Always remember, The first law of fluid dynamics... "Shit Floats." Boats are expensive. Believe me. However, just floating on crap is a fine leisure activity available to even the most downtrodden and misfortunate in our modern society. All manner of bullshit floats, stuff you can find like: bottles, bins, foam, kegs, bags of air, inflatable beds, and bloated animal carcasses. So don't let that leaky pocket exclude you from the wild and glamorous world of water sports. Here below I furnish you with a cursory list of affordable, low investment buoyancy options for the weekend water-seeker on a budget.
Yes YOU CAN BUILD A BOAT, or BOAT LIKE OBJECT
DECORATED CONVENTIONAL BOAT:
This solution is optimal, but it of course involves already having a boat. However small boats like aluminum row boats are pretty cheap and easy to deal with, store or sell after use. You can find a friend with a boat or pair up with a team that already has one. Use the Mau Mau facebook group as a forum. You can put out an ad to rent one for the weekend, or go to marinas and boat yards to borrow one.
These are examples, but Craigslist is not just broken Ikea furniture and expired Viagra, there are all kinds of cheap and FREE boats. Defiantly bargain. Like the way iphone screens are always cracked, as rule of thumb boat motors, nine times out of ten are broken, so be careful with old ones that seem too cheap to be true. Fiberglass boats are notoriously hard to get rid of so consider resale value, Mau Mau isn't Iraq, have an exit strategy. Don't call us and ask if we want it after, we don't.
$80 small open sailboat https://newyork.craigslist.org/que/boa/5568310859.html
FREE 17' sexy old fiberglass https://jerseyshore.craigslist.org/zip/5572646275.html
11' alum $450 https://newyork.craigslist.org/lgi/boa/5575065384.html
INFLATABLES / POOL TOY FLOTILLAS:
CHEAP INFLATABLE BOATS
Inflatable boats are cheaper than you think and you can use them again and again as they store very easily. I had one on Gowanus that I got for a hundred bucks and I used it all the time. Its worth it to get a somewhat good one, the INTEX ones around $150, not just a glorified pool toy. Good investment. Don't buy a very old one because the materials and seams deteriorate over time and become unfixable, I have seen people try n' fix them and end up patching the whole boat and it still leaks.
HUGE 48 INCH TRUCK INNER TUBES
are very cheap. If you don't want to order them, try going to a truck flat fix place and get old ones. You can just float in it or tie them together and make a flotilla or crude boat. They blow up with a bike pump, making them a great backpack on bike or train solution. Easily patched.
INFLATABLE JESUS HAMSTER BALL
These things are a little expensive, but obviously worth it. FUN, totally ridiculous looking, and you can WALK ON FRICKIN WATER while drinking a martini in a tail coat like some kind of hamster Rockefeller. These are a little tricky to use, put some water inside the ball as ballast or it will be impossible to walk. Also be mindful of the fact that they have a limited air supply in them, about 4o min, don't try to sleep in it.
are a cheap solution and can be amassed to form great sprawling clutterous eyesoreing floating islands. They do break easily and tend to be thrown out versus being fixed or stored which contributes to plastic waste, but if you don't care about that, screw it, go for it, just don't leave them all sad and wilty on the shore. Downside, you will probably be wet all day and may have nowhere to put your stuff. Coolers also float while keeping things dry and or cold. Pool toys must be modified in some way to be used at MAU MAU, be creative. No off the shelf solutions. Decorate them, use them in an interesting way please.
Yes it's a sewn up, inflated buffalo hyde
CUSTOM INFLATABLES are sadly much more expensive than you want them to be. The 8ft earth globe is about $1,900. There must be an emerging black market for used ones since they are mostly made for one-off promotional events.
Various Hull types
The amazing art boats of the Netherlands Bosch Parade should be inspiring
BARREL and KEG RAFTS:
These are fairly easy to make and get you a lot of stable platform for your money. Barrels can be a bit hard to find so start looking early, but should cost no more than $35 each. Check them for leaks, Get the plastic ones (not metal) with the two small fill holes on the top, NOT the full lid style with the metal ring clamp. Make sure you have all the caps for them, each barrel has two different caps, one fine thread, one coarse. The frame you can figure out. Remember to tie the barrels to the frame with rope or ratchet straps. Downsides: they are slow to row and hard to tow but you can build high and pitch a tent on them. Beer kegs are extremely strong, stainless steel and self-sealing with a pressurized ball valve and can contain beer.
PLASTIC TOTE: https://newyork.craigslist.org/wch/grd/5536519970.html
works very well but it is expensive, and what are you going to do with it after? It also breaks apart and makes trash. If your going to use foam, favor blue or pink foam insulation board rather than the polystyrene packing type. Open cell foam like the yellow kind in mattresses is absorbent and does not float.
Canoes are great, you can find them on Craigslist for between $200 and $600. you can paint them, decorate them but use oil-based enamel paint, which will stick to oily plastic, fiberglass or aluminum. An out-rigger may be a good idea to increase stability, since canoes are notoriously tippy and you can lose anything that isn't tied down in a flip. Some canoes, especially aluminum ones can sink, so tie some life jackets or flotation to it in case it gets swamped. Bring a bailer. After the event you can store the canoe on your ceiling or the Rockaway Community Canoe Club will buy it off you, if it's not total garbage.
KAYAKS are overpriced, supper tippy, somewhat spatially antisocial and dangerous while also being basically impossible to decorate. They are brutal on the sciatic nerve and are kind of the recumbent bicycle of the sea. Wooden or seal skin sea kayaks are pretty cool though, the Inuit would sew themselves into them and hunt wales from them, Respect.
OTHER THINGS THAT FLOAT:
5 GAL WATER JUGS
are fairly easy to find or borrow. They are strong and hold a lot of air, but they are a bit tricky to seal at the top because they do not have threaded caps. However they can be oriented upright in your frame.
basically are boats. They are water tight and are lined with buoyant foam insulation just like a Boston Whaler. Downsides, they are very tippy and require an outrigger or two fridges strapped tightly together. They are also heavy and there is the disposal issue. Best to remove the compressor and freon tubing and all before use.
SEALED PVC PIPE
is pretty cheap, abundant, durable and is easily sealed watertight in all sorts of configurations. Popular in South East Asia. Lots of youtube tutorials out there. You can heat and bend it.
DURABLE AIR BLADDERS
are made for various industrial applications like salvaging sunken ships, sealing flooded mine shafts and for transporting water. You can find them on line but they are usually expensive or you have to order large amounts. Keep looking though.
are easy to find, strong, well sealed and easy to tape or bundle together and are even lucrative to dispose of. The trick is really being able to amass enough of them in time to gain adequate floatation, which could be thousands.
makes great rafts and you can always use it for something else afterwards. It's just a little hard to find, or find cheap. You will need a lot.
are difficult because they are generally open and shallow, making them vulnerable to being swamped. 5 gal buckets with sealed lids work quite well but should be oriented upright to be safe.
It says right on the box "Do not use as a floatation device" but thats just lawyers malarky. I have attached a transom and motor to one and rode around Newtown Creek. Put a sheet of plywood or a theater flat on top for increased comfort. Great boat, bad product, those things alway deflate in the middle of the night.
are basically tiny Boston whalers full of cold beer
SIMPLE BOATS YOU CAN BUILD:
There are lots of plans and instructionals online on how to build plywood boats. You could get pretty crazy with a laser cutter and paint. Not all plywood is the same, there is such a thing as marine grade plywood, and you guessed it, its expensive. But consider the time you will put into building and hopefully using your boat, it could be worth it. Painting resin or epoxy into plywood edges and then sealing or painting will dramatically increase lifespan.
TARP WRAPPED FRAME
you can build a rigid frame out of PVC, pine 1by2's, bent conduit, bamboo etc. and then wrap it in a tarp or waterproof membrane.
Your boat doesn't have to be a cheap campy thing you toss together. It can be a great work of art that you take pride in. Be creative, take the time and remember you have a gang to help you. You can make a great boat.
some sound general advice and CONSIDERATIONS:
- its hard to make a boat that fulfills all of the desired functions, consider a main raft for your gang and an additional attack ship for racing and waging battle.
- build your crew smart, recruit a good builder and designer, pick a well rounded crew and delegate well
- give yourself enough time. It always takes longer than you think to build things (usually 3 times as long) and there are always hold ups and unforeseen obstacles, get started at least a few weeks before the event. Its worth the time to be comfortable and look good out there on the water.
- how is your boat interactive? is there something to discover? something that gets revealed? how is it fun? how does it reflect your gang theme.
- consider lighting, how will it look at night, Mau Mau is an overnight camping event.
- Put lines/ ropes on your boat. It sounds obvious but so many people don't and have no way of tying up. use reasonably good rope, maybe even put a couple cleats on your boats so it can be towed
- Snaggy screws and sharp shit? for your safety and of that of those around you try and avoid this.
- shade structures. You are going to be outside in the sun all day. Have a shady place to escape to and store food and water.
- rowability. we encourage experimenting with exotic and novel drive systems, however make sure your deck is configured so that you can row comfortably if you have to.
- screw and tie things down to your deck in case your boat gets swamped or flipped, it happens.
- THE TIDE. The gravity of the moon causes a swelling distortion on the surface of the earth that follows it as it rotates around the planet forcing the seas and water ways connected to them to vary in hight throughout the day. I know you know that but, a lot of you forgot last time and got your stuff swamped and in the morning there were a lot of canoes and kayaks floating around out there on their own, so drag them up shore a bit or tie them up before you sleep.