Houseboat architect aims to inspire others to build their own

Aug 27, 2013

A geodesic houseboat called "The Pride of Buffalo" is being displayed at harbors around western New York for the next few weeks. Its builder, Michael Weekes, hopes to inspire others to build their own boats.

"The Pride of Buffalo"
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

It took Weekes roughly six weeks to build his geodesic houseboat. The wooden catamaran is currently docked at Buffalo’s Canalside for everyone to see. He says he wanted to make the boat large enough for taller people, like himself, to stand up comfortably.

“The boat is 19 feet long by10 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,” said Weekes.

Weekes says he plans to dock the vessel in different watersheds around Buffalo until it’s time to pack up for the season. He says its shape provides protection in all weather conditions.

Michael Weekes on "The Pride of Buffalo."
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

“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,” said Weekes.

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 to the dock 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 standing there, sort of like one of the guys in Venice, you’re able to swoosh the oar back and forth, just like the tail of a fish,” said Weekes.

Michael Weekes' grill and cooler
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

The cabin is equipped with a cooler, a small propane grille, and storage compartments. Weekes says it cost him less than $1,200 to build the boat. He encourages others to build one of their own.

“I dream of a Buffalo waterfront where there are dozens of homemade craft like this, shanty boats if you will, which get my fellow Buffalonians out on the water affordably and quickly.”