The designer and builder of the Sauna Boat is Ken Hunt, a 3rd generation Adirondacker. Ken’s love for boat building surfaced in high school. Armed with his only power-tool, a one-speed electric drill, Ken would regularly commandeer the family garage for construction or renovation of a boat. After high school he spent two years at Clarkson in Potsdam, NY, then went onto Syracuse University to study Industrial Design. Fresh out of school he became the in-house designer for the New York State Library, working on space planning for the Cultural Education Center at the Nelson Rockefeller Empire State Plaza. However, when the design was completed in 1976, the nation was in gas lines during a recession. Design jobs were scarce. Ken returned home to pursue the family business in insurance and real estate.
Creative energy and the love of boat building still burned in his soul. Within a year of Ken’s homecoming, sketches and conceptual designs began to flow from the dinning room table. Working evenings and weekends, Ken drew plans for a 30-foot, two-story houseboat called “The Fruitus.” The Fruitus included a Franklin fireplace, walls of French doors, potty, sleeping quarters, a helm that doubled as a glass-dome observatory, and almost as an afterthought – a sauna. The small sauna room was constructed simply to capture heat from the fireplace chimney, it turned out that the very small room was used as much as the other elaborate rooms, or more. Five years later, when the 83” Fruitus went to sea (so to speak) on the Saranacs, it was the sauna that stole the show.
The floating sauna would be the recurring theme in all of Ken’s subsequent projects. His first Sauna Boat was a lightweight fish shack-like structure named “The Again,” which Ken mounted on a raft, then onto a pontoon deck, to which he added a motor. The next incarnation was more sophisticated, incorporating the ergonomics, or human factors engineering, that had been pounded home in design school through source books such as “Architectural Standards” and Dreyfuss’s “Human Factors in Design.” Ken spent months perseverating over seat heights, eye levels, door widths, window sizes, lock and bridge clearances, lighting textures colors, etc. The “Again N Again” began fabrication in 2004 and a final shake down cruise occurred in spring 2008. Refinements were completed and the “Again N Again” was launched in spring 2009.