(TRUK.oh.nawt) n. A person who uses a modified truck or car as a boat. —adj.

Example Citations:
Once again, some Cubans who planned to motor across the Florida Straits in a converted automobile were stopped short of their goal.

Eleven Cubans in a vintage Buick — three of them the original ''truckonauts'' who tried a similar intrepid journey last year aboard a battered Chevy pickup — were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard early Wednesday and now face a return trip to the communist island.
—Tere Figueras and Luisa Yanez, "Cubans' Buick pulled over at sea," The Miami Herald, February 5, 2004

Diaz, 39, said he just wanted out but wasn't sure how to do it. Then last summer he and some friends were sitting around in the back yard, joking about converting his old Buick into a boat.

The idea quickly turned into a secret project. Diaz hid out in his garage in Diezmero, a working-class Havana suburb, and worked on his Buick.

"He'd spend 12, 14, even 16 hours a day working on that car," said his wife, Nivia Valdes Galvez, 39.

A similar contraption was unveiled in July when some of Diaz's neighbors attached 55-gallon barrels to a 1951 Chevrolet truck, hooked the drive shaft to a propeller and made their way north. The Coast Guard caught them as they approached South Florida. Some Cuban exiles pressured the U.S. government to let the "truckonauts," as they called them, enter the country.
—Tracey Eaton, "Latest effort to flee drives Cuban migration debate," The Dallas Morning New, February 16, 2004

Earliest Citation:
Remember the truckonaut Cuban, the guy who rigged a '52 Chevy truck on to a boat and set sail for the Florida coast? Well, he was captured and sent back, but told to go through properly channels. He did. He's expected to receive a U.S. visa on Monday.
—Anderson Cooper,"Anderson Cooper 360," CNN, October 31, 2003

Truckonauts is a translation from the original (and much nicer sounding) Spanish term, camionauta:

"We did not have problems. The truck was ours, we have the papers, nothing of which we used was robbed, everything was done with our own means, with our effort '', explains another one "camionauta."
—"'Lo perdimos todo', dicen los camionautas," AFP La Habana. July 27, 2003 (Google translation)

Thanks to Gareth Branwyn for spying this word.

Note, too, that a related term — autonaut — has recently been coined, possibly because the latest vehicle-turned-boat was a car, not a truck:

Last week a Buick of the same vintage with a propeller attached to its drive shaft was also interdicted in the straits 25 miles from Key West. The 11 refugees on board were dubbed the "autonauts."
—Les Kjos, "Cuban refugee policy in a dilemma," United Press International, February 11, 2004

Related Words: