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Thread: Houseboat Builder and Location Advice

  1. #21
    Senior Member easttnboater's Avatar
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    I moved my 18x80 from Old Hickory to South Holston. My permits were $3,800. That is $3,500 for 18 foot wide and $300 on top of that for a super load. His was 20' that adds about $2,400 more to the permit. That is where I came up with the $6,000. I know what I paid to have mine moved - it was a four day move. I still say he got hosed. But if he is happy, then that is all that matters.

  2. #22
    Senior Member easttnboater's Avatar
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    Your grey water will go overboard - sinks, showers. Your black water - toilets - will go into holding tanks. Some marinas have pump out stations built into the dock every so often. Pretty much all marinas have a "honey" wagon (pontoon boat with at big tank on it) that will come over and pump you out on request. Most marinas will inspect your system as a condition of staying there - they do not want you pumping directly overboard.

    There are horror stories out there about houseboat sanitation systems. I have found that they are like anything else on a boat - they need regular maintenance. If you do the regular maintenance and use the correct chemicals, then you will not have problems or odors. Whether you do it like Amelia or the "traditional" way, it is not like regular household plumbing. It requires a bit more effort.

  3. #23
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    There would be three adults living on the boat. I totally understand the concept behind the composting toilet but I know my wife would never go for it. I know the typical sewage system is totally different on-board a boat and have dealt with them before. While it's not my most favorite thing to do by any means, I 'm fairly confident I could work on it if need be. Thanks for the info on the grey water. I was just under the assumption that the grey and black water all went into a holding tank to be pumped out at a later time. If that was the case then the tanks(s) would get full fairly soon if the grey water was going in there. As far as the "Honey wagon" would anyone happen to know if that is an extra charge, or would that be part of your live-aboard dockage fees? By the way, the boats that I mentioned that we found are located on the Colorado River near Austin. My concern with that is the water level of the river. With the dry weather and lower water levels my concern would be having to move the boat if the levels get too low. So my other question is this- I've seen that the vast majority of the HB's I've looked at have residential A/C's on them. Obviously they work on shore-power, but whatabout when you are running on the generator? If we happen to be anchored out on a hot, breezeless day would we be able to cool off the interior with the A/C running on the genny?

  4. #24
    Senior Member easttnboater's Avatar
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    Some marinas include a weekly/monthly pump out, some don't. You will have to check the contract that you sign.

    Most of the boats that you are probably looking at will have two 50 amp 220v shore power lines - total of 100 amps. Those boats will have a generator that is anywhere from 12.5 kva to 20 kva. 12.5 gives you 50 amps 220v. That will push your a/c no problem, but if you put enough other load on it, then you will trip the breaker at the genny. I have a 15 kva generator - 67 amps. I have tripped it once - I was trying to trip it to make sure it would trip - I had heat, auxiliary heat, stove eyes, oven, and dryer going.

    Now, let's talk about shore power. Most marinas overbook the crap out of their shore power - they assume that only 20-30% of the boats will be occupied at any given time. I had a full 100 amps at my private pedestal in TN - all the way back to the main panel. Down here in GA, there is 100 amp at the pedestal, but two boats share the pedestal. We can, and have, tripped the breaker on the main panel. So, if you are going to be a live aboard, I would make sure I understood what amount of "dedicated" power that I could rely on.

  5. #25
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonandBee View Post
    There would be three adults living on the boat. I totally understand the concept behind the composting toilet but I know my wife would never go for it.
    Yeah, I sympathize. Though I'm no delicate little flower, needing to be shielded from physiological reality, I felt the same way. (I am not a fan of outhouses, and surely not a hairy-legged earth-mother.) I soon realized that the time spent obsessing over boat head maintenance, seemingly unavoidable smell, macerator malfunctions, loud whooshing noises in the middle of the night echoing around the marina, keeping spare joker valves and other stuff on hand, dealing with foul hose replacement, waiting for a desperately-needed pumpout, especially when there's a long line ahead, and you had other plans for that afternoon. I wasn't keen on the expensive chemicals and the problem of running out of them, and the storage space and weight penalty given up to hauling hundreds of pounds of raw sewage around, were all beginning to sound like drawbacks to me. What finally cinched the deal was when our idiot nanny-state pols decided to require a pump-out log, to be kept assiduously up to date, and policed by the local water cops, whose reputation for intelligent and even-handed enforcement is not very good. That was just one meddlesome hassle too far. The head we ended up with sounded too good to be true, and really is just fine, considering the pricey and finicky 'oh-so-nicey-nice' alternatives. We are still happy. And much to my delight, our loo has nothing in common with the little house out back. But, to each her own. I understand, and hope your experience is entirely trouble-free.

  6. #26
    Senior Member 42gibson's Avatar
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    i don't know why all the negative comments about using the heads that 90% of all boats have with holding tanks. I've had the standard heads and holding tanks on every boat except this one that I have owned and have "never" had a "smelly odor" or any problems. sure, I've replaced impellors,joker valves. was it a dirty and stinky job? no it wasn't.if it was as bad as its made out to be they wouldn't have them. everyone to their own choices!
    44 gibson executive
    on the muskingum river & ohio river
    marietta,ohio

  7. #27
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    I use a 5 gallon lowes bucket and saw dust. Just stir it with a stick. Who needs to pay $900 for that?

  8. #28
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    Again, thanks everyone for the replies and the information. You all are awesome! As far as the shore power....I know for RV's that a good surge protector is a must, checking for correct polarity, ground and of course protecting against power surges. I would assume that this is highly desirable for a HB also. I had a 40ft blow-boat (sailboat) in southern Florida many, many years ago that I didn't even hook-up to shore power so I'm not very familiar with it in the marine enviroment. If it's a must have item, which I would think it would be, are the HB's of today, say from year 2000 and newer, equipped with one? Now onto the subject of the marine heads. Well, it's a pretty crappy subject no matter how you look at it. I think that's just something I will have to discuss with the dear old wife. Hahaha Ultimately she will have the final say.

  9. #29
    Senior Member easttnboater's Avatar
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    I have surge protectors on some electronics, but no whole boat protection.

    If you are really that concerned, then you need to invest in an isolation transformer.

  10. #30
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    So sorry. I didn't mean to step on any toes. One is often very invested in the choices one has made, or settled for, as the case may be, and tends to be defensive about them. Trouble is, as a former serious sailor, I have never been on a boat with a head that didn't smell, at least a little, like sewage. Admittedly, I've spent very little time on fancy custom-built houseboats, so I am delighted to learn that my impressions have been erroneous. As I said, I was ready to fork out for the top of the line Raritan, when the idiot NC politicians decided to outlaw hold-and-treat systems, and add to the pointless paperwork. At which point I said, "nuts to that," and started over with the research.
    I confess, I did find the idea amusing that there are women who wouldn't tolerate something as dead-simple and stink-free as a composting head, (having for decades dealt with quite a wide variety of, um, biological issues, that came with the honorifics "Mom" and "Grandmama.")
    So, as I said, I'm glad you have no odor or maintenance headaches, have water and power to spare, and are happy with the pumpout situation at your dock. I'd never suggest anybody replace what is already paid for, and works absolutely perfectly, with a less sophisticated option.
    Last edited by Amelia; 06-29-2015 at 11:51 AM.

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