Guest post series continues.
EDITORS NOTE: I had the pleasure of experiencing Grant’s floating sauna recently along with fellow authentic sauna enthusiast Scott. It was a cool, mellow late October evening. I drove West from Minneapolis for a solid hour, past the exburbs, along farmland and countryside, reaching Grant’s lake home by sunset. Grant just fired up the sauna stove and before shoving off to deeper waters, I took this photo:
Then, I shot this video:
So, Grant, you are no stranger to sauna. Can you tell readers your history with sauna? How long have you been enjoying the sauna experience?
Taking sauna is something that I grew up with. I guess it was just passed down from one generation to the next all the way back from Finland. I have been enjoying sauna of my entire life. All 31 years. When I lived with my parents my dad always built a sauna in our house, and many of my friends and family have saunas. Both sets of grandparents had a sauna in their basement and sometimes we would go over there on weekends for sauna and visiting. It is especially something that I enjoy in the fall and winter. Because it is so nice to warm up. Taking sauna is also a good place to visit. I don’t think we ever solve the worlds problems but we certainly try.
Before settling on your Floating Sauna, had you considered other sauna build options? What finally made you decide to build your own floating sauna?
Yes I definitely considered other options. I considered building one near the shoreline. I also considered building one under my deck. And of course I could have built a sauna in my basement as well. I decided on the floating sauna because I had experienced a floating sauna once before in Saskatchewan and it was very memorable – maybe one of the best days of my life. I wanted to share that experience with my friends and family. That is why I built a floating sauna.
What were a couple of your biggest obstacles as you planned and built your floating sauna?
The biggest obstacle was weight distribution. The design I wanted to go with was not perfectly symmetrical therefore I needed to be very careful about the placement of the stove and other parts of the sauna. Another obstacle was roofing material. I wanted carpet up there so that it would be comfortable to walk on but it also needed to shed water. There were a few other obstacles but nothing too major.
How have other lake residents responded to your unique modification to a pontoon boat? Any issues now that your dream is a reality?
I have had many very curious onlookers. Most of them just observe from their pontoon at a distance. But some come to visit. Everybody who has come to visit has been pretty cool. But nobody has been brave enough to hop aboard and take steam. We will see what next summer brings.
What recommendations can you give other readers who may be thinking about building their own floating sauna?
The best part is getting family and friends together to help. It is a lot of fun to work on together and then when you finally get done it is even more fun to take steam. I actually wanted to build it all myself but in the end my brothers and brothers-in-law helped me and it was fun to work on it with them. Plus they are better carpenters than me so it was good to have them for the bench design and final finishes.
I spent a lot of time planning this sauna and I think it was worth it. It was nice because I did not really have a deadline, I just went about the project at my own pace. If I was building another floating sauna I would probably build it a little bit smaller. This one is not very good for windy days. It is like a big sail in the middle of the lake. So on windy days I have to keep it on the lift.
You mentioned that you finished your floating sauna project in July. How many saunas have you taken so far? Can you describe for us a typical sauna session?
It was lit every night in July. And then I would say on average twice a week since then. So maybe 50 saunas so far or there abouts.
Sometimes on weekends I have large groups of friends and family over. And we will take steam all afternoon for several hours. We will be water skiing and windsurfing and jet skiing and then we go in the sauna to warm up. Other times I will just have a few friends over in the evening and we will take sauna and visit. Both ways are very enjoyable.
And then every once in awhile I will take the sauna out by myself. It is very relaxing when the lake is calm and the sunset is beautiful and the seagulls or Canadian geese are in the background. Occasionally I’ll hear a couple fishermen chatting, or friends visiting around a fire on shore. These are common scenes in Minnesota, but until now I had never experienced them from a floating sauna. It is impossible to fully understand the setting without experiencing it… It is one of those “best things in life.” For me anyway.