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Composite Technology makes GoBoat green and efficient

Electric boat hire company, GoBoat won the inaugural Sustainability in the Boating Industry Award at the 2023 Sydney International Boat Show, recognising its success attracting new people to boating and its low-emission boats. 

Easy to operate and affordable, GoBoat operates a fleet of 80, 5.35-metre electric boats in six locations, with a team of 70 involved in the business.

Founder and Managing Director, Nick Tyrrell was inspired to establish the business after his own experience in Stockholm, Sweden where the notion of slow and sustainable boating is part of the culture.

“It was my first time driving a boat, and it was relaxing, smooth, quiet and no emissions,” he said. “It was all about the social experience on water, the fun of the journey, not the destination, the connection with nature. Afterwards, the feeling of satisfaction was incredible. I decided to investigate establishing something similar in Australia.”

In 2016, Nick was living in Canberra and regularly drove around Lake Burley Griffin, marvelling at the expanse of water and its potential.

He pitched the idea to local government, outlining the advantages of electric boating, and within 18 months, GoBoat was born.

The company launched in 2017 with four 5.35-metre Danish-designed electric boats rated for up to eight passengers, and immediately found a foothold. 15 months later, GoBoat opened in Melbourne, followed by Brisbane, Sydney, Geelong and the Gold Coast.

Despite travel restrictions, the pandemic spurred the growth of the business, “because everyone was looking for safe things to do outdoors,” Nick explains. “The business grew to around double its size in two years by 2022.”

And it has proven a hit with people of all ages. According to Nick, 120,000 people have boarded a GoBoat in the 2022 financial year.

Originally importing their boats from Europe, GoBoat now commissions its fleet from CruiseCraft in Brisbane, fitted with Torqeedo commercial-grade electric engines from Power Equipment.

“We had suffered during the pandemic from inconsistent production in Europe, unreliable shipping options and long lead-times. So, we wanted to control those things better, as well as increase the focus on quality control. That meant looking for a reputable, reliable Australian boat builder which we found in Cruise Craft.”

Cruise Craft, founded by the Nichols brothers, has been making boats in Brisbane since 1946, building timber Moreton Bay cruising motor yachts and progressing to original designs in fibreglass, which by the 80s, found a loyal following and earned the company more than 14 Boat of the Year awards, among many accolades.

Currently, Cruise Craft is producing around 25 units per year for GoBoat, keeping pace with the company’s expansion in Australia and ambitions to extend their offering overseas.

Cruise Craft chose Divinycell and Coosa products, supplied by ATL Composites, specifically for their strength, durability, light-weight and environmentally friendly credentials.

As Jonathan Menzies, Research & Development, Cruise Craft Boats explains, “The original plans and laminate schedule call for PET foam to be used as the main core material and plywood for load sensitive areas such as the transom and under deck hardware.

“We recognise GoBoat’s values in sustainability and PET foam is another step in that direction for the marine industry.

“Longevity of the finished product is inherently a step towards sustainability.”

In every Go Boat, Cruise Craft also uses Divinycell PY 105 with perforations 20mm square on centres. Divinycell PY in particular belongs to Diab’s PET materials, which are all recyclable and type approved by DNV-GL.

It’s recyclable, provides high shear elongation (stretch) and allows for high processing temperatures. Divinycell PY is thermoformable, provides good chemical resistance and is compatible with most common glues and resin systems.

“Each boat requires three sheets of 10mm and two sheets of 15mm at 2400 x 1000mm sheet size with all pieces CNC router cut in-house,” Jonathan adds.

Divinycell foam products manufacture by the Swedish Owned DIAB Group are the first choice of leading manufacturers of sandwich composites structures around the world, and are extensively used in both commercial and private watercraft.

They offer high strength to weight ratio, an ultra-wide density range, and are available in plain sheets, or with various finishes or in CNC kits which are processed in-house at the ATL Composites facility in Queensland.

“We substituted the plywood transom for the GoBoats with Coosa Bluewater 26, since the long-term drawbacks of plywood are all too commonly known, and with inadvertent incorrect care, it can result in costly repair later. Longevity of the finished product is inherently a step towards sustainability.”

Coosa Bluewater Panels are approximately 40 to 60 percent lighter than plywood and offer very low water absorption, 1.5 percent or less. They will not rot and are resistant to insect infestation.

The woven roving fibreglass, in addition to continuous strand fiberglass, in Coosa Bluewater Panels adds additional flexural strength (stiffness) for demanding applications where structural integrity or greater span lengths are appropriate.

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