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Old 21-09-2005, 18:16   #1
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living aboard a houseboat

I am currently looking at buying an older Gibson Houseboat and living on it for seven months out of a year (Illinois winter weather). Basically wondering about average sq. ft. numbers for people living aboard full time. How many sq. ft. should be allow for two adults? Is it possible to install a washer and dryer system aboard if I have the room. The houseboat is 42ft with a flybridge along with foward and aft sun decks on the main deck. It has plenty of storage space below deck for storing items inside the hull. It has twin 270 HP engines with 6.5kw gen. pressure hot and cold water; fridge and electric stove and forced air heat... I am in my late 50's and been wanting to retire to a livaboard for some time, my friend is 42 and she also wants to try a livaboard. It will not be docked in the Great Lakes but on the Illinois River in Central Northern Illinois. Any information would be greatly appreicated. I am still working and hoping this will give me answers to my questions whether I will be retiring to a livaboard later... thanks, jimini
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Old 22-09-2005, 06:28   #2
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Hi Jimini,

Well, square feet per person is a matter of opinion. There are plenty of people who live aboard a 32ft sailboat 32' x 10', but a triangular shape equaling about 250 square feet. Others can't be on anything less than a 100' megayacht. It all comes down to how much crap you plan to put on the houseboat (furniture, junk from the basement and attic, etc...) and your personal feeling for how much space you need.

Best bet is to just go looking at them with the 2nd person and talk about what you like / don't like about each one. No different than a house.

Washers and dryers, and every other appliance known to man can be easily installed on a houseboat. They are HUGE compared to their more nimble cousins (traditional power and sail boats).

Will you move this houseboat from the dock from time to time? Be aware they are not so great at going from Point A to Point B in comparison with traditional boats (motor or sail). They can't handle any really rough or really windy days.

As for winter... I am currently docked for the winter in NY next to about half a dozen houseboats. They are here year round with no trouble at all. They have insulated water hoses running from the dock's water hookup to their houseboats. This helps keep the hose from freezing, and allows them to have pressurized water (hot and cold) without running a pump on the houseboat itself. In fact, I learned a lesson from them and am working on installing a pressure check valve to do the same this winter.

Also, unless you are going to be anchoring the thing out in the middle of nowhere, the genset will be more of a backup if the power goes out or something. Most houseboats I see seem to stay at one slip for years and years on end.

If you have any additional questions, let me know... I'll ask the people next to me.

BTW: Sine these are so large, you want to make sure you have an adequate heating system aboard. The ones next to me have huge HVAC systems up on the roof above the 2nd floors.

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Old 22-09-2005, 18:32   #3
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Thanks Sean for your inputs... The answer to one of your questions is a no and that's cruising in open water, basically its a river boat, nothing wider than a backwater, mainly a stay in the main channel boat. The houseboat does have two roof mounted air conditioners fwd and aft. Has electric forced air heating under in the floor. Probably 85% of the time it will be docked since we both still work long hours at a factory but the weekends are usually free to do our thing. My girlfriend asked me about mail service? Good question I guess besides a PO Box I think a family friend should be involved using their address for special deliveries. Telephone and Dish Network shouldn't be a problem since the marina has other boaters who are using dishes. Storage isn't a problem either - good time to sort through wanted goodies and junk or donate the rest to someone who would want (need) it. Besides both our computers (I have to have my own!) its a personnal thing... Our tv's for nights that nothing is going on; fishing poles; summer clothes; maybe some family pictures or such. At least now we're going to give it a try and find out if its a life for us aboard a boat or not. Like I said before I retire in the near future (not near enough) and my health isn't the greatest compared to five years ago so I'm going to do my thing and float... with our two beautiful kittys! The boat sleeps six adults but the rear cabin will be a washer/dryer and computer room and that will remove two sleeping spaces. Our kids are grown and have their kids who would love to sleep on the floor of a houseboat if given a chance (ages 1-8) We will take the main cuddy cabin below the main salon for our sleeping quarters (don't have to make the bed everyday that way :>) I did notice that a couple of the larger houseboats have deicers installed next to their docks and must leave their boats in during the winter months. If any one thinks of anything that I may not realized about living aboard a boat PLEASE clue me in! Thanks again Sean

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Old 22-09-2005, 18:38   #4
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The top speed of the houseboat with a clean bottom is around 28 mph with her twin V8's 270 HP engines, cruising speed is around 20, average MPG is a big "ONE"

Hope I win the Illinois Lottery,
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