Boat Construction Tips

  1. The boat should be big enough to hold the intended crew and small enough to carry and transport.
  2. A 30 cm x 30 cm x 1 m cardboard box (or 25 x 3 Litre plastic containers) will float one person. Therefore if it is big enough to hold you sitting down, it’s big enough to float.
  3. Rudders help keep you straight but will make turning difficult and adds complexity to your design.
  4. Best length: 2.5 m to 3.5 m. Best height: 45 cm (this allows room to sit/kneel and still paddle over the edge); Best Width: 45cm – 75cm. (or 120cm wide for 2 people side by side)
  5. Longboats go fast but are difficult to turn
  6. Short boats (less than 3 m) are difficult to keep straight
  7. If the boat is too high, the boat becomes top heavy
  8. Flat bottoms, and sit-to-paddle are the best/easiest. Kneeling is a ‘power’ position but sitting is more comfortable.
  9. Boat decorations and crew costumes are actively encouraged. You may include your organization/club logo on the boat.
  10. Try building a model first. Scale down your design and cut its “flat-pattern” shape out of a manila folder for a cardboard boat. Use stones or small weights to test the buoyancy. Tape together and seal it from the water using scotch tape. This could give you an idea if the boat will float the way you want.
  11. For cardboard boats, use un-damaged cardboard. If you break or crush or cut through the corrugations, the cardboard may fail while in use. Don’t step on your cardboard!
  12. Clamp or use weights to press the glue joints and layers together. Be sure to use a large flat surface in between the clamp or weight and cardboard. This will protect the cardboard corrugations from damage.
  13. Layer cardboard for additional strength. Try layering the cardboard with the corrugations going in different directions. This will make for a stronger laminate. You can have the strength and still keep your boat light if you place the second layer so that the corrugations run at a 90-degree angle to the first layer.
  14. Cardboard can be sourced from your own personal packaging. Larger cardboard pieces may be able to be sourced from moving companies or retailers such as JB HiFi, Bunnings, The Good Guys etc.
  15. Keep old household milk and juice cartons or source them from your friends.