Original Sea-Dog ads

Little did one entrepreneur know that his boat-on-a-trailer would catch on so fast and attract such an avid following that is still going strong today.

Sea-Seal, the first fully equipped trailerable boat, was created in the late 1930s by a traveling marine equipment salesman who was looking for a way to stimulate interest in boating among Pacific Coast inlanders.

Hans Sneve had already become a success following his 1933-1934 Pacific Coastwise Cruise aboard the 55 foot Stephens' twin-screw cruiser Sea-Dog, otherwise known as the "Boat-Show-Boat".

During its exhibition at all ports of call from Mexico to Sitka, Alaska, Sea-Dog was boarded by more than 72,000 visitors who wanted to view the latest wares of H.A.B. Sneve Company, manufacturers' representative of marine equipment. After three years of operation, covering some 15,000 miles, Sneve sold Sea-Dog, including all of its equipment except for one of its two tenders, which he kept for the purpose of creating a small, deluxe boat-on-a-trailer to illustrate the use of some of his marine equipment and at the same time introduce a combination of boat and car that he thought would prove immensely popular with West Coast outdoor lovers.

Sneve refinished and refurbished the 14 foot runabout, which had a hull made entirely of stainless steel, and featured a polished teak deck, coaming, seats and a transom.

He began by adding a brand-new Gray-Phantom Four-45 powerplant, which weighed 300 pounds and measured 30 inches long and less than 16 inches high. The mill delivered 45 hp at 3,600 rpm while turning an 1110 R. H. Columbian propeller and monel shaft.

The boat was mounted on an lsaacson boat trailer with wheels and fittings, and was towed by a new Packard 120 touring sedan. The car's rear seat was made up for sleeping and there was a folding wash basin with running water. Sea-Seal featured a radio, a stove, a toilet and fishing gear, and was probably the most heavily equipped boat for its size in the world. Like Sea-Dog, it toured the West Coast via the inland route, from San Diego to Puget Sound, and completed the tour in British Columbia.

To Sneve's delight, Sea-Seal attracted quite a following, and was featured in the November 1937 issue of Sea (Pacific Motor Boat).

This article first appeared in the June, 1998 issue of Sea Magazine.