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A floating sauna is one of those “best things in life.”

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:

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Then, I shot this video:

Enter Grant:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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7 Comments on This Post

  1. I think this should be sauna lovers best kept secret, If the DNR gets wind of this there could be a whole new set of regulations legislated to fuel their Money church.

  2. Great post and great photos. I like the idea of anchoring in deeper water, diving right in out of the hot room. Plus this floater is a wonderful way to skirt the county setback rules and building codes! Nicely done!

  3. I built an 8×8 floating sauna on a 12×12 deck about 13 years ago . . . even though it is on a private two-acre farm pond, I have long wished I used a 20′ or longer pontoon boat to build it on instead. Highly recommend this pontoon approach to others – and, you could perhaps trailer it to other locations, even the driveway of a friend’s place, or a campground. For the past several years I have had to deal with the fact that treated lumber, deck screws and plastic barrels don’t last as long as aluminum, and repairs get challenging (i.e., I ain’t going under there again to fix that). My (just started) next sauna will be on the edge of the pond (no zoning/covenants here) – an 8×8 within a 12×20 dedicated sauna building. That said, our floating sauna has been a source of great pleasure, and did have the added benefit of being left in the water all winter, providing easy access to cool-down through the hatch in the floor, or a hole cut just off the swimming ladder (up until a 16″ chainsaw bar could not reach the bottom of the ice). I have seen past-their-prime but-still-sound pontoon boats for under $1000 on Craigslist – this is the way to go for a floating sauna, even if you have it on a small pond!

  4. GReat inspiration! I am drawing up plans for my own. I have a triple pontoon deck for the project (1989 24footer). I’m a little concerned about the windy day scenario and if I should motorize it or tow it. I also want a changing room and upper deck for diving and sitting. any insights would be greatly appreciated. I cant see from the photos how the helm controls are set up on Grant’s dream boat. I think a four or five person sauna would be ideal for us.

  5. Paul: I want to build a panel sauna and assemble it on a Mississippi barge. I want to get on in St. Paul, MN and get off in New Orleans. I plan to bring a backpack and my bike. I think it’ll take two weeks and i’m checking with barge companies. It sounds so fun, it must be illegal for some reason.

    This may be a saunatimes field trip and i’ll keep you posted.

  6. Hey,

    I’m thinking about building a floating sauna of my own. Does your ebook give any insight into floating sauna building? If not, does anyone else have a good blueprint for this?

    Thanks
    Jack

  7. Jack:

    Love the project. As I wrote the ebook, I am kind of biased in telling you that the book is adaptable towards helping you build your floating sauna. If it doesn’t offer hundreds of dollars in money saving tips and dozens of hours of labor saving time, I’ll paddle up to your floating sauna with a $20 bill as my money back guarantee (as long as your sauna is idling and ready for our sauna session together).

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