Preview: Dreaming of a Houseboat and a Simple Life

I’ve been dreaming of a houseboat, and all this dreaming is keeping me awake at night. I must have sketched this dream a thousand times in my head and on napkins. Here’s the dream, at its very essence:

. . . sign up to the right to get immediate access to this full post,
plus you'll get 10 of our best videos for free.

Get Free Videos& Learn More Join Now!!for Full Access Members Sign In

Comments, Thoughts or Suggestions?

You can leave a comment or question for OCH and members below. Here are the comments so far…

Leave a Comment

28 Responses So Far to “Dreaming of a Houseboat and a Simple Life

  • David and Margaret Tew

    David and Margaret Tew says:

    Rereading this topic and the quote from Thoreau is welcome and affirming. My siblings and I grew up on the Sudbury River on the far side of Walden Pond through Adams Woods. In good weather my path to school wended past the site of Thoreaus’s cabin. His tiny abode was essentially a ‘houseboat on the shore’ of a Walden cove from which he explored and ‘surveyed’ everything man, plant and animal could afford. The year of his life there was of course deeply thought-provoking and a child’s afternoons afloat on a small houseboat can be equally meaningful if only on a smaller scale.

  • Avatar

    Brian Houska says:

    Two words: scow schooner. I do have a soft spot for those curvy Dutch lemsteraaks too.

  • Avatar

    john swarbrick says:

    As a Yacht Designer / Naval Architect I was born with OCHD, it’s not seasonal !!

  • Avatar

    Paul Ross says:

    I believe i have a similar disorder… SITW, or Shed in the Woods. The simple life is the best life.

  • Avatar

    Jim McGee says:

    We’re taking a slightly different tack to arrive at your destination. A house in the Florida Keys on the water with the sailboat tied up a few steps from the back door and sailing turquoise waters year round.

    The house is a simple ranch layout, raised up on stilts with lots of outdoor living space and surrounded by palms and tropical flowers and a hammock for afternoon snoozing.

    I just have to make it through one more northern winter…

  • Avatar

    Scott Christianson says:

    How great! I can’t wait to get going on this. We have some great bays out here in the Pacific Northwest. Love to anchor out in the winter, there’s some great birds coming through to see while snug in your wood heated “blind” sipping something warm. Creek Crawler looks about right. Restored, rescued a now nice 9’6″ Nutshell pram, so got the tender along with some paddleboards, etc. I can see a couple of duck punts racked up for adventures from the mothership. Cheers!

  • Avatar

    Craig Vogt says:

    We dream of what we did not do but, could have done.

  • Avatar

    peter strietmann says:

    I suffer from ADHD, artistic delusional houseboat disorder. I live in Sausalito California where there have literally been wars fought over houseboats. This winter I am going to build a house boat in my back yard. It is based on a blue nose schooner and will accommodate two people. For the immediate future it will be a guest house but I am going to build it on 12 x 12 skids so down the road when I build the barge and have a berth she will be another floating home on the water front. I share everyone’s enthusiasm over these vessels and I’ll send some images as I go along.

  • Avatar

    Peter Gossell says:

    A boatbuilders definition of house (not a houseboat).” A house is a poorly built boat that is owned by someone who is so old that they are content to stay at the same anchorage forever.”

  • David Tew

    David Tew says:

    Ask Tom Kiley about the small houseboat (really just a shack on a raft) that he and his cousin built in the sixties when they were barely teens. HELLUVAONE was the moniker and it was powered by a three hp Johnson if I remember correctly. Moored in West Bay (Osterville, Cape Cod) it was the teen scene for evening cookouts, fireworks parties and up-to-no-good general hilarity. A waterborne clubhouse for us budding water rats. Tom may have a photo somewhere. Aglow with fire-engine red housepaint of unknown origin, salvaged windows and tippy as hell when too many kids were on the roof watching for shooting stars.

  • Avatar

    Dave Reed says:

    1: I used to go up the coast of B.C. to some of the tiny communities,some of which had general stores afloat on top of five or six huge logs tied together with wire rope.That got me thinking of the log barges that were used to take logs to Vancouver–they were about 100′ wide and about150′ long.The idea of a barge to myself really appealed as I could have a large shop and grow some serious veggies.Then with one foot in reality I thought of a houeboat with the shape of a Great Pelican–only scaled up two or three times the size as this could be propelled from place to place even in a head wind.
    Also there is Bill Garden’s 42′ sailing scow…..Dave

  • Avatar

    john getz says:

    I contracted this disease on the Mississippi through our first houseboat (see below), one of many built in the old Kahlke boat yard in Rock Island, IL. in the 40’s and 50’s, and continued in my 20’s living out on Richardson Bay in Sausalito in a converted landing craft. There is no known cure.
    Log of M 1.jpeg

  • Dave Bruce

    Dave Bruce says:

    When i was a young man … some 45 years ago … I restored an old U.S. Navy lifeboat/lighthouse tender …22’loa ……….. and my girlfriend and I lived on it through 2 winters in Cordova and Valdez, Alaska … like … shoveling 3′ of snow off one morning, close to 3′ the next day ….. a little Neptune woodstove with a cast-iron skillet/lid and working oven ……………….. A typical party would have 5-6 people in it, though no overnighters! Houseboat?
    Consider realistic time-frames of usage … Simple hearts & minds, hard-working.
    Still intend to head back up … in a N. Herreshoff #907. Yeah, Maynard … I’ve down-sized from GeeWhiz! … but up-sized from the lifeboat. Still working through shop expansion here in Weed,CA EllamarBoatworks How much moving does a houseboat do if a houseboat could do move?

  • Avatar

    Dennis Lancaster says:

    I’ve always had that dream and when I saw your Logo, that nailed it for me. “These folks are talking my language”. Your Logo picture says much more to me. I’m fighting cancer now and the building days are nearing an end for me. I see myself on the sailing skiff, heading for home and safe harbor. I so enjoy all the videos and “boat talk” as my 15ft sailing skiff waits on her trailer for a hopeful chance of one more sail in the Spring.

    Fair winds… smooth seas,

    Dennis Lancaster
    Bellingham, Washington.

  • Avatar

    Dennis Olmstead says:

    Shrinking ones footprint, carbon footprint or land area footprint, requires living on the houseboat full time and getting rid of the pleasure boat(s). Having a recreational houseboat or pleasure boat would just increase our overall footprint. I can’t imagine many people downsizing to just a houseboat. Our compromiise is this: living in a small house in a city, having a small sailboat and not raising kids. When we’re gone, we will not leave a carbon footprint legacy in the form of descendents.

  • Avatar

    Vincent Royce says:

    Harlan Hubbard pretty much killed it beginning in 1944. He wrote all about it in SHANTYBOAT A River Way Of Life. University of Kentucky Press. With a foreword by Wendell Berry.

  • Avatar

    Harvey Schwartz says:

    No need to reinvent the wheel. I spend all my summers on HOOP DOET LEVEN, my 90-year-old Dutch barge, cruising French canals and rivers. Rust is my new wood rot. There is a whole linear village of folks drinking Burgundy and sucking snails while floating through 5,000 miles of French waterways. The downside is that you have to go to France to do it. The upside is that you go to France to do it.

  • Avatar

    Frank Crumbaugh says:

    I too share the affliction. It manifests itself in me when I think about what I’d build to be right out in the marsh when I wake up- a short walk away from my duck blind (Hell, if I built it right, could I hunt from the roof?). Y’all keep talking…I’m eavesdropping.

  • Avatar

    Ned Flanagan says:

    I’m well aware of this disorder, as is my family, it has signs of being hereditary both my kids now in their mid 20s keep looking for ways to live on our current houseboat.
    3rd one for us, smaller and trailerable.
    Could not attach picture, rough description 22 x 8, all up and running with the trailer under 5000 pounds. Couch that converts to bunk beds, head, desk, wood stove, galley, 5 Knots.

  • Avatar

    Richard W. Jacks says:

    I’m not the first to say it, but it’s absolutely true. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

  • Avatar

    David Gruendel says:

    As a sailor and a retired psychologist, I’m quite familiar with OCHD. It strikes me as a great way to spend the winter. It’s an adaptation to hard water, not a disease of the mind. Even if the song is still in us, OCHD at least allows us to hear some of it.