SEA SAUNA

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The Sea Sauna

 

For about 10 weeks a year, the Sea Sauna floats in the Maine harbor where Brendan grew up as a summer kid, then as a year-round lobsterman, then as founder of a wooden boat-building program. It took a few summers of daydreaming about building a sauna to float on the cold waters of Maine before everything unexpectedly fell into place during the pandemic summer of 2020. In one weekend that June, friends offered a sauna stove, a finger float, and a mooring to the cause, and the Saturday work began.   

 

 

Read more about the process and outcomes below.

 

The Japanese structures Brendan visited in and around Tokyo in November 2019 leant a design jumping off point for the Sea Sauna’s cedar-driven 8x6-foot design.

Shingling provided a meditative escape from the stress of the pandemic, a way to release the fear and heartache of losing loved ones and juggling full time jobs with scattered childcare while sheltering in place in Maine.

Most of the materials used were donated or salvaged. The stove came from jeweler Sam Shaw, who welded it in 1979, the year Brendan was born. The finger float was overgrown with beach rose on the waterfront and the owner was glad to see it repurposed. The timber frame and floatation came from two local lobstermen. To make the hearth we used slate remnants from the roof of the local museum.

Weight was a primary concern during construction (will it float?). This was solved for in part by nailing exterior cedar shingles to hand-cut strips that were left visible from the interior in lieu of additional walls. The language of the nailing strips is repeated in the construction of the benches.

The Sea Sauna uses cedar as its central material because it withstands wet conditions and emits that classic woodsy, pencil-shaving sauna scent. A dustpan made from shingle scraps rests on a nailing strip. Local beach stones are stacked on the stove in a basin welded for that purpose.

The water in Maine averages 57 degrees in the summer. The sauna heats to upwards of 175 degrees. The alternating extremes reset your mood and worldview. The sunsets aren’t bad either.

The Japanese structures Brendan visited in and around Tokyo in November 2019 leant a design jumping off point for the Sea Sauna’s cedar-driven 8x6-foot design.

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