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Is It A Boat Or A Bed?

The story of one lucky boy's first turn at the 'helm'.

Boat bed

BoatUS member and retired U.S. Coast Guard captain Tom Beatty built a unique present for his 3-year-old grandson Alex — his own boat! Well, sort of.

The story begins almost 50 years ago when Beatty built a bed in the shape of a racecar for his son. So when his grandson was born, Beatty thought back to that earlier project and came up with a similar idea — a bed in the shape of a boat.

Robustly built from two-by-four lumber and plywood, the final design was predicated on ensuring that the mattress would fit. A series of sketches followed with Beatty further refining the design until he was happy with the overall concept. Working in his spare time, Beatty spent six months on construction. Not content with just making the bed look like a boat, Beatty added throttle controls and a proper dashboard replete with gauges, ignition switch, horn, and steering wheel. The finishing touches came in the guise of working navigation lights, faux teak decking, painted waterline boot top, and rope rubrail.

When finished, Beatty's wife thought the "boat" looked so good that she organized a launch party, inviting friends, neighbors, and even the pastor from their church to offer a blessing.

The name painted proudly on the stern — Alex's Dream Boat!


Mark Corke

Associate Editor, BoatUS Magazine

A marine surveyor, and holder of RYA Yachtmaster Ocean certification, BoatUS Magazine Associate Editor Mark Corke handles the magazine’s very popular Practical Boater section, keeping it full of easy-to-follow how-to articles. Mark has built five boats himself — power and sail – has been an experienced editor at other top boating magazines, worked for the BBC, has written four DIY books, skippered two round-the-world yachts, and holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest there-and-back crossing of the English Channel, in a kayak! He and his wife have a Grand Banks 32.