Ask Mr. Shantyboat: Where is Brandy Bar?

Today’s email question:

I live in Portland and wonder if the Brandy Bar is still afloat and can she be seen? More directly, I’m trying to choose a design and the Brandy bar seems about right for me. Are plans available as a plywood build? I’m hope you won’t find my request too shallow, as you must get many similar. Thank you!


brandy bar

Mr. Shantyboat Says:   I do, Steven, but we are all on the same team, with similar goals, so I looked and it didn’t take long.   But first, some background.   I last wrote about the boat in an article on in September of 2011.  I quoted the author, who writes:

I built Brandy Bar as a low-cost way to live on the water near my other boat, the 27-foot sloop Kavik, and my work as a sailing instructor. With an overall length of 25 feet, a beam (width) of 10 feet and a 9-foot X 17-foot cabin, she provides a living space comparable in size to that of a 30- to 40-foot conventional boat.

Cost?  In 1989 he said…

In terms of sheer economics, houseboat living is very attractive. A houseboat like Brandy Bar can be built for anywhere between $8,000 and $20,000, depending on the details (in 1989). Moorage in the Portland area runs $70 to $ 100 per month for a vessel of Brandy Bar’s size, and her license costs $30 every two years. Property tax is treated as it would be for any boat. Utilities run less than for an average house, since Brandy Bar is small, insulated and tightly built.

Read more:

This has been a boat that has caught the fancy of a fair number of dreamers, me included.   It’s a nice looking boat, seems somewhat practical, if trailering isn’t required on a regular basis.  Though moderately large, it seems possible to build for anyone handy.. if you’ve got the space.   The plans may be pretty basic, but for ten bucks you can find out!

Check it out! (the plans sale page I mean)



Downloadable PDF

Price: $10.00


This plan-sized study guide includes floor plans, sections and profiles of the owner-built and architecturally designed 25-foot plywood houseboat. Ideal for the basic builder with little or no boat working experience.
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I found some pictures from 2005 while she was on the hard getting repairs, and she looks pretty good.   This suggests she is still out there.

brandy bar port 1

brandy bar bottom 1 (1)

brandy bar starboard 1

brandy bar transom 1

Same old outboard!

So Steven, yes, plans are available.   Your pocketbook and your building space will help you determine if this boat is right, assuming it meets your needs.   Yes, it is plywood, and you’d most likely be best off if you also used epoxy.   The hull will be the “easy” part.   Will you buy or build windows?   Your dreams for interior outfitting will greatly impact your budget.

Need a trailerable boat and don’t mind a smaller boat?   I’d go for the Millie Hill, one or two.


Mr. Shantyboat has a job, for now, at least… and is building his own boat, but I’ll do my best to answer questions!


Originally posted 2013-09-10 22:07:35.

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