This dad’s DIY Tarzan raft sets a new standard for fun on the water

Photo by Marc Savignac

Marc Savignac’s cottage north of Sudbury, Ont., has plenty of waterfront, but it’s too shallow for some of the fun stuff his kids wanted to do, such as having a rope swing into the lake. To compensate, he bought a water trampoline, but it didn’t deliver the bounce that it promised. The kids mostly used it for lounging. “They looked like a bunch of walruses sunning on an ice floe,” says Marc. “I thought, I have to do better than this.”

The solution A DIY two-storey floating platform, dubbed the Tarzan Raft, which includes a trampoline, a slide, a diving board, and a giant cargo net for climbing and relaxing. Unsurprisingly, it’s a big hit with his kids and all the neighbours’ kids too. “They bring chairs, sleeping bags, snacks, and watertoys out and spend the entire day there,” says Marc.

Photo by Marc Savignac

Marc built two 8-by-16-foot platforms for the base and installed four 5′ polyethylene floats filled with foam under each to make them buoyant. Each float has a 750 lb capacity, providing more than enough buoyancy to keep the wood 14″ out of the water, a trick he knew would offer the structure a longer life. “Even with a bunch of people on the raft, it may sink an inch or two, max,” says Marc.

Marc bought an 8′ trampoline on Kijiji and installed it at an angle by removing all but one set of legs and supporting the rest of the frame on wooden posts. The kids can jump from the second storey and onto the trampoline before getting flung out into the lake.

A length of 36″ corrugated plastic tubing makes the slide. It’s smooth inside, and Marc installed a neighbour’s old hand-crank pump to draw up lake water to keep the tube wet and slideable. (Failing that, the ol’ bucket-on-a-rope trick works too.)

Excess cargo net serves as an on-board hammock. Photo by Marc Savignac.

To anchor the raft away from shore, Marc used ½” marine rope to tie each corner to an old tire filled with concrete and a bent piece of rebar. On launch day, however, the anchors slid to one side and tipped the structure over, while his kids and neighbours watched with horror from the shore. “As if things weren’t bad enough, another couple were out on their boat and came over to see what was happening,” says Marc. “They started taking pictures.” Eventually, with the help of a neighbour’s skidder cable from shore, he was able to right the raft and had the kids leaping off it later that same day. Kerplunk!

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