Striking Finnish sauna build into an upturned boat underway in Pembrokeshire

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27 Aug

People often come to us for advice, guidance and materials when taking on their own sauna project and sometimes they are building their Finnish sauna in some weird and wonderful spaces. Pembrokeshire based photojournalist turned carpenter Greg Buick's build is a case in point, he’s currently lovingly converting half an upside-down boat into a mobile Finnish sauna and we’ve helped him out with materials and advice since he started. We’ve keenly followed his progress on social media since he got his hands on the boat in January last year and his client, The Bluetits Chill Swimmers club, is certainly in for a treat once it’s completed. Before retraining as a carpenter, Greg's 15 years as a photojournalist placed him on assignments all over the world. He worked mostly for humanitarian organisations including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Amnesty International and The Red Cross. These days he concentrates on making beautiful things from wood, surfing and spending time in nature with his kids. We caught up with him recently...

Inspiration

“When I lived in Norway a friend of mine and I enjoyed building a lovely sauna on the back of a trailer. I wanted to create something a bit different this time around and old boats are such a beautiful shape. I had a realisation that if I turned one upside down it would create an ideal roof with a cosy space below it. When I was a kid I remember my Dad telling me the story of Shackleton who lived on Elephant Island for over a year underneath an upside-down boat while he was waiting to be rescued. I think I may have had that in the back of my mind somewhere!"

Starting out

“I’d contacted about twenty sauna companies for advice before starting the project and it was quite apparent how little guidance they were able to give as far as materials and how I’d go about building a truly authentic Finnish sauna. You guys have been amazing and it wouldn’t have been anywhere nearly as easy without your help.” 

The boat

“I was looking out for a boat that was big enough and easy enough to transport. This particular old mahogany one had been lying on the side of a river in Cornwall for a long time and I eventually found it on Facebook marketplace after spending months looking. It just looked so perfect and it had the advantage of still being in a pretty good condition.” 

 

Materials

“I’ve used cedar cladding and the Kingspan Sauna Satu Vapour Board. I’ve found cedar is an amazing wood to work with, particularly for this build, because it’ll take any curve very well. The heater I’ve chosen is a fabulous and robust wood-burning Narvi Black 20 ST Tunnel Model which has a large stone capacity. It's going to fill the space with loads of great steam."

 Follow Greg’s progress on Instagram