Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shantyboat Q and A, Part Deux

Shantyboat Q and A part Deux:  Followups

Here’s a few additional questions that came in after our last Q and A.  We thought they might be of interest.

Q:  How do you deal with the stairs and ladders and such?  I would fall.

A:  You get used to them, like you get used to the steps and thresholds in your house.  In building the boat, we did quite a bit of up and down and up and down stairs.  Now that we live here, we don’t even think about it.

Q:  I’ve heard some Marinas don’t like liveaboards.

A:  Some do, some don’t.  The utterly unadvertised truth is: most marinas like at least one or two sets of livaboards.  They act as additional eyes and ears for the Marina.  In our case, we’ve informed the marina of malfunctioning lights (that they might never have seen), the presence of strangers, Uber high tides in the middle of the night that might have soaked the docking and dock wiring. . .we’ve bailed out boats after heavy rains, alerted fellow slip holders to problems with their fenders and dock lines, and in general made ourselves useful.

It is true, some livaboards have gained a rep for slovenliness and loud partying.  We aren’t those kind of folks, and we made that clear to the Marina.

It is also true that some Marinas have a stick up their proverbial butts and are looking only for slip holders that fit their “image.”  One of our neighbors here was hung up on by a Marina because their beautiful, classic Ketch wasn’t “new” enough.  Others refuse to have any wooden or non-manufactured vessels.  The basic rule is:  If they don’t want you, why would you want THEM?

Q:  Is the boat hard to keep clean?

A:  ANYTHING with an elderly, curmudgeonly cat is hard to keep clean.  The boat part is actually pretty easy :)

Q:  What was the hardest part of the build?

A:  For us, it was getting the boat enclosed and our self-imposed time limits.  Until the vessel was roofed over and the windows sealed, we were at the mercy of the weather, and it really put us back.  Since we had our move already set up, the delay meant that we worked ourselves half to death the last month and put to the waters with what was essentially an unfinished vessel.

Q:  Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

A:  There are some design changes we’d have made, which I’ve cited in earlier entries.  Three things, however, complicated our build from day 1, and those we would have changed.  First, we were outdoors, without even a rain or sunshade, and that left us at the mercy of the weather until halfway through the build.  Second, we built on really uneven ground, which made keeping things square an issue.  As a result, NOTHING on this boat is really square or in line.  Third, and we didn’t realize what a factor this would be, we built far from the water and did inadequate research about moving and launching the vessel.  It would have saved us money in the long run to rent space in a boatyard for the build, even if it meant a commute to the construction site.

Q:  Does the boat rock a lot?

A:  No.  The boat, like most pontoon boats, is really pretty stable in relatively calm water.  They rock far less than traditional hulls.  Unless some idiot in a powerboat goes by too fast and throws a wake, we’re only vaguely aware of being on the water at all.  Wind can move us around pretty good in the slip during storms, and there is a bit of movement when we hit the end of our dock lines and they stop the boat from drifting.  When I replace them, I’m putting in elastic snubbers that will slow the boat slowly when it drifts rather that stopping it somewhat abruptly when the line gets tight.

Q:  Would you do it again?

A:  In a freaking heartbeat.


  1. If your dock lines are nylon 3-strand, they should absorb some of the shock. Braided may or may not do the same.

    1. It does some, but there's still a bit of Jerk. The snubbers are like bungees, slowly stopping the boat as it drifts to the end of its dock line.