View Full Version : HeliCat Visits Davey Jones's Locker

11-13-2013, 10:27 AM

We met Sandy Williamson at Strictly Sail last spring and check out his interesting ride,
The HeliCat. It seemed like it had potential, not practical for our uses but maybe as an inner water commuter vessel. Sandy continued on the boat show circuit showing his unique craft to tens of thousands of curious folk, and doing demo rides where ever and when ever possible.


It was in October after doing the East Coast Circuit that Sandy decided to prove the vessel's offshore mettle and motor from Ft Lauderdale to Bimini. Miami New Times reporter Kyle Swensen Picks up the story:

"Neither land nor rescue craft was in sight. An hour after his 21-foot catamaran had plummeted 2,100 feet to the bottom of the sea, bulky Seattle boat broker Sandy Williamson was treading water in six-foot swells 15 miles off Miami.

"OK, I'm going to pray now," Williamson called to his comrade while silently beaming up a plea.
Just a few inches away, Corey Whittaker, a wiry and bearded 29-year-old, shivered in the cold water. Without the life jacket, he might have already drowned.

God, I'm stupid, Williamson thought. Then he began to ponder the sharks. If they came, he resolved to act as a decoy."


"I would swim out as far as I could and slash my leg with a pocketknife," the 60-year-old recalled two days later, tears pouring from his eyes and sobs shaking his thick chest. "He's got his whole life ahead of him. I've had a great life. I'm ready."

A half-hour before on that cloudy October 27, the two had watched their boat sink. They were floating in the same waters where two weeks earlier, four Haitians had drowned after their 25-foot sport fisher had capsized. Florida leads the nation in boating fatalities.

Williamson is a hearty, adventuresome guy who usually can't get to the end of a sentence without his ruddy face splitting into a smile. He had been in Florida barely a week, hoping to lure buyers to his unique line of catamarans at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Boating had always been center stage in Williamson's life. He was born on the Atlantic Ocean, in Argentina, and raised just a few miles from the Pacific Coast near Palo Alto. He began sailing with friends in high school, and by the time he was a student at Berkeley, he and his future wife, Debbie, had pooled $1,100 for a sailboat. On their first trip on San Francisco Bay, they towed a disabled boat to shore. "That's the way it's always been with me and sailing," Williamson says. "Trial by fire."

Soon after graduation, Williamson took a job with the U.S. Geological Survey; he and Debbie did stints in California and Texas before landing in Seattle. In 2010, he retired from government work after 35 years.

The couple opened a boat brokerage. Lately, they'd been pitching the HeliCat, an Argentine 21.5-foot fiberglass catamaran. The two hulls supported a central open cockpit shaped like a bladeless helicopter. Williams bought molds for the design, tweaked the blueprints, and created a 2,200-pound version that could top out at 33 knots on twin 60-horsepower engines. It was a Jet Ski with the stability of a power boat. Price tag: $70,000.

But even after investing $250,000 into the project, Williamson had never taken one for a spin on the open ocean. That's where Fort Lauderdale and the ill-fated trip to the Gulf Stream came in. This past October, he decided to head to South Florida for the boat show and pilot the HeliCat 50 miles to Bimini. Heck, I'm going to prove this thing can work, he remembers thinking.

Full Story (http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2013-11-14/news/an-ill-fated-test-spin-of-a-new-boat-ends-in-disaster/)


11-13-2013, 01:28 PM
I take it the helicat is no longer for sale

11-13-2013, 02:47 PM
I met the guy a couple of days after P'boy posted the pictures here. Really nice guy. Sorry his creation sunk, but happy that he and his passenger made it!

He might want to redesign the hatches and consider some positive floatation to keep it from sinking entirely during future mishaps.....

Cleveland Steamer
11-14-2013, 06:48 AM
What is the purpose of the helicat anyways?

11-14-2013, 07:54 AM
What is the purpose of the helicat anyways?

Hard to know... Kinda whimsical as a design.

Check the FAQ tab on the website P'Boy posted above. Seems to have impressive performance for what it is.


Buzz Light Beer
11-14-2013, 09:38 AM
And the moral of the story is: Take turns when going pee-pee!

Those guys are lucky to be alive!