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Dear Captain Pete: Can I make a boat?

October 25, 2010

‘Dear Captain Pete’ is a regular column in our bi-monthly member newsletter, Shavings. It is published for children, and aims to answer frequently asked questions about boats, sailing, the water and other nautical themes. The following article is taken from the 2009 Festival Issue of Shavings.

Dear Captain Pete-

Can I make a boat?  How do you do it?  What are boats made out of? Please tell me more!

Your friend and maybe boat builder,


Dear Billie-

That’s a question that people have been asking for thousands of years!  There are schools that teach people how to make boats, but there are also lots of people who build boats just by thinking about it, trying some ideas, and figuring it out. Many have been made by kids.

Boats can be made of almost anything you can think of.  There are boats made of wood, of course, and nowadays fiberglass or metal, but there have also been boats made of paper, straw, concrete, and even swimming pool liners.  Here are a few examples that you might like:

This paper boat was made by Frank Boelter, and is made entirely from Tetrapack (the material used for milk cartons). He thinks it will float for about 40 days.  He made it the same way you fold a boat out of newspaper.

This boat is made out of 165,321 wine corks.  John Pollack started saving corks when he was about 6 years old.  He convinced people to help him and eventually built this boat.  He took it to Portugal and went on a great trip down the Duoro River.

These kids made these boats out of empty milk cartons.  To design your own milk carton boat figure out how many cartons you need.  A half-gallon carton can float about 4 lbs.  Empty soda or water bottles can be used too.

Good luck and have fun!

Your friend,

Captain Pete

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