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Title:
A WATERCRAFT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/020374
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A watercraft is provided having a primary deck that is carried on two primary buoyant members, such as pontoons, that are substantially parallel to one another. The watercraft includes a pair of deck extensions that are articulately connected to opposing sides of the primary deck. Each deck extension may comprise a number of extension segments that in concert form the deck extension. The watercraft is operable between a deployed condition in which the deck extensions are substantially coplanar with the primary deck, thereby extending the primary deck and a stowed condition, in which the deck extensions are raised substantially above the primary deck with the extension segments of each deck extension alternately folded. The deck extensions are each connected to an auxiliary buoyant member such that, when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, each deck extension is carried on the buoyant member connected thereto.

Inventors:
LAUBSCHER, Jako (57 Sandown Rd, Rondebosch, 7700 Cape Town, 7700, ZA)
Application Number:
IB2017/054427
Publication Date:
February 01, 2018
Filing Date:
July 21, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
LAUBSCHER, Jako (57 Sandown Rd, Rondebosch, 7700 Cape Town, 7700, ZA)
International Classes:
B63B35/44
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VON SEIDELS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ATTORNEYS (4 East Park, Central Park on Park LaneCentury City, 7441 Cape Town, 7441, ZA)
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Claims:
CLAIMS:

A watercraft having a primary deck that is carried on at least one primary buoyant member, and a pair of deck extensions articulately connected to opposing sides of the primary deck, wherein each deck extension includes a plurality of extension segments that are each articulately connected to adjacent extension segments, and

wherein the watercraft is operable between a deployed condition in which the deck extensions are substantially coplanar with the primary deck, thereby extending the primary deck; and a stowed condition, in which the deck extensions are raised substantially above the primary deck with the extension segments of each deck extension alternately folded.

The watercraft as claimed in claim 1 wherein each deck extension is connected to an auxiliary buoyant member such that, when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, each deck extension is carried on the buoyant member connected thereto.

The watercraft as claimed in claim 1 wherein each deck extension is an auxiliary buoyant member such that, when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, an operatively upper surface of the auxiliary buoyant member is coplanar with the primary deck.

The watercraft as claimed in either claim 2 or claim 3 wherein a width of the first extension segment corresponds to a depth of the auxiliary buoyant member so that, when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, the auxiliary buoyant member is substantially flush with the primary deck.

The watercraft as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein each deck extension has a first extension segment articulately connected to the primary deck; and

a second extension segment articulately connected to the first extension segment and furthermore connected to an auxiliary buoyant member,

wherein when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, the extension segments and the primary deck are coplanar, and the second extension segment is carried on the auxiliary buoyant member; and

wherein, when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, the first extension segment is folded inward resting atop the primary deck; and the second segment is folded to extend from the first extension segment in a generally operatively upward direction with the auxiliary buoyant member resting atop the first extension segment.

The watercraft as claimed in claim 4 wherein, when the watercraft is configured from the deployed to the stowed condition, the first extension segment of each deck extension is folded substantially 180° inward toward a centre of the watercraft; and the second extension segment of each deck extension is folded substantially 90° in an alternate rotational direction to that of its corresponding first segment,

such that, when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, each first extension segment rests atop the primary deck, and such that an outermost surface of each respective auxiliary buoyancy member is substantially flush with the respective opposing sides of the primary deck.

7. The watercraft as claimed in any preceding claim further having at least one pair of buoyant stabilisers that are operable between a retracted condition, in which the stabilisers are held substantially against or underneath the primary deck and an extended condition, in which the stabilisers extend outward from opposing sides of the watercraft, substantially parallel to the primary deck, at or below a waterline of the watercraft. 8. The watercraft as claimed in any preceding claim further having a canopy.

9. The watercraft as claimed in claim 8 wherein the canopy is carried on telescopic members.

10. The watercraft as claimed in claim 9 wherein the telescopic members are operable to adjust a height of the canopy relative to the primary deck.

1 1 . The watercraft as claimed in claim 10 wherein, when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, the height of the canopy is configurable such that the canopy lies substantially on top of the deck extensions.

12. The watercraft as claimed in claim any one of claims 8 to 1 1 wherein the canopy includes one or more canopy extensions that are operable to increase a coverage area of the canopy, the canopy extensions being operable between a retracted condition and an extended condition in which the canopy extensions extend outward from the canopy.

13. The watercraft as claimed in any one of claims 9 to 12 further including motorised means for adjusting a length of each telescopic member, thereby adjusting the height of the canopy. 14. The watercraft as claimed in claim any one of claims 8 to 13 wherein the canopy, primary deck and deck extensions, in concert, form an at least partially enclosed unit when the watercraft is in the stowed condition.

15. The watercraft as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the buoyant members define one or more storage compartments therein.

16. The watercraft as claimed in any preceding claim having self-propelling means that is operable from a control console.

17. The watercraft as claimed in any preceding claim further including motorised means for operating the watercraft between the stowed and deployed conditions. 18. The watercraft as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the watercraft is lockable in the stowed condition.

The watercraft as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the buoyant members are pontoons, hulls, floats, or a combination thereof.

The watercraft as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 19 wherein the watercraft is configurable as a partially tented housing unit when in the deployed condition.

The watercraft as claimed in claim 20 wherein the canopy and/or canopy extensions have sheet material attached thereto about an outer perimeter thereof.

The watercraft as claimed in claim 20 wherein the canopy and/or canopy extensions have securing formations provided at a perimeter thereof configured for attachment to complementary securing formations provided at uppermost ends of sheet material.

The watercraft as claimed in either claim 21 or 22 wherein the sheet material is configurable from a stowed condition, in which the sheet material is rolled or folded and secured at or near the canopy, and a deployed condition in which the sheet material extends from the canopy and/or canopy extensions and terminates at or near the primary deck or deck extensions.

The watercraft as claimed in any one of claims 21 to 23 wherein the sheet material is weighted at its lowermost ends.

The watercraft as claimed in any one of claims 21 to 23 wherein the sheet material has securing structures at its lowermost ends that are securable to complementary securing structures defined about a perimeter of the deck and deck extensions.

26. The watercraft s claimed in claim 25 wherein the securing members are zip fasteners, hook and loop fasteners, or button fasteners.

27. The watercraft as claimed in any one of claims 21 to 26 wherein the sheet material is modular, with adjacent sheet material modules being securable to one another by means of complementary securing structures.

28. The watercraft as claimed in claim 27 wherein adjacent sheet materials are securable to one another by means of zip fasteners, hook and loop fasteners, or button fasteners.

29. The watercraft as claimed in any one of claims 21 to 28 that is configurable as a partially tented housing unit when in the deployed condition on land when carried on a trailer.

30. The watercraft as claimed in claim 29 wherein a space between the primary pontoon and auxiliary pontoon substantially straddles the wheel arches of the trailer when in the deployed condition.

31 . A camping trailer kit comprising a watercraft as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 30 and a trailer, the trailer having a platform configured to carry the watercraft; and an elongate guiding member extending centrally along the platform in a longitudinal direction, the elongate guiding member being configured to form a complementary fit with a space extending centrally along a bottom of the watercraft.

32. A method for deploying a watercraft having a primary deck that is carried on at least one primary buoyant member and a pair of deck extensions articulately connected to opposing sides of the primary deck, the method comprising the steps of:

with the watercraft in a stowed condition, in which the deck extensions are raised substantially above the primary deck, folding the deck extensions outward and downward about their respective articulated connection with the primary deck; and

aligning the deck extensions with the primary deck so as to be substantially coplanar therewith in a deployed condition of the watercraft, thereby extending the primary deck.

33. A method for stowing a watercraft having a primary deck that is carried on at least one primary buoyant member and a pair of deck extensions articulately connected to opposing sides of the primary deck, the method comprising the steps of: with the watercraft in a deployed condition, in which the deck extensions are substantially coplanar with the primary deck, folding the deck extensions inward and upward about their respective articulated connection with the primary deck; and

thereby raising the deck extensions substantially above the primary deck in a stowed condition of the watercraft.

Description:
A WATERCRAFT

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from South African provisional patent application number 2016/05223 filed on 28 July 2016, which is incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention disclosed herein relates to a watercraft. It finds particular application, however by no means exclusively, to leisure watercraft used for recreational or entertainment purposes.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Various types of leisure watercraft are known and includes a type known as a pontoon watercraft or a pontoon boat. Generally, pontoon watercraft have a predominantly flat platform or deck that is carried on two or more pontoons to keep the deck afloat. The watercraft may include self- propelling means, such as outboard or inboard motors and a number of amenities for comfort and entertainment purposes.

The dimensions of such watercraft is mostly a compromise between size and mobility, especially with regard to transport of the watercraft over land. Mobility is an important consideration when the watercraft is not kept on a specific body of water on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. Many private owners of such watercraft may prefer to transport the craft to and from the water, thereby allowing the craft to be used at a number of different locations to their liking.

However, increasing the size of the watercraft may introduce a number of difficulties with regard to its transport over land. The watercraft may be transported by securing it on a trailer, possibly purpose-built, that is drawn by another vehicle. The dimensions and structure of the trailer therefore need to be such that the trailer can firstly accommodate the watercraft and furthermore to transport a large watercraft safely and efficiently. Should the trailer be of insufficient size, it might lead to the toppling over of the trailer which could cause severe damage to the craft and may pose a serious danger to anyone in its vicinity.

In addition, the road traffic regulations in most countries stipulate specific limitations in respect to the dimensions of any load carried on public roads. These limitations are generally set out in proportion to the capabilities and dimensions of the vehicle carrying the load. Should the load of a vehicle or the trailer required to carry the load exceed certain predetermined limitations, the load will be deemed an "abnormal" load. A permit may be required to tow such an abnormal load, which may incur further costs. The conditions under which a permit is granted for an abnormal load may also become more stringent as the degree of abnormality increases. The factors that generally determine whether a load is to be deemed abnormal include whether the vehicle/load combination exceeds a predetermined overall length, width, height, overhang and/or load projection. The load in this instance would be a combination of the trailer and the watercraft carried thereon. In addition, owners or users may not wish to first obtain a license or otherwise concern themselves with the meeting of stringent requirements related to the road traffic regulations when it comes to transporting their watercraft to and from the water.

However, it is desirable to maximise the size of the watercraft, particularly the deck thereof. The greater the surface area of the deck, the more passengers it can accommodate while providing a spacious leisure area.

The overall dimensions of the watercraft also affects the storage thereof. Should the watercraft exceed a certain set of dimensions, its owner or user may not be able to store their watercraft at their home, for example, due to size constraints. They may therefore need to acquire adequate storage space that can accommodate a watercraft of a particular size, which may also be costly.

The invention disclosed herein aims to address these and other problems, at least to some extent. The preceding discussion of the background to the invention is intended only to facilitate an understanding of the present invention. It should be appreciated that the discussion is not an acknowledgment or admission that any of the material referred to was part of the common general knowledge in the art as at the priority date of the application.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the invention there is provided a watercraft having a primary deck that is carried on at least one primary buoyant member, and a pair of deck extensions articulately connected to opposing sides of the primary deck,

wherein each deck extension includes a plurality of extension segments that are each articulately connected to adjacent extension segments, and wherein the watercraft is operable between a deployed condition in which the deck extensions are substantially coplanar with the primary deck, thereby extending the primary deck; and a stowed condition, in which the deck extensions are raised substantially above the primary deck with the extension segments of each deck extension alternately folded.

Further features provide for the deck extensions to each be connected to an auxiliary buoyant member such that, when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, each deck extension is carried on the buoyant member connected thereto; alternatively, for each deck extension to be an auxiliary buoyant member such that, when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, an operatively upper surface of the auxiliary buoyant member is coplanar with the primary deck.

A further feature provides for each deck extension to include a plurality of extension segments that are each articulately connected to adjacent segments such that, when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, the extension segments are coplanar and, when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, the extension segments are alternately folded.

In one embodiment, the width of the first extension segment corresponds to the depth of the auxiliary buoyant member so that, when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, the auxiliary buoyant member is substantially flush with the primary deck.

Still further features provide for each deck extension to have

a first extension segment articulately connected to the primary deck; and

a second extension segment articulately connected to the first extension segment and furthermore connected to an auxiliary buoyant member,

such that, when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, the extension segments and the primary deck are coplanar, and the second extension segment is carried on the auxiliary buoyant member; and

when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, the first extension segment is folded inward resting atop the primary deck; and the second segment is folded to extend from the first extension segment in a generally operatively upward direction with the auxiliary buoyant member resting atop the first extension segment.

Further features provide for, when the watercraft to be configured from the deployed to the stowed condition, the first extension segment of each deck extension to be folded substantially 180 ° inward toward a centre of the watercraft; and the second extension segment of each deck extension to be folded substantially 90 ° in an alternate rotational direction to that of its corresponding first segment, such that, when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, each first extension segment rests atop the primary deck, and such that an outermost surface of each respective auxiliary buoyancy member is substantially flush with the respective opposing sides of the primary deck. A still further feature provides for the watercraft to optionally have at least one pair of buoyant stabilisers that are operable between a retracted condition, in which the stabilisers are held substantially against or underneath the primary deck and an extended condition, in which the stabilisers extend outward from opposing sides of the watercraft, substantially parallel to the primary deck, at or below a waterline of the watercraft.

Further features provide for the watercraft to include a canopy; for the canopy to be carried on telescopic members; for the telescopic members to be operable to adjust a height of the canopy relative to the primary deck; and for, when the watercraft is in the stowed condition, the height of the canopy to be configurable such that the canopy lies substantially on top of the deck extensions.

Still further features provide for the buoyant members to define one or more storage compartments therein; for the canopy to include one or more canopy extensions that are operable to increase a coverage area of the canopy, the canopy extensions being operable between a retracted condition and an extended condition in which the canopy extensions extend outward from the canopy.

Still further features provide for the watercraft to include self-propelling means, for the self- propelling means to be outboard or inboard motors; for the self-propelling means to be operable to steer the watercraft; and for the self-propelling means to be operable from a control console; for the watercraft to include motorised means for operating the watercraft between the stowed and deployed conditions; and motorised means for adjusting a length of each telescopic member, thereby adjusting the height of the canopy. The motorised means may be electric, pneumatic, hydraulic or a combination thereof.

Further features provide for the canopy, primary deck and deck extensions to, in concert, form an at least partially enclosed unit when the watercraft is in the stowed condition ; and for the watercraft to be lockable in the stowed condition. A further feature provides for the buoyant members to be pontoons, hulls, floats, or a combination thereof. In one embodiment, the buoyant members are pontoons that extend substantially parallel to one another. In one embodiment, the watercraft includes a floatable deck with a steering console, and one or more pontoons foldably connected to the deck;

wherein the watercraft is operable between a folded condition in which the one or more pontoons extend upwards from said deck and one or more sides of the deck are folded inward and a second, unfolded position in which an operatively upper surface of the pontoons are aligned with the deck so as to extend the deck.

Still further features provide for the canopy and/or canopy extensions to have sheet material attached, optionally releasably attached, thereto about an outer perimeter thereof; for the sheet material to be configurable from a stowed condition, in which the sheet material is rolled or folded and secured at or near the canopy, and a deployed condition in which the sheet material extends from the canopy and/or canopy extensions and terminates at or near the primary deck or deck extensions.

Further features provide for the sheet material to be weighted at its lowermost ends; alternatively for the sheet material have securing structures at its lowermost ends and to be securable to complementary securing structures defined about a perimeter of the deck and deck extensions; for the sheet material to be modular, with adjacent sheets being securable to one another by means of complementary securing structures. The securing structures and complementary securing structures may be zip fasteners, hook and loop fasteners, button fasteners, or the like.

Even further features provide for the watercraft to be configurable as a partially tented housing unit when in the deployed condition on land when carried on a trailer; and for a space between the primary pontoon and auxiliary pontoon to substantially straddle wheel arches of the trailer.

In accordance with a second aspect of the invention there is provided a camping trailer kit comprising a watercraft as described above and a trailer, the trailer having a platform configured to carry the watercraft and an elongate guiding member extending centrally along the platform in a longitudinal direction, the elongate guiding member being configured to form a complementary fit with a space extending centrally along a bottom of the watercraft.

In accordance with a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for deploying a watercraft having a primary deck that is carried on at least one primary buoyant member, and a pair of deck extensions articulately connected to opposing sides of the primary deck, the method comprising the steps of:

with the watercraft in a stowed condition, in which the deck extensions are raised substantially above the primary deck, folding the deck extensions outward and downward about their respective articulated connection with the primary deck; and aligning the deck extensions with the primary deck so as to be substantially coplanar therewith in a deployed condition of the watercraft, thereby extending the primary deck.

In accordance with a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for stowing a watercraft having a primary deck that is carried on at least one primary buoyant member, and a pair of deck extensions articulately connected to opposing sides of the primary deck, the method comprising the steps of:

with the watercraft in a deployed condition, in which the deck extensions are substantially coplanar with the primary deck, folding the deck extensions inward and upward about their respective articulated connection with the primary deck; and

thereby raising the deck extensions substantially above the primary deck in a stowed condition of the watercraft.

An embodiment of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings:

Figure 1 is an isometric view of a first embodiment of a watercraft in a deployed condition;

Figure 2 is a further isometric view of the watercraft of Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 is an elevation of the watercraft of Figure 1 viewed from the bow;

Figure 4 is an elevation of the watercraft of Figure 1 viewed from the stern;

Figure 5 is a starboard view of the watercraft of Figure 1 ;

Figure 6 is a bottom view of the watercraft of Figure 1 ;

Figure 7 is an isometric view of an embodiment of the watercraft in a semi-stowed condition;

Figure 8 is a starboard view of the watercraft of Figure 7; Figure 9 is an isometric view of an embodiment of the watercraft in a stowed condition;

Figure 10 is an elevation of the watercraft of Figure 9 viewed from the stern;

Figure 1 1 is an enlargement of a section of Figure 10;

Figure 12 is a flow diagram of a method of deploying a watercraft;

Figure 13 is a flow diagram of a method of stowing a watercraft;

Figure 14 is an isometric view of a second embodiment of a watercraft in a semi- stowed condition;

Figure 15 is a starboard view of the watercraft of Figure 14;

Figure 16 is an isometric view of the watercraft of Figure 14 in a deployed condition;

Figure 17 is an elevation of the watercraft of Figure 16 viewed from the stern;

Figure 18 is an isometric view of the watercraft of Figure 1 configured as a partially tented housing unit;

Figure 19 is a second isometric view of the watercraft of Figure 18; and

Figure 20 is a plan view of an exemplary layout of the watercraft of Figure 18 when configured as a partially tented housing unit.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION WITH REFERENCE TO THE DRAWINGS

A watercraft is provided having a primary deck that is carried on at least one primary buoyant member. In at least one embodiment, the primary deck may be statically secured to two primary buoyant members. The primary buoyant members may be pontoons that are substantially parallel to one another, but may be any other buoyant member such as a hull, a float or a combination thereof. The watercraft may include a pair of deck extensions that are articulately connected to opposing sides of the primary deck. The primary deck may be substantially rectangular, and the front and rear ends of the deck may also be construed as being a pair of opposing sides of the primary deck and may therefore also have deck extensions connected thereto. Each deck extension may extend the entire length of the side to which it is connected and may comprise a number of extension segments that in concert form the deck extension.

The watercraft may be operable between a stowed condition, in which the deck extensions are raised substantially above the primary deck, and a deployed condition in which the deck extensions are substantially coplanar with the primary deck, thereby extending the primary deck.

The extension segments may extend lengthwise along the deck extension and, when the watercraft is in the deployed condition, may be arranged side by side such that a first extension segment is articulately connected to the primary deck, and the remainder of the extension members are articulately connected to adjacent extension members. The articulated connections may for example be, but is in no way limited to, a hinged connection.

Figure 1 shows a first embodiment of a watercraft (1 ) in a deployed condition. The watercraft (1 ) includes a primary deck (3) that is carried on two primary buoyant members, presently two primary pontoons (5, 7) that extend generally parallel to one another from the bow (1 1 ) of the watercraft (1 ) toward the stern (9). The watercraft (1 ) furthermore includes a pair of deck extensions (13, 15) that are articulately connected to the starboard side (17) and the port side (19) of the primary deck (3) respectively. The deck extensions are symmetrically arranged and the subsequent features described with reference to the starboard side deck extension (13) applies also to the port side deck extension (15). The deck extension (13) has two extension segments, a first extension segment (21 ) that is articulately connected to the primary deck (3) and a second extension segment (23) that articulately connected to the first extension segment (21 ). In the deployed condition, as showed in Figure 1 , the first and second extension segments (21 , 23) of the deck extension (13) and the primary deck (3) are all coplanar, such that the deck extensions (13, 15) extend the surface area of the primary deck (3). The second extension segment (23) is connected to an auxiliary pontoon (25) and is, in the deployed condition, carried thereon. The deck extension (13) and thus also its extension segments (21 , 23) extend the entire length of the primary deck (3). The width (27) of the first extension member (21 ) is selected to approximately correspond to the depth (29) of the auxiliary pontoon (25), with a tolerance being provided to account for the thickness of the second extension segment (23) connected thereto, the significance of which will be explained below.

The watercraft (1 ) also includes a canopy (31 ) that is carried on telescopic members (33) extending between the primary deck (3) and the canopy, presently six telescopic members (33) in total. The telescopic members (33) are operable to adjust the height of the canopy (31 ) relative to the primary deck (3). The canopy (31 ) also has four canopy extensions (35), two on each side thereof. One of the canopy extensions (35) has been omitted in Figure 1 to illustrate features that would otherwise have been obscured thereby. The canopy extensions (35) are operable between a retracted condition and an extended condition (the latter being shown in Figure 1 ) in which the canopy extensions extend outward from the canopy (31 ) to thereby extend its coverage.

The watercraft (1 ) includes twin outboard motors (41 ), and the throttle and steering control thereof is operable from a control console (43) on the primary deck (3). Hydraulic actuators (not shown) are provided to control the deployment and stowing of the deck extensions (13, 15) as well as to adjust the height of the canopy (31 ), the controls of which are also provided on the control console (43).

Removable safety rails (45) are provided that are inserted into locating apertures in the primary deck (3) and deck extensions (13, 15). It is envisaged that other embodiments may include safety rails that extend telescopically from the deck; or that are foldable. The watercraft (1 ) may furthermore include storage compartments (47) within the primary pontoons (5, 7), accessible through flush deck hatches (49) in the primary deck (3) as well as in the auxiliary pontoons (25), accessible through flush deck hatches (49) in the deck extensions (13, 15). The storage compartments may be sealed from one another. This also serves as a safety feature, since damage to a pontoon will not compromise the entire pontoon, but only the particular compartment.

A number of on-board amenities may be provided as is well known to be found on watercraft. These typically include refrigeration, sanitation facilities, catering equipment, loungers and other furniture, and the like. Figures 2 to 6 show further elevations of the watercraft (1 ) in the deployed condition with like reference numerals indicating like features.

Figure 6 shows the watercraft (1 ) as viewed from below. It shows the watercraft (1 ) having two buoyant stabilisers (51 ), one on each side, provided toward the aft of the watercraft. Each stabiliser (51 ) is operable between a retracted and an extended condition, the latter of which is shown in Figure 6 and perhaps more clearly in Figure 7. The primary pontoons (5, 7) and the stabilisers (51 ) have substantially the same width (52). Furthermore, the depth (53) of each of the stabilisers (51 ) corresponds to the size of a space (54) provided between the aft end of each of the primary pontoons (5, 7) and the aft end of the primary deck (3).

In the retracted condition (see Figure 9), the stabiliser (51 ) is held in-line with its respective primary pontoon (5, 7) within these spaces (54), underneath the primary deck (3), with an outermost side of each stabiliser (51 ) being substantially flush with an outer surface of its corresponding primary pontoon (5, 7).

In the extended condition, as seen in Figure 7, the stabilisers extend outward from the watercraft (1 ), each held at the end of elongate stabiliser members (55) substantially parallel to the deck, at or below a waterline of the watercraft (1 ). In the present embodiment, the stabiliser members (55) are tracks on which the stabilisers (51 ) run. Each auxiliary pontoons (25) has a cut-out (57) near its aft end that is substantially the same size as that of a stabiliser (51 ). When in the extended condition, the stabilisers (51 ) locate within these cut-outs (57) as seen more clearly in Figure 8 with an inner side of the stabiliser (51 ) being substantially flush with an inner surface of the auxiliary pontoon (25).

During deployment and stowing of the watercraft (1 ), the stabilisers (51 ) may be extended to improve lateral stability of the watercraft (1 ). The stabilisers (51 ) are hydraulically actuated and its extension and retraction sequence may be automated to be synchronised with an automated deployment and stowing sequence that is executed by an on-board control system.

Referring again to Figure 7 showing the watercraft (1 ) in a semi-stowed condition and illustrating the procedure through which the watercraft progresses from the deployed condition (as showed in Figure 1 ) to a stowed condition (as showed in Figure 9). In Figure 7, the canopy extensions (35) are shown in their retracted condition and the safety rails (45) have been removed and stowed.

The first extension segment (21 ) is folded about its articulated connection with the primary deck (3) in an inward direction, toward the primary deck (3) and upward. Simultaneously, the second extension segment (23) is folded about its articulated connection with the first extension segment (21 ) in an outward direction, away from the primary deck (3) and downward. The second extension segment (23) is therefore folded alternately to the first extension segment (21 ). Although the extension segments (21 , 23) are folded alternately, the deck extension (13) is moved in an overall generally inward, toward the deck, and generally upward direction relative to their positions in the deployed condition. The transition between the deployed condition shown in Figure 1 and the semi-stowed condition showed in Figure 7 illustrates how, when stowed, the first extension segment (21 ) is folded inward, toward the primary deck (3). Simultaneously, the second extension segment (23) (as well as the auxiliary pontoon (25) connected thereto) is alternately folded.

Figures 9 and 10 show the watercraft (1 ) in the stowed condition. The stabilisers (51 ) are retracted into their corresponding spaces (57) underneath the primary deck (3) such that the respective outermost sides of the stabilisers (51 ) are substantially flush with the outermost surface of the primary pontoons (5, 7). The first extension segment (21 ) is folded about 180° inward toward the centre of the watercraft and rests atop the primary deck (3) as may be more clearly seen from the enlargement shown in Figure 1 1 . The second extension segment (23) is folded about 90 ° relative to the first extension member and in an alternate rotational direction to that of the first extension segment. In this configuration, the second extension segment extends generally upward from the first extension segment (21 ), the latter now resting on top of the primary deck (3). Furthermore, a side of the auxiliary pontoon (25) that is connected to the second extension segment (23) now rests atop the first extension segment.

It will be appreciated that, since the width (27) of the first extension segment (21 ) is configured to correspond to the depth (29) of the auxiliary pontoon (25), a now outermost surface of each respective auxiliary buoyancy member (which had been the bottommost surface when in the deployed condition) will be substantially flush with the port and starboard sides of the primary deck, respectively.

Furthermore, the canopy (31 ) has been lowered by means of its telescopic members (33) such that the canopy lies substantially on top of the upwardly extending second extension member (23) and auxiliary pontoon (25). In this configuration, the canopy (31 ), second extension segment (23) and auxiliary pontoon (25) partially encloses the watercraft (1 ) to form an inner compartment (61 ). The watercraft (1 ) may be locked in the stowed condition. Figure 12 is a flow diagram of a method (200) of deploying a watercraft as described above. The method is initiated with the watercraft in the stowed condition (201 ), in which the deck extensions are raised substantially above the primary deck. In the present embodiment, the first extension segment rests on top of the primary deck. The second extension segment extends from the first extension segment in an upward direction such that a side of the auxiliary pontoon rests on top of the first extension segment. The deck extensions are then each folded (203) generally outward and downward about their respective articulated connection with the primary deck. In the present embodiment the first and second extension segments are simultaneously folded, in alternate directions, so that the deck extension that comprises the respective extension segments is moved in a generally outward and downward direction with reference to their position in the stowed condition.

The step of folding (203) the deck extensions may be preceded or may be performed simultaneously with the extending of the buoyant stabilisers in an outward direction, substantially parallel to the primary deck, at or below a waterline of the watercraft.

The deck extensions are then aligned (205) with the primary deck so as to be substantially coplanar therewith, thereby extending (207) the primary deck.

Figure 13 shows a flow diagram of a method (300) of stowing a watercraft as described above. The method (300) is initiated with the watercraft in a deployed condition. In the present embodiment, the deck extensions, having a first and a second extension segment, are aligned with the primary deck so as to extend it. The buoyant stabilisers may also extend outwardly from the watercraft.

The deck extensions are then folded (303) generally inward and upward about their respective articulated connection with the primary deck. In the present embodiment the first and second extension segments are simultaneously folded, in alternate directions, so that the deck extensions that comprises the respective extension segments is moved in a generally inward and upward direction with reference to their position in the deployed condition.

The step of folding (303) the deck extensions may be preceded or may be performed simultaneously with the retracting of the buoyant stabilisers in-line with the primary pontoons.

The deck extensions are thereby raised (305) substantially above the primary deck.

It will be appreciated that the overall width of the watercraft is considerably less in the stowed condition than in the deployed condition. The dimensions of the components of the watercraft may be preselected so that, in the stowed condition, the watercraft does not exceed dimension thresholds that would render it an abnormal load when transported. The watercraft may therefore be loaded and secured to a conventional trailer and safely transported in its compact stowed configuration. This may reduce the transportation costs of the watercraft since an owner or user would not be required to obtain a permit to transport the watercraft, since its dimensions would not constitute an abnormal load. The owner or user will also not need to concern themselves with the meeting of stringent requirements related to the road traffic regulations when it comes to transporting their watercraft to and from the water and the administrative burden thereof. Furthermore, storage of the watercraft may not require specialised storage facilities since the overall width of the watercraft may be sufficiently small to fit conventional storage facilities, possibly storage facilities at an owner's residence. Conversely, when in the deployed condition, the deck space is considerably greater than when in the stowed condition and provides a spacious area for passengers to enjoy. This enables the watercraft to provide capacity for an increased number of passengers while maintaining a desired level of comfort for each. The controls that are operable from the control console (43) may furthermore be operable by remote control. Remote control may be provided, although not limited to, by a purpose built remote control unit; or by means of an application that is executed on a mobile device of a user. The remote control and control console would be configured to facilitate bi-directional communication between the remote control and a communication module of the control console. Commands to control the various actuators of the watercraft may be issued by the user from the remote control which, in turn, sends the instructions to the remote console. The remote console will, in response to receiving such instructions, energise one or more actuators in accordance with the received instructions. Therefore, the entire deployment and stowing sequence may be performed by remote control. This is advantageous since access to the remote console may be challenging when the watercraft is in the stowed condition due to the compact configuration. Similarly, it may be challenging to disembark the watercraft once the watercraft is in the stowed condition. Therefore, controlling the deploying and stowing sequences remotely may greatly reduce the effort required. Throttle and steering control may similarly be performed remotely.

Figures 14 to 17 show a second embodiment of a watercraft (500) in which like reference numerals indicate like features of the first embodiment described above. In this embodiment, the watercraft (500) has four buoyant stabilisers (551 ), two on each side, each being operable between a retracted and an extended condition. In the retracted condition, the stabilisers (551 ) are held within corresponding recesses (553) each primary pontoon (505) underneath the primary deck (3) with an outermost side of each stabiliser (551 ) being substantially flush with an outer surface of the primary pontoon (505). In the extended condition, as seen in Figure 17, the stabilisers extend outward from the watercraft (500), each held at the end of an elongate stabiliser member (555) substantially parallel to the deck, at or below a waterline of the watercraft (500). During deployment and stowing of the watercraft (500), the stabilisers (551 ) may be extended to improve lateral stability of the watercraft. The stabilisers (551 ) are hydraulically actuated and its extension and retraction sequence may be automated to be synchronised with an automated deployment and stowing sequence that is executed by an on-board control system. Figure 15 shows locating apertures (557) in the auxiliary pontoon (25) within which the respective stabilisers (551 ) locate when the watercraft (500) is in the deployed condition (as shown in Figure 16).

Although the embodiments described above include stabilisers, it should be appreciated that the stabilisers are an optional feature and may only be required if a particular embodiment requires additional stability during deployment.

Figure 18 shows the watercraft (1 ) being configured in the deployed condition as a partially tented housing unit. In this configuration, the canopy extensions (35) are in their extended condition and reference to the canopy in this configuration includes the canopy extensions (35). The watercraft (1 ) has sheet material sections attached about the perimeter of the canopy (31 ) to form outer walls (81 ) and divider sheets (83) are also provided to define a number of separated living spaces on the watercraft (1 ) contained within the outer walls (81 ). In the present embodiment, the sheet material (81 , 83) is canvass sheets. Some of the outer wall sheets (81 ) and divider sheets (83) include transparent or translucent inserts to form windows (85). The windows of the outer wall sheets (81 ) in the present embodiment are provided with awnings (87).

The canopy (31 ) has securing formations provided about its outer perimeter for attachment of uppermost ends of the outer wall sheets (81 ) and divider sheets (83) thereto. Complementary securing formations are provided at uppermost ends of sheet material and for this purpose. In the present embodiment, the securing formations are zipper fasteners. The sheet material (81 , 83) comprises a number of separate, modular sheet sections of which adjacent sections are also securable to one another by means of zipper fasteners. The sheet material sections (81 , 83) furthermore have zipper fasteners at lowermost ends thereof that are securable to complementary securing structures defined about a perimeter of the primary deck (3) and deck extensions (13, 15). However, any other securing means may be used for the securing of the sheet material sections to the canopy, deck of adjacent sections such as hook and loop fasteners, button fasteners, or the like.

When no longer required, the sheet material may be rolled up and secured at or near the canopy. Alternatively, the sheet material may be unzipped and stowed in storage compartments provided within the pontoons or any other storage compartment provided on the watercraft. It is furthermore envisaged that spring loaded rollers may be provided within the pontoons about which the sheet material may be rolled when stowed. The sheet material may then be pulled upward and secured to the canopy.

The utility of the watercraft is furthermore not limited to use on water. The watercraft may, when secured to a trailer, be deployed on land to provide an outdoors lounge area equipped with all the amenities provided on the watercraft. This may provide a convenient and leisurely platform on which to enjoy the outdoors, even on land.

The watercraft may furthermore be utilised as a so-called camping trailer, comprising a partially tented housing unit carried on a trailer that is capable of being compactly stowed. Throughout the specification, the term "camping trailer" should be broadly interpreted as a watercraft as described herein that is carried on or secured to a wheeled trailer. This has the additional benefit of providing an elevated housing unit that may prevent or reduce the likelihood of insects, snakes or other undesirable organisms entering the housing unit. A step ladder (89) may be provided to assist passengers from boarding and disembarking the watercraft (1 ) when deployed on land.

Figure 19 shows a camping trailer kit that comprises a watercraft (1 ) and a trailer (100) configured to accommodate the watercraft (1 ). The trailer has wheel arches (101 ) that extend above a platform (103) on which the watercraft (1 ) is carried. When the watercraft (1 ) is in the deployed condition whilst secured to the trailer (100) on land, a space (91 ) defined between each primary pontoon (5) and auxiliary pontoon (25) provided a clearance for the wheel arches (101 ) such that the wheel arches are substantially straddled on either side thereof by the primary and auxiliary pontoons (5, 25). The trailer (100) also has an elongate member extending longitudinally along the centre of the platform (103) that acts as a locating guide (105). The width (107) of the locating guide (105) corresponds, but is slightly less, than the spacing between the primary pontoons (5, 7). The locating guide (105) may assist the operator in positioning the watercraft (1 ) optimally on the trailer (100).

The trailer and watercraft may be sufficiently reinforced to enable it to be transported over rough terrain.

Figure 20 shows a plan view with an exemplary configuration of separated living spaces on board the watercraft (1 ) defined by the outer wall sheets (81 ) and divider sheets (83). Throughout the specification and claims unless the contents requires otherwise the word 'comprise' or variations such as 'comprises' or 'comprising' will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or group of integers but not the exclusion of any other integer or group of integers.