “It’s also the first Sealegs with the new Yamaha 425 hp outboard, and the first with Jolt Rider suspension seats.”

He originally ordered the standard 9-metre model, but when he visited the factory and met with co-founder and company CEO David McKee Wright, he was impressed with the luxurious fit-out and finish of the 7.5-metre model. “So, we built a 9-metre with all the luxuries of the 7.5 and a larger engine,” says Michael Rigby, Sealegs Australian Sales Manager, adding that the 9-metre model can be highly configured to suit owner requirements.

The 9-metre aluminium Hydrasol is pitched as the perfect platform for diving, fishing, surfing, family excursions or as a workhorse for resorts or superyachts. It uses the latest in amphibious Hydrasol technology, an integrated unit housing the inboard (land) engine, mounted within the centre console that optimises its centre of gravity, maximising deck space and improving on-water performance.

“The Hydrasol has been developed from experience of the 1,700-plus systems Sealegs has delivered,” explains McKee Wright.

He adds that the Hydrasol system complements the existing Hydrapak option, which is a stern mounted platform for the AES kit. “It gives up to 28 percent more deck space. It also comes with the new Amphibious Exhaust Labyrinth, enabling the exhaust to be discharged under the hull. This reduces heat, noise and eliminates deck fumes.”

KarlaLeigh boasts numerous custom features including a large black t-top, which was designed and constructed by Paul Selby at Black Marlin Towers. His creative flair means it incorporates the same lines as the targa arches on the boat. “It fits like a glove. It looks like it was made for it, which it was,” says Lindsay.

While the 8.5-metre Sealegs has a cabin, this 9-metre model doesn’t. Rated for 12 passengers including driver and with a 3.13-metre beam, it makes best use of deck space with plenty of room for gear and eskies. Life jacket storage is built into the t-top. Lindsay specified additional rear seating for four featuring European upholstery with diamond stitching, integrated sink, fridge and storage with Corian benchtop. There are two helm seats plus two behind, all Jolt Rider shock-mitigation marine seats. Forward is another seat, plus a bow seat hiding the windlass.

The helm is equipped with Simrad navigation gear, and for tunes there’s a Fusion Apollo Marine Entertainment System with built in wi-fi. Another practical addition is the RailBlaza mounting system that can be used for fish finders and other equipment, rods, kayaks, paddleboards, lights, cameras, drinks, phones and, depending on the vessel, biminis.

While on land – powered by a 35 hp inboard petrol engine – the top speed is a sedate 7.5 kilometres per hour, but it’s on the water that the Sealegs 9.0m comes to life. The Yamaha XF425 V8 XTO outboard features a big bore, 5.6-litre engine that fires the boat onto the plane quickly for a top speed of 50 knots. With the outboard up, draft is just 40 centimetres.

According to Rigby, there’s a shared characteristic of all Sealegs owners. “They’re family-oriented people and Sealegs is the sort of craft that brings them together,” he says. “Owners tell us they love the ease of getting on water, and they’re blown away that it performs as well as any other craft – there are no compromises. Being amphibious is a bonus. You can cruise along, take it up to 30 knots then put the hammer down for 50 knots,” he adds. “And they’re exceptionally seaworthy.”

With a 23-degree deadrise at the transom, the hull features longitudinal aluminium stringers for strength. The pontoons are six-chamber Hypalon tubes with grab rails.

“It’s exhilarating!” Lindsay enthuses. “I’m still learning about the ins and outs of operation, but so far it’s been all positive.”

All Sealegs amphibious crafts come with All Wheel Drive (AWD) and Seastar power- assisted hydraulic steering with EPS. Both the front wheel and rear wheels have their own wheel motor that allows for maximum traction and terrain capability.

Lindsay specified the optional diff-lock, which allows drivers to force all wheels to turn in unison – a common feature on off-roading 4x4s.

Since taking delivery of KarlaLeigh in January, Lindsay has been finessing his land manoeuvring skills and enjoying exploring the wonders of Moreton Bay, among them the Kooringal sandhills, the Champagne Pools to the north and the world-famous Gutter Bar, renowned for its locally sourced seafood.

He’s not alone – there are around 20 Sealegs owners in this neck of the woods, and 260 Australia-wide. Since the brand’s launch back in 2004, it has sold more than 1,700 vessels that have been delivered into 55 countries.

At the 2023 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, Sealegs enjoyed strong interest. “We sold a few and are now busy with demos,” Rigby says. “We exhibited three Sealegs models, including the new Sealegs 8.5-metre Alloy Cabin painted in Bentley Silver Lake Blue with matching Yamaha Pearlescent White, which certainly turned heads.

“The other two were a 7.5-metre Hydrasol RIB bound for Noosa North Shore, and a 9-metre Hydrasol RIB bound for Port Lincoln, South Australia, where it will join a twin sister,” he continues.

“Next up, we have our Sealegs Rendezvous and Moreton Island Fishing Classic in September, raising funds for the Moreton Island Rural Fire Service. It’s certainly a niche product,” he admits, “but for waterfront homeowners or people who own beach houses, it’s a fantastic lifestyle accessory. It really is the icing on the cake.”



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