Building a better boat

There’s two things that every boat builder should keep in mind.

First, the vessel has to float. Second, it should be water-tight – otherwise, it won’t float.

Tuesday night, the Webster City Chamber of Commerce sponsored a tutorial on how to build the best cardboard boat possible. As part of the Boone Bash celebration on June 21, the Cardboard Regatta will be held once again. This year, the event will be held at 9 a.m. at the Webster City Municipal Swimming Pool.

Steve Struchen, the boat builder and sailor who has claimed many victories in past Cardboard Regattas, lead the class and demonstrated how to build a successful boat.

Struchen encouraged those present to build a model of the boat out of stiff paper to see where the cuts and folds need to be made. Planning the size of the boat is critical, he said.

“A cubic foot of water weighs 62 pounds. That means a box one-foot- by one-foot- by three-foot will float 186 pounds. A box two foot by one foot by three foot will float 372 pounds,” Struchen said. “But you’ll want to plan to build it a little bigger otherwise you’ll be riding rather low in the water.”

Materials that can be used in the Cardboard Regatta include cardboard, latex caulk, paper drywall tape and latex-based contact cement. Duct tape can be used, but it’s not as good as the contact cement, he said. Polyurethane or porch and deck enamel can be used to seal the cardboard to make it waterproof. The boat can also be decorated with paints, stencils or other items.

Materials that are forbidden in the regatta include metal, two-part glues (resins and epoxies), plastic, foam core boards or styrofoam, pasteboard or chipboard, wood or non-corrugated cardboard, such as cardboard tubes.

There’s still plenty of time for those wishing to build a boat for this year’s regatta. Struchen will even provide the cardboard. A complete list of other supplies needed and some of Struchen’s design considerations is available at the Chamber office. Registration information and a list of rules are also available through the Chamber.

Those entering the boating event won’t have to worry about Struchen racing for the trophies this year. He’s taking the year off and will be serving as one of the judges for the regatta.