Thank you to all Boat Float participants and spectators over the last 10 years!

The Great Lake Erie Boat Float is on an indefinite hiatus. Please visit our Research and Education tab for links and additional information about plastic pollution in our waterways.

This unique event helps raise awareness about the impacts of plastics on the environment, in particular oceans, lakes and streams. Part design competition, part boat race, the Great Lake Erie Boat Float is also lots of fun. Spectators WELCOME!!

In 2018, we welcomed back guest judge Marcus Eriksen, Co-Founder & Research Director at The 5 Gyres Institute. Marcus has led numerous expeditions around the world to research plastic marine pollution. He has sailed 35,000 miles through all 5 subtropical gyres to discover new garbage patches of plastic pollution in the Southern Hemisphere. His research in the Great Lakes and the discovery of plastic microbeads led to the federal Microbead-free Waters Act of 2015.

2018 Boat Float


  • Recycling Adds Up

  • Sea Scouts Sunshine

  • USS Niagara II


How To Participate

Float Your Boat

Build a boat using post-consumer recyclable materials. Bring it to Edgewater Park. Launch it and discover if it floats. Compete to be the first to paddle out 300 feet and back (no motors, human power only please). Participants will compete for the title of Fastest Boat, Best Use of Recyclable Materials, and Most Artistic Style.

Watch The Fun

Every sporting event needs spectators, and the Boat Float is no exception. So even if building a boat doesn’t appeal to you, come down to Edgewater Beach to cheer on the boat teams. And remember — as much fun as it is to watch the boats float, it’s even more fun to see what happens when they don’t.

Just For Kids!

The Li’l Sailors category is for children 12 years of age and younger who would like to build a small boat out of post-consumer recyclable materials. All Li’l Sailors boats will be displayed on the beach and judged prior to the start of the Boat Float. The winner of the Li’l Sailors category will be announced at the conclusion of the Boat Float. Li’l Sailors are encouraged to fill out a registration form to be considered for a prize.

Find Out What Floats Your Boat

Here are some ideas to help you build a boat. If you have questions read our FAQ.

Boat Ideas

Plastic Pollution is Everyone’s Problem

Plastics make up a large part of our disposable society, but that luxury comes with a substantial cost. Plastics cause aesthetic problems in our community and economic problems for city sanitation and tourism, and threaten our environment and human health.

Each year, the average American generates 254 pounds of plastic waste. But the truth is that it never really goes “away.” Plastics are manmade organic polymers derived from natural gas and petroleum. When exposed to UV radiation, the polymers break apart and get smaller, but persist as pollutants.

In research conducted in the Great Lakes over the last few summers, high concentrations of plastic microbeads (<1mm in size) were found in Lake Erie.

How To Help

Reducing plastic pollution starts with you!

  • Purchase products containing natural products as an alternative to plastic.
  • Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags.
  • Purchase items with the least amount of packaging.
  • Recycle plastic bags at your local grocery store.
  • Drink tap water from a reusable bottle.
  • Participate in or come out to the beach and watch the Great Lake Erie Boat Float.

Join a local beach cleanup. Learn about cleanups happening near you:

Learn More

Find out how to be part of the solution to plastic pollution.

See Research and Education

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