Incredible Soda Bottle Pontoon Boat




About: Retired Jr. High science teacher of 30 years. Always into lots of things. Now I seem to be into them more. Love woodworking, guitar, portrait painting, and a lifelong obsession building things. I have rotat...

FOURTH UPDATE: The Incredible Soda Bottle Pontoon Boat is gone, no more, nada. It's at the dump in pieces or recycled. Watch for a new build in the spring. Sleeker, lighter, svelter, cooler. Drawing on what I've learned.

THIRD UPDATE: So, the boat has as of this writing been in the water for 7 years. It's never been pulled out just beached and left outside in winter. I noticed a few pieces of plywood coming loose and the batteries are nearing end of useful life. When you deep charge/discharge marine batteries over and over they eventually lose their ability to hold a full charge.

The third picture you see below is ugly. It's the final pictures before total and complete dismantling of the Incredible Soda Bottle Pontoon Boat. In the spring I'll start again. this one will be different. Basically sleaker, lighter, faster. and simpler. I consider the first one a prototype. I learned a lot and I found out what works and what doesn't. I had lots of fun and many, many pleasant hours cruising, fishing, and fielding questions from people on lake from the banking and from boats.

This is the end of the ISBPB. Tomorrow it's a date with the sledgehammer.

SECOND UPDATE: I have had problems with burning out switches with the high current. I have recently installed 4 automobile solenoids. Wired properly they act like a DPDT switch. I have one small three position toggle switch for a control now. Forward-off-reverse. I might have to replace two of them with continuous duty solenoids though I don't know how long the intemittent ones will hold up going long periods in forward. I'll post pictures of the set-up when I get the chance.

UPDATE PARAGRAPH: Below is the barge, as it's called now, 4 years later. The one without the canopy is the original launched picture. The canopy is a rather expensive but impervious to weather material called 'sunbrulla'. The pipes are galvanized 1" electrical conduit. Other changes: the seats didn't weather well so they were covered with latex sheeting. An American flag and holder, Oh, and a new pier I welded up.

I made a soda bottle raft a few years ago. It was just 940 two liter bottles enclosed on all sides with a deck. Later on I decided to make a pontoon boat. A sort of movable raft or barge out of soda bottles and materials from Home Depot. When I'm making a boat suddenly all stores carry boat making materials. It's fun to improvise with what's available.

The boat is basically wood pontoons with 2400 soda bottles filling them. It's electric and has become a wonderful place to spend an afternoon to glide silently on the water or to fish. It's big, 20' by 12' and heavy, I'd estimate about a ton. but it moves nicely even in a stiff wind, rolls with waves but doesn't overly rock, and is highly maneuverable. It just isn't very fast but here in Maine that the way we like it. A BBQ grill, a tall Moxie, a fishing pole and you've got it made on the water on the incredible soda bottle pontoon boat (alias the Pahty bahge). You need to pronounce that with a Maine accent,no R's allowed.

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Step 1: Framing It Up

Materials are mostly from Home Depot. Pressure treated lumber is used for the skeleton. and yes, most of it is the non toxic kind. I don't know if it will stand up in the water as well as the old stuff used to though.

Step 2: Floatilla

About 2400 soda bottles in two wood pontoons float this beast. I tried to do some buoyancy calculations by estimating final mass and volume. And I predicted that it would float about 50 percent of the boat below the surface. I was right.

Step 3: Finish Work and the Seat

I knew I couldn't make it look like a new pontoon boat with that plastic and cushy look so I went instead for the Jules Verne look.

Step 4: Propulsion and Electrical

See the picture descriptions for more information. The boat runs (slowly, about 5 mph) using Four modified trolling motors made by Minn Kota.

Step 5: Figure Head

A carved dragon's head turns in the direction you're steering. It also has two LED lights for Eyes, one green and one red as required for night riding.

Step 6: A Few Conveniences

Joyce is my wife BTW. And a ladder is needed after a cool swim and of course an anchor so you can swim and not get stranded.

Step 7: Launched and Doing Fine

We launched it at night as to not draw too much attention at the boat landing. Evening rides are nice and serene. No noise besides the gentle rippling of the water that is pushed aside by the boat as it glides along. And, it's great for fishing too.

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    305 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    I have a question on your Pontoon which looks great.
    Why do you have the base open one side?
    Why wouldn't you just seal off the pontoon soda base?


    2 years ago

    What a cool idea - If you added a structure to this deck, would it stay dry ? And the panels shown - is their function to contain the bottles ? When this boat is on the water, the hulls are full of water, flowing through them ? It sure looks like it would work well and not cost a lot. good job -

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Not sure what you mean by a structure? I did put on a biminy top. Yes the hulls fill with water at least about half way up them. I think your questions can be answered in the text if I haven't addressed them well here.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    Since I'm older & not interested in sewing my oats like I was at 19, I have always wanted a pontoon boat....I think that I will try & build one but I'll use plastic barrels(6 or 8 of them) for the pontoons.

    A 20 footer should be enough to pahty on & catch fish with as well. 8=D

    And if I get REALLY bored, I just might end up with a home made houseboat.

    I loved reading how you did this, gives me lots of ideas!!

    10 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    As a kid we had a steel pipe raft, a big one floated with 6 steel drums. It bobbed like a cork. I'll bet you could get by with 4 of them if they are about the size of the steel ones.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Perhaps a little water inside the barrels will reduce the stability problem.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    this is prolly true guys....however, I would rather have too much floatation than not enough.

    as far as water in the barrels, that might work....kind of like a counter balance thingy...there's a 64 million dollar name for it, but I have no idea what that name is. :)

    TY both for the input. Much apreciated. 8)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Except that you will be hauling that water around with you - at 64lbs/gallon.

    Light is best.

    Cylindrical hulls aren't really great, hydrodynamically - flat bottoms are much better.

    2ftx2ft pontoons on a 20ft x 8ft platform will give you more than enough flotation for 10 people and all their gear, assuming you don't make it all out of cast iron!

    Here's a great, cheap, easy plan for a scalable platform boat from Pop.Mech.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Sad. I remember reading about this when I was in college. Luck with your new tardy boat.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    would love to build with my grandsons WE did build a raft from G-2 bottles Last summer I used liquid nails to hold the bottles together in our very hot and dry Arizona air the bottles started to come apart we had great fun for a summer season and cost me under $10.00 scrap wood from Home Depot bin and Liquid nails on sale it was a piece I cut down to 4X5 and had two layers of bottles that covered the bottom

    Kids had fun making the raft and more fun with it in the water


    Yous should keep a similar design for the new one but have the pontoons made from 4 50 gallon drums stacked lengthwise. Then make nice cones on the ends and possibly sheath the top in sheet metal so you cant see the tops of the barrels but so that the bottoms come in contact with the water. It would be alot easier to move through the water.

    1 reply