Text by Mike Rose
Purekraft’s latest release, their new 650HT, is, by some margin, the company’s “simplest” so far. Yet that doesn’t mean it is any less stylish, practical or superbly designed.
Most Kiwi boaties’ first exposure to the Purekraft brand probably came at the 2017 Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show. It was a 550 CC (centre console) and it was on display at the Hall Marine Design stand. At that stage HMD was primarily a design company that, over the preceding five years, developed a highly successful side business building kitset aluminium trailer boats and exporting them all around the world.
Their presence at the show was primarily to see how much interest Kiwis had in following their overseas counterparts and buying a kitset boat to assemble and finish themselves.
It turned that, while there was undoubtedly some, the far greater interest was in buying one of HMD’s designs in the more traditional form: already built, fitted out and ready for the water.
That resulted in something of a pivot for the Tauranga company and, over the years since, that 550CC has been followed by numerous other Purekraft models, including the 600CC, the 700 and the 770 Diesel (all reviewed in Pacific Powerboat).
The latest addition to the range is the new 650HT. It is both a size and a style of boat for which Purekraft has been fielding increasing levels of inquiry.
Fit for purpose
Korora, the Maori name for the little blue penguin, is for an owner who wanted a good-sized fishing-focused hardtop but was limited by both the size and the height of his bach’s boat shed. The 650 fitted fine lengthwise but adding that traditional hardtop, complete with the obligatory rocket launcher, was going to be a problem. The answer, in typical HMD fashion, was to simply design a folding rocket launcher. Secured by a pin on each side, complete with safety lash, it is both quick and easy to release and strong and secure when in place.
The numerous Purekraft models that I have been fortunate to review have always managed to combine their design-driven practicality with both stylish good looks and an exceptional finish. Korora is no exception. The exterior boasts a metallic gun-metal grey finish, the cockpit, platform and wear areas are protected with grey U-Deck panels and the boat sits on a very impressive light-grey Purekraft aluminium double-axle, braked trailer. The latter employs rollers rather than skids, although HMD’s Jarrod Hall says Purekraft’s trailers can come with either option.
Many of the features that have made Purekraft’s models so popular are again evident on the 650HT. There is the small locker on the inner side of each of the platform’s portfinos, ideal for prop flags, mooring or towing lines and the like. There is the traditional Purekraft trash locker in the transom, this time in the port quarter; the live bait tank under the step out to the platform (also on port); the standard Purekraft bait station (jet black with rod holders and a tackle drawer); and Purekraft custom combination drink/rod holders (3 per side). There are also HMD’s roof drains, ensuring that rain or spray collected on the hardtop does not blow back into the cockpit, or run down onto the side deck. Instead, it is contained on the roof and then gravity fed down enclosed channels under the gunwales and out under the platform.
There are plenty of new touches, too. In the starboard section of the transom is a dive bottle locker. Capable of holding 4 bottles, it comes complete with a fold-down bracket that holds them upright, apart and secure, and a U-Deck base to minimise any rattle or banging. As with the hardtop, any moisture collected here is quickly and securely channelled out the stern.
A removable bench seat sits in the aft starboard quarter of the cockpit. Attached to the base of the side locker on one side and fitted with a rubber cup based strut on the other, it can seat two or three in standard fashion or as a thwart lounger if one prefers. It is easily removed if not wanted (when fishing is the day’s main activity, for example) or when access is needed to the batteries, fuel filter etc, which are securely stowed in the transom locker behind.
Another nice touch is the tidy installation of the Jabsco washdown pump. Instead of occupying the aft section of the port side locker (as is traditional but where it runs the risk of being in the way and becoming untidy), Purekraft has instead created a dedicated locker for it, at the base of the transom.
The side lockers are thus free to hold such items as mooring lines, fenders, boat hooks and important fishing gear such as rods, gaffs and a net. The lockers also extend way forward, meaning they can contain the longest of stray lining rods. The gunwales above are fully sealed, ensuring plenty of buoyancy up high, where it will do the most good.
The rest of the seating is provided by twin king/queen sets, with Hi Tech multi-position bolsters facing forward. There is stowage under the port seat and another Purekraft feature, a chilly bin area complete with slide out base for easy access, under the other.
Korora’s smart grey-centric scheme continues in the hardtop and cabin areas. The painted aluminium surfaces are offset by a darker grey Frontrunner lining the bulkhead side and cabin tops while the black seats and window surrounds provide the accents. The signature Purekraft one-piece curved windscreen is complemented by opening side windows, complete with angled BMW-style mullions. Well positioned grab rails above and in front of the crew seat provide reassurance in rougher weather and the twin Hella LED lights are both dimmable and able to offer either red or white illumination.
The steering station is a simple, well laid out and easy to use one. There is very good visibility (thanks in part to the 12” Garmin MFD being inset into the dash rather than perched above it); the remote is ergonomically to hand in either a seated or standing position; and the VHF and remaining controls (for the Maxwell Tasman drum winch, the twin Exalto wipers and Electrotab trim tabs) are all within easy reach. In modern fashion, there is also a brace of handy double USB chargers, one directly under the windscreen and the other is the passenger’s port side locker.
While many would consider 6.5 metres LOA (or in this case 6.8m including the fairlead) a little small to be used for overnighting, Jarrod and his team have addressed this in a typically simple but innovative way. They have installed clever fold-out extensions to the two cabin bunks and, these, when in place and combined with the usual centre squab, combine to make a large berth, easily big enough to accommodate two adults. There is also a portable toilet (although a plumbed loo is also an option) and an easily erected privacy curtain.
Power for the Purekraft 650HT is provided by a Honda BF200 swinging a 3B SS 15.5 x 17 RH LX. The 200hp outboard is in the middle of the 650HT’s recommended horsepower range of 175-200hp. With a full 200-litre fuel tank, Korora weighs in at 2240kgs and, as the accompanying chart shows, tops out at a respectable 38.9 knots.
Although the weather gods were not kind enough to provide us with the sort of rough water to really challenge this vessel, the sea out from the Tauranga harbour entrance and alongside the Matakana Island beach did enable us to put her through her paces. As expected (this is the 5th Purekraft I have had the pleasure of reviewing) it was hard to find any vices. Seastar hydraulic steering makes the boat easy to control, tight turning at reasonable speeds does not present any problems and there were no issues backing up at pace. Surprisingly, there also seemed to be no real issue with windage from the hardtop, I barely had need to touch the trim tabs, even while heading upwind at an angle.
As one would expect, the best cruising is to be found in the 3500rpm (21.2 knots) to 4000rpm (25.4 knots) range where fuel consumption is respectable 22.8 to 29.5lph.
While Jarrod might describe Korora as one of his company’s more uncomplicated designs, it is certainly not what one could describe as “basic”. Indeed, it is as well appointed as one would wish for in a vessel that, although it will primarily be used for fishing, can also successful do duty as a family fishing and ski boat (there is a robust tow point on the base of the hardtop for just this eventuality).
The 650HT has the ability to get out to the fishing or diving spots relatively quickly, has everything needed to do the business once there, and the hull to return safely, even if the weather turns a bit nasty.
One imagines that it will not be long before Korora is no longer the only Purekraft 650HT plying our coastal waters.
TRAILER BOAT SPEC SHEET
- Model & Model: Purekraft 650 HT
- Price as tested: $179,740
- Priced from: $148,000
- Type: Hardtop
- Construction: Aluminium
- LOA: 80m (including fairlead)
- Beam: 42m
- Deadrise: 18 deg @ transom
- Height on trailer: 95m (with folding rocket launcher)
- Trailerable weight: 2240kg (including 200L fuel)
- Test Power: Honda BF200
- Propeller: 3B SS 15.5 x 17 RH LX
- Power options: Outboard, sterndrive
- HP Range: 175-250hp
- Fuel Capacity: 200L
- Trailer: Purekraft Aluminium
- Manufacturer: Purekraft Boats
Note: Range is based on 90% of fuel capacity, in calm conditions. L/H rounded off to nearest litre