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Ever wonder how and where the sport of personal watercraft got it's start?
It all happened in about 1967 when the leadership of Bombardier in Canada, makers of the famous Ski Doo snowmobiles, had the idea that it would be fun to create a snowmobile type riding experience for the water. 
They had heard of guy who was working on an intriguing design for a stand up jet powered water craft......sound familiar?  That's right, the same guy who later brought the world the Kawasaki Jet Ski, designed the original personal watercraft, the 1968 Sea Doo!
The twist in his stand up design came when Bombardier provided him with the engine they wanted to be used. It was a 320cc air cooled single cylinder Rotax engine currently in use in their "Olympique" model Ski Doo Snowmobiles.
This engine was too big, and required too much air for cooling, to be used in small, narrow stand up design.  The results of the much larger hull design signaled the birth of the sit down personal watercraft.
The inventor, Clayton Jacobson, completed the design and built a proto-type.  Both were submitted to Bombardier who then modified the final design to look more in keeping with their current model snowmobiles, ie., yellow paint with black accent strips and the tradmark round, "positive curve," nose profile.
Production ran from 1968 with the original design air cooled "320" Model and ended in 1969 with the redesigned water cooled model "372" which sported a better hull/keel design a bigger jet pump, and a water cooled twin cylinder Rotax 368cc engine.
During the end of production a recall was placed in effect on the 372 Models to overcome a problem where the boats would explode during hot starting.  This recall included:
  • Remove the top half of the hull and completely reglass it inside.
  • Glass over the opening behind the black grill at the top of the cowling just in front of the handle bars to seal it shut.
  • Remove the recoil starter cup on the right side of the hull just below the seat.  Glass over it's opening on the inside, and rivet a square plastic cover plate over the opening on the outside to hide the "glass over" that was done on the inside.
  • Reposition the recoil starter on the engine by "re-clocking" it one bolt hole to the left so the pull starter handle could be accessed and used by lifting the seat.
  • Place the Bosch Voltage Rectifier inside a waterproof yellow plastic box with a clear plastic cover and remove the metal cover that was on the rectifier to protect the 2 fuses.
  • Remove the bilge blower vent motor and it's dash mounted push button switch.  Glass over both the push button switch hole and over the opening where the vent motor vented out the left side of the hull just below the seat.  Rivet a plastic plate in place on the outside of the hull to hide the "glass over" on the inside of the opening.
  • Remove the dash surface mounted ignition key and seperate push button starter button.  Glass over the starter button.  Install a new recessed cup style ignition assembly which placed the key down inside the dash.  The new ignition switch now performed both the "on" and the "start" functions.
  • Remove the jet pump's reverse nozzle assembly, and dash mounted "morse" type actuating cable.  Glass over the hole where the actuating cable was mounted in the dash.
Ultimately, production was ceased when the "exploding" problem was still not cured.  All remaining stock, both in storage, and at dealers all over the USA and Canada was ordered destroyed.  Dealers who had boats on hand were asked to return the Hull I.D. Plates to the factory for proof of destruction and to receive financial reimbursement for the lost inventory.
A very sad end to such a fantastic beginning.
Following the demise of the Sea Doo, Bombardier sold the patent rights back to Jacobson.  He was soon in contact with Kawasaki and the rest, as they say, was history!
Below is Jacobson's original patent drawing which was submitted to Bombardier in 1968.  Thanks to my brother, Tori, for finding this very special piece of Sea Doo history!

Below is a story told by a Sea Doo 320 owner in Ontario, Canada:
"I went in to a local SkiDoo dealership many years ago looking for SeaDoo
parts and was told by the owner that a few years before he had been offered,
by Bombardier, a Ski-Doo in exchange for the one Sea-Doo that he had in the showroom.  He was told to deliver the SeaDoo to a field near Barrie, Ontario and when he arrived with it on the back of his flatbed truck, he couldn't believe his eyes.  In the field was a bulldozer running back and forth on a small hill of broken yellow fibreglass."