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Waterlodge vs. Pontoon Boat

Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:57 pm
by Scowboy
Hi all.

I'm trying to figure out a way to build or acquire a liveaboard of a shoestring budget. Here the why....

I'm looking for a liveaboard option that I can afford. I'm building (or modifying) it as cheap as I can, but I'm not going to do anything that I feel is going to risk my life. I plan to have a solid boat, even if it's not going to be around to be an heirloom. It has to comfortably house me, not sink, and not rot for 3-7 years. A longer working life is obviously preferable, but I expect to be in a better position by then (to build another or have a house), and depending on what grad school accepts me, I may have to get rid of it in 1-2 years.

So why try this at all if money is tight? I need a cheap living option for a very expensive area (Virginia Beach/eastern Norfolk). I might get stupid lucky and find a room to rent in a fair neighborhood as cheap as I can liveaboard, but living by myself for $350-ish a month sounds a lot better than renting a room for that kind of price. Living aboard is cheap down there, and all but one of the marinas on the coast (not the estuaries), keeps me within at least a doably-long bike ride to work. Some of them are a very reasonable bike-commute.

And I think I'll like it. After staying on a houseboat (which I hated the design of and the owner's furnishing choices) on Wiloughby Spit, I really think I'll dig it. Mind you, the iron garden-style furniture, unusable shower (it was vertically S-shaped), and 3 foot tall stateroom (I couldn't sit on the floor without my head touching the ceiling) all sucked, and the boat listed to port noticeably. I still liked being there. I don't know what it was, but it felt good.

So, after all that long-windedness, the question is: Would I be better off building a Waterlodge/WL Too, or would it be better to get a pontoon, and make it a liveaboard?

We're going to assume a structurally sound pontoon with good pontoons.

The cost may be a shade less with the pontoon, I can find a few for dirt-cheap, and a couple for free. Again, assuming it's a sound pontoon, I'm not going to take one that needs safety repairs. Then again, it's not like the Waterlodge designs are expensive if I don't chose really high-end stuff. They probably work out pretty even as far as cost goes.

But my biggest worry with the pontoon is that it will be in a tidal area. I don't want to experience that "pontoon effect" I've read about. I'm not real worried about overloading the toons, there would be very little built-in furniture, it would be mostly camp-furniture, or canvas-covered frames and pvc. I won't need much weight to make it livable. I used to drive trucks, I know how to live light and mobile. But would the pontoon boat be safe to live on in east coast marinas? Is the safety difference enough to worry about? It's really building the cabin itself that has me worried about the pontoon's stability.