Posted by: oldsalt1942 | March 2, 2015

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If you enjoy this site and the topic of shanty boats in all their aspects, please join us for an interactive experience on Facebook…

Posted by: oldsalt1942 | April 20, 2019

Facebook Shantyboat Group

Posted by: oldsalt1942 | February 12, 2019

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

It will be no surprise to anyone when I say I LOVE weird boats and the people who construct them. So Imagine how much I enjoyed seeing this boat drift into the Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage this morning and beach out in front of the Bridge Tender Waterfront Bar.

tri 2

The owner’s name is Dean and he likes traveling around and poking into out of the way places with his canoe. But, he said, it was too unstable to allow him to go certain places. So, he took a stand up paddleboard and cut it in half along the center line. Topped it off with some light plywood. The amas are held in place with construction extrusions and everything is put together with hurricane clips and wing nuts so it can be easily assembled and disassembled.The mast sail comes from a small day sailer. The jib is an old shower curtain and is self furling with a snap shackle fitting.


The lee boards were made from pine that he bought at Home Depot and glassed over. EVERYTHING was either scrounged, donated or came from a big box hardware store. He has a sleeping bag and a tarp to hide under when it rains. He spent the previous night anchored down in Sarasota Bay somewhere and was heading back there soon after we finished out conversation.

Never forget, whether you’re Dean on your cobbled together trimaran or a multi million dollar yacht the sunset’s exactly the same…

Oh, and as far as I’m concerned the crowning touch is the little mermaid figurehead!


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Filed under adventu

Posted by: oldsalt1942 | February 16, 2018

Living The Dream

As so often happens I stumble across something interesting while looking for something else. Nice to see that there are actually people out there doing this kind of stuff. This is definitely smaller that I’d want, you can’t live on it full time unless there’s something REALLY weird about you, and it would be confined to smaller lakes and rivers. BUT I think it’s cool. He also has other videos of it, too…


Posted by: oldsalt1942 | February 11, 2018

Floating Homes In Cambodia

A gringa friend of mine who lives in the Republic of Panama and who knows my passion for shantyboats sent me the following link that’s more than worth looking at.

I could easily be happy living in this one…not necessarily in Cambodia, though…


Posted by: oldsalt1942 | January 26, 2018

Shanty on the Bayou

I can remember where I was (at a friend’s house in Gardiner, Maine) and when it was, summer 1980, when I first saw the story about this houseboat in National Geographic. It instantly hooked me on the whole idea of shanty boats. It would be years, though, before I was running crew boats to oil rigs in the Atchafalaya, and the eerie loveliness of the place has stuck with me through the years.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve posted anything on this blog. It seemed that when I discontinued posting it was because at that time I’d become a “source.” That is, when I Googled key words trying to find new idea about which to post the first two or three pages came up mostly with links to my stories on this blog.

But one man has persisted: Bryan Lowe with whom I correspond with since we live at extreme opposite ends of the country; he in Washington state and me in southwest Florida. Bryan recently posted this to his blog: and thought I’d break back into this blog with this story…


Posted by: oldsalt1942 | November 9, 2016

Still Trying…


Posted by: oldsalt1942 | October 25, 2016

Never forget …

The size of your boat should never dictate the size of your adventure…(Anon)

Posted by: oldsalt1942 | May 6, 2016

That Shantyboat Feel

We’ve looked at all kinds of different shantyboats here over the years (can you believe I’ve been running this thing since May 2009?). There have been barges, rafts, pontoons, but one thing we haven’t seen is sailboats. I’ve been seriously thinking of modifying a small sailboat when I return to the States in a few months, and I’d like it to look like this:


This is a Com-Pac 23 footer that goes for umpteen thousand dollars, but I like the concept. There are tons of small sailboats roughly the same size, called “trailer sailers” and they can be had for as little as a grand or two. If you take the sail rig off and just use them as a motor boat they are referred to as “terminal trawlers.” Some of them are pretty ugly:

trawler 7

But you get the idea. I’m sure my friend, Stephen, who, along with myself, have a combined half century, at least, of repair and restoration work on boats under our belt and could probably produce something that comes close to what that first photo looks like. There’s a web site with a ton of pics for the Com-Pac but it’s impossible to download them and they’re beyond the realm of the shantyboat genre.

But today while browsing around I came across a Craigslist ad in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a boat made from an O’Day 20-foot hull. O’Day’s are pretty good boats. I grew up with an O’Day Daysailer in Orleans, Mass., as a kid. It’s what I learned to sail on.

This is what they look like:

oday 20

This boat, with an asking price of $2,500 that comes with a 7 hp Nissan outboard with remote steering and shifter has that “Shantyboat” feel about it.


outboard mount

Can ya dig the stained glass windows?

from cockpit


cabin looking aft


looking inside

looking aft

It ain’t no yacht, but somebody’s gonna have fun with it…

Posted by: oldsalt1942 | April 14, 2016

A Must Have —

I was writing another post when I mentioned this product in passing, but it is such an important thing to have in your tool box  going to do this post first.

I honestly think this stuff is just as important a safety item as life jackets and flares. It’s an epoxy stick.


It’s comes in a variety of different forms…


And is made, or at least marketed by, a slew of different companies…Locktite, Superglue, Sika…way too many to try and list. But you’ll find epoxy sticks in just about every hardware store you enter. Both the epoxy and the hardener are combined in a Tootsie Roll-like stick. When you need to use it you cut off, I simply grab the stuff and rip off how much I think I’m going to need, and the you knead it until the two colors blend into a single shade and then apply it where it’s needed.


One of the neat features of the stuff is that it cures underwater. I was a bit doubtful of this claim when I read it on the packaging but decided to give it a try. When I bought my Kaiser-26 I found that the fitting for the paddle-wheel speedometer, located under the starboard saloon seat was weeping a good deal of water. The previous owner had tried to stop it by slathering what must have been several tubes of silicon over and around the unit. I’m sure it slowed the leak down, but it didn’t stop it. I spent an hour or so removing all that gunk. It was leaking enough that the bilge pump would cycle every few minutes. Fortunately I was in a boat yard at the time so if things became critical I could get myself hoisted out of the water long enough to effect a repair. I tore off about a quarter of the tube, kneaded it as directed, and started packing it around the offending part. It seemed to be doing the job so I tore off another chunk and repeated the process making sure to press the putty-like material down into the slight gap between the hull and the sending unit. When I finished not a drop of water was weeping into the boat, and it was STILL dry as a bone when I sold the boat seven years later!

An even more impressive testimony of the remarkable underwater qualities of epoxy sticks happened a few years later. My good friend Stef and I were contracted to do the maintenance work for vessels arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Service in southeast Florida. One day one of those 80-foot wooden Haitian freighters was scooped up off the coast between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. There were HUNDREDS of persons on board, and the boat was literally sinking beneath them. After everyone was taken off the boat and it was towed to the Marshall’s Service dock at Marina Bay up on the New River in Fort Lauderdale, Stef and I went to work trying to prevent a catastrophe. The only thing that was keeping the keel from kissing the bottom was the three, four-inch gasoline-powered pumps the Coast Guard had put on board.

At first we tried the old trick of attaching coffee cans to a long stick, punching holes in the top and filling the cans with sawdust from our shop across the little lane from the docks. In theory you lower the cans into the water and shake them so that the sawdust comes out. Supposedly the water leaking into the boat will pick up the sawdust and it will fill the gaps where the water is leaking into the hull. Then the wet sawdust will swell up and the leak will end.

But there’s a great deal of simple good luck with that approach. The gaps were too wide and the pressure of the water flooding the hull were too great and the sawdust too fine so it simply was sucked into the hull with no effect. I suggested trying to give the epoxy sticks a go. We went to a nearby hardware store and bought a case of them. The cashier thought we were nuts.

So, with a friend of ours, who was a diver, in the water, Stef and I kneaded up a half stick at a time and dropped them down to Danny who would go under the boat and cram the stuff into the open seams of the boat. After using up the case we could easily tell that the leakage where the stuff had been used was nearly stopped. We then rushed out to hardware stores and marine suppliers all over Fort Lauderdale and bought up every stick we could lay our hands on. We got a second person down in the water and another on deck with me and Stef and we went to work. By the end of the day a single 4-inch pump handled what was coming in, and we only had to crank it up every couple of hours to keep the boat afloat.

As an epilogue, we had the divers fasten sheets of 1/4″ plywood over the bottom. With that done, two 24-volt bilge pumps with float switches were capable of handling the job and they’d only cycle three or four times a day!

On my own boat, when I was off cruising down in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala during the rainy season, I used a tube of the stuff to construct a dam between the cabin and the toe rail just behind the water tank fill. I left a gap, though, so that when it started to rain the water could run free to the scuppers cleaning off the deck and coach roof. After five minutes or so, I’d remover the fill cap, block the gap and the rain water would fill the tank quite nicely, thank you.

Where the stuff actually helped me out of a bind was when I was still in Guatemala. A chintzy plastic connecting piece on my Navik windvane self-steering broke…


I took a lima bean-sized piece of putty, wrapped it around where the plastic had broken and voilà, as we used to say over in Antibes, problem solved. It got me all the way back to Fort Lauderdale without a hitch. I would have been screwed, chained to the tiller for hours if it wasn’t for this stuff.


EVERYONE needs to have two or three tubes of the stuff in their tool box and not leave the dock without it. Oh, the stuff you don’t use is stored in a plastic tube ready for the next emergency.


Posted by: oldsalt1942 | March 22, 2016

Variation on a Theme

I don’t know if you’ve been following the goings on in Miami Beach where they’ve outlawed anchoring overnight and have actually been towing boats away. Of course it all boils down to people living on land who don’t want to have “free spirits” in their back yards “getting away with stuff” and “dumping sewage overboard.” And the same sort of thing hassling people who want to live on the water is expanding wherever there’s a shoreline. It’s happening in every state. Fortunately it’s not happening down here in Panama where in places like Almirante where you catch the water taxi out to party in Isla Colón, there are outhouses built right over the river with direct access from someone’s pooper to the water below.

The biggest problem with shantyboats is that while they’re capable of moving they don’t do it very well. Yeah, yeah, I know all about Dianne’s Rose which, while a nice boat that DOES move well, it’s neither fish nor fowl. With the growing battle against boaters of ALL KINDS you know shantyboaters are going to be prime targets. Unless you live somewhere where you can sort of “hide out” like the bayous of Louisiana or up in the Atchafalaya you’re probably going to run into problems sooner or later. And most marinas aren’t going to welcome a shantyboat with open arms, either. First they’re going to demand insurance and good luck with that since most shantyboats are homemade and uninsurable.

But that doesn’t mean one has to give up the dream entirely or be priced out of the market. A couple of years ago I read an article in (If you don’t have this wonderful site bookmarked already then DO IT NOW! Go ahead, we’ll wait. It will open up in a new window so you won’t lose your place here.) about a guy, Harold Duffield  of Florissant, Missouri who converted a 25′ Irwin sailboat he picked up cheap and turned it into something he calls a “Terminal Trawler.”

Here are links to his stories: / — — —


What I like about these is that they can be moved whenever needed. It’s probably not too hard to get insurance if someone requires you to have it, and finally, you can actually go somewhere with one of these rather cheaply which is cool. Up north in the summer, down south in the winter.

My friend Bryan Lowe has had a couple of articles on his fantastic site One is: which I think is pretty cool…

trawler 7


So, out of curiosity I went on Craigslist in three different states to see what was available in cheap sailboats that could possibly be converted. I set an arbitrary top price I’d consider of $3,500. Here’s what I found. I’m not going to put the entire ad here because they only appear for a limited time and then any link to them is no good afterwards.

In the Miami area I saw this, a 24-footer with an asking price of $1,500!

rebel 24 foot 1,500

You could pick up this 22-footer for a mere $700.

22 foot 700

In North Carolina this 26-foot Pearson only carried an asking price of $2,500

26 pearson 2000

They were only asking $1,750 for this 27-foot Hunter

27 hunter - $1750 (carlonia beach)

And in New Bedford, Mass you could pick up this 26-foot Bristol for $2,000.

Refurbished 26 ft Bristol Sloop - $1500 (New Bedford)

I saw bunches more and none of them came up to the $3,500 mark. Unfortunately you can’t find anything like this down in Panama and if there was, I’d jump on it in a heartbeat.

What do y’all think of this idea?

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