Fred Acke, a local New Zealander, is the most unique houseboater Houseboat magazine has heard from. He and a young Fijian built his houseboat out of local materials from Fiji and New Zealand. It is made out of four tons of mahogany and three tons of thatch. The roof has a galvanized steel sheet roof covered in tar and 1,000 bails of ‘Songa’ grass. Acke finished the boat back in June 2011 and it took only three months to build. He lives the fantasy of houseboating in the beautiful islands of Fiji.
Acke has been at sea all his life and recently retired as a captain of the 300-foot schooner Athena.
“I wanted to live a more relaxed life away from demanding billionaires and houseboating is the best way I know how,” explains Acke. “These islands are the most perfect in the world. The people are friendly and it is a cheap place to live, plus it’s only a nine-hour direct flight from the LAX airport.”
Acke built the aluminum hulls in New Zealand to fit exactly into a 40-foot container and then shipped the hulls, outboards, fridge, cooker and solar panels to Fiji. The young kid did all the heavy work and Ache designed the house. He named the boat Bongiwalu mainly because he liked the sound of the name. Bongiwalu is a local name for an eight-night wind that sometimes blows in Fiji.
He keeps the boat at Musket Cove on Malolo Island, which is directly off the west coast on the main island of Fiji. Acke and his girlfriend Vanessa Schiff are on the houseboat a total of five months of the year, including the southern winter, when there are no cyclones. They thoroughly enjoy kite surfing and wind surfing off the back deck of the boat. They also love gliding over the beautiful coral reefs and diving into the warm waters.
In the off-season Acke lives in a small coastal village in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand, which is 1,100 miles away from Fiji. The 43-foot houseboat weighs nine tons, has two Yamaha engines, and sleeps four comfortably. Acke is offering to build anyone a houseboat just like his for $270,000 if anyone is interested.