Preview: The ‘How, Why & Where’ of the Stone Houseboat

NOTE: This is continuation of my earlier post: Dreaming of a Houseboat and a Simple Life.

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“Simplicity afloat is the surest guarantee of happiness”.

That’s our favorite quote from L. Francis Herreshoff — romantic, isn’t it?

In today’s frantic world, it becomes hypnotic for me to think of a quiet little place away from it all, where a simple life afloat is all tidy and neat. It’s a curious condition, fantisizing about such things.

One beautiful image of a house afloat can set my imagination spinning, and from a distance it seems so simple and easy.


Look at all the possible anchorages close to Brooklin, each new cove as stunning as the last.

Shack Anchorges

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8 Responses So Far to “The ‘How, Why & Where’ of the Stone Houseboat

  • David Tew

    David Tew says:

    Steve- Somehow your layout for the interior of your houseboat entered my subconscious. It’s almost exactly what we’ve been building in the upstairs of our garage overlooking West Boothbay Harbor.

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    Christopher Chadbourne says:


    I’m glad to see that the float size (length) has increased so that it’s comfortable to dock a Rozinante alongside (hint, hint).


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    Allan Horton says:

    Wow! I had no idea the houseboats in Seattle (and I presume Granville Island in Vancouver), all of which I’ve visited, cost so much.

    Many years ago in southwest Florida where I live, I had a 25×8 foot houseboat powered by an old Evinrude 140hp (I believe) outboard. The boat had a flat, rockered bottom that sloped up to a pram-style bow which was really useful for getting across Sarasota Bay or Charlotte Harbor into the weather, and the darn thing would do probably 15-18 knots. The engine controls were inside at the galley flat and one steered sitting on a movable, shortened drafting stool or standing up – or, for a long haul, at a second wheel secured to the house wall on the foredeck.

    It was heavily glassed over marine ply boat-nailed to 2×4 construction-grade chines and egg-crate-fashion stringers with, as I recall, a PT 2×6 stringer providing perhaps 1.5 inches of keel. That wasn’t enough to provide much directional stability and as a result, she’d skate around her anchor unless a stern mushroom was used.

    There were two large hatches in the bow deck and a third aft providing access to far more storage space than we ever needed. I had to use a fairly hefty Danforth to anchor at night without ending up on the opposite side of the bay in a blow.

    But, taking those conditions to mind, the boat filled my needs admirably. With two kids under the ages of 7 and 10, I cruised from the south end of Tampa Bay to the south end of Charlotte Harbor, tucking into water no more than a foot deep, nosed into the mangroves for the night – and more than once, awakened the next morning to ospreys and once, a bald eagle, ripping up a mullet on the sandbar next door. One night in a squall, I had to throw the Danforth as deep into the mangrove roots as possible to secure the boat, making for a bit of a tough task the next morning retrieving the anchor to motor home.

    I think those weekend trips from gas to food cost less than $50, probably quite a bit less – particularly if the fishing was good. More than once, we snorkeled up a dinner of scallops and once, a darn good chowder of Charlotte Harbor quahogs. I’ve owned sail and power to 50 ft LOA, but I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun than that simple little houseboat provided in the shallow inshore waters of Southwest Florida.

    Allan Horton, Sarasota, Fl.

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    Tom Williamson says:

    Steve, I remember tramping about Lake Union in Seattle and seeing floating homes in abundance. These are a little more elaborate than your ideal, I presume, but the precedent is out there. A sample here:

    Also maybe it’s a bit crowded in this example but you’d be surrounded by like-minded people. Knowing Seattle home prices, you might not be able to retire the mortgage even on one of those.


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    Eigil Rothe says:

    Flotation, mooring & anchoring–aye, there’s the rub. Somewhere I read Philip Bolger had ideas pertaining thereto. He envisioned a “grid” of large glassed over plywood cubes. A maintenance schedule would eliminate the need to haul out the entire floating structure. By maintenance schedule, he was referring to removing one cube at a time by filling it with enough water to “sink” it to a level that it could be removed from the grid and replaced by the one extra cube. Once the original cube was refurbished, it would replace the next cube, and so forth.

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    Russ Manheimer says:

    Delightful Steve. Look forward to visiting your sanctuary under sail someday. Visions of a crowd of friends on a foggy day, the stove hot, good music and the chowder at the simmer.


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    Sam Benson says:

    This is a great idea, I’m sure the kids will love it! A couple of summers during college I was a harbor rat in Wood’s Hole, living aboard a friend’s harbor shanty. It was smaller that you describe, probably only 12 or 15′ square, with a half height loft up the ladder for the bed. The best part was going out on the roof from the loft first thing in the morning for a dive into the harbor before going into town for a coffee on the way to work. I have a couple of design suggestions born of that experience. First, it was really nice to be able to walk around the outside of the shanty on the float. It makes for easy maintenance, allows for many cleats so multiple friends can stop by at happy hour and have a place to tie up, and allows access to check the mooring lines without getting in the skiff. The second is that we had a second float that was the front yard. The door was on the leeward side, away from the mooring to get out of the wind and opened onto about 4′ of open deck. This wasn’t enough for even a small gathering of friends, so we attached a second float, plenty of room for a picnic table and umbrella or a few lawn chairs. This might make it easier to haul for the winter (we never did, just moved it into the pond in late fall). Anyway, good luck with yours, I’m sure it will be a favorite!

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