A Shuswap man is hoping to get his name in the Guinness Book of World Records by sailing across the Georgia Strait – in a hot tub.
Hot Tub Boat, as it’s affectionately called by its crew and builders – Ed Estabrook, Piotr Forysinski, Artem Bylinski and Sicamous native Marco Bieri – was inspired by the houseboats of the Shuswap, and perhaps several beers.
“One of my best buddies here, Ed – he has a sailboat – we went houseboating in Sicamous and, as you know, they’ve got hot tubs on them, and he was just like, ‘how awesome would it be to have a hot tub on the sailboat,’” said Bieri. “I thought, true, but, just a sailboat moves a lot more differently than a houseboat and the size wouldn’t work. And then, as kind of a drunk joke we thought we should tow one.”
But that’s not what happened. Instead, that vision about two years back became the seed behind the Hot Tub Boat project. Estabrook, Bieri and company picked up an unwanted hot tub through Craigslist and got to work, taking it, as Bieri says, to the next level.
“Most of my friends here are kind of into engineering, physics, whatever – especially people that helped out with this project,” explained Bieri, who has a masters in physics and is currently working as an engineer. “The whole planning of it, that was mainly our friend Piotr. He’s a physicist actually… He built the model on a computer because that’s what we do.”
Forysinski provided pontoons and a frame was constructed onto which they could be attached. Before that, however, tub had to be retrofitted to function on the water.
“We took the old hot tub and ripped everything out, all the insulation, all the piping…,” said Bieri. “It was really gross, so we gutted the whole thing and then reframed it, fibreglassed it – that was a lot of work, sanded it, fibreglassed it again, painted it, and then we built the frame around it. It was quite a bit of work, like, hundreds of hours spent in my backyard.”
There were some setbacks. Twice the outboard motor broke off the frame, having to be recovered from the ocean bottom. Each time resulted in the construction of better engine mounts. Over time the vessel underwent various tweaks and refinements to get it where it is today.
“Every time you have an extra few hours to blow you just kind of work on it,” said Bieri. “The same as with somebody who has a car in their backyard – you always try to tweak it.”
Those tweaks include a sound system, a battery/propane heating system for water in the tub and the ability to tow a dinghy loaded with a pig roaster (another of the crew’s custom creations).
With their unusual craft more or less complete, Bieri explains he and Estabrook had another vision of sorts: to be the first to travel across the Georgia Strait in a hot tub boat and get into the Guinness Book of World Records.
“That again kind of started out as a joke… Ed was like, how cool would it be to get Hot Tub Boat across the Georgia Straight,” said Bieri, noting the boat has been taken on shorter, successful runs between Bowen and Little Island.
Given its odd size and slow speed (top speed is about 3.5 knots or six kilometres an hour), the Hot Tub Boat crew is just waiting for the perfect day to attempt to make history.
“Of course you don’t want to have bad weather and of course you want a bunch of boats with you, so that’s a plan. We’ll probably have three or four boats sailing with us and hope for the best.”
Bieri admits the concept of Hot Tub Boat is funny but, at the same time, is something they take seriously.
“You know, it’s a big step to go from sitting drunk at Old Town, going, ‘Hey, we should have a hot tub on the sail boat,’ to sitting in the Georgia Strait in a hot tub boat…,” said Bieri. “I think it’s kind of a unique project. I mean, it’s funny in one sense, but once it was built and stuff, it makes logical sense.”
A video of Hot Tub Boat, created to help fund it’s current motor, can be seen on YouTube under the title Hot Tub Boat Kickstarter Video.