Anyone looking for a landing craft with a couple of unusual features should check out Hard Drive Marine in Bellingham, Wash. You won’t be alone. A video on Hard Drive Marine’s Facebook page lets viewers watch the boatshop’s 30’x10′ landing craft pull itself up on the beach and then push back into the water. Millions have watched the video.
“It’s the only one like it,” said Hard Drive Marine’s owner Tom Day who also designed the landing craft and its Beach Crawling feature. Day arrived at the design by way of an “evolution kind of thing.”
“I built a landing craft and saw a need for having spikes on it because most of the landing craft land on beaches and if there were spikes on the door, you could secure the boat to the beach.”
On one of the tests with the spiked ramp “when the door was lifted up, the spikes actually drove the boat off the beach. I had to grab it real quick.” That lead him to initially think the idea of using spikes on the ramp was “pretty sketchy.” But it didn’t take long to realize if he could control the spikes “then I’d have something.”
That’s what he did, matching the hydraulically operated Beach Crawling spikes up with the ramp, so when the ramp drops down, the spikes reach forward, dig into the shore, pull the boat up a bit, reach forward again and so on. It’s the reverse for going back in the water.
The Beach Crawling spikes have only pulled the landing craft about half way out of the water. Day said it wasn’t his intention to pull the boat out of the water with the spikes, rather “to control the boat’s attitude at the beach, whether the tide is coming in or going out.”
That can be done from the wheelhouse or remotely. “If the tide is coming in and you’re a quarter mile down the beach, you can bring the boat further on the beach or push it off if the tide is going out,” said Day.
The 30′ vessel, powered by Honda 225s, was delivered at the end of 2015 to the Washington State Park System for maintaining park properties.
A new 31’x11′ landing craft, powered by Honda 250s, hadn’t been sold as of mid-December. That landing craft has the Beach Crawling spikes, as well as a modular wheelhouse that can move 12′ forward and then back. “No one else has it,” said Day.
The moveable wheelhouse gives an operator the option of keeping the wheelhouse at the back of the boat in rough weather, move it forward to work off the stern, or move it forward to adjust the trim.
“The cabin weighs 1,000 pounds,” said Day. “Depending on the cargo, fuel, or occupants, you have the ability to adjust the trim on the boat by moving it fore and aft.”