Friday, November 28, 2008

Bug Out Boat - Living on a Houseboat

The purpose of a houseboat is similar to any other type of shelter located on land. It still serves the same basic purpose of providing us with a safe place to live, sleep, store our food and water and furnish us with a place to keep our personal belongings. Living aboard a houseboat would be a vastly different experience from any that most people have encountered in their lifetimes.

At its most basic level, a common houseboat offers extremely modest amounts of living space even when compared to small apartments. Unless they are state-of-the-art, which can be very expensive, they won't have many of the same conveniences that a house on land might. The major drawback would probably be the limited amounts of storage space that would be available and the necessity of having a large stream, river or lake available for your houseboat. You would have the advantage of a readily available source of fresh water, if on a fresh water stream or lake, requiring only treatment and purification, along with a high protein food supply in the form of fish, etc. Plus putting into shore would also give you the option to do a little hunting on land to supplement your food reserves.

The names of the spaces in a houseboat are different but their basic use is the same as a home located on land. Here are some of the basic areas in a houseboat:

Berth: The bed.
Stateroom: The bedroom.
Galley: The kitchen.
Head: The bathroom.
Cabin: A common living area or room where passengers get together.
Bridge: The place where the boat is steered (the helm is the specific steering station).
Navigation Room: This is the place where navigation equipment is located. This is where the houseboat's radio for communications, navigation charts, GPS, and other instruments will be located.

Everyone's needs are different, but the above rooms are the same kind that can be found in most homes. This is pretty much the same whether or not they're on land or floating on the water. The navigation station and equipment are necessary additions that would be required in houseboats since they have the capability to move about on the water and you would need some way to determine your position. It would also enable you to be ready for emergencies.

Non-cruising houseboats are similar to homes on land in that they're simply hooked up to a direct source of water and sewage treatment. An external hose brings in water from any fresh water system available directly onto the boat. A separate sewage line will suck sewage directly from the houseboat's head (bathroom) away from its location in the same fashion a regular house.

If the houseboat is of the cruising variety, additions commonly include a water tank for drinking, showering and washing. There would be a separate holding tank for waste. This would be similar to an RV in many respects. A head can either be electric, similar to a regular house, or a manual type. There are also several different options for disposing of waste on a houseboat. Some of the systems treat the waste and are then allowed to pump it off of the boat, while other systems incinerate the sewage into ash which can then be legally disposed of into the water.

Power could be provided in several different ways. Alternate sources, such as propane, kerosene, or diesel, could also be used but would require a greater amount of dependence on oil products that may not be readily available. A stationary (non-cruising) houseboat could also be directly hooked up to utilities located on land or at a marina. Cruising houseboats might use generators or solar power with rechargeable batteries. A separate battery source would be needed for the engine. Additional equipment would be required, such as amperage and voltage meters, to monitor the amount of electrical power that is being used or would be available during trips. Refrigeration, running and heating water, flushing toilets, using lights or watching television will use power. Being stranded without power or electricity could cause you some problems.

While considering your options for a retreat location, you might want to consider living on a houseboat. Rental fees at a marina could be expensive or you might just purchase a small lot onshore to give you a place to “park” your houseboat, or merely lease the right to tie up at someone else’s place for a modest fee. You would probably need to be well organized due to limited space and have a location where a lake or river would make it feasible. And if you’re really handy, you might want to build your own!

Houseboats were also used by many people during the Great Depression after they had lost their regular homes. Read a brief story about this here:

Living on a houseboat would be a great way of bugging out if needed.
You can read an update here: Boat Living Revisited

Staying above the water line!


6 comments: said...

In very rural areas you could possibly live on a houseboat with no interference, dock fees, etc.

riverwalker said...

To: survivaltopics

Another good reason to consider houseboat living. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it's cause I just finished reading Max Brooks' "WWZ", but to the extent that I think 'bugging out' isn't retarded, using a boat makes sense.

You can get into a sailboat with room to sleep 2-4 people starting at around 5 or 10 grand.

It solves many of the problems that I think of with 'bugging out' over land, i.e., fuel, roads make such great ambush points, traffic jams, etc.

Of course, it only works if you live near a pretty big body of water.

Also, while storage space is tight, you could pack several months worth of 'beans, bulles, band-aids'.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous

I've been catamaran sailing a few times and really enjoyed it and want one of my own but they're awful expensive(Waterworld?). Might wind up tying a few barrels together and strapping some boards across them before it's over.


Mayberry said...

Yarrrr! I missed this one 'cuz me internet was kaput..... This has always been a dream of mine. One minor correction from the certified boat nut: On a house boat, and 99% of power boats for that matter, there is no "navigation room". All navigation equipment, and bridge to bridge (VHF) radio is located on the bridge. This is true of most ships as well..... Larger sailboats usually do have a navigation station located below, usually located just inside the companionway (hatch leading below) for easy access from the cockpit.... Sorry, I'm a stickler for "nautical correctness". It's a character flaw : ) Oh yeah, some boats may have a main bridge (inside, where the bulk of nav gear is), and a second station, such as a flying bridge (flybridge) on top of the main cabin (salon), or up in the tuna tower as a sportfisherman has. On most sportfishermen, the flybridge is the main bridge.....

riverwalker said...

To: mayberry

I figured you correct any mistakes I made. I was also glad I thought of this before you did. I kept looking for you post some more about the boat stuff. Maybe a little more in depth type. Thanks.


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