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?


  1. I think that if anyone carved up a Bristol to make a shantyboat, he should be adjudged terminally insane – those are great boats, and deserve a better fate than this.

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