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Houseboat Living for a Newcomer - can you live year round on house boats?

by JR

Year Round Houseboat Living - Live on House Boats?

Year Round Houseboat Living - Live on House Boats?

Any tips for houseboat living for a newcomer? Can you live year round on house boats in winter?

I'm interested in buying a houseboat to live on, however I live in Maryland where the winters get very cold & wet.

Is is possible to keep a houseboat in the water all year round, & how would I maintain it.

This question or a similar question wasn't on your FAQ list.

Thanks, JR

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Reply - Answer
Well JR, welcome to the houseboat forums, and sorry to hear you couldn't find any information on year round houseboat living.

You will find plenty of information on our site, simply use the search function which will access over 750 pages of tips, guides and articles for you.

If you're planning to live on your houseboat in a cold climate, you will have to insulate, and have appropriate heating capabilities on your boat.

One of the simplest ways is to actually drive around the marinas that are of interest too you, and speak to the houseboaters that are doing it now.

You may also find the following articles of interest to you:

Any winter or cold climate houseboat living tips?

Insulating for year around houseboat living.

Houseboat Living - Winter Heating Tips.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their year round houseboat living experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Houseboat Living for a Newcomer - can you live year round on house boats?

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Warm & Dry & Plan B
by: Anonymous

Chesapeake is awesome for yearround In-water boats.
The Dry factor needs to have lots of Inspection since you do not want eight leaky spots not noticed until October....
The warm provisions, A) plan a primary heat source like built in electric or plug in radiator.
B) plan at least two electric blankets either mattress pad & blanket ( severe cold defense) or mattress pad electric blanket & electric heater throw.
C) Get Set up before October, do not expect to install a new appliance in winter, find your laundry & prepare for Laundry Plan B, since water flows differently in the winter.
D) devise onboard Storm plan & debarking plan in case of severe storm on the way or Occurring.
Some people go to one place in winter, like Baltimore Rusty Scupper for winter ‘"access" but the rest of the year at a home marina. You are Boating, so you can Move!

I'm in the same boat!
by: Good Greif

I lived on a houseboat with my Dad when I was about 8, we loved it! I think I'm ready to go back, but not having my dad as a guide any longer, I'm searching for advice here :)

I'm also looking to move into a winter ready, as green as possible houseboat, I would absolutely love suggestions. So far I like the No1 Houseboat, but it's a little far away..

Living on a Houseboat in Maryland
by: Anonymous

I live year round on my 42' Houseboat in Annapolis, Md. It is fantastic. Check Zillow for possibilities.

My life on the TN River
by: Dave

I am a child grown on the banks of the TN River. At 45 years old I came back to the River retired and satisfied. 15 years ago I moved onto the TN River around Guntersville in north east Alabama.

I use solar, wood, and petrol. In north Alabama right now, and I pull my floating green house behind my houseboat. 40 ft back there the V hull aluminum Lowe bass boat is secured to trail and the canoe.

On the starboard side I have a "large" fish basket. So always fish, always red meat along the river, always vegetables in the Green House and in the wild. We have a life of paradise on the river. We are with Earth.

Move your houseboat south
by: Bruce

If you want to live on a houseboat move south. I have been living on a 37 ft with my dog on the inter-coastal for 8 years from Florida to Texas and living like a king.

I dreamed about it for years, the only mistake was not doing it years sooner!


Buying an eco-friendly houseboat
by: JHB

Stunning at Sea,
You didn't say what size or budget, new or used, but you may want to look at the classified ads on this site, or fill out the information form on the "New Boats for Sale" tab.

I've never used it, but they claim to have a wealth of info on boat manufacturers and what they offer, to match you with the right one.

Also consider that green technologies can be added after market, so you can choose the exact models and features you want. It's sometimes even cheaper that way, especially if you go with a gently used craft.

I think good insulation is the most important thing to look for. Get the best. Especially if you're planning year-round living. Solar panels, composting or incinerating toilets and the like can be easily added.

You can do it yourself with a little guidance. Good luck to you!


Houseboat Living - a great place to live during the winter
by: Russell

Ahoy, I lived and worked on the Chesapeake for many years. I had several types of boats. I lived year round and from Baltimore to Norfolk. The area you are looking at is probubly the best all round boating in the states. I would never have left the Chesapeake if it stayed warm all year round. I just don't like the cold.

Living on a boat in the winter up north does have it's problems. I have had to fight ice on the dock, boat and water. Only one time in about 20 years did we have to leave the boat. In 1976 a sudden cold front caught us off guard and unprepared for the sudden freeze that went on for many weeks. The bay froze over and got very thick ice on it. In those days we all had wooden boats and had to cut and push ice to protect our boats.

Our boat was a Richardson at the time and all the water lines froze and busted before we even got up in the morning. That drove us into a hotel room until I got them replaced and insulated. I also added pipe warmers and electric warmers with thermostats to prevent that from happening again.

Don't forget that, while you may be warm in the cabin there is still the below deck area to watch. It can freeze where there is no heat before you know it.

Most houseboats from up north will have a little insulation. I know of very few that are ready for a really super-cold winter blast. Just be prepared and use a little common sense. Winter covers are the norm if you are going to be aboard in the extreme cold.

Keeping the air pocket between the real cold wind, rain and snow is a must. Ice and snow on deck and in scuppers can cause real disasters. One slip and you could be in the water before you know it. My wife and dog both went overboard trying to get across to the boat from an ice covered dock.

Get the ice off your boat as soon as you see it. In severe cold water you may not be able to get a grip on anything to haul your waterlogged body out of the water. Have a ladder hanging where you normally go across from the dock to your boat. You may never need it but it only takes one slip to see that you should have had it there.

All the vents that are needed to ventilate the bilges and engine room become a severe draft problem in extreeme cold. We would tape plastic over all openings, vents and windows. We did not go out for three or four months and saw no reason to allow the winter wind in. Be careful of fuel leaks if you cover all the vents.

We still had one engine room vent that we could turn on with a flapper over it. It would force air out but it flapped down to stop most of the air trying to come in. Always check below deck and try to direct warm air into the bilge and under cabinates.

As the winter grabs hold you will learn what works for you. Have a backup system if you have electric heat. We always had a propane cook stove but now there are newer camper heaters that work very well on boats.

I hope this helps a little. I guess the short answer to your question is "YES".

All seasons on houseboat
by: Stunningatsea

I am about to live a dream and purchase a houseboat. I live in New England and plan to live on it all year round.

I am looking for a manufacturer that is contemporary in design - can anyone share the some tips on manufacturers on the east coast.

The boat would require heat, and I'm interested in going green, and with renewable energy..... welcome your help and guidance.

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