Shantyboat Building

In spring 2012, I began building a homemade shantyboat — that is, a rustic houseboat — from scratch, recording every step in the build process.

A shantyboat is a small crude houseboat. There is a long history of people building and living in shantyboats, the obvious choice for itinerant workers, miners, dockworkers, and farmers. And as living on land has felt more and more constrained, people have looked to the relative freedom of rivers, lakes, and seas.

Alex and Jen and I were at Camp Tipsy, a whimsical DIY boat festival on a Central Valley lake in the height of the summer heat, and it was Happy Hour at our camp and we were drinking gin and tonics and maybe the alcohol or maybe the heat contributed to our grandiose and ambitious scheming, or maybe, honestly, I’ve always been that way.

We were looking at all the bizzaro floating contraptions and nautical imagining.  We didn’t want to go fast or swing or be propelled by some Rube Goldberg propulsion system or even soak in a wood-fired hot tub, so much, at that moment, as we wanted to sit peacefully on our own floating front porch and watch the madness of the rest of the world.

We decided to make a floating cabin, a shanty boat. And even if the others may have been idly dreaming, I ran with it.

The blog details the pitfalls, triumphs, near-death experiences, and joyous moments along our course.