Shantyboat Designs: Triloboats

Shantyboats from 10 to 32 feet and beyond.

Designing Trilobyte 16:
by Dave Zeiger
I’d like to share the evolution of the design for Trilobyte 16. The path that I and the design
followed is in many ways typical, often landing one far from the original conception.
My partner, Anke, and I had been thinking of the kind of boat that could be quickly built in a
corner along the shores of Lago Maggiore, Italy, where Anke’s Mother lives. Our visits last up to
a couple of months, during which we have a lot of free time to explore the region. The lake is
about xxx miles long with it’s windy head at the base of impressive Swiss Alps, its long middle
in the Italian foothills and the south end flattening toward the plains of Milano.
Being densely settled and, our Italian being piu bruto (I think it means ‘abominable’), we’d need
to be able to sleep and cook aboard in all weathers and warm ourselves over winter visits. An
outboard should be mountable, but bureaucratic hassles and our own predilections make oars

Three principles to guide us as our design ‘evolves’:
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
Employ Appropriate Technologies (available, affordable, workable)
Maximize Synergy (the ‘sum is greater than its parts’ effect)

These three often work together, but are as often at odds. We might, for example, complicate the
design slightly for a dramatic increase in synergy. Together they churn out a result which is
usually highly adapted to its proposed environment. Oddly enough, an aesthetic beauty, albeit
unaccustomed, is inevitable.

The designer says:  Feel free to email us at with any questions you might
have. Anke and I are often off cruising for months at a time, so there may be a significant time
delay before we can get back to you.

For comments or questions regarding ordering, shipping or the Website, please write

You can find out more about our previous boats, including Luna at my brother, Mark’s Web site,
where he has a section dedicated to us.

Also, here’s an article in Duckworks Magazine.

Hear our story on’s Podcast.

Shantyboat Living Says:

This is a couple living the life.  Really living it.   At this point their work is odd jobs, but they hope to
leave even that behind soon.  Triloboats won’t be for everyone, they are unusual, a fact the
designer would admit right off.  But there is no question at all that they work.  The question is, do
they work for you?


  1. These boats are pretty easy to build, just like any squared off and simple craft like this.
  2. Tested in the real world, at least some of the designs.
  3. Nice folks, and while out of touch via email sometimes while they are on their journeys,
    they will talk with you and help answer your questions.
  4. Pick your size and build according to your need or budget.
  5. Good calm and shallow water boat.


  1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  2. Designer is not a trained designer, so you have to trust his real world experience.
  3. Trailering is out for all but the smallest.
  4. Living below the radar may be challenging.

Originally posted 2012-06-11 20:23:40.

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