Life on the ocean wave

That’s my boat. We call it Oliver, Oliver Reed. LOL.

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post shows you how to make a mini-mini reed boat. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

When a wetsuit doesn’t fit the results are hilarious – the poor victim (child) is zipped up into a bent banana shape and usually can barely shout for help because they are laughing so hard about being locked into such a strange shape. But the way kids grow, and the way the UK weather prevents some of us lightweights from going regularly to sailing or canoe club, such growing pains are inevitable.

There’s an escape clause: make your own boat. Not the sort that no doubt anyone in Swallows & Amazons could whip up, or even Dame Ellen McArthur – no, the sort that requires you to find a few reeds, pick one and knot it into shape. I think it would make a lovely activity at a party – or offer a bit of pleasure if made for a party bag.

How to make your own reed boat
Remember: sedges have edges and reeds are round.

  • Pick one reed (ideally find someone who knows how to do this, to do it with you as it’s much easier demonstrated).
  • Make a base by coiling a 5mm portion around itself two or three times.
  • Secure the long end around this flat mat two times and finally slither the  long bit left over from the bottom to the top to create a mast. Invariably this is too long, so cut it to size to prevent your boat listing drastically.

Nell and I sailed our boat on a puddle in Hampstead Heath. It’s not glam our life in London! But it was fun and the boat is still drying out well in the kitchen, two weeks on.

Over to you
Have you ever made a boat with the kids? What did you use? I’m interested in all sizes.

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6 Comments on “Life on the ocean wave”

  1. nicola baird Says:

    From Facebook:
    Steven: how hard can it be?
    Chris: Yes, my bro and I used to sail them on the ‘duck pond’ on Torquay seafront….

  2. nicola baird Says:

    From Facebook:
    Steven: how hard can it be?
    Chris: Yes, my bro and I used to sail them on the ‘duck pond’ on Torquay seafront….(But when I was older (amazingly) I won £100 on the Premium Bonds and bought my own little fibre-glass rowing dinghy, which we kept in the beach-hut on Corbyn Head. It had to be carried over the shingle to the sea, of course.)”

    • nicola baird Says:

      That’s a wonderful memory Chris!

      • nicola baird Says:

        More from Facebook:
        Tim: As a teenager I used to enter the ‘Up and Down’ race on a tributary of the River Severn in Usk. Here you had to design and make your own boat, sail up to a point and back. Those coming the other way could do ANYTHING to stop you. it was great fun! never won though

        Nicola: Wow.


  3. I love your little reed boat! I think the only boats the kids and I have made are the paper boats that you just fold out of a sheet of paper – the kids used to insist on taking them into the bath, and they would invariably end up as a soggy mess in the plughole! Oh, I’ve just remembered as well that my son made a little raft once by sticking ice lolly sticks together and then sticking that on top of some empty plastic cotton reels; it worked really well.

    • homemadekids Says:

      You must try the reed boats – I think I’m going to have a go making some paper boats with mine! It’s certainly wet enough for ponds to be full and streams to be running…Nicola


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