The way the Senator behaves gives the impression it would be completely unflappable – easily capable of handling whatever long-range offshore adventures Dan has in mind.
- Dry running, large volume boar
- Distinctive sheerline and striking colour scheme
- Comprehensive equipment levels
- Packed with innovative custom features and clever engineering
- Optimised for wheelchair fishing
- Side doors haven't compromised the boat's structural integrity
Purekraft designs and builds custom aluminium boats – but its extraordinary flexibility was particularly tested with the 8m Heatwave.
Purekraft build custom aluminium boats designed by HMD (Hall Marine Design). The company’s signature two-step sheerline typically combines with a big volume hull that’s full forward but with a deep entry that morphs to a moderate deadrise aft. The end result is a series of dry, seaworthy vessels that ride well and offer generous internal dimensions.
A custom build was the only option for the owners of the striking orange-and-black Purekraft 800 HT (hardtop) Heatwave. Friends Mike Keys and Dale McGuire had the boat built specifically around the needs of Mike’s 21-year-old son, a tetraplegic. What they wanted was something no “off the books” boat could deliver. Heatwave is an excellent demonstration of Purekraft’s custom capabilities.
Mike and Dale made enquiries with several New Zealand boat builders, but until they approached Purekraft Boats, none of them could satisfactorily fulfill the brief. But 18 months after opening discussions with Jarrod Hall and his team at Purekraft, Heatwave was launched in December 2020.
The challenges in designing and building a boat to accommodate both a conventional wheelchair and more often a bulky motorised chair, were considerable. Mike, his son and Dale worked together with the Purekraft team to come up with practical solutions to difficult problems.
The first hurdle Purekraft had to leap was getting the young man and his wheelchair on and off the boat. To do this, they fitted Heatwave with inward opening cockpit doors, one on each side of the cockpit. Such large cut-outs in the boat’s sides obviously affect its structural integrity, so Simon Middleton, largely responsible the boat’s engineering, had to specify extra beams at floor level and a whole lot of strengthening gusseting.
With the door open, the chair and its occupant can be wheeled into the boat using a custom aluminium ramp system that stows under the seats inside the hardtop on the port side. The same ramp is designed to give the young man access to the hardtop, where the chair can be positioned on the raised deck between the front seats with a good view forward through the one-piece windscreen.
With the heavy electric wheelchair, its occupant and two adult helpers often gathered together on one side of the boat, ensuring sufficient lateral stability was very important. The Purekraft 800 HT easily passes the stability at rest test, and with its big volume hull, there’s plenty of space in the forward cabin, too, with room to sleep up to three adults, a sliding door for privacy and a toilet under the berth.
Whether positioned in the cockpit or between the front seats, the wheelchair is secured by a series of tracks machined into the aluminium decks that allow a fair degree of chair placement flexibility. The standard clip-in tie-down system from the vehicle that transports the crew from place to place is utilised aboard Heatwave.
The boat’s interior has been extensively customised to make life onboard easier for a wheelchair-bound fisher and his helpers. There are dozens of modifications to Purekraft’s usual layout, as well as bespoke features the team have developed specifically for the client. Set into the hardtop’s ceiling are lifting hooks so the young man can access a fold-out bed created by converting the seats on the port side, along with strap-down points to hold him secure.
The vessel is equipped with an Eberspacher diesel heater and full-length clears to completely enclose the hardtop, as well as a pull-out sunshade for sunny days. These modifications make it easier to keep the temperature onboard comfortable at all times. The heater also demists the windscreen.
Heatwave’s cockpit layout has many features familiar from the Purekraft 700 hardtop I reviewed a couple of years ago, including a well-designed bait station with ample built-in storage, generous floor-level side pockets and electric handwashers either side. Catches and latches are all neatly recessed, there are plenty of grabrails, sliding side windows and two skylight roof hatches in the lined and reinforced hardtop roof for ventilation. LED lighting is found inside and out, including a floodlight for the foredeck, and a Stress-Free drum winch with freefall looks after anchor duties.
There’s a live bait tank under the transom walk-through to starboard, a utility/shoe bin under the port-side transom walkthrough and a handy bin in each corner, each with removable mesh liners, one designated ‘recycling’, the other ‘rubbish’. The bottle opener and 3D-printed cap catcher built into the bait station are Purekraft signature features.
A dometic 87L chilly bin slides under the rear-facing seat. The cockpit sole, covering boards, side decks and foredeck are finished in black U-Dek to complement the boat’s metallic grey painted interior and stainless steel components like the rod holders are isolated from the aluminium with packers to prevent electrolysis damage.
This boat is, of course, optimised for fishing, which all the boys love. But adapting a trailer boat cockpit to suit someone fishing from a wheelchair took a bit of working out and some clever innovations. These include rotating rod holders in the coamings, 12-volt power outlets for an electric reel and tracks in the floor positioned so that the wheelchair can easily address the rod. There is ample overhead rod storage in the rocket launcher and across the transom.
But there’s more. The team at Purekraft came up with a bespoke extension rod holder that slots into the through-coaming holders to bring the rod close enough so that the young man can operate the electric reel. In addition, the reel handle has oversize, 3D-printed paddles and Purekraft’s 3D printer was also used for the cup holders.
Heatwave is powered by a pair of large capacity Honda BF175hp V6 outboards. Honda uses the same 3.6-litre block for its 200, 225 and 250hp outboards, so the 175hp is a relatively under-stressed engine that benefits from large capacity and excellent torque. 350hp is plenty of motivation for the Purekraft 800HT, comfortably pushing the strongly built vessel to 35 knots at 5200rpm during our review outside Tauranga Harbour with four adults on board and the 460-litre underfloor fuel tank almost full.
The helm position is good, with excellent vision through the one-piece windscreen, though the 800HT does have a high bow. The ride is nice and level, though, and the 6mm hull with its deep entry and 18° transom deadrise does a good job of smoothing out the bumps. A reasonable sort of swell offshore allowed us to launch the boat off the wavetops, but the landings were soft, while the confused seas in the entrance to Tauranga Harbour caused the big Purekraft no bother at all. The hull is constructed from 6mm plate with 5mm used for the sides, cockpit sole and foredeck. The boat’s prominent spray rails do a nice job of diverting spray away from the boat’s occupants.
The seating position is adjustable and fly-by-wire controls, including throttle and engine trim synchronising, make helming the boat a breeze. Twin outboards, electronic controls and a Lewmar bow thruster – features the owners wanted to make the boat easier to handle – afford excellent low speed control dockside and at the ramp, while cleats aft, amidships and forward provide options when tying up, including for spring lines.
There’s an impressive electronics and entertainment package too, with a 16-inch Raymarine Axiom Pro MFD, 1kW transducer, and a Fusion marine stereo system while Zipwake interceptor trim tabs offer a handy automatic function to keep the boat on the level.
This is a smart looking boat that’s difficult to miss – on the water and off. It’s carried on a custom Purekraft tandem aluminium trailer with black alloy wheels, wireless electric over hydraulic braking on both axles, a handy Boat Catch system and a two-speed manual winch. The boat is supported by rollers along the keel line with additional side rollers to locate it on the trailer and support it laterally.
Although based on Purekraft’s 800HT design, Heatwave is a one-off vessel extensively customised to meet the very special needs of its owners. It’s an excellent showcase for the company’s design and engineering prowess that illustrates their ability to accommodate very particular requirements. Look out for Heatwave on the water – her imposing presence and in-your-face colour scheme are impossible to miss./>