In a pandemic, Island tinkerer grabs on to whatever floats your boat

Pieter Stegeman built rescue raft ‘Air-Float-One’ out of recycled materials to keep himself busy

Ladysmith handyman Pieter Stegeman has drawn on decades of marine work to create a survival float made almost entirely out of recycled materials.

Stegeman found himself with time on his hands at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and decided to put those hands to good use when he came across a pile of wooden debris.

He built the frame of a raft, he calls ‘Air-Float-One’ entirely out of the unused wood. The inside of the vessel is filled with empty one-litre milk jugs, other plastic containers to improve flotation.

“I got a little carried away, and kept on with it. I needed something to occupy my time, so I thought why not make an emergency device that could save somebody’s life,” Stegeman said.

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Air-Float-One comes equipped with a treasure trove of survival gear that includes everything someone would need if they found themselves stranded somewhere off-shore. It features a cooler that stores not only food and water, but ropes, zap-straps, duct tape, a first-aid kit, matches, a small knife, a can opener, an air horn, a phone charger, and a Cobra Marine Floating Radio.

Also inside the cooler is a battery that powers blinking lights on the edges of the vessel to help make it visible to rescue aircraft. Power from the battery can be diverted to charge cell phones, or the marine radio.

“It’s got pretty well everything you need,” Stegeman said.

Stegeman designed every feature on Air-Float-One to be easily adjustable or removable. He envisions Air-Float-One being used as a life saving device, but said it could also be used as a small work float, or teaching youths how to sail.

“When you’re out at anchor, and you want to go to the beach, you could use this. Or you could work on your boat. You could go around do painting, cleaning, or repairs,” Stegeman said.

Stegeman hopes to make more floats in the future. Contact Stegeman by phone at 250-816-7528, or by email at

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A full view of Air-Float-One (Submitted photo)

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