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Get afloat

Build a boat and find the perfect place to sail it.

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You’ll need

  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors
  • Natural materials (for example, leaves, twigs, feathers)
  • Cardboard
  • Scraps of fabric
  • Carrier bags
  • Marker pens
Types of boats
PDF – 180.9KB

Build your boat

  1. Everyone should split into teams and look at one of the images in the ‘Types of boats’ sheet.
  2. Using the image for inspiration, each team should use craft materials to make a model boat.

Set sail

  1. Everyone should gather together to show the models to the rest of the group. Explain the type of sailboat it is, its special features, and how you made it from the craft materials.
  2. Everyone should discuss the best places to sail the four different types of craft. What would happen if you tried to sail a dinghy, keelboat, catamaran or yacht in the following places
    • A calm, wide river (you’ll have no problem if you can catch enough wind).
    • A choppy sea with large waves (smaller boats will start to fill with water due to the waves. Sailing in this weather won’t be safe, or enjoyable).
    • River rapids (sailboats are not suitable for these waters. Your boat could easily crash against a rock, making a hole in the hull).
    • A small, calm lake (when the water is still and you’re wearing the right equipment, you’re in for a fantastic day of sailing).
    • Canal (narrowboats are built for canals and some sailboats will be too big. However, with the proper equipment and an expert’s help, these waters could provide a pleasant sail in a dinghy).


This activity is all about building the skills needed for sailing. Did you learn anything new about the four different sailboats and their uses? What did you find easy or difficult about making the model? Do you feel you would be more prepared to safely sail a craft in one of the bodies of water we discussed? What can affect the safety of a body of water?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

  • Work as a whole group to create the models if smaller teams will struggle.
  • Challenge teams to add as much detail as possible to the models, including rigging.

Write, draw, or print out pictures of the places to sail to make the activity easier to visualise.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.