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Making flatpacked boats a reality: Meet Tauranga-based Purekraft, the IKEA of vessels

New Zealanders have long been known for their love affair with the sea, but owning a boat is seen as an expensive exercise for most. Tauranga-based boat design company Hallmarine Design has come up with a solution: its Purekraft boats, which are flatpacked kitsets, a bit like IKEA furniture, making them far cheaper to ship around and easier to construct. 

It’s a romantic notion that plays right into the Kiwi ideal of DIY and do it yourself ­– building a boat from scratch. However, aside from professional boat builders, most wouldn’t attempt to build their own for fear of the expenses involved ­– or worse yet, the risk of a poorly put together, leaky boat.

However, Jarrod Hall of Tauranga-based Hallmarine Design says his company has a solution for hobbyists: A boat which has parts that are cut by a CNC machine, with ink markings to show where parts meet and should be welded. It is then folded and are flatpacked to reduce shipping costs.

The result is a boat that’s innovative in the same way IKEA furniture was when it first shook up the furniture scene: A cheaper, build-it-yourself product that can be constructed from scratch, if you follow the (in depth) instructions. There's also the ability to customise the motor, seats and paint job. 

“It appeals to those with the do-it-yourself kind of attitude, and they also know that it’s been well built, considering they’ve built it themselves,” Hall says.

Understandably, there’s a few more components to building a boat than say, a bookshelf.

Hall says it depends on the size and the model, but the design process couldn’t get much easier in terms of building a boat. While there may be hundreds of components, parts are printed by the machine and interlock together, while Hallmarine Design folds as many parts of the boat as possible so it reducing welding and build times, as well as wastage.

Those with prior welding experience, such as people who fabricators by trade, or former boat builders, are loving the concept, he says, as are those who are completely new to it and relish a DIY challenge.

He says it’d be a bit more difficult for someone that doesn’t have any boat building experience due to the welding involved, but welding machines have gotten a lot more user-friendly than they used to be.

And the perks of doing it DIY isn’t just a sense of satisfaction. Hall says the kitset concept could save someone wanting to build a boat around $20,000 for a six-metre hardtop boat, for example.

Hall says time wise, it’s consuming but efficient.  

“With the average sized kitset boat we do being a six metre, that probably takes 160 hours to build the boat. It’s not hundreds and hundreds of hours, but it’s not something you do in one weekend.”

Hall says the idea has been really well received in the market, with a display at the Auckland Boat Show in May making them flat-out with inquiries.

With six kitset models on offer and more models in design, he says it’s an exciting time to be in the boat design industry.

A smaller kitset boat created specifically for the Auckland Boat Show has led to more ideas for new models, which Hall says shows the creativity that’s going on behind the scene.

“We’re not just designers that sit in an office behind a computer, we get our hands dirty and build these things ourselves, which flows through to future design work and new ideas,” he says.