DIY Stick Raft Boats

We collected the sticks for this project on our way home from school.  I made the boats and the kids spent hours and hours playing with them, at home and at the beach. It was beyond wonderful.  It all started with my husband, and his love of watching the sailing. The Volvo Ocean Race is on at the moment, and they finished a leg in Auckland on the weekend.  We watched them come in as a family.

I thought it would be a lovely thing for the kids to sail their own boats in the ocean, and instead of buying something, we made our own. Saying the rafts were a hit with the kids would be an understatement.   They are simple to make, and since I’ve made quite a few of these, I’ve boiled the process down to what I find works best. However, it would also be a good challenge for older kids to experiment with (all they need is sticks and twine and a piece of rag).


2 thick sticks for the base
10 (approx) smaller sticks for the raft deck
1 twig for mast
Rag for sail (I used a dish cloth) – scrap material or an old tea towel works
Twine to tie it together
Craft Glue (I used this to attach the sail on)

raft boat

Step 1

Measure the raft deck sticks between the 2 base sticks and break them so they are similar length. There should be a centimetre or more overhang of the sticks.

raft boat

Step 2

Cut a long section of twine (at least a metre) and tie the first stick to the base.  
Tip: if the length isn’t long enough to finish the side, join another section of twine on and continue.

raft boat

Step 3

Wind the twine around twice one way, and then do the same the other way, forming a cross to hold the stick in place.

raft boat twine

Step 4

Continue the process along one side of the raft.  A tip I found is start the twine cross by weaving the twine in between the previous twig and the one you’re working on (twice) first before then working on the other side. Pull tight between each twig.

stick raft

Step 5

Do the same process with the other side of the raft.

stick raft

Step 6

Cut the dish cloth or rag to size of the sail, leaving a couple of centimetres excess to fold over and glue. Or just tie it on!
stick raft boat

Step 7

Push the twig snugly between two sticks in the middle of the raft deck. Tie twine around the two centre twigs (as shown in the 2nd image below) several times, and then around the twig to secure (as shown in the 3rd image below).

raft boat sail

Took me about 15 minutes to make the raft and well worth every minute to see the kids so very happily play for hours at the beach. They floated! And are surprisingly durable. The kids are begging to go out and do it again. We will.

raft stick boat

stick raft boats

We decorated the flags too.

raft stick boat

stick raft boat

stick raft boat

stick raft boat

stick raft boat

Want to see me make one (very very very fast?)


Other boats to make

Bark Boat Experiment

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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