I have recently begun corresponding via email with Bryan Lowe of Shantyboatliving.com (unfortunately his domain lapsed within the last couple of hours. Hope he restores it because besides myself he’s the only one I know of out there who is interested in ALL ASPECTS of shantyboats.)
In his interview with Derek “Deek” Diedricksen of Relaxshacks.com (a font of great, adaptable ideas in his own right) Bryan had this to say about what it is that defines a shantyboat. (Some emphasis is mine)
Bryan Lowe: Well, In the dictionary shanty means a small crudely built dwelling, so a shantyboat would therefore mean a crudely built boat, and that is a part of it, up to a point. No shanty has gold plating, literally or figuratively. These are simple craft, homebuilt by untrained builders, with an eye toward extended stay, such as your life allows. For a few, it’s living aboard in some backwater full time. For most of us, we build our simple craft and grab as many weekends as we can, always dreaming of a future time with expanded shantyboat living. The line between houseboat and shanty is always subjective. There are a few givens: you can buy a houseboat but you can’t buy a new shantyboat. A houseboat can be built with virtually unlimited resources, but a shantyboat almost requires a little pragmatic scrounging. And finally, there is intent. Are you trying to recreate a home that just happens to be on the water, or create a homebuilt replica of a commercially built houseboat? Shantyboats aspire to a different aesthetic. They can be cute, they can be painted, they can be cozy, but there must be no mistaking them for commercially built. A shantyboat is handcrafted by it’s owner, with care, with affection, and with a decidedly pragmatic streak! Shantyboats are square, they have edges, with no effort to make it more aero or hydro dynamic. In the end it’s like porn. You know one when you see one, without doubt.