Many boaters are hoarders with boxes, lockers, bags and even rooms full of stuff labelled "might be useful one day". Well, the question is: "Useful for what?". If it's not useful on your boat right now and it has no role to play during lay-up or maintenance, then there is only one reason it is still in your possession: for making a homemade boat, of course. Boaters are dedicated folks who love trying new things on the water, and many of us enjoy dabbling in creative endeavours (these two certainly did: DIY Day Fisher disaster averted by RNLI), so this thought has surely gone through your mind even if you haven’t acted on it.

Anyway, just in case the mood ever strikes you, here are 10 cool homemade boat ideas that got our attention.


1. The truck boat

This is one of the most famous homemade boats ever built, since photographs of it were widely circulated when the US Coast Guard found it 40 miles off the Florida coast, with 12 Cuban refugees aboard in 2003.

Truck boat from Cuba – homemade boats

We give this truck-boat an A+ for inventiveness. What will they think of next? More importantly, what will you? (Photo courtesy of the USCG).


But what is amazing is the quality of the vessel's design: not only did the group make an offshore passage in a 1959 Chevy by rigging flotation along the sides and a propeller to the drive-shaft, they did it in such a way that the truck could still be driven on land. Unfortunately, these imaginative immigrants were shipped back to Cuba. That would seem a little short-sighted: marine engineers with this much imagination should be welcomed wherever they land with open arms.


2. Cardboard boats

Cardboard boat races in the USA date back to a design class project at Southern Illinois University in 1962. Since then, building and racing watercraft made from this unlikely material has become amazingly popular and many events are held nationwide. The International Cardboard Boat Regatta in New Richmond, Ohio, is believed to be the largest, and it’s put on by the Cardboard Boat Museum. If you decide to build one of these, we have a suggestion: duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape.


3. The truck bedliner boat

This one’s my own personal invention. As a starving college student desperate for a way to fish St. Mary’s Lake, I took the plastic bedliner out of a pick-up truck, used a fibreglass patch kit to seal up the rear end, and bolted two surf boards to the bottom. Propulsion was provided by paddles and Budweiser.


4. A plywood box

The simplest and fastest way to build your own boat is to craft a glorified plywood box with an up-turned end. Plenty of examples and how-to videos can be found on YouTube, including one which costs less than $200 to put together called “