Phil Bolger is a name well known to anyone who builds, or contemplates building, their own boat at home. Here are some excerpts from a commentary he wrote by way of introducing a design for a live-aboard boat.
“Most readers live in a house of sorts, paying rent or mortgage, i.e., using significant portions of their budget for comfortable shelter. That money can be used effectively on the water as well, spending it first on a suitable craft, and then on supplies, repairs, fuel, etc. Indeed, depending on where, when, and how you care to live afloat, it may well be the cheapest and least regulated form of “living in comfortable shelter,” assuming you actually like your local roots to be not much deeper than the bury of your anchors.
We are not talking here about,,,,” Read More
We return to the mothership in this link to videos and stories on food foraging.
The Forum post says…
“Ken Hulme, out here on Kwajalein Atoll, in the Marshall Islands. I’m kicking around retirement liveaboard ideas. Call this one a “shantyboat” or “river cruising scow” or “pseudo-narrowboat” for shallow, sheltered freshwater. My idea is to start with a watertight, marine painted, standard 8×8x40 ft. shipping container. Cut away the ends, put new steel in where needed, frame in the cabin ends with plywood. Use cast concrete “joists” 12″ high to lay a removeable floor on. Underfloor is for storing water, supplies, etc. You still have 6′+ headroom. The “decks” at either end get storage seats built in. Cut out and frame in windows where needed.
Rough calculations show that the 8000 lb container will draft about….’
One man’s adventures living on and traveling along the waterways of the Eastern U.S. in a
shantyboat/small sailboat. Trying to survive in style on a minimum Social Insecurity retirement check in 21st century America. Living off-the grid and on-the-hook as much as possible.
Lardo and Burley give us a tour of their genuine shantyboat. Take a ride on a shanty boat with a couple of self proclaimed morons. This trip down the Kentucky River is one you will never forget.
“AS A CHILD IN OHIO, MY DAD WOULD TAKE ME DOWN ALONG THE OHIO RIVER. THERE WE WOULD WALK ALONG THE BANK AND LOOK AT ALL THE OLD SHANTY BOATS. AT THAT TIME DAD AND I TALKED AND DREAMED OF HAVING OUR OWN SHANTY BOAT……” Read More
Here’s a Shantyboat/Tiny Floating House Interview with Seattle’s Bryan Lowe (by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen of Relaxshacks.com
“Bryan Lowe ordered a copy of my book “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks…” a ways back, and as in many fortunate cases with those who have done the same, it became a common ground on which we began emailing back and forth on our love of tiny shelters/houses, and more specifically, shantyboats. Bryan too, is Harlan……” Read More
It’s been a long time.
A few months ago, in an effort to build my writing skills and enthusiasm, I enrolled in an online writing class. It had the opposite effect. The class was for aspiring travel writers, taught by somewhat frustrated artists of the pen whose goal it was to be damn sure our dreams of writing met head on with the reality of how competitive the industry could be. They were writers of great talent we were assured, but that was clearly not enough, even for them, as their dreams had turned sour. I was assured I had no chance, though that wasn’t my goal.
Then there was the incident… my rescue by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office as the bow of my boat rested precariously a good dozen feet in the air while water began to pour over my stern. As my gallant rescuers arrived it was all but over, the only long term damage a slightly shattered sense of confidence. Or perhaps not so slight, as I haven’t been back on the sloughs in a good year and some.
Finally, in an effort to save some serious dollars I moved my boat from a long neglected dairy barn to my sisters cozy farm, out in the open, but securely protected by a cocoon of tarps and a spiders web of ropes and lines. Upon my arrival in spring I found the tarps flapping loose, the cabin filled with perhaps 100 galloons of rain water. My son, now attending boat repair school, declared my boat unfit for repair, suitable only as a source of salvaged lumber. I moped, and moped some more, until warm memories of boat outings in the past forced me into a modest frenzy of repair, or at least a fresh coat of paint.
So I dove in… climbed back into the saddle…. resumed control of the helm and set my course on personal satisfaction and enjoyment, both in boating and in writing. Damn the critics, full speed ahead.
After a couple of weeks of intermittent repair and paint, I was heading toward the lake again thanks to a last minute decision to head out for an overnight on the Sammamish Slough. It was about 4:30pm when the idea hit with a thud, and I was on the water within an hour, my supplies thrown into the back hatch. I took no food, no water, forgot my medications, but was laden with all the gadgets I could muster.
There was the Kindle, battery half charged. My cell phone was even lower, so I took along my small solar charger from Brunton, which proved totally useless. I also took along my new Spot satellite unit, an upgrade from my Mark Two model, one that allows access through my cell phone, allowing me to send one of 14 saved messages, or even type in a short new one at 50 cents a pop. With the remaining minutes of life in my cell phone I set the Spot to TRACK mode, allowing anyone who cared to follow my trip in real-time.
After a good hour of pounding through the wakes of unending waterskiers, all thoughts of boating doom and gloom were gone, replaced with a sense of wonder at the beauty of it all. Why had it taken so long to return? All was right again, with my boat, and as has so often been the case, all was right in my head and heart as well.
All my old friends were out along the slough. There were the burly fishermen and the young jet skiers, bemused at the unorthodox shape and colors of my boat. Then there were the kids and the young at heart who upon spotting my boat round the corner just down the slough from their vantage point, would stop, point, and exclaim to those about them.
There were the chickens, roosters mostly, as the parks along the slough have become a popular dumping ground for the non-egg laying and much noisier feathered friends from backyard coops throughout the region. There were the noisy twitterings of the King Fisher, the grotesque alarm calls of the stately herons, and the angry aquatic slaps in the night from perturbed beavers, distressed by my unexpected presence.
The Sammamish Slough begins it’s run from the north end of Lake Washington, which bisects Seattle along it’s entire length to the west and the land of Microsoft and Boeing to the east. At one time the slough was an important steamboat passageway from Seattle to the tiny and distant communities to the east, then mostly engaged in logging and coal. The river now winds through the backyards of the rich in their mansions, and comparative squalor of ramshackle mobile homes of the 60s and 70s. It runs past industry, from a thriving NW winery scene, to the lumberyards from who’s stock they were built. Along it’s length there is a bike and walking trail filled with the delighted shouts of kids and the huffing and puffing of those trying to keep old age at bay. I float past them all, to the delighted waves of those on the trail, but unseen by those who race past on the freeways built high upon the tangle of high columns and ramps above.
There’s forest, too, mixed amongst it all, as in the drippy and soggy Northwest there is no such thing as barren land. If mankind hasn’t moved in, a sea of green most certainly has. It’s that diversity, that hodge-podge of man and beast, concrete and nature, that is such a surprise. The greater surprise is how rarely I see anyone else in the water, especially as the slough begins to meander through the ever expanding wineries of Woodinville. Bear creek is the largest of the tributaries, second in added flow only to Lake Sammamish which serves as the source for these slow and murky waters. It’s there you’ll find a sand bar that brings the depth of the slough to just a few inches, save but a narrow and swift passage just wide enough for my boat if I scratch and claw my way through the stickers reaching out from the far shore. It’s a trip few dare take, actually an impossible effort for all but the most shallow and narrow of craft. My 6hp 4 stroke can make it’s way up, just barely, the current too strong for all but the most determined kayak or canoe.
Just beyond there that I can pull up to a small park, my boat’s appearance there seemingly as unexpected as a herd of ostriches, as I may be one of a handful of boats that have shown up there. I usually walk over to a local store and pick up forgotten supplies, a cold soda and such, which feels a bit odd for me as well. Approaching from behind, stepping out of the river world and into the realm of moms and their kids and strollers at the park, feels unexpectedly foreign.
The blackberries are ripe, practically falling into the water at the slightest touch, so I fill a few cups from the galley. I’d planned to bring them home as a topping for ice cream, but they don’t last the hour, my fingers stained a tell-tale purple. I’ve created a bucket list for myself, a run down of “must do” before I die adventures, though some are pretty simple, including a desire to pick enough blackberries to last all Winter. The slough would be ideal, as the competition for berries is virtually non-existant, creating a blackberry jam mother lode.
After more than a year off the water, I’d found my way back. As I was leaving home for this adventure my wife said, “I hope this trip is all it’s been for you in the past”. She’d known for some time that I needed this trip, a break, the mental respite. I thought about what she’d said and wondering exactly what it was these trips offered me. I wasn’t quite sure. Beauty and solitude, for sure. There was no rush, as this was not a means to an end… it was a gift in it’s own right with no destination beyond. Time… to think.. to notice.. to feel… to be. Impossible to buy, but always available free for the taking.
Let’s make a promise to together. Let’s just do it… just get out more often.
More to come.
Just back from my first camping trip in my Go-4 meter maid car.
Video on ferry across the sound
Routine sucks, or so says me. I see no fun in driving a Chevy. My neighbor did. His neighbor did. I did for years. I could spend the rest of my life in Chevys, and when most buck the tide they buy a Ford. Or a Toyota. It;s all so generic. You could do it in your sleep. It’s like having toast for breakfast every day. Buy an expensive car and it’s like having caviar every day. In the end there is no difference. Or so goes my thinking. That’s why I drive odd cars. A model T transmission has to be experienced to believe. A sidecar… crazy. Your own fire engine? Your own meter maid car? You are guaranteed to be aware, to be tuned in… to have fun.
That’s one of the reasons I leave my Chevy behind and camp in a meter maid car. Every decisions after that is now a real discovery. What kind of tent will work? What roads will I take? How much stuff can I carry? There are no automatic responses. There is no place to look up the answers. You just have to read, to explore, to discover, then take a leap of faith and do it. What will happen? I dunno. What if others mock me? So much the better, as the challenge seems bigger. Not to prove them wrong, but to make the adventure a joy for you.
I left Seattle Saturday morning, took a ferry across Puget Sound to Whidbey Island. Less than three hours after I left home, my camp was set up…
An acquaintance saw this picture and told my wife, in effect, to come up and rescue me from my pathetic experience. To her, this looked sad. Honestly, I showed this picture to my wife to show her how cool the setting was…. and was genuinely surprised when she told me about our friend’s reaction. I was having fun. Go figure.
As the weather forecast was not promising, there were only a handful of us scattered amongst the 50 or so camping spaces. I was the only one in a tent…. A Kamp-Rite Tent Cot Oversize… it set up in less than a minute…
Tent Cot with rainfly, which took another minute to install. Though the forecast was for rain, all that arose was a typical northwest misting.
The Tent Cot also becomes a lounge chair of sorts. It worked well, but I wouldn’t put my full weight on the back. Still, a nice place to read..
It was quite a restful night, but I would recommend a pad that is a bit thicker than the stock pad. And if you are claustrophobic, forget it. I had no problems, and look forward to camping again, but this isn’t for the small space squeemish!
My wife’s best friend just bought a camper trailer and couldn’t be more enthused. Which started my wife thinking. Perhaps this camping idea isn’t so bad after all.
At first her dreams were of fiberglass and aluminum, commercial products that were totally turn key. But with just the minimum of arm twisting she is now sold on a vardo, or perhaps a shantyboat.
If I were to do a vardo, I’d pick the tremendously well designed Don Vardo from Portland Alternative Dwellings. It really couldn’t be much cuter, and the layout seems quite practical. It lacks a head, but I am sure that could be worked out.
Interested in learning more or buying? Use this link to check them out and then buy, and I’ll send you a shantyboat packet of photos and data. Just be sure to use this link, then send me your receipt. I’ll get the packet right out to you.