The eyes of Deryck Graham, managing director of Quickboats in Cottesloe, Australia, light up when he describes two people pulling his Quickboats foldable watercraft out of their car and putting it together in about one minute before placing it in a river. That’s the potential he anticipated when he developed an advanced composites-based foldable boat for the adventure watercraft market.
“Lightweight boats and inflatables are not new in the marine industry, but a rigid foldable boat is,” says Graham. “We are changing the way people own and use a boat by freeing them from the challenges of storing and transporting. Most importantly, we enable them to access difficult-to-get-to locations such as dams, gorges, rivers and isolated beaches.”
The 132-pound, 12-foot boat is sold in 11 pieces, which are stored in two canvas bags, one for the hull and the other for the seats, transom, nose and other components. The boat assembles with a series of “quick-click” connects. Its design is made possible with advanced composite materials. “We wanted the boat to click together and be light enough for two senior citizens to walk it to the lake, but strong and rigid enough to be a competent boat on the water,” says Graham. The boat has a 5-foot, 6-inch beam – about the same as a bigger 14-foot boat – and can hold four adults. Affordability for the outdoor adventurer goes with the territory, so the boat is priced at $4,000.
Quickboats collaborated with Cobra International, a manufacturer of watersports equipment in Chonburi, Thailand, to build prototypes and then produce the boat. Most of the hull is fabricated using hand lay up of fiberglass reinforced with high-end epoxy resin. This is reinforced with a high-density PVC foam core used in the aerospace industry, which is followed by another layer of the fiberglass/epoxy system to form sandwich panels that become the hull of the boat. Top sheet coating on the wear areas, such as the gunnel rail and keel, are made from a combination of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). “So here we’re no longer using a mold to produce a boat,” notes Graham. The flat panels are pre-stressed to give the structure the needed rigidity without having to increase the weight of the panel by increasing the thickness of the core or the skin.
The patented hinge design – what makes it a foldable boat – is accomplished with the use of FRP flanges which are bonded to Kevlar® fiber strips embedded with epoxy resin at the edges of each panel. This enables the hull of the boat to fold in on itself for storage in its canvas bag, which can be hung on a garage wall. The geometry of each of the flat panels is narrower at the bow and wider at the stern to form the hull. The foredeck “nose,” a passenger bench, a captain’s bench and the transom pop in place to provide the horizontal and box structures that hold the boat open and keep it rigid. A motor of up to 10-horsepower is mounted on the transom.