Check out our forum to ask houseboating questions and offer your own responses. If you do, there is a very good chance that you'll interact with our member Amelia aka Amelia (Mimi) Reiheld and Robert G. (Rob) Reiheld. They are valuable assets to the Houseboat Magazine forum and here is what they have to say about thier houseboating experience.
Our houseboat is entirely home-made. And laughably unconventional. While we think it is almost 75% finished, it still has a good 75% left to go. And that has taken ten years....not including the fifty years of prior dreams and idle doodles when Rob's busy Family Medicine practice permitted. You do the math.
The Lotus Eater is 49' WLL, 16' beam. Her draft is 22", and clearance is 14'. Her 12 pontoon-segments, made of pressure-treated plywood, are covered with copper sheeting, to ward off the barnacles common to our neck of the woods. The pontoon components were built in our garage, and assembled alongside the dock behind our Edenton Bay home. Rob build a deck on that floating base, and built a house on top, reminiscent of the Amish farmhouses in his native Ohio. We then had a local luxury sportfisher manufacturer install the outboard motors (60hp Yamahas) and controls. After that, there was hardly anything left to do but finish the interior...she says brightly. While rolling her eyes heavenward. And that is where we are now, all insulated and almost finished installing lovely local cypress t&g paneling inside.
This means questions like manufacturer and model year are sort of meaningless, at least to us. Our dream boat? Depends on who you ask. Mine would involve sails, big sails. His would look a lot like this one, much closer to being finished, and, of course, maintenance-free. You DID say "dream," didn't you?
The dreams have downsized as the project drags on. Doing the Great Loop is looking less and less likely. Now the wildest limits of our cruising ambitions extend from the northern
Chesapeake to maybe as far as Charleston, SC. I will be tickled to go dip our toes in the Atlantic ICW, a two-day voyage from here. And thus emboldened, scale it up from there.
Favorite meals on board? Pardon my derisive snort. I am actually looking forward to a real galley, with running water and a stove. Thanks to my eagle eye on second-hand websites, we now own these components, but the cabinetry to contain them still exists only in my imagination. Usual fare en route, then, falls under the heading of "picnic," --like ham sandwiches, fruit, and granola bars. While tied to the dock in our Edenton, NC back yard, the options expand, and we often share an assortment of cheeses and wines with dear friends. One of these days, we WILL serve fresh-caught striped bass, marinated and grilled on the rear deck, baby lettuces, tomatoes and herbs harvested from the top deck flowerpots, fine (boxed) wine from the cellar secreted in the 4th port pontoon, et cetera. One of these days.
When the weather turns nice, and out-of-town company shows up to admire our corner of paradise, we wait for a calm day, and then motor across the western end of the Albemarle Sound to a lovely little cypress-lined creek, anchor, toss a kayak or two in the water, and let our guests explore the swamp. It is countryside most of them have never seen up close, and really spookily beautiful. If you like giant spiders. Our small grandchildren, fortunately, are fans.
Our best trip so far was almost two years ago, a grand six hour journey up the nearby
Chowan River, followed by five hours back the next day. It was the most spectacularly clear and mild day in known history, just the boat-builder and his loyal assistant. We then threaded our way up a beautiful little creek popular among cruisers, and had the entire thing to ourselves. A fine late afternoon reluctantly gave way to night, and soon every star in the heavens was perfectly reflected in still black swamp water, miles from the nearest lightbulb. We were camping, but oh, my, what luxurious comfort. A warm shower and fresh coffee the following dawn would have made the whole trip perfect. See? We have a list... If only major boat-upkeep chores didn't keep getting in the way of progress. That trip did spur one major and prompt advance: The very next day we ordered a real head, a composter, with which we remain entirely pleased.
The name of the boat: Lotus Eater. Remember from Homer's Odyssey? Those worthless bums who seduced poor Odysseus's crew with lovely food, strong drink, and sloth, not to mention other, ahem, amusements? The sailors longed to linger in "the land where it was forever afternoon," and never wanted to return to harsh reality as they knew it. Who could blame them?