Go to almost any Canadian lake and mention the word “Seaflea” to a cottager and you will undoubtedly be greeted with a smile. Many oldtimers remember with fondness these homebuilt boats that became popular in the ‘70’s, and even many of the younger generation of today are familiar with them as there has been a resurgence in their popularity. And with good reason: these boats are relatively simple and economical to build, they’re portable (The Minimax weighs a scant 68 lbs allowing it to easily be pulled up on shore or on a dock, or sometimes even transported on a car-top carrier), they’re a great project for parent/child, they are wonderful as a first-time boat for a young sport boat enthusiast, and they are just plain flat-out fun when used on the water. 

The Seaflea consists of two different models: the Minimax and Minimost. A gentleman named William D. Jackson introduced these two famous Seaflea boats back in 1962, and plans were offered to the public through the publication "Boat Builder's Handbook". During that era, the cost and time to build them wasMinimostPic1.jpg (99583 bytes) very inexpensive, a mere $15 and they supposedly took 15 hours to construct. Today to build these two skiffs is a tad more expense, as materials have escalated in the past 43 years. There are a lot of people (especially in the U.S.) who have never heard of these boats, but after viewing a few photos, they showed them to their daughters and sons and, voila, they wanted one. These boats are not just a guy thing; you would be amazed at how many fathers have inquired about building one, as their daughter was wanting to get into racing. These are excellent starter boats for all youngsters who are itching to get into racing or just scoot around the local cottage lakes. 

My first boat was a Minimost when I was 12 years old. I started off with a 10 HP Johnson, and then my dad, who was a boater also, saw that I was a responsible driver and knew that I was ready so he graduated me to an 18 HP which at that time was perfect. On the other hand, my buddy had a Minimax and he jumped right into an 18 outboard when he wasn’t really ready for it. Noticing the way it sat in the water, too low at the transom, he got a little crazy one day and flipped it, losing the engine. Thank God he was okay, but needless to say, that ended his boating career. I had another hydro a couple of years later, but as time passed my interests changed and boating went on the back shelf. A few years later, my interests came right back. I was invited to a friend’s cottage, and lying against a tree was a Minimost. I asked him what he was going to do with it, as it looked pretty beat up, and he told me he had thought of having a corn roast and using it as kindling. I told him I would supply the kindling if I could take the boat for a project, and he was cool with that. From that point on, my interests grew. I spoke to a few fellows who had tried to downloadMinimostFig1.jpg (65936 bytes) plans from the internet but were unable to understand some of the measurements. I agreed with them, as you nearly have to be an architect to read and understand the information they try to give you. That’s when I decided to offer full size patterns and kits. From that point on I have built quite a few of these boats. I really MinimaxFig1.jpg (63343 bytes)did not think I would have much luck in replies with whatever advertising I had done, but I was mistaken. After people had noticed the photos, I had many fathers inquire about building one - not only for their sons but a lot of girls were interested too. Their dads would bring back memories of these little skiffs, and the kids wanted in on the action also. They are a great project for families to do together, and seem to bring them closer together. For me, it has been a big achievement to hear of all the compliments from the people I have met over the years who either have built one with my patterns or had me build one for them. To see some of the photos after completion and the view of seeing them scoot around their cottage lake - what a thrill! 

I get a lot of questions on what the difference is between the two. The Minimost (my opinion only) is the better of the two. There are more contours to the frame of the "most" than the Minimax, and this allows for it to be used in rougher water conditions. There is not much difference in weight between the two but because there is very little contour design in the Minimax, you basically can only use it in calmer water conditions for fear of flipping or hitting a wave at the wrong angle and filling the cockpit full of water. Also, the Minimost, because of its design, will handle a larger outboard in horsepower. 

Last but not least are the safety rules of boating. For the experienced hydroplane enthusiasts, running either the Minimost or the Minimax will no doubt be like a walk-in the-park. For the inexperienced, however, getting to know the feel and understanding its limitations will be more of a challenge. A recent Minimost first timer, had the unfortunate experience of too much throttle, and sitting in the wrong spot of the cockpit for balance panicked, then went airborne, but fortunately he was able to get the boat under control and no harm done. Over the years of my seaflea experience good and bad, I am passing these words of wisdom onto you: 

  • #1 - A P.F.D. is absolutely essential (you are not cruising in the love boat)... and being tossed out rather abruptly is only a matter of time.

  • #2 - Install a kill switch, so if you ever do get tossed out, your precious boat won't go speeding out of control towards rocks or docks.

  • #3 - I personally recommend to bolt your engine to the transom so if anything did happen, like a bigger boat’s waves capsizes you, or any other situation arises, you won't loose everything. Also, strap your gas tank in.

  • #4 - Its very easy to look real cool driving around the lake in one of these mini hydros, so don't get too distracted waving to admirers (the odd glance is okay).

  • #5 - When taking off from a stand-still, make certain you lean forward to keep the nose downward as these two little boats like to have things their own way, and enjoy to rocket.

  • #6 - When coming in for a landing, again shift your weight forward, or an abrupt landing will fill the cockpit from the rear full of moisture.

  • #7 - Study the boating rules of the water. Its not you we worry about, its the other guy.

  • #8 - There are plenty more things that could be mentioned, but play safe, have fun, and check your gas gauge periodically.  Last but not least, "DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE”

Happy Boating,
Brian Cranfield

 

Editor's Note:  Count me among those who have very fond memories of these boats.  I'll never forget some of those I've seen over time, and it's great to see them make a comeback as lately I've seen a few youngsters riding around in them having great fun.  What a fantastic project for a parent and child, and what a great way to get started in "high performance boating"!

Brian offers full size plans and kits for both boats.  You can contact Brian at cranfieldbrian@gmail.com or 905-986-4868.

- Mark C.

 

 

A beautiful Minimax owned by a Seaflea enthusiast.

 

 

If you would like to submit a picture or story to be considered as a guest boat, e-mail it to Mark along with some information about it.  Anything goes.

 

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