In 2019 folks are rediscovering the fun and value of building your own shantyboat or houseboat. From Florida to Kodiak, Alaska and even down under in Murray, Australia the idea of building a floating house is starting to make more sense all the time. So they are looking for houseboat plans or shantyboat plans and sharpening the pencils. Some folks don’t even have formal houseboat plans. But to build a simple barge type hull with a shantyboat cabin is not too much for most of us. But I would recommend getting some good houseboat plans. After all, you do want it to float!
2019 is the year you can build that houseboat you’ve been dreaming about.
I’ve picked just five basic small houseboats that come with plans and unless you have some previous marine building skills, you should get some plans. Some houseboat plans are more expensive than others, but all are worth it if you want to do it right. So here we go.
1. Waterlodgeby Ken Hankinson
This is a traditional flat bottom barge style houseboat that offers more living per square foot than you would expect. The small craft offers large deck area fore and aft. This makes docking and handling much easier than many other designs. Also, inside, there is room for sleeping, cooking, and just plain fun. It even includes a head.
design by Ken Hankinson
Designed for protected waters and rivers, this boat is built out of plywood and fiberglass. The plans, as well many of the materials, can be found at their site.
This craft comes in two sizes 20’ and 24’. I think the 24’ is just about the perfect size. The extra 4’ gives this boat the liveability you would want for a long stay. The designs are offered exclusively by Gen-L at their website BoatDesigns.com.
2. Riverwalker by George Buehler
This boat is just the right size to build in the backyard. You’ll need some strong friends once in a while, but the finished boat is definitely worth it. The boats built from these plans all seem to vary just enough to give each one a distinctive ”one of a kind” look. One of my favorite houseboat designs is the Darwin. Built by Chris Carr in Saugatuck, Michigan, this little houseboat is ready for adventure. Based on the Riverwalker design, it harkens back to the old boats that plied the Mississippi and the Erie canal.
The boat comes in at around 6,000 lbs. This is a little heavy to haul around every weekend, but it is still light enough to be hauled out and moved without too much effort. Darwin builder, Criss Carr powers his boat with a 40 hp Honda, so gas costs shouldn’t take the fun out of a weekend of exploring.
Darwin hull being flipped
You can see much of the building process and get a feel for the houseboat Building at George Buehler’s website. GeorgeBuehler.com. The houseboat plans are available to purchase.
3. The Millie Hill 28by Sam Devlin
This is taking the idea of a small houseboat a few notches upscale. For years, the Millie Hill 20 has been a favorite of mine. With a small footprint and overall great looks, the boat seems to have it all. But, just like when you go shopping for a new Chevy and come back with a Cadillac, my head has been turned around completely by his new design. Sam Davlin has outdone himself with the Millie Hill 28. It’s Longer, wider, and totally liveable. This is a boat that even your wife will like. You can get some houseboat study plans for a only a buck and start drooling. (I am already)
Millie Hill 20
This would be a pretty good size project. The result, however, would be a real home on the water. And a great looking home at that. If you want something smaller, Sam Devlin has many other boat designs as well as the Millie Hill 28. Hey, the Millie Hill 20 or 24 is still good enough for me. DevlinBoat.com is the place to start looking. And, if you decide to just spend this spring or summer building a regular boat, he has many other great designs to choose from.
4. Dianne’s Rose by Roy Schreyer
How about an easy to trailer little houseboat that can make any weekend special. At only 17’ long and 8’ wide it’s easy to see why this lightweight little houseboat is becoming the most popular one for builders.
The open design would make it feel much larger than it is. A 9hp motor and shallow draft can get you into just about anywhere. It can even be rowed. Yep, it’s that light.
Roy has all the plans you’ll ever need at his website. There’s also a lot of pictures of what other builders have done with the design.
5. AquaCasa by Berkley Eastman
This is a design that makes you want to head for the wood store. It seems like a fairly simple design, but that’s because the designer has already thought of everything for you. All you have to do is follow the plans. This is fully trailerable and can also be used as a weekend camper without even putting it in the water. How great is that! The plans can be found at Berkley-Engineering.com
Canada’s latest entry into my “Coolest Little Houseboat Afloat” contest is Le Koroc. The folks at Daigno in Ottawa, Canada have designed and built an amazing pontoon houseboat. Le Koroc offers the ageless beauty and charm of finely crafted furniture with the best of modern technology. Couple this with their dedication to protecting the environment and you get one of the most stylish and functional little houseboats I’ve ever seen. And did I mention one of the best parts? Like several new designs, It’s fully trailerable.
The houseboat sits on 3 aluminum pontoons for added stability and strength. It weighs in at 5,640 lbs. and is only 8′-6″wide. With an overall length of 26′ and a height of 12′-6″ on the trailer, it can go just about anywhere you can drive.
The outside is wrapped in your choice of different woods. Choose from cedar, pine or spruce, all from sustainable forests and all finished for lasting quality. The roof is painted-metal for years of protection from the elements.
As great as the outside looks, you may really want to check out the interior of this classy pontoon houseboat. This is where the dedication to craftsmanship shines. The time spent on designing the perfect layout shows through in every detail.
You’ve got everything you need neatly tucked into this little pontoon houseboat. Actually, this boat comes with a party deck over 1o feet long and 8′-4″ wide, so it’s truly much more than a tiny home on pontoons. It may be a complete vacation package on wheels.
Check out just some of the standard equipment.
192 liter Gas Tank
90 Hp outboard motor
complete dashboard and instrumentation
solar power generation
Stainless steel sinks
a complete bathroom with toilet, shower and sink
complete marine electric system and lighting
and many more features
The company has put a price tag of about $80,000 (Canadian) for all of this and for all you get, and the quality of the whole package, it looks like a great deal to me.
That’s about $60,000 in US dollars. It couldn’t get much better.
There is a chap in England who has taken the idea seriously.
Harry Dwyer, an energetic Self-described “doer of fun stuff” got together with some very talented friends and actually did it. —- Built a small houseboat out of cardboard. And to make it better, he filmed the whole thing and put it on Youtube.
It is an amazing piece of work. The only thing I can think of saying is, if he had just used some plywood instead, he would have created a great little permanent boat. I say “permanent” for we all kind of know in our guts what is going to happen to the “cardboard” houseboat. But the video is so much fun to watch you just have to check it out.
If the answer is yes then this blog is for you. And why not?
People have been fascinated with boat building, especially building their own boats, since the dawn of time.
Probably one of the first fights Adam and Eve had was because he wanted to build a boat. It’s a primal instinct really.
I think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs originally included “the need to float.”
Look around! There are boats everywhere.
In 2015 there were more than 12 million recreational boats registered in the United States. While most were built by professional boat building companies, many were built by individuals carrying on a tradition of boat building probably dating back to that first guy who floated across a river on a log.
Boats were simple then, but boats today come in all sizes and styles. Different needs have evolved many specialized boat designs.
courtesy of Pinterest
The biggest ship in the world currently is the South Korean built tanker the Prelude. The ship, owned by Shell is 1,601 feet long and 243 feet wide. If it were set on end, it would be the 8th tallest building in the world.
The biggest freighter in the world, the Maersk Prelude is owned by a Chinese company and can carry an astounding 19,100 twenty-foot long containers. At more than 1,300 feet long, the new fuel-efficient design allows the huge ship to carry these containers using only 80% of the fuel used by smaller ships built to carry only 10,000 containers.
Boat design plays an important part in large ships and small boats as well. Boat efficiency is just as important to the guy moving his personal boat from Canada to the Caribbean as it is to giant shipping companies.
Money is money. And some boats save a lot more than others, depending on motors and hull design. But when you start studying boats and boat building one question always pops up, “what is the difference between a boat and a ship?”
The difference between a boat and a ship?
The ship, The Nina
That question has been hotly debated for years. Most maritime experts will say that a ship is usually an ocean-going vessel. That only works if you don’t think about the giant “ships” plying the Great Lakes. Also, submarines are also usually referred to as “boats.” In the case of sailing ships, they generally have three or more masts to be called a ship. Anything less is a “boat.”
Another way to discern if the vessel is a boat or a ship is, if it can be carried on a ship it’s a “boat.” A lifeboat is a good example. You never hear of a “life-ship.”
Generally speaking, the old saying is, “you can put a boat on a ship, but you can’t put a ship on a boat.”
Boat Building Plans
I would guess that, if you’re reading this, you’re not interested in building a 600,000-ton freighter, you just want to build a boat. But to build a good boat you need some boat building plans. Fortunately, there are many places you can get great plans and even special design help if you need it.
Are you ready to start looking at boat plans? I’ve selected a few good spots to start.
One of oldest boat building sites around is Glen-l Marine. After over 60 years in the business, they know quite a bit about boat building. Their website boasts over “300” boat plans available with every kind of boat plan you can think of.
One of the great things about their site is that it’s designed with the amateur boat builder in mind. The site has information on everything from boat materials to boat building techniques. I have spent hours on the site reading about wood varieties and epoxy glues and I’ve just scratched the surface.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get out on a river on a sunny summer day and do a little fly fishing? If so . . .
Spira Internationalprobably has just the boat design you need. Jeff Spira has a lifetime of experience designing and building boats. While his career has taken him around the world one of his big passions is designing boats and ships for the waters of the great northwest. His fishing dories are beautiful.
This site has dozens of plans available for everything from small dories to large trawlers. Whether you want to build an off-shore power dory out of plywood and epoxy or weld up an aluminum trawler, Jeff has a design for you. And if you need more, just get in touch with him.
One of the things I like most is that you can download study plans on most of the boats and even some free plans for small boats. The only thing he doesn’t seem to have is a nice little houseboat building plan.
Do you want to have a boat specially built to your taste? Sam Devlin is the guy you’re looking for.
Devlin Design is a great site for boat plans or you can just sit back and have their fine craftsmen build it for you. With designs to fit every type of boat, Sam Devlin produces some of the most beautiful boats on the water. Personally, I love the little houseboat design, The Millie Hill.
Boat Building Materials
Boats can be made of anything that floats. Bamboo, reeds, plastic bottles, and coconuts are just a few of the nuttier ideas., But most are built out of steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and wood. Each has its advantages and also its disadvantages.
Steel has been the material of choice for large ships ever since the late 1800’s. The strength of steel allows ships to be much larger and also much stronger.
This is a necessary requirement if you’re hauling goods across the oceans and actually want to get there. Steel is, by definition, stronger than wood or fiberglass.
But unlike wood or fiberglass, steel will rust to nothing in a few short years if not maintained constantly. A good place to learn about steel trawler construction and even find some great plans is at BruceRoberts.com.
Since World War II, aluminum has grown to be one of the most popular materials for boats, as well as airplanes. Its main quality is its lightweight compared to steel and with newer aluminum alloys like aluminum 1100 and 5052 corrosion can be kept to a minimum.
Today aluminum is used worldwide in fishing boats, recreational boats, and trawlers. Recently the Navy has even tried to build larger warships of aluminum but has met with limited success.
Alcoa Defense has a great brochure explaining the benefits of aluminum in marine applications.
Fiberglass is probably the most popular boat building material currently. The construction involves molds and resin infused glass matting that produces a finished product that is both beautiful, but also consistent every time.
Check out this video on fiberglass boat construction. It really says it all.
Wood is the most widely used building product in the world and boats are no exception. The history of wooden boat building includes ancient sailing ships of the Phoenicians to modern boats that rival the finest furniture in the world.
True craftsmen seem to gravitate towards wooden boat building. The fit and finish you can achieve with wood is unmatched by any other material.
This video of men in Indonesia building a huge boat by hand shows some of the timeless skills that go into ship construction.
Boat Building Schools
Are you dreaming of crafting fine furniture … that floats?
Well, then you might really enjoy attending a boat building school. And if you live up in the northeast you might want to check out the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, Maine.
They have been teaching students for almost 40 years. You can take courses in boat building with lots of hands-on experience. They even have several different sailing classes.
Is Maine too far?
In the upper peninsula of Michigan, the Great Lakes Boat Building School offers a nine-month comprehensive boat building school that will help you get your career started. They also have advanced classes if you’re already on your way. They serve students from Canada and the US
Are you a serious boatbuilding student? Want a degree in Boatbuilding?
Up in Port Hadlock, Washington, the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding offers degrees in occupational studies. The teachers are well experienced Master Maritime Craftsmen. They draw students from around the world. The programs they offer can get you prepared for all the different boat building methods, from traditional to the modern.
There are several other Boat Building schools you might want to check out, there is probably a boat building school not too far from you right now.
If you’re planning to build a houseboat one of the most important things to consider is houseboat insurance. The availability of houseboat insurance will, in most cases, determine what you can do with your new houseboat.
Boats occasionally sink. Even if you are only going to leave your houseboat in a slip at a marina you will need insurance on it. In some cases, lots of insurance. Bodily injury, renters reimbursement, property damage, medical insurance and, if you’re going to take your houseboat for a spin, emergency towing insurance will all have to be considered. Imagine the clean-up costs you might incur if you have an oil spill or a sewage leak. Personal liability insurance is a given.
Oh, I know it might only have cost you 10 or 20 thousand dollars to build your little floating house, but imagine your floating home crashing into you neighbors $400,000 floating palace. You would probably be responsible and should have houseboat insurance to cover the damages to the other boat. A marina must make sure you can cover the damages to the other guy, not to mention the marina or they might have to cover it.
When you look into houseboat insurance on a home built houseboat it seems that it’s not always as easy as calling the little Geico lizard. Many companies don’t want to touch home built houseboats. Many will require an expensive boat survey at a minimum and still only cover certain things. The goal is to find affordable houseboat insurance or the whole idea becomes too expensive. One of the largest companies that provide houseboat insurance is BoatUS, but many folks report that they will require a marine survey and try to force you to use only “their” boat surveyors. There is a great thread on this subject at the Boatdesign.net forum.
Another place to check is Marine Underwriters Agency. They provide marine insurance on all kinds of boats including houseboats as well as mega yachts.
You will also want to think about getting insurance on the houseboat building project. Once you have a bunch of bucks tied up in fancy wood and epoxy you surely don’t want to see it all go up in smoke or be vandalized. Just as you need builders risk insurance on a home building project, you should also have insurance protection on your boat building adventure.
If you’re building this houseboat in your backyard, you should check with your homeowner’s insurance company. It may be covered already while in the construction process. If not, you may be able to add a rider on to your policy to cover it until it’s completed. Always check with your current Insurance company. Often you can get a discount they insure multiple items on the same policy or policies.
It’s important also to keep your terms straight. Remember when dealing with Insurance companies to refer to your boat or houseboat as a “custom built” not a “home built.” Another idea is to consider your project as a “classic” houseboat. “Classics” are also given more consideration than “home built.” A good agency to try for insurance on classics of all description, be it cars or boats, is Hagerty Insurance. They insure nationwide and they also write policies on cars and motorcycles.
RV America Insurance provides insurance products of all types, including “home built” boats. (which we all call “custom boats”)
Home Built Boat
A Home Built houseboat should be a source of enjoyment and pride, not a floating cesspool of frustration and stress, so get your insurance plans lined up before committing to a large “custom” houseboat building project. One couple I read about spent 3 years in North Carolina restoring an old houseboat only to find at the end, they couldn’t get it insured. I hope they have found insurance by now. It would surely drive you nuts, but wait — if your thinking about building your own houseboat — you’re probably on your way already.
The urge to build a houseboat can almost become an obsession. The thought of building your own little floating home has a kind of “primal appeal” to many. But as cool as it would be to build your own tiny floating home and just sail away, the reality of living on a houseboat might not be as exciting. So, before you fill your eyes with sawdust and your lungs with fiberglass, why not rent a houseboat for a week and give it a try.
Personally, I would love to toss most of the junk I currently possess and live on a houseboat. Then, reality (I call her Suzanne) pops my “crazy bubble” with questions like, can you live in a home with one little bathroom? How long can you take a shower before the water runs out or turns cold? And then there’s that “elephant in the room” question, what if we sink? Will we get sea-sick? Is there internet? Did I lock the car?
These are all legitimate questions and the great way to answer most, if not all, of them, is…Rent a Houseboat!
You can rent a houseboat
You can find houseboats for rent in lots of locations around the country. Lake Shasta in California has houseboat rentals. Lake Mead in Arizona has huge houseboats for rent. Tennessee and Kentucky are filled with beautiful lakes and where there are lakes, there are houseboat rentals aplenty.
2014 Beaufort Boatbuilding Challenge
Here in North Carolina, nestled in among the islands of the Outer Banks, is the little fishing town of Beaufort. We discovered it a few years ago when we attended the National Boatbuilding Challenge. This is a yearly boat building contest that pits builders against the clock in a race to build a little skiff. It took me two days to get the sawdust out of my eyes and I was just watching! What a great time.
2014 National Boat-Building challenge
Through the cloud of sawdust, I spotted the houseboats. Out in the harbor, just off the docks, I spied awesome houseboats! They were just the size I was dreaming of.
In North Carolina, Outer Banks Houseboats is the place to go. Outer Banks houseboats has ready-to-go houseboats you can rent anytime. Rent a houseboat for a weekend or a full week. The houseboats also come with a 21′ skiff to get back and forth to the dock or to just explore the beautiful Beaufort Area. When not exploring, you can kick back and soak up the sun on your personal houseboat. Visit their website to find out all the information.
The purpose of our visit that day was to see “the Pinta” and “the Nina,” a pair of amazing replicas of Christopher Columbus’ famous vessels. They are really sailing these ships up the coast. We got to get on board the Nina and climb all over it. (that’s all a kid really wants) At 65′ long and 18′ wide, the Nina really feels small when you think about sharing it with 25 smelly sailors. The original Nina was actually said to be even smaller at only 45 to 55′ long. The Pinta was about 20′ longer.
Today we don’t have to cruise to the new world boat load of animals and sailors to get the experience of living aboard. Things have changed much since then, like indoor plumbing, hot water, and air conditioning. nowadays, it’s more like home. Come to think of it, isn’t that what a houseboat is supposed to be?
If you think you’re ready to build your own houseboat, or if you just want to get some ideas on house-boat building or even boat building, try studying these free houseboat plans I’ve found on the web. Some of the houseboat plans can be downloaded, but some open very slowly. Also, I’ve included some sites that have great information on boat building and boat building materials and plans.
If the polar caps melt or there’s a zombie apocalypse (can zombies swim?), there’s no better place to be than out on the water — and one of the best ways to do that is on a simple houseboat! People have been living on the water for centuries. From simple shantyboats and English narrowboats to huge mega-houseboats, folks find the freedom of houseboat living is irresistible.
Making Houseboat building plans
Courtesy of Rob Rieheld
Before you build a houseboat several things must be decided, for instance, what type of boat building construction? You can build a houseboat out of plywood, fiberglass, aluminum, steel? Do you want to build a houseboat small enough to pull to the lake on a trailer or will you need dock space somewhere? Will it be self -contained or are you just going to use shore amenities.
There are some composting toilets that make the need for “holding tanks” obsolete. And, NO, they don’t stink. One family, the Wynns, who travel the country in an RV have been using a composting toilet for a while now and really like it. They explain the whole experience on their excellent travel blog. Isn’t an RV pretty much the same thing as a nice little houseboat ?–Except for that floating thing.
I’ve found some great little houseboat designs that you can pull like a travel trailer and use like a boat.
If you decide to design your own houseboat or buy houseboat plans at least you will have a good idea of what you want and what you are getting for your money. Personally, it seems to me that many of the houseboat plans are priced way too high.
But, if you look at the free houseboat plans you might just decide to design your own houseboat. You can build it on factory-built houseboat pontoons or build your own wooden pontoons. I think I prefer the barge style of hull construction because it keeps the whole boat lower to the water. This keeps it from being blown around as much as a taller boat. So, if you want to see some examples of what you can do . . . check these out.
Small houseboats you can build
Triloboat— a unique and inventive twist on a small houseboat. Dave and Anke are building their future. It’s both a sailboat and a small houseboat! If you like building boats or studying boat building in general, check out this site. Follow along on their Blog and watch them build their newest ship in the fleet, Wayward.
DIY Do it yourself houseboat build See how one guy in Australia is building a great houseboat. The photos that accompany the article are great and reveal the superb quality of the construction.
SpiraInternational — this is one of the best sites to study and learn about boat building. Jeff Spira even offers free downloadable E-books on boat building. it doesn’t get any better than this. Jeff offers years of experience in his designs and, although the site does not currently provide any plans on houseboats, the building techniques are universal.
Bayou Belle — this is an old Mechanix Illustrated plan that shows some timeless ideas. Is illustrates the simplicity of houseboat construction from a simpler time.
Aqua CasaBerkley Engineering has a super site with several small trailerable houseboat designs. You can study them online or order your own houseboat plans.
In South Australia, ( the land down-under the land down-under) lies the beautiful little city of Mannum. Mannum is home to the first paddle-steamer on the Murray River, the PS Marion. Originally built in 1897, this beautiful example of riverboat building has been completely restored and currently offers cruises from the Mannum dock. While this riverboat was built over a century ago, nearby the long tradition of building fine boats and houseboats lives on.
Just about six miles out of town an Aussie couple is building a new pontoon houseboat. They didn’t just want to look at “houseboats for sale” on the web, they wanted to build their own. They like to say they are building a “shantyboat.” You might argue about whether they are building a small houseboat or building a shantyboat or building a riverboat, but you can’t argue about the high quality of construction or the thought to detail that is going into this great houseboat building project.
Building bulkhead sections
The couple, Trish and Harry, have invested the last few years into planning, designing and constructing a 40 ‘ by 12’ pontoon shantyboat. The end goal is to just cruise and enjoy the beautiful Murray River. They have shared so many pictures and hi-lights of the building process you could almost call it a “how-to” book for building a houseboat.
After studying many of the houseboat / shantyboat boat designs like Atkin’s Lady of the Lakeand the Millie Hillby Sam Devlin as well as many of the local boats, they brought it all together and designed a shantyboat of their own.
The frames for the pontoon sections were built with two layers of 3/4″ hardwood epoxied together to minimize warping.
bulkhead frame members
Then the pontoon sections were built and assembled together. The pontoon sections were assembled together then carefully lined up for final assembly. One of the reasons for building pontoons in sections is to keep the weight of each section lighter.
The idea seems to be to keep as much work as possible to a one-couple operation. The thing that I really find amazing is this was done without a table saw –Just hand tools and a radial arm saw! The craftsmanship level of this small houseboat is evident in the pictures.
All the wood was treated with Copper Naphthenate preservative. The insides of the pontoons were then covered with three layers of water-proof membrane coating.
The exterior was fiber-glassed and sealed with epoxy. These pontoons are built to last.
pontoons built to last
The pontoons are carefully lined up and the deck is assembled. Now the boat is starting to take shape. The attention to details is evident in the pictures or the bolts and nuts used to tie it all together. Heavy dipped galvanized fittings and epoxy ensure that these joints will never fail.
Also, check out the “Boat aHome” from Australia.
Quality shows up in the things that will not be seen
A picture really is worth a 1000 words
The boat is taking shape
With marine plywood and all the various waterproofing materials in place, this boat is ready for the top.
Next, the walls are built and installed. Note the green preservative at this stage. The framing is all glued and screwed. The exterior walls are covered with canvas set in Tite-Bond III glue.
the deck goes on
Walls being assembled
walls going on
s the small houseboat is constructed, the quality is in the details. Check out this great wall joint picture below. The wood edge is held up from the deck to reduce water damage as well as being set over-hanging the bottom plate to create a very strong mechanical connection.
Water-tight Wall joint
The roof framing ties it all together and the windows are installed. Harry built all the windows from scratch, all twenty-two of them!
The builders chose to top this shantyboat with some insulation membrane and a sheet metal roof. All the seams have been sealed to keep the weather out and gutters were installed along the edges to collect water if needed. They have thought of just about everything.
Great ventilation with these windows
This shantyboat building project is not quite finished at this time, but you can follow the progress all the way by checking the thread on The Wooden Boat Forum. There is a lot more information and dozens of great pictures.
The best boat design is the one that keeps you safe, dry and gets you where you’re going. There are probably so many different boat designs that you couldn’t count them all. And that’s because there is no “one” best boat plan.
Boats are really designed locally. That means that every boat design is based on what the boat’s purpose is and where it will be used. A traditional riverboat is perfect for the shallow muddy waters of the Mississippi River system, but it wouldn’t get very far out into the Gulf before becoming a new reef. In the same way, the deep keel on a blue water sailboat would severely limit its usefulness in the shallow waters.
solar boat design
While all of this seems obvious, it’s the special conditions and uses that make great boat design necessary. Some boat designs call for a flat bottom like a “Pacific Power Dory” so that you can launch it right from the beach. Others need special considerations like open fishing decks or protection from running loaded in a following sea or how much wind will be encountered or from what direction.
All these things are taken into consideration by the boat designers. Boat design has been an important subject ever since the first caveman boldly stepped out on that floating log and promptly fell on his butt (probably trying to impress the little woman). As he pulled himself from the water, he probably thought “I need a better log.” And “Boat Design” was born!
Types of Boats
There are two basic types of boats.
1. Boats that go through the water have Displacement Hulls
Displacement hulls move through the water by pushing the water out of the way (displacement) and then the water comes in behind the boat to fill the area left by the forward movement. Thus, to move the boat forward in the water the length of the boat, an amount of water will be moved equal to the submerged area of the boat hull (the Displacement).
2. Boats designed to run on top of the water have Planing Hulls
Planing hulls are designed to lift the boat up as it moves forward. This causes the boat to “ride” on top of the water greatly reducing the amount of water displaced. This allows the boat to go faster with less friction. Instead of using all the power to move the boat forward, a planing hull uses some of it to actually lift the boat out of the water.
All boats are either one of these two types or a combination of both.
Some of the more popular hull designs
Flat bottom hulls: these can be displacement hulls like a river barge or with a combination of power and lightweight they can climb up on top of the water and plane.
Round bottom hulls: these are usually displacement hulls. Many sailboat hulls are shaped this way. The tendency to roll is checked by ballast or a deep keel.
Catamaran hulls: usually have two or possibly three hulls. Pontoon boats are one example. Catamarans can be powered by sail or motors or both. They can range from a tiny “Hobie Cat” type to a huge ferry capable of carrying hundreds of people or cars.
Vee Hulls: these are usually powered craft. There are many combinations of Vee hulls; ie: Vee bottom, Vee with flat pad sections, Vee with strakes.
Tunnel hulls: this design traps air under the hull and rides on the cushion of air to reduce friction and increase speed.
Cathedral hulls: these are a combination of a deep Vee and a catamaran shape.
A Boat Designer can be a University trained Nautical Engineer or a self-taught designer. The proof of a good designer is in the boat. This is where experience comes in handy. Since men have been designing boats since before history was written down I want to just concentrate on some of the current designers that work with the designs that you can build yourself.
Think about it … there are places you just don’t want to take your tablet or laptop. That’s why nothing beats a good book, especially in the bathroom! For ten or twenty bucks you can get hours of good reading info, you can read it over and over. No battery needed.
One great boat designer is Sam Devlin. His designs have stood the test of time. In fact, he just celebrated his 37th year designing ships and boats of all sizes. His DevlinBoat.com website offers designs for everything from little rowboats you can build in your garage to 45′ ocean-going yachts.
Another great designer is Jeff Spira, a Naval Architect who designs everything from 8′ to 120′. He has spent decades designing boats and floating docks and I particularly like his small “build at home” designs. His no-nonsense style of construction is great for the guy who just wants to get out on the water in a solid, well-built boat. You can build it as simple or as fancy as you want, but either way, you end up with a rugged craft that will last years. He also has a nice line of dories for river fishing. His line of Power Dories for the rough Pacific ocean look like they would be great anywhere. He even has free downloadable boat plans!
John Brooks has developed several sharp looking little boat designs for wooden boat builders. These are as much works of art as they are boats. If you want to build in the traditional style or learn more about of traditional nautical woodworking check out Brooks Boat Designs.
Phillip C. Bolger was a prolific designer. His eclectic style of boat design gained him a sizable following of admirers and a few skeptics. Many of his boat designs have been built and sailed around the world, in big seas, and on lakes. He developed designs for every type of sailing. I like his “Tennessee” design myself. Probably because it is so economical on fuel (I’m cheap that way). But, you can spend hours( and I have) reading and re-reading his popular book
Harold “Dynamite” Payson was a believer in building boats to be enjoyed and not just admired. As an experienced boat builder and designer, he grew to realize that there was a need for simpler boat designs that could be built by the amateur builder. Along with his friend Philip Bolger they designed boats that could get the amateur builder out on the water. The result was Instant Boats!
There is a lot of talk lately about a “SHTF” event. (This means “stuff hits the fan” or something similar). The reason is that there are so many things which could quickly take place in our society that would almost immediately bring about a SHTF event. Some folks are planning to escape from the chaos by moving off-shore in a bug out boat. Imagine a small houseboat floating out beyond the Zombies. The thought of having the government penetrate your tin foil hat with secret microwaves actually scares some folks, but for most of us, the “real” threats are enough to worry about.
Some of the possible threats are:
1. An EMP blast …. to explain it simply, a nuclear bomb is detonated a few hundred miles above the US. The result would yield no explosive damage, but the electromagnetic waves given off would fry just about everything that uses electricity. Cars, phones, radios, TV’s, planes, and all hospital equipment would be permanently destroyed. Considering how much we rely on modern communication, the implications would be catastrophic. Each one of us would be on our own. Not a happy thought. William Fortschen has brought this scenario to life in a fascinating work called “One Second After.” I read it and it scared the pants off me. The reality that this is so easily possible is terrifying and definitely pushes you to prepare.
2. A worldwide pandemic…. some new horrible virus, or Ebola-like disease that would bring society to a standstill. Imagine how society would collapse in just a few days if we were all afraid of contracting something deadly from another person. The problem here is that there are countries and individuals out there right now trying to “invent” just such a disease and the means to distribute it. Of course, they would have the cure for themselves! (they hope)
3. An economic collapse … imagine if you went to the store and your precious “card” didn’t work anymore. NO food, NO gas, NO money in your pocket and hunger gnawing at your belly makes folks do some seriously crazy things. (as if they needed a reason) Our government is already preparing for total civil collapse. With our country almost 18 trillion dollars in debt ($18,000,000,000,000) and growing, many economists think its just a matter of time until the whole thing collapses. To put it this way…to pay it off would require each American to cough up almost $60,000 (yes, sixty thousand dollars!). I don’t know about you, but it would be easier for me to cough up my spleen. And the debt is still growing! Each year our beloved leaders borrow more money and if they can’t borrow it … they just print it out of paper and ink. I’m sure you can see that this isn’t going to last long. The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System
Bug out on this
In the face of these threats and many others, thousands of otherwise normal people are preparing to meet these challenges with a great variety of plans and ideas. . .
One way to prepare is to be armed to defend yourself and your family. This is why you can’t even find some bullets anymore. Gun manufacturers are enjoying the best years ever. Gun sales are through the roof. Bullets are already becoming scarce and we nobody’s even started firing yet.
Another good idea is to have a food supply to last for an extended time. Depending on how many people and how long you feel you will need to eat the supply can be as simple as a garden or as intricate as bunker files with freeze-dried food packed to last 25 years. And don’t forget water!
While many folks are preparing “bug-out” locations, (places pre-stocked with supplies), others have actually decided that the open seas are the best spot to “bug-out” to. Some are planning to escape on small houseboats. If you are prepared to live on the water for an extended period of time it could be a good alternative. It could lessen the threat of contracting diseases. It would provide food (fish, clams, seaweed) and you could also be shielded from “Zombies.” (Zombies are the folks without stuff who will want to kill you and take your stuff) However, Zombies with boats would still be a threat. (I think we used to call them pirates.)
I have found some interesting people and sites that can help you prepare for the possible SHTF occurrence.
The Survivalist Blog.net M.D. Creekmore offers a great guest post on bug out boats. The author takes a serious look at the viability of using a small sailboat for a bug out boat. Something around 20-25 feet according to the author would be just about right to lay offshore… far enough to be safe and still be able to maneuver the islands and the coastlines of America. I especially like the idea of keeping it small enough to be trailerable. (read the whole article)
The author, Robert Richardson, is an expert and authority on all things “survival.” He’s developed an awesome website with a buttload of information about “bugging out” and what you would need to survive. I especially like his article on bugging out on a boat. Check it out He’s written it all down in an easy to “carry with you” book.
Lance Long has written and lectured extensively on how to prepare your boat for the SHTF event. His Blog offers up numerous suggestions for adequately preparing yourself. The serious boater will gain much from his blog about navigation. His thought-provoking blog is filled with tons of useful advice. He’s also built his own “bug out boat.”
Canal boats were the original American houseboat. Families were born, lived their lives and often died on the small houseboats and canal boats of America. They moved America west and not just in New York.
In the midst of Ohio, hidden among the towns and the farms are the remnants of the original heart of Ohio. The Ohio & Erie Canal system. Fashioned after New York’s Erie Canal success, the government of Ohio set about to create a canal system of their own. The system started with a feasibility study in 1822 and then launched into several individual canal building projects all going at about the same time. the goal was to connect the Ohio River and Lake Erie and points in between.
In 1825 the Ohio & Erie Canal was started from Akron to Cleveland. At the same time, another canal was started from Middleton to Cincinnati. Several canal sections were eventually brought together into a system that could tie Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Completed in 1832, goods from central Ohio could now go east to New York via Lake Erie and the Erie canal or be sent south on the Ohio River to anywhere on the Mississippi.
This positioned Ohio as a formidable trading partner and for the next 30 years, the canal system played a major role in the growth and development of Ohio. As all good things do, it came to an end with the development and expansion of the railroad system.
By the 1850’s the system had grown to almost 1000 miles of waterways and shipping actually peaked in 1855. After that, the railroad system continued to eat away at the shipping traffic. A large portion of the revenues from the canal system came from water sales to towns and businesses, and by 1903 more money was made by selling water than by shipping goods.
The system floundered along until one final event put an end to the system. In March of 1913 after a winter of record snowfalls, the system was overloaded by spring flooding and erosion all but destroyed the canals. The land was slowly sold off with most of the canal being filled in, often for new train tracks.
But in the little town of Canal Fulton, the history of the canals is preserved. Even now you can enjoy a ride on an authentic replica of a Canal boat. On the St. Helena III, a 25-year-old replica of a 100-year-old canal boat freighter. You can experience first hand the sound and the feel of traveling by canal boat.
Many of the immigrants to early America ventured west by boat. First along the Erie Canal in New York, then along the Ohio system to parts south and west. You can discover this experience for yourself in Canal Fulton, Ohio.
That’s nothing for this modern Erie Canal boat. I chased this one from Middleport to Medina. When I caught up with this beautiful Canalboat to take a picture it was doing close to ten knots. Cruising along the Erie canal Just west of Medina, NY, these folks looked like they were having the time of their life. OK, maybe that’s a bit too strong but they sure were having fun. I had to chase them along the canal in my car just to get ahead and get a good picture.This canal boat looks a lot like the English Narrowboats except that it’s much wider. This boat is about 12′ wide and 42′ long. The English canal boats are only 7′ maximum.
Low Bridge, everybody down
About the time, in 1905, when Thomas Allen wrote the popular song, “Low Bridge,” there were dozens of canal boats on the Erie canal. At that time the boats were being converted from mule power to internal combustion engines. And people were, even then, already looking back with nostalgia at the former century’s most popular way to move goods and people … the Erie canal. also (visit Ohio’s Erie Canal)
It was immediately an economic success. In fact, the cost of shipping grains and other foodstuffs from Albany in eastern New York to the western areas like Rochester and Buffalo was cut to a small fraction (10%) of its previous cost. But, as great as that was, someone always thinks they have a better idea. it was only 6 years later, in 1831 that the first steam train from Albany to Schenectady rolled up the line. Powered by wood, it was one of the first steam engines anywhere. The Mohawk and Hudson company was actually the first train in the State of New York. Later renamed the Albany & Schenectady Railroad it was the first real competition for the new Erie Canal. Building the “Grand Canal” as it was called was a feat of engineering genius in its day and while I could say more one of the best articles on the Erie Canal has already been written by Prof. F. Daniel Larkin. His Essay about the Erie Canal is a great start if you are interested in the actual “nuts and bolts” of the construction process.
Back in the 1800’s boats like the one above were pulled along the canal by mules and horses. The mules would walk along the “towpath” dragging the canal boats. Completed in 1825, it was originally nick-named “Clinton’s big ditch” after New York Governor DeWitt Clinton who promoted and built it. Very soon after it opened the worth of it became recognized. The ability to move goods and people from the Hudson river in the east to Lake Erie opened up the northwest territories in a way few could have imagined. I recently learned that Orleans county had a population of 25,000 in 1840. They only have 41,000 now. There must have been a lot of folks floating west on the flat bottom canal boats in the early 1800’s.
We were in town for the Medina High School Class of 1964’s 50th reunion and ran into people from all over the country. This area still has plenty of that “hometown” charm.
Rudy’s in Medina, NY
These days the boats have been replaced by trucks and the canal is more of a recreational asset. The boat pictured above is only one of several which can be rented for a week or two or just enjoyed for an afternoon. Also, many people enjoy the Erie Canal as part of a long boating adventure called the Great Loop. Folks leave the Great Lakes, travel down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, across Florida and up the Intra-coastal waterway to New York. Then its on up the Hudson valley and across the Erie Canal to the Great Lakes again. It takes about six months to make the trip. If you are interested in more about the “Great Loop” adventure visit CaptainJohn.org.
The boat above is part of a small fleet run by Mid-Lakes Navigation Company. Their website can give you all the details on renting a canal boat for a week or just going on a daily cruise. Midlakesnav.com.
Houseboat building (or any other project) would be a lot less stressful if only the wives were onboard with the project. They don’t usually like the noise and the mess and the sawdust and the lack of attention and ….oh well, you get the idea. But now, one smart Canadian has found the solution!
Roy Schreyer has designed and built this small houseboat as the answer to all the complaints. You know, the boat is too small, too uncomfortable, it rocks, it goes too fast, it’s not good looking enough, it’s too expensive to build, it’s too expensive to run. His answer is one great looking small houseboat. And to make sure his wife loved it … he named it after her!
Dianne’s Rose is a smartly designed small houseboat you can enjoy all year long, or until the lake freezes! (which it does in Canada) The 8’ by 10’ cabin includes couches that can be arranged into a nice queen-size bed for over-night stays. Not quite a tiny house, but he’s included a decent sized bathroom fitted out with a composting toilet. He reports that the toilet works great with “no smell.” The boat also has a small built-in kitchenette that holds a propane camp stove. The stove can be removed for on-shore beach parties. The inside of the boat can be arranged as a sleeper or as a dining room.
This houseboat / shantyboat is only 8’ wide and 17’long, so you can haul it home if you want to. It only draws 6” of water so you can explore just about anywhere. The motor on Dianne’s Rose is a 9.8hp so it will push you around all day for very little money. That’s important if you’re on a limited budget.
I think the best part of this tiny houseboat is the price.The whole cost for this sharp little houseboat was only about $4,500 bucks. It doesn’t get much better than this. Roy estimates it will take 600 hours of labor to get it in the water. That’s not too much for a project that will make you the envy of all the folks in the big, expensive plastic boats. (they’ll be wishing they had the bathroom after a couple hours on the water).
Did I mention that Roy is a master cabinet-maker? Not only that, but he has other talents. When you go to his site (and you should) you can see a ton of even better pictures. Also, check out his beautiful sailboat design — “Whisper”– What a nice looking sailboat.!
He has a website set up to help you with any more questions. He has “study plans” and even complete instructions available. If small houseboats interest you, this is one to check out.
These great little floating houses/houseboats are not in any particular order because I just couldn’t say one was better than another . . . They are all unique. A tiny floating house—and much more! If you want to build one of these floating homes, Check these out. Yes . . . you can build a floating tiny house!
the “Darwin” and is owned by Chris Carr in Saugatuck, Michigan. Chris built it following the “Riverwalker” design by George Buehler. It’s a floating Houseboat, a riverboat, and probably one of the best ways this summer to spend an afternoon or a weekend.
Triloboat by Dave Zeiger
I really don’t know how to describe the “Slacktide.” It’s a big square box that floats and outfitted with the right rig, sails just fine. But you have to see it to believe it. The headroom might be just a little too low, but what it misses in comfort, it makes up for in ease of construction. This isn’t just a fair weather houseboat, it’s a tiny home that floats. They have taken on some rough Alaskan waters too. Dave Zeiger has put an amazing amount of thought into the design. It’s much more than a floating house. If you are thinking about building one of these tiny houses that float or even a great little sailboat, check out this site. Their website is full of information on the boat and how to sail her, along with some great accounts of some of their trips. He has put some nice videos on YouTube also. Check out the site at Triloboats
Rob Reiheld built a beautiful houseboat on Albemarle Sound. This site has some super good pictures of the houseboat building project. As tiny houses go, this one is huge.. and quite spacious. It could easily be a full-time floating home. Using only his mind, and no written plans to start, he designed and constructed a 50′ long and 16′ wide houseboat called “The Lotus Eater.” He built the boat over a span of several years with the help of his family and his site chronicles some of the many problems and pitfalls he encountered. But in the end, the ship is really great looking. It may be a bit too big for most backyard floating home builders to attempt, but he definitely pulled it off. VISIT at Rob Reiheld’s Houseboat
courtesy of Berkley Engineering
If you want to build a little tiny home houseboat this is one qualifies as one of the top tiny homes on the water. This is a small houseboat you can even pull behind your truck and . . . it will double as a camper! A real tiny floating house. Designed by Berkeley Eastman, this is more than a little houseboat, it’s a work of art. On his site, there are plans for several different boats, but my favorite is the Aqua Casa , but don’t leave his site without checking out the CapeCodder. It’s a lot bigger than the Aqua Casa, but is still buildable by the average guy. Also, check out Mini-tugs. Most of these are trailerable. VISITBerkeley Engineering
Glen-L was designing great tiny floating house / small houseboats before they were popular. This is another simple design. Yet it has everything you need to spend some fun time on the water. It’s may be too small to live on for extended periods, but it would sure be great for week-ends or even a couple of weeks. While you are at the Glen-L site, look around. The Glen-L website is one of, if not the best site , for the home builder. They have got information on everything from dozens of plans to materials, construction techniques. They even have a great section on the different types of boat building wood. You can spend days reading all the great articles and still come back for more. VisitWater Lodge by Glen L or look at the Water Lodge Too Its an extended version with an additional 4′ of length. The added room would be well worth it.
This is another of my all-time favorites. This floating house is designed with the home builder in mind. It’s the kind of project you can build and put your own personal stamp on it. The Devlinboat.com site even has downloadable stud plans for a buck! At 8′ 2″ wide and 20′ long you can even come up with a trailer to pull it home. On a trailer, it’s a movable tiny home and on the water its a houseboat That would really make this a handy boat to have. At the Devlin site, you can also see dozens of other interesting plans. check out his great book on stitch and glue building.
River Rat by Atkin and Co.
An interesting plan that’s more complicated than a simple barge hull, but you can also go a lot faster. totally self-contained, it can speed a party of four around at a design speed of 17.5 mph with a 25 HP motor. That can be very useful when you get in some fast-moving water. I like the convenient front helmsman area. This gives great line-of-sight for the pilot. At 8’x20′ this is another trailerable houseboat that can be enjoyed all season and then easily pulled out in the winter. visit their site
This isn’t a specific boat, but it’s a really good site to learn about pontoon houseboats. The slideshow below shows what can be done when you set your mind to build your own floating tiny home. The restoration is really great and the final boat is one to be proud of.
This boat is one of the most talked about and “dreamed of” little houseboats. Originally launched in Portland, Oregon back in 1988 this tiny home on water has continued to capture the imagination of almost everyone who is interested in small houseboats or in building a little floating home. The article originally was published in Mother Earth News back in 1989 is a great read . The only drawback is the numbers they quote. Prices have changed a lot since 1988. According to Bryan Lowe at ShantyboatLiving.com, the boat was still afloat somewhere. His story on the Brandy Bar contains some great pictures of the boat out of the water, as well as additional info on the boat. You can get the plans from Mother Earth News site.
The Recurring Dream It’s one thing to dream it, but to actually build it? As tiny houses go, this is one of the neatest out there. It takes skill, persistence, and creativity and Than Monk in Oregon, proves he has it all with this beautiful little floating tiny home, the Recurring Dream. Just finished last year, he, and his family are enjoying their new home. Check out all his videos on Youtube and Facebook
Some other video and picture sites of boat building
There is a group of people who like to travel by boat around the eastern United States in what is called “the Great Loop.” They travel down the Mississippi and the Tom Bigbee Waterway from the headwaters of the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. At that point, they enter the Gulf of Mexico. They carefully navigate the gulf down the west coast of Florida to Ft. Myers and cross Florida on the Cross-Florida Canal system, even traversing across Lake Okeechobee, to make their way to the Atlantic Ocean. At that point, they go up the Intracoastal Waterway all the way along the eastern seaboard to New York City. Then it’s on up the Hudson River and across the Erie Canal and into the Great Lakes system. Crossing the Great Lakes brings them back to where they started.
It’s about 5,500 miles altogether and the “loopers” take about 6 months to make the trip. Traveling slowly around the Great Loop they make new friends and see a side of America very few of us ever will. Probably the best site to learn more about living on the Great Loop edited by John C. Wright, or as he is better known, Captain John. He runs a website chock full of the most interesting information. With everything from boating costs, to what the best boat size would be to make the cruise, it never fails to provide you with something new to learn. Visit it at www.CaptainJohn.Org
Recently I discovered a great blog written by a couple of real adventurers. They have a beautiful trawler called the Beach house. their blog is stuffed full of real-life experience and the wisdom that comes from living and traveling the waterways and oceans of the Great Loop. visit the site at Trawler Beach House,
If you want a great idea for a starting place when planning a trip around the Great Loop Try Duckworks Magazine. At DuckworksMagazine.com you can also find a pant-lode of great boat building information. The articles have a lot of ideas for building a trawler of sorts out of an old sailboat. The advantages are numerous, like great economy, stability, and best of all….cheap. I like cheap. check out the site.
If it’s real ocean living you desire, then maybe living on a sailboat is the way to go. Many folks live full-time and even part-time on sailboats from Alaska to the islands of the Caribbean. Many find it is not really that expensive. All you need is food, a little gas, and of course, insurance. If you study a map carefully you’ll see that you can sail from Florida to South America and never be much farther than 40 or 50 miles from shore. A good site to learn about living on a sailboat in St. Croix is www.Billdietrich.me. Bill has put together a fascinating blog of his personal experiences living offshore.
YourNewBoat.com can help you find a used boat that might get you around the loop. BIf you’re interested in building your own boat there are dozens of sites offering plans and personal blogs of the building adventure.
One of my favorites is Triloboats.com. Dave Zeiger has just about come up with one of the craziest boat designs I’ve ever seen… And just about the easiest to build! Together with his partner Anke Wagner they have proven that it’s still possible to escape the rat race and enjoy the open seas.
He has started with the simplicity of a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood and, using that basic form, designed a perfectly simple boat. I’ll bet even Philip Bolger would have enjoyed this design. His site has even got personal blogs with pictures of the building process. It’s a fun site to visit. And it shows what’s possible with a little (ok maybe a lot) of hard work. As I studied the square ship I realized that, if it’s good enough to tackle the Alaskan off-shore waters, then it would be a perfectly good platform for a “protected waters” riverboat. It might be just the thing for a great loop adventure.
If you’d like to build a houseboat but aren’t sure if you would really like it when it’s finished, now you have chance to check one out for yourself. All you’ve got to do is jump on a plane and fly to Saugatuck, Michigan and try it out for yourself. You can book a cruise for the afternoon and learn all about building it from the guy who did, Chris Carr.
I’ve always been interested in houseboats and houseboat building. Small houseboat building is what I’m talking about, a tiny house that floats, not some big 68′ “floating city” that needs clearance from NASA to take off. Most of us couldn’t even afford the gas for those monsters. No, I’m talking about a managable 30’ by 10’6″ plywood over frame houseboat that is so good looking the guys with the $300,000 – 68’ gas-hogs will be jealous.
I think I may have found the best example on the web. It’s called the “Darwin” and is owned by Chris Carr in Saugatuck, Michigan. Chris built it following the “Riverwalker” design by George Buehler. It’s a houseboat, a riverboat, and probably one of the best ways this summer to spend an afternoon or a week-end.
If you have spent any time on the web at all looking at houseboats you’ve probably seen it. Its just that nice. And now for the best part, you can book a cruise on it for a few hours and experience it for yourself. Michigan is a long way from North Carolina, but if I lived in the midwest I’d be making plans for a mini-vacation just to get onboard and check out out myself.
The Darwin is framed out of treated pine. To quote Chris, “ The hull is framed with treated pine (2×6). There are 1×4 treated pine stringers, doubled at the chine and sheer. The superstructure and decks are framed with fir 2 bys ripped to various sizes. Curved deck beams were sawn from 2×12 fir, not laminated. The hull bottom, bow, and transom are 2 layers 1/2″ treated pine plywood (not the greatest quality, and I think I’d just use better untreated plywood instead). The hull sides are 2 layers of 3/8″ b/c pine plywood. House sides are 3/8″ b/c pine with 1/4″ t&g cedar laminated with polyurethane adhesive (PLC supreme or something like that, Lowes. etc have it in big tubes). Roofs/decks are 2 layers 3/8″ b/c pine on the decks and 2 layers 1/4″ luan underlayment on the pilot house. The decks and hull have one layer 6 oz fiberglass and epoxy.”
I asked him if it needed special attention in the winter. He told me that he hauled it out in the winter with with a big travel lift, but that with the right trailer you could probably pull it out yourself.
When he originally built it he powered it with only a 25 hp Tohatsu but when he recently switched to a 40 hp Honda he noticed a great improvement in handling and gas consumption. At about 6,000 lbs. its not really too big to haul around. It’s not much heavier than your average travel trailer. (except that it floats!)
From what I can see the construction is not more than most guys are capable of, but the quality might be. The builder did an excellent job of finish inside and out, something of which I’m probably only capable of in my dreams. Patience is a quality greatly needed for a beautiful boat build. It took Chris 5 years to build the Darwin in his spare time and the quality of the finished product shows it.
Darwin…the early days
Finishing the Darwin cost about $20,000 and is a small price for such a nice houseboat.
There is a lot more information about this boat and you can find some of it at the following sites.
It seems the smaller your boat is, the more you have to use your “head.” No, not the one on your shoulders. I mean the marine toilet or the houseboat “head.” And when installing a marine toilet or a houseboat toilet there are several types to choose from. The right system can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying your houseboat. The US Coast Guard and Federal Law have very strict rules about this subject. For most American waters, long gone are the days of just straight flushing. (Thank God). Today systems are organized into 3 types of Marine Sanitation Devices or “MSD’s”. The following explanation is from the US Coast Guard Website
Approved MSDs: There are three different types of MSDs that can be certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to meet the requirements in 33 CFR Part 159, each having its own design, certification, and discharge criteria. For more information see 33 CFR 159.53.
Type I is a flow-through discharge device that produces an effluent having a fecal coliform bacteria count not greater than 1,000 per 100 milliliters and no visible floating solids. This type of device is typically a physical/chemical based system that relies on maceration and chlorination. Type I MSDs are issued a Certificate of Approval.
Type II is a flow-through discharge device that produces an effluent having a fecal coliform bacteria count not greater than 200 per 100 milliliters and suspended solids not greater than 150 milligrams per liter. This type of device is typically a biological or aerobic digestion based system.
Type III is a device that prevents the overboard discharge of treated or untreated sewage or any waste derived from sewage. This type of device is typically a holding tank and may include other types of technology including incineration, re-circulation, and composting.
The Real Poop
What all this means is that for a houseboat toilet a Type III MSD is usually the system of choice. It consists of a head and a holding tank of suitable size. It will have to be pumped out at approved pump-out facilities or by portable collection boats. You have a fresh water tank, a gray water tank for sinks etc, and a black water tank for the nasty stuff. While it is possible to have a Type I marine toilet system that cleans and disinfects the waste, in reality, you cannot discharge it in the water. This is great for offshore, but most houseboats aren’t going out to sea.
If you follow the marine sewage news you will quickly realize that almost everywhere you go there are “No-Discharge-Zones” or NDZ’s. In fact, California has recently enacted laws to create the largest NDZ in the world. So, Either a Type III system that stores the waste or an expensive system that evaporates or incinerates the crap is the way to go.
If you are building your own little houseboat then a Type III houseboat toilet and tank is the best idea. Although you can still use a portable toilet if you want. It would be Ok for a day or two, but the joys of a week-long houseboat vacation might be ruined by the constant emptying of a twenty-pound tank of crap. (“just saying”)
Where does it all go?
When you flush a marine head the waste will go to a holding tank. Some marine toilets (or “heads”) have a garbage disposal-like device called a macerating pump. It runs on electricity and grinds the waste into a “slurry” (not to be confused with “Slurpee”) so that will not clog the tank or the pipes. But if you don’t have the electricity available you can install a “boat head” that you manually pump after using and it just flushes the waste into the tank. Then, when the tank is almost full, (don’t wait until it’s full ) you can pump it out at a pump-out station in a marina. In many marinas, they have a marine pump-out service available that periodically makes the rounds and empties your holding tank.
But remember, if it goes overboard you can be fined big-time. The government will swoop in and treat you and your marine toilet like a big toxic waste site. (which you would be) Return Home
The Millie Hill design by Sam Devlin is a complete package. It’s a tiny house that floats. It has a galley, a bathroom complete with a shower, and sleeping room for four. To build a small houseboat like this is within the reach of just about anyone who can build.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a simple boat, it’s just not a complicated boat. Some more good news is that the designer, Sam Devlin, totally redesigned her in 2008 so now this little houseboat has everything you need for a great vacation getaway or even a long-term stay. This is not the only design he has either. On his site, he has designs for sailboats, motorboats and everything between a 7’ dinghy and a 42’ trawler. If you visit his site you’ll see what I mean. But my favorite is The Millie Hill.
The regular Millie Hill is 20’ long and only 8’-2’ wide. So it will fit on a flat-bed trailer and you can pull it out bring it home for the winter. (If you live that far north) Or you can easily haul it on down to someplace warmer and enjoy it all year long. Or, if you want a small houseboat that’s a little bigger, Devlin has designed a 28′ by 10′ Millie Hill.
The designer recommends a 10 hp motor to get it to hull speed so gas shouldn’t be a big problem. A lot of guys have got these big 200 hp gas-sucking beauties sitting alongside the house, but then they can’t afford the gas for a day of running around. Its either gas for the boat or pay the mortgage.
This is not a problem with Millie Hill. A few gallons of gas would push you around all day. When you think about it, maybe you can’t afford not to have this small houseboat. You can tell your wife that you’ll “save so much money,” just in gas, that you can take her on a cruise. ( I didn’t say ocean cruise) Maybe a cruise around the lake or up the river. The more you look at these pictures the more you can picture yourself on the deck. Return Home
If you enjoy living near the water, but can’t afford beachfront property, there’s a good chance that living on a houseboat has crossed your mind. Living on a houseboat can be exciting, but before you decide to invest in one, there are a few things to keep in mind. Living on a houseboat allows you to take all of your belongings with you wherever you go, but there are a few obstacles to this life. Storms cause waves, and your houseboat will rock, so for those who are easily seasick, this might not be the best option. There are many places to anchor your houseboat, however, and although these places charge rent, it is often much less than an apartment would be.
What’s it like living on a houseboat? This a question that’s constantly being asked of the many folks around the world who have chosen to live life floating on the water. It’s not for everyone though. My sister walks in her sleep …so, it’s probably not a good lifestyle choice for her.
But for thousands of people, living on a houseboat is proving to be a great way to add a new dimension to their lives. Some choose to live aboard for economic reasons and others simply want to live life differently.
Building vs. Buying a Houseboat
Building a houseboat is often cheaper than buying one that is already built and allows you to create your houseboat with exact specifications. Labor is a huge factor when building a houseboat, however, and building a houseboat will take time. For those without time and the ability to put labor into your houseboat, there are places to stay while you hire a crew, but hotels and apartments are yet another expense to be paid, so if you are looking for a new residence and are not currently residing in one, buying a houseboat may be a better option. Buying a houseboat involves a few steps.
The first step, of course, is to find a houseboat with the specifications you desire, and this could be a laborious process if it weren’t for online websites such as Craigslist, or other dealers that advertise online. The second step involves you going to see the houseboat, and many times a houseboat looks better online than it does in reality, so do not settle! Houseboats generally are not incredibly expensive, so be sure to compare prices when buying a houseboat. For those who would rather rent a houseboat, there are many places that have already anchored their houseboats and allow you to stay in them for a fee.
These houseboats usually cannot be taken off the property, but for those who simply enjoy living on the ocean, this is a definite option. If you’re thinking about buying or building a houseboat, but have not yet decided if it’s a residence you would enjoy, renting a houseboat is probably your best option. Renting a houseboat will allow you to experience life on the ocean without needing to invest your hard earned cash on something you may not enjoy.
Ian Morton has lived on a houseboat for over a decade and has learned so much about living on a houseboat that it takes a website just to share. In a recent article, he shares some valuable lessons he’s learned. For instance, he suggests not trying to enjoy one smaller than 40’ or buying one older than 25 years old. His website, All About Houseboats, is definitely a “must visit” place for anyone seriously interested in owning or living on a houseboat.
Across the Atlantic, in England, thousands of people are living on houseboats specially designed for the narrow British canal system. Called Narrowboats, these floating homes are more like long travel trailers inside. Most are built of steel with hull thicknesses that vary from 8mm on the bottom to 4mm on the sides. (This is about ⅜” on the bottom.) These rugged boats have inboard motors and often cruise the hundreds of miles of canals across Britain. A friend of mine rented one for a week and, with his family onboard, had a great holiday adventure.
These boats make a lot of sense in England, but I don’t think they would be very practical in the US with the exception of the Erie Canal. Even in a slow-moving river, you could easily lose control. But they sure look great. While much emphasis is put on the beautiful top-end McMansions floating in the lakes and rivers, some with basements and spas, perhaps some attention should be given to the other end of the spectrum. Yes, the small, the cheap, and the “barely” floating. This leads us to the shantyboat, America’s first houseboat. And some really are barely floating. But they can still be a lot of fun.
Wayne Dewyer shows us possibly the bottom of the spectrum when it comes to living on a houseboat. His adventure from Michigan to the Gulf is chronicled in his series of You-tube videos. I don’t think I’ll ever talk my wife into this particular houseboat. While building a houseboat is a possibility, I don’t think this is what most of us have in mind when we think of living on a houseboat, but on some level, I love it. He motored all the way down to the Gulf and beyond and had a great time doing it.
Shantyboats remind us of the long-ago days when much of America moved on water. Whether along the rivers or across the canals of New York or Ohio, boats moved the bulk of America’s goods and people for hundreds of years.
One Vermont entrepreneur and farmer has built a boat to try and recapture that pioneer spirit. Erik Andrus has already launched the boat and sailed down the Hudson to Manhattan. The Ceres, a 39’ flat-bottom sailboat is currently delivering cargo up and down the Hudson. While this isn’t actually a houseboat, it shows the possibility of sustainable living on a houseboat / commercial vessel.
In Holland, the houseboats are much wider than the narrowboats of England. I guess the boats are built to fit the waterways. This boat has a sort of old world gypsy-wagon feel to it. Anywhere land is expensive, and there is water, people will be living on a houseboat. Final Words Do not settle when it comes to your houseboat. Living on a houseboat can be an incredible experience for many people, but without research into the houseboat you’re looking at buying, a great experience can easily turn sour.
How would you describe it? It’s a big square box that floats and outfitted with the right rig, it sails just fine. I think Phil Bolger would have loved this boat. But you have to see it to believe it. The headroom might be a tad to low, but if it comes up a little short in the comfort department, it makes up for it in the simplicity of construction.
another Triloboat “the Luna”
But, don’t be fooled, this isn’t just your average fairweather houseboat, this boat has taken on some daunting Alaskan waters. The designer and builder, Dave Zeiger has put an amazing amount of foresight and thought into the design of this boat. Along with his partner Anke, they have designed and built several different Triloboats.
If you are thinking about building a houseboat or even a great little sailboat, check out the Triloboat. It’s like a tiny house you can sail! Their website is full of information on the boat and how to sail her, along with some great accounts of some of their trips. He has put some nice videos on YouTube also. Now I see they are planning a “new boat.” The details are on a new website they have set up just for this build. They are planning to build what Dave calls his last boat. (I hope not) It is estimated to cost about $30,000 when it’s done, but it will incorporate all the lessons he’s learned building his earlier boats and promises to be the best Triloboat yet. Check out their new building plansReturn Home
In Britain, over the centuries, canals were built to join rivers and lakes and make it possible to cheaply move goods from one place to another. Although some canals were larger, the standard width evolved to just about 7ft. So, in order to travel these narrow waterways, “Narrowboats” evolved to fit the canals. These became the modern British Narrowboats, or “canal boats.” Basically, a simple steel houseboat is a floating tiny house. The canal boats are proving to be a great way to live the good life. There are hundreds, if not thousands of these floating tiny houses all over the British Isles.
You can read about some of the floating tiny houseboat adventures folks are having on the canals of Britain. Sue and her husband Vic are good examples. They live on their beautiful narrowboat “No Problem.” Check out their blog.
In the 20th century, narrowboats were more frequently made of steel than wood and moved much of the goods in England. Some were still in service in the 1970’s. With the advent of modern rails and trucking canal boats for moving merchandise were made obsolete. But, in recent decades they have regained popularity as leisure craft. Many of the original narrowboats have been refitted as floating homes or houseboats. Most are equipped with motors that make slow travel through the British countryside a great way to enjoy a holiday or a vacation.
The newer narrowboats are usually built no more than 6’- 10” which permits them to travel just about all the canals in the system. Made out of sheet steel, these flat-bottom canal boats can easily maneuver along the shallow canals. Though originally designed to carry cargo, the scarcity of affordable living quarters for the crewmen’s families caused many to be adapted to live-aboard families. This was also a trait of American canal boats, with live-aboard families on small houseboats being quite common in the 1800’s on the canal boats of the Erie and Ohio canal systems.
Although the upsides of living on a Narrowboat are easy to see, ie: freedom from the rat race, low costs, constant travel, the downsides are not as obvious. Usually, on land, when you flush your toilet that’s the end of it. (no pun intended) But on a Narrowboat or a canal boat, or any houseboat for that matter, you are not getting rid of anything . . you are just putting it in a “crap bank” and saving it up until the bank is full. Then you have to go somewhere and deal with pumping it out yourself ( usually at a cost) or paying someone else to pump it out. (at a bigger cost) You will also have to take on water to fill the tanks and make sure you have gas or coal or diesel fuel. There are a lot of maintenance issues on a narrowboat and you would be wise to consider all of them before you commit to living on a narrowboat.
You probably will not have a washing machine or a dishwasher, as they tend to use a large quantity of your precious water. Then they will fill up your grey-water tanks pretty quickly. so, you will end up hauling your laundry off to a laundry-mat. There will be no hot-tub or even long showers for that matter. Consider how cold a steel box floating in the water in the middle of winter can feel. there are other things to consider as well like electric and communications and no cable. It’s not for everyone, but it is for many. To learn more about the costs of Narrowboat expenses check out this blog
Today there are estimated to be over 30,000 canal boats or Narrowboats in Britain. Many serve as permanent dwellings while others are used as vacation get-a-ways or rentals.They can be rented by the week or the month. Modern types of diesel usually provide the small power required to leisurely cruise through the countrysides and villages of England, Scotland, and Wales. Complete with all the modern conveniences like flushing toilets, showers, and satellite TV, they provide just about everything you need for a great vacation experience or a more permanent lifestyle. For a better picture of life aboard, check out these short videos:
For more info visit Canal Boat Club (www.canalboatclub.com)
Some of us only dream, but when Than Monk, an artist and builder, had a dream he got busy. He started building a houseboat and what a houseboat it turned out to be.
Named “the Recurring Dream” he launched the 24′ long and 8′ wide houseboat in August of 2013. And it’s been turning heads ever since. Its a perfect mixture of artistic creativity and epoxy. Being a master carpenter also helped. By bringing these talents together he sculpted a beautiful floating tiny houseboat out of plywood, epoxy and a lot of sweat equity.
Launched in Portland, OR, he docks it in Cathedral Park. He lives on the houseboat with his family. And yes, it does move.! Powered by a small outboard engine, He can cruise his tiny houseboat all around the Portland area. His Facebook page has much more information. He even has a site to help defray the building costs. If you like supporting the Arts, the next time you feel inclined to send some dough to the local PBS station ( for a DVD of 50’s doo-wop hits or whatever ) give a thought to supporting this young creative artist /sculptor with a donation.
1838 Professor Moritz Jacobi developed a 24’ electric boat for the Czar of Russia and carried 14 passengers down the Neva river at a speed of 3 mph. Born in Potsdam, Prussia, the German physicist and University lecturer was instrumental in the development of electroplating and electrotyping.
1882 First electric boat record set in 1886 the “Volta” crosses the English Channel from Dover to Calais, France in 3 hr and 55 min, a steel ship 37’ long-6’10” wide. Designed by Anthony Reckenzaun. (1850-1893) Later it made round-trip in 8 hours. He also designed the first American electric boat “the Magnet.”
1887Isaac Peral (1851-1895) In 1888 he developed a submarine for the Spanish Navy, but it was rejected. The Peral submarine was the first practical submarine ever invented. Powered by diesel generators it had 480 batteries.
1889 Commercial Electric boats were being used on the Thames River in England. By 1893 maps were published showing “charging stations” along the river.
1892 Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition was the first large public use of Alternating energy. Developed by Westinghouse, the AC current systems were chosen over competing direct-current systems designed by Thomas Edison. Batteries were used to power electric boats and carried over a million passengers around the Fair.
1900 the United States commission’s the first modern electric submarine, the USS Hollandfrom John Phillip Holland and his Holland Torpedo Boat company, founded in 1899. It later became General Dynamics Corp. (1952) The race for submarines was joined by nations around the world.
1902 French launch the Gymnote. A steel-hulled submarine with 204 batteries and the first working periscope. the periscope did not work well though and was discarded. It was also armed with torpedoes.
1903 Even Thomas Edison, the great inventor had a hand in the development of Electric boats. Steven Bowden wrote an interesting article about it in Cruising Outpost Magazine. Edison’s boat was called the Reliance and a replica of it can be seen at the Edison Museum in Ft. Myers, Florida.
1939 Electric Ferries are in use on lakes and rivers around the world. They are especially useful on pristine lakes or where water or noise pollution is critical.
1995 European championship is started. Events are staged at La Rochelle, on the Atlantic, in Switzerland and in Berlin and Hamburg. Canoe “Carl” wins with a 1,5 KW electric motor.
Today, Electric boats have become the norm with almost all large ships now powered by electric motors. These motors are usually powered by diesel generators or batteries, but new developments in solar power generation have led to new designs in ships evidenced by the construction of the “PlanetSolar”
Solar power systems can be installed almost anywhere you have the sun. Houseboats can get an enormous amount of power from solar cells because they usually have a lot of space on the roof for solar cells and room for storage batteries. A 4’by 8′ area on top of a houseboat can generate up to 2500 watt-hours of power. That would power a small TV for hours and with new low power LED lighting, a boats electric requirements can easily be met.
2010PlanetSolar traveled around the world using solar power alone, finally completed the ground-breaking trip on May 4, 2012. With two 60 KW electric motors and the latest in lithium-ion batteries it cruised at 7.5 knots with a maximum speed of 14 knots.
In Australia, solar-powered electric boats cruise up the Mundoo River. Designed by Michael Storer the Mundoo IIdesign can move along at up to 6 knots on solar power only.They can be rented for vacation trips. (www.duckflatwoodenboats.com)
Recently I came upon some great new videos. The first one is a boat in England. Its called the Bauhaus Barge and it’s a “solar-powered houseboat. It doesn’t run like the wind, but it is powered by the sun! This barge is the very latest when it comes to solar powered boats. It doesn’t even have gas or other energy onboard. Even the cooking is done with electricity generated by solar power. The monstrous battery (1.2 tons) stores up all the solar power (converted to electricity) and provides energy for cooking, water, and cruising.
(to see a great site and learn the history of solar-powered boatsClick Here
With about 20 metric tons and a solid steel hull, you won’t be dragging this to the lake on Saturday afternoon, but for a safe and economical way to enjoy life on the canals of England or Europe, a solar-powered houseboat might be the next big thing. At only about 120,000 pounds sterling (I don’t know how much in dollars) this would be a nice addition to your toy collection.
Solar Powered Boat
Back here in the US, a new boat has recently been making waves in the Intra-coastal waterway. Called the “RA” It’s the handiwork of a lifelong sailor, Capt. Jim Greer who sails from Colorado Springs, CO. It’s not designed as a solar-powered houseboat, but you can live and cruise on it.
He started out in Florida, a little north of Tampa at New Port Richie Jan. 14, 2013 and planned to sail the Great Loop of America. He added some younger crew members along the way and is hoping to turn the adventure into a broadcast event.
Worlds largest Solar Powered Boat
“MS Turanor Planet Solar” the worlds largest solar-powered boat, while not a solar-powered houseboat, is definitely big enough to qualify as one. At almost 100 feet long and 50 feet wide this marvel of modern technology is proving that the world is changing and changing fast. With over 500 sq. meters of solar cells, (around 800 cells) the sun charges the ships giant lithium-ion batteries to provide the ship with enough power to keep going three days even if the sun doesn’t shine.
Launched in September of 2010 the ship set out on a cruise totally on solar power.Hoping to achieve top speeds of 15 knots. In 2012 Planet Solar went around the world becoming the first ocean vessel to circle the globe on solar power alone. check out this short video,
The first electric boat
was actually built in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1839! Inventor Moritz Von Jacobi built a 24′ boat that reportedly carried 14 passengers at 3mph. But the problem has always been batteries. Storing enough power to travel any useful distance has always been a problem. While much progress has been made in batteries, the addition of solar cells and the tremendous increases in output from the cells has now made totally solar vessels possible.
In Australia, on the Mundoo river, you can rent a solar-powered boat to cruise the river for weeks a time. You can build one for yourself if you want. Visit Storerboatplans.com to check them out.
Recently, I caught the bug to live on a houseboat.
Actually, I’ve been having houseboat dreams since I was 18. When I was going to junior college, back in the 60’s, I used to drive right past the place that manufactured the “Surfside–6” houseboats. I would often stop (like every day) and observe through the fence. I couldn’t believe they were just plywood and fiberglass.
One houseboat was featured in an old TV show about a couple of guys that lived in Miami Beach on a houseboat. Naturally, there were girls, and adventures and such and it always just seemed like a neat thing. the name of the TV show— “Surfside 6“
Once I saw a houseboat for sale in the paper. It was parked on New River in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. They only wanted two-thousand bucks, so I called a friend and we were going to go in on it together. I contacted the owner and he told me to stop by the next day and look at it.
Well, the next day when I drove up to the boat, one pontoon had sprung a leak over-night and the boat was slowly sinking into the abyss. I stared a long time at the boat, and as it went down into the murky water so did my enthusiasm for having everything I owned floating on an old leaky barge.
That was years ago, and I guess with time I’ve forgotten the lesson learned that day and I’m ready to try again. I’m not quite sure if I would end up as Captain Courageous or SpongeBob SquarePants, but I can’t get this idea out of my mind. And, as it turns out, I’m not alone.
The urge to live on the water can be overwhelming
The urge to float on water must be buried deep in our genetics. We spent the first nine months of our existence floating in a bag of water.The internet is full of stories about guys (and some gals) who have turned their backs on dry land and set out to live on the open water, or at least the water around the dock. Some buy a boat, and some build their own. And just as people are different, there is are different houseboat designs for almost everyone.
Can you decide which houseboat to live on?
One of my favorites is the Aqua Casa. A design by Berkley Engineering. This is one of the simplest and yet functional small houseboats going. The design incorporates years of experience in boat design into a smart little floating home. Their site has plans for building one yourself or links to some for sale. While I would take issue with their estimated $3,500 dollar cost to build one, I think it would be a deal at twice that. Aqua Casa
The “not so big” type
Would you like a Shantyboat?
For the more adventurous soul perhaps a “shantyboat” is what you need. Harkening back to the time of paddle-wheel riverboats and Huck-Finn rafts, shantyboats come in the oddest shapes and sizes. Varying from no more than a wooden box on barrels to really comfortable houseboats, people have built an almost unimaginable array of floating stuff. Some of the more rugged folks have strapped a small motor on the back and gone all the way down the Mississippi. Traveling by day and pulling over at night to camp and rest, often within walking distance of downtown amenities, they create some amazing vacation experiences. But it’s not something you would hope to retire on.
They don’t look like the one above anymore. Well, actually some look worse, but most are sharp designs incorporating all the latest in essential boat stuff, you know, like a bathroom running water and a kitchen.
If you like houseboats as much as I do then you will really like a site designed for nothing but shantyboats, in fact, it’s called ShantyboatLiving.com. The author, Bryan Lowe, has assembled tons of information on Shantyboats, houseboats, Eco-friendly boats and much more. It’s a “must see” for me. I enjoy the articles and all the great pictures.
What’s a Narrowboat?
In England, many retired folks live on narrow-boats. These are skinny boats designed to go up and down the skinny little canals that cut across Great Britain. With a maximum width of only about 7’, the design inside is much more like a long travel trailer. With a length often exceeding 60’and usually powered by a small diesel, they can slowly roam the English countryside while still having afternoon tea. Often seen in downtown areas, they offer a unique living style and can be an economical alternative to traditional housing. You can find out more about these truly unique British boats at NarrowboatWorld
But in the USA it’s getting harder all the time to live in a houseboat. Because houseboats don’t generally move much, most people and especially boat people don’t really consider them “boats.” They are kind of excluded from the boating community. That’s where sailboats seem to be more useful.
Sailboat Conversion to Houseboat?
A small sailboat, while not giving all the comfort of a houseboat, offer the owner the ability to have a home and be able to travel also. A boat that actually moves is usually accepted in marinas that would otherwise shun a houseboat. The truth is that most sailboats don’t really sail that much. They just motor along. Usually, with a small “kicker” motor on the back, they can move along just as fast as they would sailing and sip only ½ gallon of gas or diesel an hour. The main advantage is that when you stop for the night, you’re already home.
So, now instead of dreaming of houseboats, maybe I’ll start thinking about a sailboat. Anybody know how far it is to St. Croix?