Preview: A Sneak Peek Into the World’s First Houseboat Design Contest

NOTE: The entries for the Houseboat Design Contest are in! As we gather them together and go through the judging process, we thought you’d enjoy a sneak peek at a few of the entries.

When the OCH Houseboat Design Contest was conceived, I was already an armchair disciple of Harlan Hubbard, who along with his wife Anna, built a shantyboat on the banks of the Ohio River as a means to escape the industrial juggernaut grinding across the face of post-WWII America.

A sketch of the Hubbard's shantyboat that graces the cover of Harlan's book: Shantyboat.
Harlan’s sketch of the Hubbard’s shantyboat that graces the cover of his book: SHANTYBOAT.

The Hubbards constructed their houseboat partly out of stuff they gathered along the river and then, over the next decade or so, they perfected techniques of living on the ceap so effectively that they essentially did away with a need for money.

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6 Responses So Far to “A Sneak Peek Into the World’s First Houseboat Design Contest

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    John Breiby says:

    Houseboats! Great subject. When I was a kid, my grandparents lived next door to Frank Hubbard, Harlan’s brother. So I grew up around tales of shanty boats and the goings on of Harlan and Anna (they lived in Ohio or Kentucky at the time, I outside of NY city. By the time I was 11 or 12 I’d had a chance to read “Shantyboat a time or two and my dream in life became one of living in a shanty boat–I don’t think they called them houseboats, but it’s been a long time–and floating the Mississippi as they did. I never did either of those things, but it must have set the stage for me, as subsequently I moved to Alaska, where I’ve lived for more than 50 years, fished commercially and build boats off and on. Thanks for covering a fascinating and enjoyable subject.

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    Kurt Lorenz says:

    When we think of houseboats, the edges of large bodies of water come to mind, but what about a local pond? Could today’s Thoreau avoid the building department by floating in Walden Pond? Not there of course. (Sacred ground/water.) But what about the typical farm pond? Can one build what one wants so long as it floats and isn’t polluting anything? A floating home might save us from a lot of dismal regulations. You could rotate the mooring to get extra sun or less sun, depending. Just wondering.

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    Richard Zablocki says:

    The community boathouse designs of Messrs. William Smith and Philip Myer are great fuel for thought as we consider alternatives for our new little Community Maritime Museum and traditional boat building and learning initiatives on the Pamlico-Tar River in Washington, NC. Thank you.

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    Harvey Schwartz says:

    Before this whole houseboat business waxes too idylic I’d like to offer a cautionary perspective. I live in a small Massachusetts seaside town. Among the town’s idiosyncrasies is the houseboat field, a shallow area tucked behind the barrier beach at Plum Island. A collection of buoyant shanty-covered platforms concocted primarily by carpenter types sits all summer at moorings. The town’s police boat ties up around 6:00 each evening, leaving the town’s waters much like the Simpsons episode in which Homer and Bart travel outside the three-mile limit where no laws apply and people are free to rip tags off their mattresses. Let me tell you, no words strike fear into the father of a teenage daughter as deeply as a casual, lI’m off to a houseboat party tonight, don’t wait up for me.” But I suppose if there are going to be outlaws anyway, they might as well be nautical.

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      Terry Lent says:

      While a point of concern I really appreciate the tongue in cheek humor!