Key Forum Posts Moved Front and Center


Dave Zeiger of Trioloboats fame and a couple of others have posted to our forum, but their responses deserve to be front and center on


My original post said…

“How much is too much for a shantyboat?  It’s a question I often ponder as I create posts for At what point does a shantyboat become a houseboat…. financially. To me there will be some that are VERY Clear… but if someone spends $10k building a shantyboat, is it one? OK, how about $5k or $20k.

I’ve decided to be more subjective, deciding mostly by look and intention.



SammanthaR said…

“That’s a very good question, Bryan, and the answer is probably something along the lines of “it depends…” At this point in my life, my slightly tongue-in-cheek answer would be that any liveaboard boat I can possibly afford to own is a shantyboat. I would not want to put an absolute dollar figure on it, but I think the root concept is a boat that provides the owner with affordable housing without the need for a mortgage. In other words, it is something one can buy or build out of present income and savings. For some that might mean $10-20,000; for most I suspect it will be a lot less.

I think your idea of intent and appearance is good, keeping in mind that one might build a boat very plainly to get onto the water quickly, then over time improve her appearance and value greatly through continued work. The $1000 box-on-a-barge may turn into a cute little houseboat but still be a shantyboat at heart.

Question: Does a shantyboat have to look like a tiny house on a barge, or can the category include a conventional cruising sailboat or a small cabin cruiser as well?

— Sam”

Dave Zeiger Said…

Snatch the coin from my hand, Grasshopper. Then you will be ready to leave.

Personally, I think the diff is in the mind and attitude of the owner. In all the folks I’ve met, however, there is a pretty strict correlation between the monetary value of the vessel and whether its owners think of it as one or the other… to the point that they may be offended if you mis-categorize them! They can be dangerous, and it’s wise to humor them. :) I might add that those who think of themselves as shantyboaters are having a lot more fun, no matter the vessel.

The shantyboat dream becomes reality sooner or later, when at all. If it comes early, the trip will be long, happy and marked by thrift. If it comes late, with affluence, better late than never. Hopefully the accumulated baggage, whether of mind or matter, won’t sink ’em.

Here’s a quote from Sterling Hayden with plenty of food for thought:

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas [live on the water], but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? ”
― Sterling Hayden, Wanderer


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Originally posted 2011-09-27 15:34:27.

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