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Two Homebuilt Barge Designs

December 29, 2011
By

Text from the Macnaughton Group website, two barges for the homebuilder.   :

Evening Song:  Plans Price $485.  LOA 25′ Beam 10′ Draft 1’4″

In our original article on  Bantam we casually mentioned toward the end that it would be fun to have a houseboat barge to go with her. We felt it would be a lot of fun to live aboard the barge and push it down the Intracoastal Waterway of the East Coast. We hadn’t thought of this as more than a fun idea but immediately we started getting all sorts of letters demanding plans for the barge! After all, what else do you want to do with a tug so much as push and pull something around? This presented something of a challenge, as we had never known anyone to design a houseboatbarge before, per se, so we had to come up with something completely new. The result was Evening SongThe combination of the tug and the barge clearly struck another cord, as we’ve sold a lot of both plans. This time it didn’t surprise us. The image of the tug and barge traveling together in the Intracoastal Waterway, or of the barge anchored in a secluded creek while the tug comes and goes with guests and provisions, is about as idyllic as it gets. Evening Song contains a whole lot of space in a reasonable compromise between camp-like and boat-like accommodations. She comes complete with two “porches” where one can sit with the dog and the shotgun waiting for the ducks, or just watch the world go by.

 

There’s also a lot of “roof” space adaptable to lounging, solar panels, rainwater catchment, etc. Construction is about as simple as it could be, being epoxy and plywood throughout, with a lot of right angles mixed in with the curves of the sheer and bottom.
Evening Hush: $444.  LOA 32’ Beam 10′ Draft 1’4″

The larger tugs can justify a larger houseboat barge, and Evening Hush fills this need. One of our clients is building a group of these in the Pacific Northwest, where he is renting them as “barge and breakfasts”!

 

Unfortunately the owner did not  include the natural finish sheathing on the cabin sides, nor the carved quarter badges. This gives her a slightly bland look. Also those who choose to put in rectangular windows rather than the round ports should realize that they should follow the sheerlines and not be square to the waterline. Unfortunately I didn’t anticipate that some people would not use the round ports. Nevertheless this photo will give an idea of how Evening Hush looks in the water.

Editor Notes:

  1. Short term rentals like this were put out of business by “the law” in Lake Union in Seattle.
  2. There is a lot to like about these designs, as drawn at least.  It’s a nice looking design and the layout is reasonable. They would not be trailerable, and the build is more complex than many other barge designs.
  3. These plans are priced on the high side of the continuum.  When compared with this, prices for plans from other designers such as Devlin and Welsford are a bargain.  Millie Hill plans are available for as little as $90 We own multiple sets of “affordable” plans in the $250 range or less.   We own no plans at these prices.  We’ve heard the argument that these cheap designers will kill the boat design industry with prices so low the designers starve.  One designer told me that if he sold at lower prices the kids of today would not have any highly qualified boat designers left when they get older.  They’d all be priced out of existence.  We are sympathetic, but wonder if they wouldn’t sell many more sets of plans if they were priced more affordably… resulting in greater profits.  Most plans purchased do not end with the building of a boat.   When it comes to boats like these.. how much can the market bear when people are buying dreams?  Share your comments below.

Buy THE book on Shantyboat living.
A reviewer says:  Shantyboat chronicles the adventures of Harlan and Anna Hubbard, who in the early 1950′s, built a wooden houseboat (or shantyboat) out of a demolished house and drifted down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. Spanning several years, the book describes winters spent drifting freely with the current and summers foraging for or growing what was needed. Much more than a travelogue, the journey is an experiment in living just outside the confines of a newly emerging technological civillization, but still in a fully “civillized” way. Their lives were hardly lived in seclusion. Instead they preferred the richness of friends, good meals gathered from abandoned or empty lands, and art: Harlan was a painter, Anna a concert pianist. The story of their days drifting is often filled with anecdotes about weather, fishing, or dogs, and slowly draws the reader in with a steady seasonal rhythm. Their time on the river represents the last days of the shantyboater, a breed of free spirit that quickly dissappeared after the second world war. Industrial growth along the waterways, large new dams, and toxic pollutants ensured the end of a tradition of free living. Today, our world continues to grapple with issues of technology and its impact on what makes us human. “Shantyboat” offers an alternative, or perhaps a perspective on what is really important. – Buy the book – Shantyboat: A River Way of Life

Bryan Lowe

The author of this post is also the editor of ShantyboatLiving.com. He has built several boats including the Escargot seen on this site. Submit YOUR stories about any aspect of shantyboating HERE. Interested in All Things Odd But Cool? Some odd stories you'll enjoy.

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