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Floating Sauna moors itself on Lake Washington in Seattle

light steam graphic

Guest post series continues: please welcome David from Von Sauna, who brings his floating sauna to Lake Washington in Seattle. Welcome David!

What compelled you to build your own sauna?

My goal for the past few years was to bring the Norwegian floating sauna to the US. Inspired by the booming floating sauna scene in Oslo and elsewhere in the country, I knew that the trend would be a big hit in the states and that Americans would enjoy the same social and health benefits as the Scandinavians do. 

This vision compelled me to build my own custom floating sauna, which put me in way over my head. 2 years later, I emerged with a build team that consists of a Marine Engineer, Aluminum Fabricator, and Sauna Builder. Our sauna is the only legally trailerable public floating sauna in the US!

Von Sauna interior
Von Sauna interior

How did you find SaunaTimes and give us a few examples where the DIY ebook helped you out.

I’m a researcher at heart and have no desire to build a shi**y sauna. One of the biggest takeaways that I had in Norway was that good heat feels VERY different than bad heat. Early on, I was not familiar with the thermodynamics inside of a sauna, the different insulation options or the laws of good löyly. However, I did know that I didn’t want to recreate my local gym sauna’s heat and instead wanted to bring back the authentic, wood fired goodness that I experienced abroad. 

This led to loads of research and eventually SaunaTimes, the DIY eBook, and America’s “Sauna Lord”, Glenn Auerbach. 

Where the eBook helped most: Insulation types, sauna sizing… how big does my hot room have to be to accommodate 12 people, height of benches, depth of benches (I went with a wider format, which I love for multiple reasons), location of stove, slope of ceiling, proper ventilation. **the list really goes on and on.

David and the Von Sauna
David and the Von Sauna

What were the biggest 1-2 challenges for your sauna build?

The largest challenges of my sauna build all revolved around the floating aspect, not the sauna itself. Without giving away trade secrets, the sauna’s live and dead load needed to be accounted for when designing the barge. My self-imposed 8.5′ width constraint made this incredibly challenged from a design perspective. One key learning is that buoyancy does not equal stability!

Von Sauna moored on Lake Washington
Von Sauna moored on Lake Washington

Tell us something specific about your sauna that makes you especially proud.

I had the barge and sauna fabricated before I had my final location figured out. This was a huge gamble, but a necessary one when you are starting the US’ first public floating sauna and there is no roadmap to follow. This business model is far more complicated than is obvious at the surface and requires a ton of incredibly in depth research and problem solving to bring to market.

So overall, I guess I’m proud of my perseverance and of all the incredible build partners that brought this project to life. Special shoutout here to Timber Sauna Co. They are creative, patient, generous, and care deeply about the success and satisfaction of their customers.” Also, they know good heat and build quality saunas. 

Von Sauna in the Seattle sun
Von Sauna in the Seattle sun

Any regrets or do overs?

Absolutely! The main do-over for me would probably revolve around proper drainage. Our floating sauna is an authentic, Finnish style sauna and is meant to handle moisture. If I could do it over again, I’d prioritize a sloped floor that drains to a specific side of the barge. 

David making steam with his Kumma BluFlame
David making steam with his Kumma BluFlame

If you bring a mobile sauna anywhere in the world, where would you like to go and sauna?

I’d like to take a mobile sauna high into the Altai Mountains to a glacial lake. Here I would enjoy a sauna session with Mongolian and Kazakh eagle hunters. We would watch the eagles catch our evening meal from the comfort of the sauna and cook the wild hares or foxes over the perfect coals inside our Kuuma Blu Flame

David, knocking it out of the park
David, knocking it out of the park

Thanks David! We can’t wait to share some time on the bench with you! And if you’d like to book your own sauna session with Von Sauna, please visit their website. We’re pleased to help televise the floating sauna revolution. SaunaTimes has been floating this idea back to 2015 here, and 2018 here, the Viking Floating Saunas launch at Sauna Days here

Ask your doctor if a floating sauna is right for you. Or, contact Glenn at SaunaTimes with a comment below, and he’d be happy to help steer your ship in the right direction.

Spiritual bonus: Note David’s text in white:

David's spiritual bonus text
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2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Floating Sauna moors itself on Lake Washington in Seattle”

  1. Von Sauna rocks! I invited 11 steam junky friends there to celebrate my 68th birthday. David took great care of us. The stove cooked us just right. Lake Washington cooled us off between rounds. I’ll be back in a couple weeks with another group of 12.

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