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The Pride of Buffalo. Photo by Mike Weekes
The Pride of Buffalo. Photo by Mike Weekes

Is a geodesic catamaran the future for houseboats?

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A strangely-shaped houseboat called "The Pride of Buffalo" is making a tour of western New York harbors over the next few weeks. It looks sort of like a hippie dome built on a raft -- Huck Finn meets Buckminster Fuller.

It took Michael Weekes six weeks to build his geodesic houseboat. The wooden catamaran is currently docked at Buffalo's canalside for everyone to see. He hopes to inspire others and transform his local waterfront.

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Reported by

Ashley Hirtzel
Reporter, The Innovation Trail

Weekes says he wanted to make sure it was comfortable enough for a tall person like him… “The boat is 19 feet long by 10 feet wide, that’s the deck, and the cabin itself is 9 feet wide and 15 feet long, and it has a height of 7 feet, 6 inches. I wanted to build a boat that was big enough for a person like myself that is 6’2” without having to bend over like in a sail boat.”

Weekes plans to dock the houseboat around Buffalo until it’s time to pack up for the season. He explains its shape provides protection in all weather conditions. “The geodesic dome is used by FEMA to house people in cases of natural disaster. This shape has actually been found to resist high winds, even hurricane force winds better than any other, and it’s because the shape mimics a drop of water or a sphere.”

The design is also a tribute to architect Buckminster Fuller, who admired and studied the geodesic shape for years.

Weekes says the boat was towed in this time, but usually moves by paddling it like an Italian gondola. “If you notice on the back deck I have a cleat to accommodate one of these long oars. So by actually standing there sort of like one of the guys in Venice you’re able to swoosh the oar back and forth in a certain kind of manor, just like the tail of a fish.”

 The cabin is equipped with a cooler, a small propane grill, and storage compartments. Weekes says it cost him less than 12-hundred dollars to build the boat. He encourages others to build one of their own. “I dream of a Buffalo waterfront where there is dozens of homemade craft like this, shanty boats if you will, which get my fellow Buffalonians out on the water affordably and quickly.”

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