The Perfect Shantyboat Conversion?

I don’t know if it’s ever been done before, but these Fishing Tugs would seem the perfect boat to convert to a shantyboat.   They start with “the look” right from the get go.   Tons of room.   And what else do you do with an old fishing tug?!  Update:  Here is one for sale, “ready” to convert:

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Finding a description of these unique boats has been a challenge, but “Fish Tugs of the Greatest Lake” says, “Designed to meet the requirements of a challenging environment, the Great Lakes fish tug is a form seen nowhere else.

Today, one of the best places to see classic fish tugs is the village of Bayfield, on Lake Superior at Wisconsin’s northern tip. Though some are now museum exhibits, and others rest on shore, many continue their job of harvesting fish from Lake Superior.”


This one has been converted into a mini donuts store!


Not exactly the most dignified reason for conversion, but I’ll take a dozen please.


Here’s the mother-lode of fish tug photos.

Originally posted 2016-02-21 08:15:49.

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  1. These are common where I am from. Many of these boats were built by a company here called Russell Bro’s. who built many Alligator tugs as well as other types of fish tugs and trawlers. The boat you have shown was built by the late Harry Gamble Sr.
    I met him a couple times. He could talk for hours about diesels and had great knowledge of them. He built many tugs for the Great Lakes and owned a shipyard in Port Dover Ontario, and I have been aboard a few of his boats, both on land and water. I used to go to his yard looking for tugboat hulls to restore, which for years now has been a boat wrecking yard and a treasure trove of parts for just about anything ship wise imaginable.
    He was grumpy in his later years and had big attachments to his old collection of rusted tug hulls, engines and other things. When I met him last, he was in his early 90’s. He was a real bona fide shipwright and empirically inclined designer, with stern integrity and “speak your mind” tongue as I had the misfortune of encountering once. It was after I he spoke his price for a decrepit and still floating rusty old tug hull(which would likely never run again) and he quoted me a price of “15”. I tried to clarify if the hull was 1500.00…to which I got a laugh at and told to my face to “F-off”…he was a colourful character, but many of his tugs are still running.

    Many fish tugs have been converted to houseboats. They are quite amazing since they can take green water over the bow and handle just about any situation, are almost unsinkable, and have massive space inside. IF I can get some pictures, I will post them of the Purvis(company)massive 65 ft’er here at Gore bay, about 10 minutes from me “layed up” for the winter at the local marina. These boats had massive beam and huge sterns. These are still in service despite a decline in whitefish stock over the years. I should be able to get you a few more pics…

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