This pint-size — or, more precisely, liter-size — craft offers a decent approximation of a high-seas sailboat. And since it’s constructed from common household items, it’s a lot cheaper than the real thing! Unsinkable thanks to its Styrofoam float, the boat also features a handy screw eye on the bow to which you can attach a fishing line for easy maneuvering or reeling in. Ready to make sail?
What you’ll need
- 1-liter plastic soda bottle with cap
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Pen or marker
- Pushpin (for starting holes and scoring)
- Scissors (pointed ones work best but aren’t required)
- Modeling clay (we used a nonhardening one by Nicole)
- Duct tape (we used a variety of colors)
- 3-inch-diameter Styrofoam ball (for a float)
- White plastic trash bag with a flat, straight seam at the bottom (or any plastic bag with a straight seam — not a rounded one)
- Clear tape
- 1/4-inch-wide straight plastic drinking straw
- Paper clip
- 3/16-inch dowel 11 inches long
- screw eyes with a 1/16-inch-wide shank (available at craft stores)
- Clear fishing line
- Fishing rod and line
- DECORATIVE OPTIONS:
- Colorful plastic surveyors’ tape (at hardware stores)
How to make it
- To make the hull, mark and cut the cockpit hole in the bottle, as shown, being careful not to stray from the line, as the cutout piece will become the keel. If you plan to make more than one boat, use your first cutout piece as a template for tracing cut lines on the other bottles.
- Use a ruler and pushpin to score lines on both sides of the plastic. Fold along the center crease to form the keel and then fold back the sides. Trim the front of the keel as shown.
- Form the clay into a 6- by 2-inch log. Press the clay into the keel for ballast. Pinch the ends of the keel together and seal them with duct tape. Apply a strip over the top of the keel too, then cover the whole assembly with tape to make it watertight.
- Press the Styrofoam ball into the front of the boat, as shown. Secure it by wrapping duct tape over the ball and the adjoining surfaces of the boat.
- Center the keel and tape it in place as shown. Cover the rest of the boat’s exterior with tape, applying it as evenly as possible. Tip: Cutting slits into the sides of the tape will make it easier to apply over curves.
- For the sail, measure, mark, and cut an 8-inch square from the bottom right corner of the plastic bag. Fold the top left corner (both layers) diagonally to create a triangle, leaving a 3/16-inch margin on the bottom layer.
- Apply clear tape to fix and seal the layers in position. Reinforce the corners of the sail with small strips of tape. Then snip off the corners shown to create sleeves for the boom and mast.
- Insert the straw (your sailboat’s boom) into the sleeve at the bottom of the sail. Trim any excess straw so that only 1/4 inch protrudes beyond the sleeve. Save the surplus straw for step 11.
- Slide the single-loop end of a paper clip into the end of the boom and tape it in place, as shown.
- Wrap duct tape around one end of the dowel (the top of your mast). Use a pushpin to poke a hole in the center of the wrapped end, then twist a screw eye into the hole.
- Using scissors, poke a starter hole in the top of the Styrofoam ball and then push the base of the mast all the way through the ball. Be sure the mast goes in straight and true. Slide the extra piece of straw (about 1/2 inch in length) down the mast until it rests on the ball.
- Slide the paper clip loop and the luff sleeve down the mast so the paper clip rests on the straw. The mast should poke through the head of the sail.
- With a pushpin, poke a hole through the stern end of the sail and another just below it in the boat’s transom, as shown. Tie a loop of fishing line between the holes for your boat’s sheet. The sheet should be long enough to allow the boom to swing a few inches.
- Poke a starter hole in the bottle cap, then twist in a screw eye. Tie a piece of fishing line between the screw eye on the mast and the one in the bottle cap for a forestay. Cut small triangles from surveyors’ tape and attach them with clear tape to the forestay as decorative flags. Attach your fishing rod’s line to the bow, and you’re ready to set sail!