View Full Version : My houseboat

11-18-2014, 07:34 PM
I am not new to boating and living on a boat. 4 years ago, I purchase a sailboat - Watkins 27. Decent living space for that size a boat. Last year, I got power boat - 28feet Carver. More "living space". I like living on a boat - peace and quiet ( not always with sailboats around on windy days). I had 2 sailboats in past, but never any one complain of my lines banging on a masts. 2 weeks ago, I got 1981 37 feet Holiday Mansion, and very disappointed with quality build. What kind of idiot will use particle board on a boat. The sleeping area was design with disregard to safety of occupants. Not only some will have to go down on knees to get there, but the only way out is small staircase - no escape hatch. Cheap wood paneling on the walls. I got a lot work to do to make it livable - replace all crumble cabinets(particle board), replace wall paneling and re-design sleeping are. Well, I got it cheap and still floats - that positive side.

11-19-2014, 07:33 AM
Well, it is 33 yrs old. It was not designed to last forever. As long as it has good bones and does not leak, you can rehab it however you want.

11-19-2014, 08:58 AM
Did you not look at the boat before you bought it? It didn't change overnight. I suggest you sell it and go back to something your more comfortable with.

11-19-2014, 09:23 AM
Good to hear you will be doing the work right the second time around. If you'll take time to post about the particulars of the projects as you tackle them, you will get some great input here.

11-19-2014, 10:55 AM
The boat was almost free. I trade my 1979 Hunter 33 that I got for free, but moving that sailboat to Fl, cost me over $550. From what I saw - so far - the "bones" are in decent shape and worth restoration. About the 33 years old - I saw 1969 sailboat with inside better shape. Particle board will fall apart when get wet - year does not matter. I know, that water should be outside, but moisture will always build inside and ruin it. Time to rip apart all the wood and replace with marine plywood. The fun part has just begun.

11-19-2014, 12:53 PM
It sounds like it sat closed up for a long, long time to build up that much moisture without a leak. Either way, good luck and keep us up to date on your efforts.

11-20-2014, 09:03 AM
That cheesy construction (especially the tiny studs, particle board, tacky carpet and plastic paneling) material was exactly why we decided not to buy a ready-made houseboat. Trouble is, doing it right, with real wood and house-grade framing, is HEAVY. Ask me how I know...
But, in fairness, we would have had 9.5 years of actual houseboating, instead of that many years of watching it come together, ever so slowly.

11-20-2014, 02:21 PM
The wood to replace will take me around 2 months and then I have to deal with "frozen" engine. Working with engine is easy (for me), but the wood work is scary. I was never able to make straight cut. You should see my outboard bracket I made - 5 times measuring and still come out crooked. Then I will have to solve the "head" mystery - direct outboard. Maybe, I should start on the "head" first.

11-20-2014, 03:06 PM
Amelia - I have seen you post the same bashing of production boats multiple times. I would like to know what boats you looked at. I have owned a 1976 Sumerset, a 1989 Jamestowner, and currently a 1993 Jamestowner. My father has owned a 1996 Lakeview and currently a 2007 Lakeview. I have not seen tiny studs, particle board, tacky carpet (that is highly subjective), or plastic paneling in any of the boats I listed. According to the two transporters that have moved it, my 1993 Jamestowner weighs in at 55,000 to 60,000 lbs. Seems plenty heavy to me.

11-20-2014, 04:03 PM
No offense intended, easttn. To each his own, and that opinion, not bashing, just observation, is just mine. I like it well enough, enjoy the process and the misadventures, but our houseboat is really not my life's dream. If it had been just up to me, and I'd won the lottery, I'd have chosen a fine big sailboat already floating, with real teak all over the place, a good suit of sails, and set off across oceans blue to see the whole world. I wouldn't have had such great company on that journey, though, as our hero emphatically doesn't like big waves crashing over the lee rail, or his belly's reaction to all that excitement.
I've been to several houseboat shows, though, walked many a dock, and even shopped for one or two while my BIL was in the market for an affordable used one, and as far as I can tell, at least then, all were built to similar standards, some admittedly showier and glossier than others. The ones the BIL could afford were certainly showing their age a lot more than comparably priced sailboats did, so he bought a shabby one and fixed it up. Runs in the family. Maximum square footage, head room, house-like space, and maximum number of bedrooms and heads, seem important to houseboat manufacturers and customers. (Ours only has one of each, for all its size and weight.) Light weight seemed to be a key consideration, as well as easy care, so quarter-inch paneling it often was, 2x2studs, and plastic or aluminum siding. Practical stuff. Good for inland lakes and calm weather, where actual boating was of secondary importance to house-party space. I can see the point. Different uses, different construction techniques, different places to put all that money. It didn't appeal to me nearly as much as hectares of teak and sail would have. Seeing the world has never been a priority for my shipwright, but a big-project excuse for wood butchery appealed to him. Finishing the dang thing also doesn't seem to be at the top of his list, but such is life. I cling to the hope that someday we will be far enough along on our strange effort at shantyboating to at least see some of the nearby ICW and rivers. Maybe.

11-20-2014, 05:14 PM
I wouldn't have had such great company on that journey, though, as our hero emphatically doesn't like big waves crashing over the lee rail, or his belly's reaction to all that excitement.

Now you have me confused. I'm no sailor, but I would expect the waves to crash over the windward rail instead of the lee rail. :)

11-20-2014, 05:34 PM
Yeah. I meant the windward rail. The lee rail is where Our Hero hangs out. And over.
But the lee rail is the one that is more often under water, at least in a really good blow. In that situation, it's so wet you're not sure where all that water is coming from.

11-20-2014, 06:21 PM
Production boat always will be cheap made - it does not matter if is a houseboat or sailboat. That Hunter 33 sailboat, that I trade for this houseboat, had extensive wood damage inside from rain water. Previous owner left portholes open. Cheap wood. Then the boat, that I am living on - 1978 Caver 28 powerboat - have better wood. None of my cabinets, walls or shelf's are falling apart. Carver was limited, but production boat. Some manufactures, care about longevity of a boat - some do not. Every sailboat and some powerboats ( that I know) have an escape hatch. This houseboat is a death trap for anyone in sleeping berth. The designer of this boat should design a dog houses, not a boat. Correction: I would not let that guy design my dog house - I like my dog.

11-21-2014, 06:58 AM
Dupek - I will submit that you are just flat out wrong with this statement - "Production boat always will be cheap made". All of the boats I have owned have been built like tanks.

11-21-2014, 07:53 AM
You are right. I should said that most of the production boats are cheap made. That Hunter sailboat, that I owned, was build like a tank. Strong hull, deck to hull joints very strong. After all those years - no soft spots on deck or cabin, but the interior made out of cheap wood. I had Watkins 27 sailboat: wood good inside, but the keel, hull and deck design were very poor. This boat, that I live on it now - Carver 28- have no soft spots, wood in good shape. Decent hull design for a lakes or a rivers, but I would not take this boat off shore. All those boats were from 1978-1979. I guess, some manufacture, have to make some choice of quality build to make a profit. I would prefer to have strong hull and deck with cheap interior, that have "flashy" interior, but weak hull or deck. Safety is the most concern.

Tony B
11-21-2014, 08:00 AM
Dupek - I will submit that you are just flat out wrong with this statement - "Production boat always will be cheap made". ......

I agree 100%.

There are cheap production boats, there are good quality expensive production boats, there are very good quality limited production boats and there are very expensive high quality custom boats. Then again, there are low quality custom boats also. But to compare sailboat construction to houseboat construction is like apples and oranges. After all, why would a manufacturer spend the time, money and quality on a houseboat that is not intended to be a circumnavigating world cruiser? And then pass off the costs to you, the consumer.

Dupeks experience seems to be mainly with old give-away boats which when new were pretty close to bottom of the line anyway. Dupek, if you want a quality power boat get a Grand Banks Trawler or some other high dollar trawlers. They are out there. But if you campare over all lengths of the designs, houseboats will always have way more room inside and out.

11-21-2014, 08:11 AM
dupek, you are speaking about boats that are more than thirty years old.

Mountaineer 67
11-21-2014, 08:54 PM
Hi everyone, this may be a bit off subject. I own a boat graveyard. It has about twenty boats ranging from a Sanger v drive flat bottom, to a 30' sea ray cruiser with boats from the fifty's to the ninety's. They all have one thing in common..... Neglect. A boat is only as good as it has been treated it's whole life, regardless of manufacture, or the year. I have replaced more stringers and transoms than I care to remember. Most were do to owner error such as not removing the drain plug, storing the boat bow down, leaving windows open, not keeping the bilge dry, etc. Don't get me wrong, there are manufacturers that build boats leaps and bounds better than other manufacturers, yet I have seen those boats get smashed up and sent to the land fill because of neglect. Regardless of the brand, inspect the boat carefully. I recommend anyone thinking about buying any older boat read what Old Houseboater posted on the subject.

Miller Tyme
11-23-2014, 06:27 PM
I have one question for you dupek, you paid zero for this boat, what did you expect?

And as Banana Tom has said the boat is 30 years old, how many 30 year old cars do you see on the road.

The quality of most boats is in direct proportion to there cost

11-24-2014, 12:59 PM
Guess you people never considered an Aluminum boat. Marinette, Hilborne. KingsCraft, Pluckeybaum. These are a forever boat with minimum upkeep. Many well over 50 years old and solid as a rock.

11-24-2014, 02:48 PM
Sorry, my internet was down for last 2 days. The houseboat was not free, but close. Yes, over 30 years old and so my power "production" boat. In my power boat, the wood still in good shape. You all right - you get what you paid for, but his boat was expensive at some point while my power boat was priced less. My point is that no one in "decent state of mind" would use particle board on a boat - that just plain stupid. The second: the sleeping area - two full size beds - were design by some idiot with disregard to safety - only one narrow exit. After over 30 years, the boat still floats and that is a plus. It is in marina on mooring ball and "take on" very little of a water - less that a gallon a week ( not include a rain). The hull is still strong and deck have no soft spots. As I said before, the "bones" are good and worth restoration. This will be my third "project" boat.

11-25-2014, 07:16 PM
Your 28' Carver was a lot less boat than the Holiday. In general, the fit and finish in a houseboat isn't quite as nice as it is in an ocean boat but it's also less expensive. I think if you compare the Holiday to an ocean boat with the same size and living space you'll find the ocean boat to be a lot more expensive. Comparing it to a 28' Carver is apples to oranges. FWIW, I owned a Carver 28'.

Also, you will get far more constructive feedback on here with a more positive approach. Coming on here only to post how much you hate the boat, and how stupid you feel the designers were isn't going to get you a whole lot of love. There are a lot of Holidays out there still on the water. I have one. Sure, there are some cheesy things about the interior design but if you do some research on houseboats you may find that their overall design is believed to be pretty good.

That said, I recommend you check the engine room stringers as they have a tendency to rot even in a dry bilge. Don't ask me how I know....

11-26-2014, 06:40 AM
"Coming on here only to post how much you hate the boat" - I do not hate the boat. If I do, I would junk it. In any given house - you have a door and window. In case of fire ( or rapid water intrusion), you have 2 ways to escape. I would like to see someone escaping trough those portholes. That design is real safety issue - show stupidity and disregard to human life by designer. I am planing to correct that. Houseboat,sailboat, powerboat - all have one thing in coming - they floats. Moisture on outside and inside. Those, who live in Florida, have good idea of what I am talking about. I took the engine out of my Carver - talking about stringers rot. Had to replace the wood in it. I did a lot of fiberglass work on my Carver, and to tell you the truth, I would be scare to take this boat off shore. I do have a positive approach - I am planning to restore this boat. Wood can be replace, but human life can not be replaced. Just pointing out some design flaws.

11-26-2014, 06:43 AM
Ok, appears you know all you need to know. Best of luck with your project.

11-26-2014, 05:23 PM
I am still learning. When I started with Watkins 27 sailboat, I knew nothing about a boats. I learned the "glass work", interior design. Who`s idea was to name a toilet as "head". I would like to believe that I do not have a sh.. for brain. After 4 years, I am still getting confuse about the "starboard" and "portside". My recent trip from St.Marys,GA to Green Cove Spring,Fl, on my Hunter 33 almost end up in disaster. Forgot about the tide change, when I drop an anchor. I drop it at high tide. You can imagine the rest - laying on the portside with rails touching the water. 5 hours of horror, but the tide come back and lift the boat. Float away. I wish that I know all what I need to know, but honestly, I do not know that much - not even close. Still learning.

11-28-2014, 05:20 PM
I do agree with dupek that particle board should not be used in boats but let me give a little insight into the houseboat biz. Back when I was still working in the Coast Guard Office Of Boating Safety we got involved with the houseboat industry in the early 90's because of some electrical problems that were injuring and in some case killing people. We really hadn't paid much attention to the Houseboat world until then simply because of lack of resources (people) and the industry was still small (about a dozen builders). As we began to visit builders though we found lots of problems. A lot of the people building these boats had come over form the RV industry and didn't have a clue about standards for boats. Some of the old timers like Sumerset and Jamestowner did but many newcomers were just building and selling and not paying much heed to what they were tuning out. Well, in addition to sending our own inspectors out there, we sicced ABYC and NMMA on them and within a few years most were building to boat standards, so by the late 90's things had improved a lot. But there are some things these standards do not cover. One of them is interior structure unless you are building to LLoyds, ABS, or USCG standards for commercial boats. And the superstructure on house boats are built much like houses. Stud walls, wood paneling and so one. In over about 15 years I visited almost all the houseboat builders. By then there were about 19 builders. It's a niche industry. Some were good, some were bad and a few, as was said, I wouldn't let build dog houses.

However this is unfortunately true of the boat manufacturing industry as a whole. I have been to hundreds of boat manufacturers. You can usually tell the minute you walk in the door what the quality of the boats is. Fortunately the bad apples usually don't last long because this is a real cutthroat industry and shoddy boats don't last long, and most consumers get fooled only once. But as mountaineer said upkeep is the real secret. Boats. no matter how "maintenance free" have to be taken care of. If you don't it won't take care of you! The industry has done it to itself by advertising their boats a maintenance free, which is not true, but newcomers buy in to it. Too bad.

Amelai, sorry that your other half doesn't take well to water. I have the same problem. My wife won't go out in the boat if there is much more than ripple on the water. She's gotten better since I bought an 18 foot Sea Ray (which was a derelict and I completely restored it) but can't get her out on the "big water" except on something the size of a large ferry boat or bigger. Just grin and bear it.

11-28-2014, 05:26 PM
Oh and by the way this happens in all parts of the industry. I remember a fellow who bought a Marine Trader (a trawler yacht). His complaint was that the boat was simply not put together well. He was constantly having to take things apart and put them back together, after which they worked really well. He said "if I had wanted a kit I would have bought one!" Unfortunately this is true of a lot of boats.

Tony B
11-30-2014, 05:51 AM
You guys on houseboats are spoiled. When it comes to repairs, everything has a whole lot easier access than on a sailboat or a trawler. I have a 36' trawler style boat and am in the process of replacing my forward head and adding a PuraSan Waste Treatnment System. It took me almost 2 weeks to finally decide where and how I can shoe horn this stuff in and still have almost reasonable access for repairs and normal servicing. The other day it took almost the entire day to run 2 pairs of wires. - battery leads from the electric toilet and waste treatment system to my house battery bank. And even this was a lot easier than on my sailboats.
I cant understand how the original poster could complain about refurbishing a houseboat after he has previously done work on a 27 foot sailboat. If you have to replace the cabinets, just do it. On a sailboat, most cabinets wont even fit through the companionway (doorway). They have to be prefabed and assembled in inside the boat. To understand this, you have to know how sailboats are built. The fiberglass hull is made first. Then everything including the engine, wiring, plumbing, etc is put in place. Then the lining if set on top of this. The lining usually includes the finished floor and built-in seating etc. Then the cabinets are added. After that, the upper part of the boat is set in place. The upper part is the roof and decking. Now everything is sealed in. Absolutely no thought given to maintenance. The only consideration is in ease of manufacture - I might be wrong here, but it sure appears that way.
And Dupek is complaining about working on a houseboat.

12-05-2014, 08:37 PM
Just finish the Carver, drop on water and will try to sell it or give away, then I will start working on my houseboat. You are right - working on houseboat will be a lot easy that a sailboat. A lot of room - big sliding door on back. It is just a wood, but I got small problem working with a wood. I measure 5 times the wood that I need to cut for outboard bracket and still come out crooked. About the 27 sailboat - I had to replace the compression post. 6 feet long 4X4. It took me a while to get it inside. Removing the old one and putting new one in place - that another story. I am not complaining about working on my houseboat - just pointing some design "mess". At least, I do not have long metal stick that attract a lighting.

Frantically Relaxing
12-18-2014, 12:03 AM
This thread is pretty amusing to me. I've carefully read every post by dupek in this thread. No where can I find a complaint from him about working on, or needing to work on, this houseboat, or any other boat. His complaints are of the flaws, in his opinion, of various designs, engineering and construction of the boats he's familiar with. And of his own woodworking skills. And he freely admits he's not all that knowledgeable about boats. Just my opinion, but his honesty is refreshing, and he seems to be enjoying the work! :)