View Full Version : New Houseboat being home built

05-01-2014, 05:04 AM
I will state up front, no pictures, but I will get some! Across the bay from me on the shore a gentleman is building a new 2 story houseboat. I was amazed at the spunk of this man to take this on.
He had pontoons and the deck built in Florida from his design. Each huge pontoon is divided into sections and has some kinda of valving. The boat is 20' x 70' and said to have a capacity of 88,000# of which he plans to use half or 44,000# cap.. It has a large front deck equipped with hydraulic ramps to load/unload a small car. For the cabin he used treated wood for the sole plate and regular studs and 2x6''s thereafter, I didn't see a water barrier but did not get close from the water. Power is provided with a single 115 outboard.
He plans on cruising with this. Trying for a high mpg. Stated that the pontoons would allow for higher mpg and better handling. He wanted a car so where ever he went he could pull up to the bank or a ramp and unload it so he could explore.
Next time I go to the lake I will drive around and take pictures.

05-01-2014, 07:28 AM
I don't think he will be happy

05-01-2014, 10:32 AM
More power to him, but it is going to be a beast to control with a single outboard. It will basically be unmanageable in any type of wind.

05-01-2014, 11:21 AM
I agree with eastTN. I hope to God he plans on thrusters b/c those 2 story sides will surely grab some wind and he'll be gone with it. My pontoon is 16X66 and even I have twin 90s, but no thrusters. Wind is still a factor for me.

05-01-2014, 02:17 PM
we've had 3 pontoon houseboats,the last and biggest was a 15x52 playcraft with a 110c evenrude which was more than enough to power it. the problem was as govols stated,the wind and it was a bear in tight places to maneuver. I can only imagine the horrors of one that big in the wind with one outboard and no thrusters. I do applaud him though on taking on a project that huge.

05-02-2014, 04:31 AM
Practice, practice, practice. It took me years to learn what my old single inboard liked. After one particularly harrowing docking I installed a remote controlled windlass... it makes all the difference in the world.

Another alternative might be to install a second, smaller outboard between the hulls in the bow, and work the engines against each other. It would be easy enough with a pontoon.

05-02-2014, 10:57 AM
I always thought a little swiveling outboard or trolling motor would be great between our forward hulls. We're gradually learning how to back into our slip. Having two outboards is very helpful, but if there's much more than 10 kts crosswind component, sometimes the best we can do is loop a spring line over a piling and pull.
The 'marriage-saver' headset/mic walkie-talkie is also a nice help. "NO, dang it, the OTHER starboard!!!" doesn't sound so obnoxious when said in a normal tone of voice.

05-09-2014, 07:44 AM
I power our 14 X 42 pontoon style with a 50 HP outboard. You have to learn how to handle it in the wind -- it's not fun.
Like I tell everyone, "I can go anywhere I want on the lake; just not very fast".
The big plus --- great fuel economy

Miller Tyme
05-09-2014, 06:22 PM
I always thought a little swiveling outboard or trolling motor would be great between our forward hulls..

Someone use to sell a "poor mans" thruster kit about 10 years ago that was basicly a trolling motor that mounted to the front of the hull and could be lowered when docking to be used as a thruster. A novel concept but I am sure it was only margially successful in it's design.

05-12-2014, 04:58 AM
Did not have time to run around the bay but here is a bad cell phone pic. Everyone at the dock thinks he will be short on maneuvering power.
He is sure busy and making fast progress.

05-12-2014, 05:19 AM
Maybe he only plans to travel on calm days? Maybe he has an ideal bit of waterfront, and will moor it for a perfect little lake house? It doesn't take much horsepower to move a boat so long as you're not in a hurry, into the wind or current, or in a tight spot with a crosswind, right?

05-12-2014, 02:00 PM
No that is the thing. He is designing this to get 4-5 mpg, handle easily, be able to do a good part of the Great Loop, run the bow aground and unload his car. In other words to do a lot of traveling.

05-13-2014, 04:19 AM
Then, to be brutally honest, he is living in a fantasy world. If he tries to run that boat up river against any kind of current, he will end up going backwards. He needs to buy a physics for dummies book and get acquainted with it.

05-13-2014, 07:02 AM
Desimulacra, PROMISE US that you you'll be there with video camera in-hand when he tries to load his vehicle in it. The results of that effort would surely go viral on youtube! LOL!

05-14-2014, 12:46 PM
Then again, one could always put someone in the dinghy/jetski/fishing boat and tell them to make like a tugboat.

05-20-2014, 08:01 AM
I was really sick this weekend but did run by the boat and while there looked across the bay. He has the walls complete and painted, she is looking close to done on the outside. I really admire this guy for his ability to do something like this but one of my favorite expressions is " Don't reinvent the wheel"
Which simple means that a subject that is thoroughly thought out and works really well, just copy it or at the least thoroughly study it so you can understand if your ideas are an improvement and the whole world missed the greatest thing ever,,, sarcasm mostly.
If on no other point I promise you I know I or any other reasoning person don't want to be out on the waterways with only one means of propulsion, if further than a short tow to my own dock!!!

05-20-2014, 12:50 PM
The trouble with going with what Everybody Else has done is that not everybody wants to be Everybody Else. Production boats are, necessarily, compromises. Not all of us want the steering tucked in a corner as an afterthought, or six tiny dark staterooms, or the galley up front and only access to the rear deck through the master stateroom. Not all of us want formal decor, mirrored walls, fake fireplaces, and quarter-inch fake woodgrain paneling. Some people want to go sit on their boat at the dock on the lake this very weekend, and I sympathize. These ideas are fine, and most people clearly want their houseboat to look as flashy as everybody else's, and are willing and able to pay several hundred thousand dollars to have all those things in a tasteful shade of beige. Most people wouldn't think of building their own house or their own airplane, for that matter, but for others, the joy is in the challenge, the project. We are among those crazy people who have looked, considered, and made alternative decisions. We wanted something other than a cookie-cutter boat, we wanted a project, and we weren't willing to mortgage the grandchildren. We have made mistakes, certainly. We have a short, but growing list of things we think we ought to have done differently. But all in all, we are very pleased with our backwards layout, the sturdiness, handling and comfort of the craft, and it's a hoot to see people shake their heads wonderingly. Whod'a thunk it? The thing floats, it's maneuverable enough, it handles 3-4 foot seas adequately... And it didn't cost us a hundred grand. Yet. I hope disimulacra's neighbor turns out to be as pleased. If he isn't, maybe he can hang a second outboard on?

05-20-2014, 02:00 PM
To me that is his biggest mistake and Amelia as thoughtful as the rest of the design is I bet he has already thought of that. My single engine has left me high and dry one time, 2 miles from home and a run about pulled me in. I have also been on boats with two engines that came in on one. I like two for the backup and for traveling I think 2 engines are necessary for safety.

05-20-2014, 02:41 PM
I agree! We found ourselves with a broken fuel line in the port outboard last summer, and no idea what the problem was until we limped back to our dock on one motor. Docking it with power only on the starboard side was a bit of a circus. We ended up going in nose first and hauling alongside with a springline. Not very graceful, but it worked. Two engines are definitely better! But definitely twice as expensive, alas.

05-21-2014, 07:11 AM
I admire anyone that wants to spend the time and effort to build a boat basically from scratch. I have rebuilt three production boats so far - that is my preference, my challenge.

But, this guy is way, way out in the weeds. I owned a 14 x 72 foot Jamestowner powered by a single 150 hp outboard for ten years. I took it out of the slip most weekends from the beginning of May until the end of September each year. It was an absolute beast to control. I got very good at it, but the basic design had limitations. The owner for the last three years has taken it out maybe five times and has run over everything close to his slip on the way back in. I know what I am talking about here.

This boat is not in any way form or fashion suited to his stated goals. It is severely underpowered and will have very limited maneuverability. He could add another outboard, but he will still be limited by the small prop size available on outboards. He is working against the basic laws of physics.

05-21-2014, 02:28 PM
There's an outfit, PropCo, IIRC, that sells 'reverse-cup' props for especially for houseboat outboards. We have found them to be pretty good for the job. Our two 60hp (high thrust) outboards make the beast pretty maneuverable, actually, especially when operated by people who know what they're doing. The Albemarle Boats guys who installed ours made it really dance. And admitted to being "extremely impressed."

05-22-2014, 11:42 AM
Yes - they call it their reverse hook cup prop - supposed to give up to 200% more reverse thrust. Unless he puts quad outboards on it, I do not think it will make a bit of difference if he actually tries to head up the Tennessee or the Ohio or the Mississippi with it. That is his goal as stated on this forum - to do a partial great loop.

I wish him luck, because that is all he has on his side at this point.

05-22-2014, 06:18 PM
Some people like building boats and some people can just buy boats

05-23-2014, 05:03 PM
Y'all remember the video about the Moron Brothers' houseboat? It's my favorite. I have to watch it again every six months, just because it makes me giggle. And looks like them ol' boys done all right shoved along by a little ol' motor on a fishin' boat. Them're mah i-deels. What a life, and who's in a hurry, anyway?
We've found it necessary to downsize our dreams as the project drags on. No longer think the Great Loop is in our future. Still figuring to do some real traveling, just maybe not a whole year's worth or more.

07-09-2014, 10:37 AM
Well he got it launched, not get to see that happen. It seems to be balanced about right with the back log being 1/2 under water and a slight lift to the front. The interior is not yet finished. No pics yet, phone had died.