Indie Feature: Hot Tub Boats

Want to see something awesome?

For today’s indie feature, we’re looking at a brilliant invention from Seattle native Adam Karpenske: Hot Tub Boats.

If you couldn’t already tell from their not-so discrete name, Hot Tub Boats is exactly what it sounds like—a six passenger dinghy with a hot tub serving as its seating area.

Karpenske came up with the idea one night on his houseboat, his permanent residence in Seattle. He couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to take a dip in a hot tub during the cold Pacific Northwest evenings. Since he is a boat builder, he figured he’d invent one.

Soon enough, that idea blossomed due to local buzz and high demand. It has since turned into a full-fledged business.

Designing this seemingly simple boat was more daunting than you’d think. They had to figure out a way to make a ship that was buoyant enough to carry that much water without sinking, all while maintaining stability. Now, all the design and building is done in-house by a small, devoted team of shipwrights. The company seeks to merge classic wooden boat designs with modern concepts (and quite successfully).

If you’re in the Seattle Metro area, you can rent a Hot Tub Boat any day of the week for anywhere from two to four hours. You can buzz around the Lake Union or Portage Bay area and can stop along any attractions you’d like, following along with the map that the rental company provides.

The boat comes with coolers (no alcohol allowed, however), jets, safety equipment, and locked dry storage.

Is it safe?

Hot Tub Boats are very safe. The company has worked alongside the United States Coast Guard to ensure they manufacture a high quality and safe boat. They are designed to meet all regulations set out by the US Federal Regulations for boat builders.

You receive instruction on how to drive the boat which is operated by a joystick (awesome!) before you embark. If you have any difficulties or get lost, the main Hot Tub Boats hub will send out a rescue vehicle to tow you. You are in constant contact via an onboard radio.

And with the company guaranteeing you a “luxurious and magical experience,” while surrounded by “magnificent revolving scenery,” how could you go wrong?

What are the restrictions?

Well, you have to stay in the designated area; don’t plan on escaping to the Puget Sound in this little guy. You’re also not allowed alcohol on the vessel for liability reasons, can’t BBQ aboard the Hot Tub Boat, and must keep proper swim wear on at all times. They’ve had enough queries about the necessity of the latter that they felt the need to include it on their FAQ page.

Children 12 and under must wear life vests and no more than six passengers at a time!

Does it stay warm?

Yes! The water in the hot tub is set at 104 degrees but they suggest keeping it around 100 so that you can enjoy it for the length of your ride. It’s much more comfortable at that setting.

The water is kept heated by a small diesel fired boiler to keep a stable temperature during your mini cruise.


Hot Tub Boats are available for rent or purchase, although their site said they are temporarily closed while they relocate. It costs $139 an hour to use on weekdays and $159 during the weekends.

What does the company hope for in the future? Expansion! Karpenske says he wants to see them in all the major boating cities worldwide like Paris, London, and Amsterdam.

Look out gondoliers of Venice! Hot Tub Boats may be coming to a canal near you!

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