Course How To

Houseboat Sinking - our Floating Home has sprung a leak --HELP

by Anelly Matheson
(United States)

Our families 66 ft Floating Houseboat Home that we Love!

Our families 66 ft Floating Houseboat Home that we Love!

Our Houseboats Sinking, or I should say, our Floating Home has sprung a leak, and we need HELP.

We own a 66ft houseboat, floating house style, north of Clearwater. This is our home for our family of four - mom, dad, 2 young boys.

We have sprung a leak and cannot find anyone to help us in any way -- finding someone that can fix it, someone that can move it, and where we can dry dock it.

Our worse fear is that we can't afford to fix it, and don't know what to do -- sell it, fix it, or demo it?

Any Help or Ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Anelly.

Tip of the Month
You can now install a simple & inexpensive system to watch out for high bilge water levels. So whether you’re sleeping, or away from the boat, or gone for the week, you can be notified of a dangerous high bilge water level.

Reply - Answer
Well Anelly, welcome to the houseboat forums, however I am sorry to hear about your troubles with your houseboat springing a leak.

Since you didn't share many details about what you mean about "springing a leak" I will venture to say that the hull is steel, and it is badly rusted and leaking from different areas, and in dire need of steel re-plating?

I truly believe in the power of the Internet, and that hopefully someone will read this, who is capable of handling such a job, or that they can put you in touch with someone who can.

If anyone has any ideas that could help this unique houseboat families situation, feel free to share your thoughts.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat 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

Free Bonus Offer

To show our deep appreciation to all of our readers and visitors, here is the link to our free houseboat magazine, the INSIDER. Go ahead click the book and sign-up, it's free and filled with great articles, tips, information and website updates.

free Houseboat Magazine - The Houseboat Insider

Comments for Houseboat Sinking - our Floating Home has sprung a leak --HELP

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Houseboat Hull Liner
by: Patty

Hi, I don't know how old this is, but I have a similar problem. I need to replace a vinyl hull liner like Ron talked about (there isn't a place to have my houseboat pulled out of the water to fix it properly).

I can't find anywhere to buy one. My houseboat is in Boston, MA but I could measure it to order one if necessary.
Thanks, Patty

Fix the bottom, or jump ship.
by: nmorgart

This sounds familiar, our houseboat had been in the marina, unserviced for years, they said oh don't bother taking it out, just enjoy it.

Then we went on a forum like you did, someone said, I wouldn't sleep on that boat unless I had the door open for a quick escape. That made us realize we could be putting our family and ourselves in danger.

We hauled it out, sand blasted it and found the hull looking like swiss cheese. About $7000 worth of new steel replacement and we started from scratch.

Altogether it cost us at least $35,000 to redo the boat, doing every thing ourselves. We could have junked it and bought a newer boat for what it cost.

Once we got it out, it took 3 years to rebuild. Then we had trouble finding anyone to insure an old 1966 steel hull boat. Finally State Farm wrote it, after we paid another $2500 for the survey they required.

Anyway, it's not worth dying for, fix the bottom, or junk it and get another boat. Ours is great now, hope it lasts another 43 years.

Reply - Answer
Well nmorgart, thanks for sharing your houseboat's history and experience with us.

IAN from

Contact me
by: Kevin Whitcomb

To the Smith family, email me directly. kevin at blueplanetps dot com

Any updates on the sinking houseboat?
by: Anonymous

So does the person who viewed this houseboat have aa opinion as to if this "boat" is worth $$ fixing?

We are opening conversations with this family regarding this houseboat, and would truly appreciate your opinion!

If it needs to be taken out of the water to be repaired, which is my guess as to what needs to be done, (per owner), what does this entail both $$ and practicality?

Thank you, the Smith family

More info on the sprung leak.
by: Kevin Whitcomb

Hi All, I've looked at this vessel and wish to give more info for the experts to consider. This is a 2 story wooden structure sitting on a wooden barge constructed of plywood sides and bottom with a thin layer of fiberglass on the outside and untreated on the inside.

The internal frame is 2" X 2". From what I understand there may have been sitting water in the barge bottom for at least 2 years but nothing the bilge pumps could handle.

The current problem is that a 4' seam opened up on the right rear bottom part of the barge at the turn of the bilge. In addition, a vertical crack opened in the side of the hull directly above where the seam opened up.

These are great people, any help you guys could give would be great!

Temporary Fix for Sinking Houseboats
by: Russell

So you have a leak. I have recovered many boats with large holes in them and several with multiple holes. If I know what the problem is I can give you a solution that will give you several months to get ready for the cost of a more permamant fix.

Depending on the location it could be as simple as "buttering" a small piece of marine plywood and screwing it against the existing hull. Here is how it works. You find the leak and determine why it is leaking.

Next, inspect the area and determine if it is a flat surface on the "outside" of the hull. This is not meant to be applied on the inside. Scrape the area clean as you can get it and measure the damaged area.

The patch we are making can be bottom painted on the outside. 3/8th or 1/2 inch ply should be good enough unless you need to cover an area larger that 6 or 8 square feet. The side going against the hull will be coated with "wet or dry" roofing cement.

Now, place the patch against the hull and screw it into place with plenty of stainless deck screws. For working a patch like this underwater I use an air powered screwdriver. A coating of light veggie oil will protect the screw gun and a spraying of WD 40 after using it underwater will remove the water from the tool.

It can be done with hand screw drivers but that takes forever. It helps to pre-drill the plywood before taking it under the boat. Use enough "butter to let some squeeze out the sides so you can use a putty knife to seal the edge as good as you can.

The patch will usually only be a foot or two square and is very easilly removed at haulout. I have done "patches as big as 8x8 feet to raise a boat after a hurricane. Most were only a foot or so square.

This also works if you are "holed" while cruising. The roofing tar seals the patch very well. Make sure you make the patch large enough to reach good wood for screwing the patch against the hull.

I hope this seals your leak and gives you time to save up for a haulout. Where are you located?

Good Luck, Russ

Reply - Answer
Russel, if I had a prize for the Tip of the Month, you would surely be in the top three with that reply. As I read your post, I could see the plywood and the roofing tar in my mind. Your tip is right on the mark, and it couldn't have been better detailed and written.

Thanks for taking the time to help another houseboater.

IAN from

The hull is wood.
by: The owners

The wood is hull - it was military built in 1965, and served as a Coast Guard Station. It has been in our current marina for 12 years.

Three suggestions for your dilemma.
by: balloongurl

As we see it there are three solutions. Look for the nearest dry-dock, bring in a crane, or if money is an issue beach it in a shallow cove.

You didn't say what type of hull you have. If its aluminum hull or pontoons, you need to bring in a welder.

Whatever method you choose its going to cost some money. Epoxy might be a temporary solution. However the best way to deal with it is to do it right in the first place, so you do not have recurring problems.

How long have you owned the boat? When was your last survey? When was it last out of the water? Good luck

Houseboat sinking
by: Ron

A few years back, I visited friends on their house-barge. They have similar hull construction and similar leaks. Their solution was to buy a garbage dump liner or pond liner (large and very strong chemically resistant plastic liner) and wrap the entire hull.

They fastened it in place with trim (2x6) well above the waterline. It had been installed for 10 years when I saw it and it still looked very good. After installing the liner, they pumped and dried the bilges.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Houseboat Forums.

Continue Reading Our Popular Pages

Our collection of houseboat ebooks

Ebook Boats Collection on Houseboat Books

We just love houseboats, do you?
Join our monthly HB Insider for free

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.