Hot tub boat crew dream of record-breaking crossing in Vancouver
Men want to set record by crossing Georgia Strait in their homemade hot tub boat
Four Vancouver men with a dream and a floating, motorized hot tub are trying to set a world record with their unusual leisure craft invention, but bad weather keeps getting in the way.
Edward Estabrook, Marco Bieri, Artem Bylinskii and Piotr Forysinski plan to take their creation — a "hot tub boat" — into open water and cross the Georgia Strait, setting a distance record in steamy comfort.
We just want to go on more ambitious voyages- Artem Bylinskii, hot tub boat co-creator
Estabrook and his friends spent years converting a hot tub into the fully-functional boat. He says it was worth the effort.
"It just feels like we finally accomplished ... something!"
The entire idea grew from adventures that all ended with a similar lament — "That was fun, but it would have been better with a hot tub!"
"The seminal moment we were sitting in a hot tub in the Shuswap ... and we realized that sitting in a hot tub was a great way to enjoy the rain," said Estabrook.
So Estabrook and his friends turned to Craigslist and started collecting materials: a hot tub, white water pontoons and eventually a car stereo, speakers and even a disco ball.
The wiring for all the electronics is housed in a beer cooler to keep the wires dry and safe.
The hot tub boat was finally launched during the Celebration of Lights in 2013.
"It made it about two feet from the dock," said Bieri. "Everybody thought it was awesome."
Everybody except the police, who restricted the hot tub crew to the dock.
"Vancouver police brought us back and questioned us about the safety aspects of it. There are no laws against what we were doing, but we didn't have enough documentation with us.
"The next year we had a binder with all the regulations highlighted. This year, they just waved us through because they remembered us."
Estabrook says the hot tub boat meets safety standards and has now sailed more than a dozen times.
"At first [people] don't know what it is, they're like, 'Oh my goodness, is that a hot tub?' [There's] surprise and appreciation," said Estabrook.
The hot tub boat isn't Estabrook's first unusual project. Previous accomplishments include a dinghy-mounted pig rotisserie and a pot belly wood stove installed in a custom conversion van.
And it's not even the first hot tub boat in the world, as similar craft are used for leisure cruises in calmer canals, like the waterways of Amsterdam.
"We just want to go on more ambitious voyages," said Bylinskii.
After raising more than $3,000 from 22 supporters on Kickstarter, the men may hope to set a distance record by crossing the Georgia Strait.
But the boat, though seaworthy, is not fit for heavy swells. So far, the crew has travelled as far as Gambier Island.
'The hot water gets out'
The plan is to land on Silva Bay on Gabriola Island, but winds and choppy water have forced them to postpone the voyage twice, not due to risk of sinking...but due to the promise of extreme discomfort.
"When the waves come, the boat tips and it's not that the waves get in ... it's that the hot water gets out and then you are sitting in a mostly empty tub of cold," said Estabrook.
So for now, the hot tub boat crew cruise False Creek, watch the weather, and dream of landing in Silva Bay, perhaps a bit wrinkled, but victorious.
With files from Farrah Merali