Widgets The Floatery » A Catalog of Unusual Boats

Rats of Oz Go Big

This vessel, Mitzie, was built by some members of the Australian wing of international chopper bicycle gang group [thanks for the correction Mr. Limp Jimmy] and beer enthusiasts, Rat Patrol.  This undeniably unique amphibious ride features total couch comfort and steering via rotating cocktail table.  The floats are plastic barrels epoxied together and filled with a 2-part polyurethane foam.  These are enough to keep the 150kg (330 lbs.) boat above water with three passengers.  The water drive is a pair of paddle wheels, one tied to each bicycle drive wheel.  Unlike strategies with paddles to spokes, this is an independent unit.  The front wheel doubles as a rudder.

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It Floats and I Love It

Air Art from flip on Vimeo.
This via gizmodo, one of the best remote controlled blimps anything I’ve ever seen, by LaChLuVe (a group or person i cant find any more information on).  This craft appeared during the Radio Controlled Airship Regatta at the Airship Convetion in Friedrichshafen, Germany on October 10th 2008.

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Using Your Hands

I was tipped off today to a new-to-me class of craft, the Paddleboard.  This image is from the look book of shaper Joe Bark. You have the choice the paddling on your knees or prone.  Some models such as the one pictured have rudders with a tiller you can grab with your toes.  Paddleboarding goes back to the early 20th century in Hawaii where paddling was an essential part of being a waterman.  A waterman, I have learned, (at least in US surfing culture) is the oceanic version of a cowboy, multi-talented brave and quiet.  Like the waterman, paddleboarding resides primarily in Hawaii and Southern California.  Like Bull-Riding, Paddleboarding appears incredibly uncomfortable.  Perhaps in part because of this, it seems that paddlers earn points for embracing this far less glossy aspect of surfing.  After the jump, watch a video: » Continue reading “Using Your Hands”

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29 Day Solar Powered Atlantic Crossing

Last year the solar electric boat Sun21 crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 29 days with five men aboard, a Shipbuilder, Skipper, Doctor, Historian, and Biologist.  This passage set the record for the fastest ever solar-powered atlantic crossing.  The fastest Atlantic crossing by any boat, set in 1998, is two days, 20 hours and nine minutes.  Sun21 has a cruising speed of 5 knots.  65 square meters of solar panels provide 10 kilowatts of power for the 12 ton boat.  In the keels sit 520 Amp Hours worth of 48 volt batteries that store 25 kilowatt hours of power, about 80% the average daily use of an American home.  These batteries keep two 8 kW motors, one quarter the size of the electric motor in a Toyota Prius, running 24 hours a day.

The boat cost over US$600,000 (700,000 Swiss Francs) to build and was funded by “idealistic individuals.”  Considering the bloated floating trophies available for view in most large ports, costing many millions of dollars each, this boat is a great example of well directed wealth!

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Two Men Cross Pacific on 15,000 Plastic Soda Bottles

©Peter Bennett/Ambient Images (from JUNK blog)   

©Peter Bennett/Ambient Images (from JUNK blog)

This is JUNK, a homebrew boat made of recycled materials, proven in an ocean crossing.  Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal have crossed the Pacific ocean on a raft whose flotation uses the bottle-in-net floatation technique.  In fact, there are 6 individual 30 ft pontoons, lashed together with aluminum masts.  Perched on top is the fuselage of a Cessna airplane as the cabin.  It is square rigged and makes about 2 knots.

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Dampf Faltboot! A Steam Powered Folding Kayak.

Dreamt up in 2001 and first launched in 2004, a gentlemen Heiko Schmalz from Leipzig has created yet another testament to exquisite German engineering.  In this case, a steam powered folding kayak.  The steam boiler, hanging from the cockpit combing, is heated with wood and provides 0.3 horsepower to two side wheeler paddles. (picture after break)   » Continue reading “Dampf Faltboot! A Steam Powered Folding Kayak.”

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Sydney Harbor Shrunk With Magic

In this case, sadly no shrink-ray was used. Instead, we are witness to the magic of bent light and digital imaging in the hands of Australian photographer Keith Loutit.  Using a tilt-shift lens effect, these time-lapse images of Sydney harbor appear to be the most incredible boat models ever.  They are great fun to watch, with great music too.  Watch them embedded here, or follow the links directly to Vimeo to watch them in HD.  As a side, these are great lessons in the kite-like movements of boats at anchor in a wind or current.

Bathtub III from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

one more short clip after the jump » Continue reading “Sydney Harbor Shrunk With Magic”

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“Mine is Smaller Than Yours”

Tom McNally and his 3' - 10" vessel, Big C 


Tom McNally and his 3ft.-10in. Vessel, "The Big C"


Until recently, I was oblivious to an ongoing competition of ocean crossings in small boats, very small.  Pictured above is Tom McNally (image from his myspace page) from Liverpool, England.  At age 65, aboard this 3’10″ vessel, The Big C, he is about to attempt a 10,000 miles double-crossing of the Atlantic over about a year and half.  As part of sail 4 cancer, McNally will be raising money to fight cancer while under way (you can donate via the s4c link).

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Life Raft As Leisure Craft?

Photo from a Life Raft Review

Photo from a Life Raft Review

Why isn’t this a picture from the coolest camp ever? (Instead, it’s a photo from a life raft review)  I am tempted forgo the whole sinking boat trauma and just cast off in a life raft in the first place.  Though I’ve never dealt with life rafts in real life, they seem like potentially terrific pleasure boats for lazy river floating or perhaps anchoring out for a night.  Sure, a posh eight person raft will set you back about US$9000, but imagine resting your head on this giant floating pillow in the shade of the deployable canopy.  Maybe you go for a swim and climb back in using the attached ladder.  Grab your camera and a snack from a built-in waterproof pocket.  It seems like the ultimate ultra-light (90lb. boat holds a dozen people) deployable gadgety leisure-craft.

I took at close look at one from Winslow » Continue reading “Life Raft As Leisure Craft?”

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Death by Boat: What Used to Scare America

Tremberger and Stein Life Boat Model

 This life boat model designed by George Tremberger and Michael Joseph Stein of New York City in 1879 is from the National Museum of American History’s collection of lifeboat and raft patent models, part of their America on the Move website and exhibit.  This particular boat is unique with a telescoping mast and an interior cabin that is separated from the exterior hull and connected with gearing.  With this arrangement, the crew can adjust the angle of the entire interior cabin for the comfort of the passengers.

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