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  • Writer's pictureMallory Parks

The SeaPiper Story: A Designer's Vision Comes to Life

Updated: Mar 8

The history of the SeaPiper compact trawler is a tale of innovation, dedication, and a deep commitment to creating a long-standing product. At the core of this story is the clever designer, Ritzo Muntinga, whose passion for creating a unique and versatile vessel has translated to the creation of a compact, trailerable trawler that has found a niche with boating enthusiasts.

Muntinga's journey began with a simple idea that evolved into a fast-growing reality. On a flight back from a Hawaiian vacation in 2014, he first sketched a design on a napkin that had been "noodling around" in his head. "I like to noodle and design things. The SeaPiper is really a hobby that got out of hand," Muntinga chuckles as he explains how it all started. Many boaters can identify with this statement. 😅

Muntinga continues, "I asked myself, what do I like in a vessel? And how can I offer versatility?" His inspiration for SeaPiper came from the styling of old Dutch fishing boats and trawlers, leading him to design a vessel that embodied the spirit of adventure with a focus on practicality. His goal was to design a self-contained, small living area that offered a unique experience on the water.

The practicality of the SeaPiper trawler is evident in its dimensions. Ritzo intentionally designed the boat to be narrow, with a maximum width of 8.5 feet, allowing for easy transportation by trailer without the need for special permits. This thoughtful approach not only reduces transportation costs but also enhances the overall flexibility of the vessel. Customers do not need to commit to one region of boating - they can easily trailer the boat and transport it to the destination of their choosing.

SeaPiper trawler being trailered with a 1 Ton Dodge Dually
SeaPiper being trailered with a 1-Ton Dodge Dually

The layout of the SeaPiper trawler is a testament to Ritzo's dedication to creating a versatile and functional vessel. Instead of a large cockpit located on the aft, like many traditional trawlers, the SeaPiper was designed around a mid-cockpit, located between the forecabin and pilothouse/galley. This innovative design choice was driven by Ritzo's desire to create a space that offered more versatility and the opportunity for the captain to be a part of the experience with the passengers on board. Muntinga elaborates, "You find that if someone is running the boat inside, they can feel very separated from the people who are sitting in the cockpit. This design allows them to be a part of all the happenings going on."

Sliding doors were installed to allow for a seamless transition, creating a sense of openness and adaptability. Muntinga says, "With the doors left open, the boat feels connected - like one space. A captain can keep an eye on his passengers and be a part of the conversations and activities onboard. The design is unusual - even rare these days - but has a practicality to it."

The deep set, mid-cockpit design provides security for passengers, including animals and children. The thoughtful layout makes the boat ideal for single-handed operation, further enhancing its appeal to boating enthusiasts.

One of the defining - and perhaps polarizing - features of the SeaPiper trawler is the separation of the forecabin from the pilothouse and galley. The boat was designed with a solo cruiser or couple in mind, with the opportunity to host guests for day cruising. The forecabin features a V-berth that can convert into a double berth, and the settee in the pilothouse/salon can comfortably sleep one to two. Walking from pilothouse to forecabin is simple and can be protected with a bimini should a customer choose (utilizing a third-party installer). With the head located in the forecabin, there is an added layer of privacy for those on board and keeps the pilothouse and salon open and bright.

Interior view of the SeaPiper pilothouse, galley, and salon
SeaPiper Pilothouse/Galley Interior

Muntinga understands the initial confusion from customers who find the layout odd. "The only reason why some people start off opposed to it is because they are not used to it," Muntinga explains. "Imagine if I were to put the head in the pilothouse. [With SeaPiper's narrow beam] it would change the feel of the house and create obstruction of the views." On the SeaPiper, a captain can walk from the bow to the aft deck without issue - no thin rails or side decks - just easy access directly through the pilothouse. Muntinga explains that the unique layout makes the SeaPiper more accessible to single hand. "One person can operate this boat – from helm to sides in minimal steps," Muntinga says. With Muntinga's design, there are a lot of upsides. He says, "Every boat is a compromise – [separating the forecabin from the pilothouse via the mid-cockpit] was a compromise that was well worth making. My recommendation: Don't knock it ‘til you try it!"

Furthermore, Ritzo's emphasis on simplicity and reliability is reflected in the choice to keep the boat compact and utilize a traditional, mechanical diesel engine easily accessed through a hatch in the mid-cockpit. This decision empowers owners with the ability to perform maintenance and repairs with ease, without relying on complex electronic systems or expensive expert mechanics. "Most modern marine diesel engines are full electronic functions. If something goes wrong, you have to take it to the dealer," says Muntinga. “In the SeaPiper, if you have a little mechanical knowledge, you can fix it yourself. The modern diesel engine offers exceptional reliablity and full mechanical control."

In the last ten years, the SeaPiper trawler has found a special place in the hearts of retired sailors and boating enthusiasts, thanks to Ritzo's refined design and hands-on approach. His involvement in every aspect of the vessel's creation, from design and production to sales and customer engagement, underscored his dedication to delivering a truly exceptional product.

To this day, the SeaPiper stands as a testament to Ritzo Muntinga's vision and passion for creating a vessel that defies convention and offers a unique boating experience. As the SeaPiper trawler continues to capture the imagination of the boating community, Ritzo's legacy as a designer and innovator remains an integral part of its enduring story.

To learn more about the SeaPiper's creation timeline, head to our History page for more information.

To read about SeaPiper 37 today, check out this blog article!

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