You don't have to own a Mercedes S-Class to get out on the highway, and you don't need a six-figure speedboat to get out on the water. Lakin Boatworks thinks that all you really need is a flat deck, a couple of lounge chairs and a cooler chilling your drinks and food. That's pretty much the BeachRay in a nutshell, with an outboard motor and simple controls to keep you moving.

The open water, she's a tempting vixen. Every nice summer day when I drive past my local reservoir filled with boats zipping to and from nowhere in particular, I make myself a promise that I'll save up and buy a boat. Then the reality slowly creeps in and it's not all that pretty. By the time I finish pondering the high price of buying a boat, the possibility of spending more time maintaining and repairing it than actually enjoying it, the hassle of storing it, and the old saying about the two best days of boat ownernership, it's late fall again and the idea slips quietly into hibernation.

It was a similar grappling with the ideal versus the reality of the boat that brought about the BeachRay. Designer Jarrod Scanlon was out on the docks one beautiful afternoon and got to yearning for a simple, stable boat that he could just hit the water with without too much expense or work. So he set to work on his own design and came up with what he describes as a "floating beach."

The BeachRay strips the boat to its most basic components: a floating deck that can haul passengers and gear by way of a drive engine with basic controls. The catamaran has foam-filled hulls supporting a flat, open deck that measures 14 x 6.5 ft (4.3 x 2 m).

The deck couldn't be more stripped down and utilitarian – it has two removable reclining beach chairs, two removable 48-quart (45.5-L) coolers, and a simple set of stick controls. Then, there's nothing but space, save for the rear-mounted battery and electricals. With its two chairs, it's optimized for two passengers but, Lakin told us that it meets Coast Guard regulations for four people and can hold up to 2,000 lb (907 kg). As you can imagine by looking at it, the BeachRay is not designed to venture out on rough water and is best used on simple, calm-water trips.

"The sealed fiberglass and simple controls allow for more time on the water, less time on repairs, and less money out of pocket for maintenance and upkeep," BeachRay manufacturer Lakin Boatworks explains. "The removable beach chairs and coolers allow customers to pull up to a quiet beach, remove said chairs and coolers and enjoy the afternoon."

The removable chairs and large, open deck also open the BeachRay up to a variety of uses. BeachRay mentions swimming, scuba diving, fishing and just cruising. By removing the chairs and coolers, you could also lie out and sunbathe on it. It would also be easy to build up and accessorize for different purposes, either on your own or with the help of BeachRay.

Lakin describes BeachRay maintenance as hosing the deck and hulls down and keeping the motor running. It says that the boat can be broken down and winterized in under 10 minutes with a simple set of tools. At around 330 lb (150 kg) out of the mold, the boat doesn't require a heavy-duty tow vehicle and is designed to be towed behind whatever you're driving.

Lakin finished its first BeachRay prototype last year and is now moving ahead with developing a mold for faster, more consistent production. It has turned to Kickstarter in an effort to raise US$65,000 to put toward that goal. It is offering the basic hull and deck at a pledge level of US$2,000, a full boat without the motor for $4,000, and the boat with 10-hp motor and trailer for $7,500. It hopes to begin production in August.

The $4,000 Kickstarter kit is the same basic, motor-less kit that is available on its website for a regular price of $4,995. It includes the drive controls, chairs, coolers, a 360-degree white navigation light, a six-gallon gas tank with fuel line and gauge, and a few other components. Lakin offers four-stroke Mercury engines from 5- to 25-hp, along with options like a folding awning, VHF radio and anchor.

View gallery - 10 images