Ahead Of Their Time"
I first heard about these rare and fascinating
boats from Bill "Cut " Redin. His dad was a caretaker
at the Henry Mark estate in Center Moriches in the 1930's and
1940's. The Redins knew all the Mastic and Moriches estate owners,
in fact Bill Dana left his cat boat The
Lorelei to Cut's dad, anyway that said when Cut told me that
Dodi Knapp had a Sea Sled , well I never heard of one before but
naturally I wanted to find out all I could about them.
I always thought that the Knapps were
more than just enthusiastic owners of these boats. Why ? well
the fact that they were sold in NYC in the Knapp's
American Litho Bldg for starters and that that they were advertised
extensively in full page ads in Knapp Magazines like Colliers
which was not really a boating magazine.
I guess their enthusiasm could be summed up by the late great
pitch man Victor Kermit Kiam II when he told America back in the
After Dodi launched "Miss Demure"
in 1925 and the new Sea Sled Corporation appeared that year,
I could almost see either J. F.
or his Dad, J. P. Knapp doing a pitch for them.
Well it's fun to speculate and ......
in fact knowing what I do know about how J. P. Knapp operated
, it could of well been just the opposite....that he turned his
son on to these technical marvels. First of all he was a sailor
long before Dodi was born in 1892 and before there were boat engines
even. J. P. Knapp always maintained a thirst for cutting edge
technology and education...his publishing Mentor Magazine for
all those years at a financial loss was proof of that... He also
had a business practice of when he saw something he really liked
and it had a technological advantage.... he often bought it. The
patent on the Weiss Speed Dri Press was just one example. And
that proved to be a big boost to his bottom line of his publishing
I honestly feel if J.P. Knapp were
around today, or someone like him.... there would not be $2.00
+a gallon gas being pumped into obsolete Otto 4 Cycle Combustion
Engines that were invented in the 1880's that screw up the air
and water. I think we already would be driving non polluting,
energy efficient hydrogen vehicles or something equivalent to
them and not being held hostage to oil and obsolesence.
The "Petrel "(formerly
the "Frolic") was a 22 foot catboat built in 1880. It
is registered in J. P.'s name in
the 1890 American Register of Yachts. In 1894 he had a steam powered
yacht named Intrepid.
Moving or is it sailing? right along,
as I said I always had a strong hunch that the Knapp's interest
in Sea Sleds went beyond the ads in their magazines, the showroom
in their building, and Dodi owning Miss Demure. That hunch was
reinforced this week, when I received a back issue of Wooden
Boat Magazine from June of 1991 . In it is an article by David
Seidman which is the most complete history on the mysterious William
Albert Hickman and his invention of the Sea Sled and the Sea Sled
Company ever published.
Lets Go Cruising