So, you’re thinking about building a raft? Leaving this godforsaken town….Good luck with that!

However, if you want a fun project to spend some time outdoors with the little ones, try building a mini raft. It’s surprisingly… not that bad.

First of all you need to source some materials. For the base, a slab of wood is perfect, but not just any old slab. Ideally you need driftwood that you’ll find on riverbanks or on the beach. The next best thing is semi-rotten chunks you find buried in log piles. We found ours in the woods.  There’s still some there, if you’re quick.

Next up, you can decorate it. My daughter painted ours a sludgy brown and mustard yellow.

Now grab some power tools and go crazy. It’s a great excuse to drill, saw, sand and file…

Once you’ve made enough mess you can either head down to your local pond or you can add some extras. These are optional parts, but will help give the impression that your raft is more badass than it actually is. (it isn’t).

I decided to add a small motor I had knocking around. It’s 45p online, so no biggie when the craft inevitably sinks. I also added an old quadcopter propeller to it and hooked it up to a 9V battery. Of course we had to add a latching switch to easily turn it on and off. That set us back another 70p unfortunately. But if there was an emergency on board, we’d need to quickly pull the power to the motor.

The last thing to go up was the mast and leaf:

That’s our flag. You can do better.

So, the moment of truth. Time to float this beauty. We used sewing thread to lower the raft into the River Thames from quite a drop. Upon splashdown we hit some serious problems.

Within seconds the paint washed off and the motor failed. Perhaps the salty water or the dense levels of angry microscopic amoebas. A gust of wind suddenly took the raft away to screams of delight from my daughter but the thread became tangled in the reeds. A family of geese were heading towards us from afar and we panicked. Barely visible thread around the necks of a fluffy gosling was not something I could have on my conscience. The maiden voyage was doomed. We hauled up the sodden rotten mess and ran.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Scavenging, painting, wiring, drilling and setting sail, all in one afternoon. My daughter has decided we’ll make a raft every day. I’m thinking maybe one every other day.