Float Your Boat, Raft, Canoe or Dugout

| 4/15/2010 11:35:40 AM

Tags: question to readers, rafts,

raftRemember Tom and Huck’s grand adventure on the Mississippi River — floating downstream on a homemade raft? I think most of us were inspired to dream of lazing along a creek or paddling a neighboring pond.

I grew up on Lake Ontario. Sometimes huge, bleached and polished logs would wash up on our rocky shore. I’d push the behemoth back into the water and try to climb on — usually getting dumped off by the rolling action of the log. But all the while I struggled to sit on my “raft,” I’d be fantasizing about being on my own, finding food and making shelters for the night. The fantasies were so much better than any reality I could muster!!

I’m sure many of you actually constructed rafts or boat-like structures and crafted some fine adventures with them. The kids in this picture constructed much of their raft from recycled materials.

If you’ve built a boat, raft, canoe or dugout, share your adventures in the comments section below. If not, this may be the summer to consider doing so.

4/25/2010 2:08:34 PM

I grew up at the ocean but that was for playing in the waves. For fishing we went to June Lake (among others) at least two times each year. We always camped and there was nothing better than fresh rainbow trout for breakfast. We either used salmon eggs, Velveeta, and later when I thought I knew best, lures. When I was 3 I decided to try the bait..loved salmon eggs and cheese, OK about the pink ones..Daddy was not happy. For my 16th birthday my parents rented rooms at the Chalet. Wow...hated it and I am a girl. I wanted the camping experience. Didn't realize that Mom was done with camping. For my birthday I got a great rod and reel. Couln't wait to go fishing. Day 1 - no bites Day 2 no bites or nibbles Day 3 no nibbles. Yes the lakes were starting to have trouble but..I saw a white log on shore. It had some branches and was floating there against the shore. I pushed it out a way and it was floating! Idea! Daddy (who was 68 at that time) agreed jumped on it first! I got on the other end and off we went. We caught 8 trout in about 45 minutes! That was all we needed. So we paddled and then gave up and swam to shore. Great food! Great fun! And that log is a great memory of me and my Dad.

4/21/2010 12:42:44 PM

One summer vacation me and my three best friends found the remains of a boat dock gangway free floating out in the middle of the lake. There had been some storms lately and we figured that it had been shaken loose from some hapless home owners dock. We decided it would make an awesome 'float-boat' Once we towed it back to shore we scoured the banks of Old Hickory Lake and found enough remnants of Styrofoam to keep it above water with all four of us aboard. (we may have swiped a piece or two from my grandfathers dock as well, I can't remember too clearly as to that part.) ;) and roped the whole misbegotten assemblage together and paddled it all over the lake all day. In the end, we cut the SS Lumberscow loose for some other kids to find and enjoy as much as we had. In retrospect we probably should have towed the whole mess out of the water and recycled it but that was another place and time and to be honest, that idea never really occurred to us.

4/21/2010 12:23:07 PM

In high school my friends and I wanted to build a raft to have a picnic on the lake for a homecoming date once. There was eight of us total, so it needed to be big. We decided that a 10' x 10' raft would suffice, but we ran into two problems. How to transport the monster and how to make it float. To solve the transportation problem we made two 5' x 10' frames out of 2" x 6" lumber and topped it with 3/4" plywood. Then we got four or five door hinges and screwed them to the bottom of the raft. That way we could fold it up and put it into the back of a pickup truck, but when it was unfolded on the water it stayed together with the pressure from the water keeping it closed . We also got some clasp things to put on the sides of the raft to firmly connect the two parts together just in case no one got pinched while sitting on top. To solve the floating problem we borrowed four 55 gallon water storage barrels and lashed them to the bottom of the raft through 1/2" holes we drilled through the sides of the raft. It was awesome! We just floated around and ate lunch. It worked perfectly and never even came close to capsizing.

tommy 2rs
4/21/2010 12:11:05 PM

My Dad, my brother and I built our own canoe in the garage one winter. The garage was connected to the kitchen by a single door so when we laid the fiberglass over the canvas my mother spent the week at her Mom's house. Plus she refused to go with us when we launched it the first time as she was convinced it would sink and we would all drown..lol. We ended up fishing out that canoe coast to coast for many, many years.

4/19/2010 8:27:01 PM

While a few may build a boat, many more may buy a boat. For river camping downstream, get a 16-ft. canoe. Carrying 850 pounds of passengers and cargo in a veritable bubble on the water, it is the least intrusive element in your adventure and the most rewarding. Above St. Louis there are many river towns with accessible grocery stores, marinas with maps and showers, and sandy beaches in the wind, driving the bugs away, and plenty free firewood cast up on this heartland river. Last great bargain-- the locks are free. They will move millions of gallons of water to adjust your 50-lb. canoe to math the river elevation. First problem: You will only go upstream at great effort. Or you could get a motor capable of pushing the boat at hull-speed, about 3mph. Any faster and the canoe nosedives. So buy a cheap, but seaworthy canoe, wear a life-vest, and see the real world. Sorry, but the fish are full of mercury and herbicides and the water's not fit to drink. The banks are lined with trees, so you can't often see the industry and plowed farmland, you see the facade. A beautiful river's superficial image, where once life was possible.

4/15/2010 3:52:46 PM

when i was 16 i built a raft out of two skids and three tractor tire inner tubes, held the hold thing together with zip ties and twine

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!