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by Roy Schreyer - Wasaga Beach, Ontario - Canada

An Affordable, “Mini” Shanty/Camp/Houseboat Update

I thought Duckworks Magazine readers may be interested in an update on the “Mini” Houseboat I designed. I’m itching to do something boat related so might as well write you all. DIANNE’S ROSE was built to keep my wife happy, she was the inspiration asking for a more comfortable boat, and to get me out on the water adventuring more often! This winter has dragged on and is like those I remember as a kid. I’m sure we all are beginning to wonder if that solid stuff is ever going to float our boats again. The news said that the Great Lakes may freeze solid this year. This last apparently happened in 1996, 1972 and 10,000yrs back :), Ducks and Geese that have forgot how to migrate being spoiled by the many previous warmer winters were shown in the footage. They crowd into whatever small open patches of water remain, plainly unhappy!

I try to enjoy winter by skiing and coaching hockey but as the season drags on I just want to join you lucky folks in the south! All I can do is review our last season’s outings and check into fine sites like Duckworks, as I feel very much like those ducks scrambling to find that last patch of open water! Watching our adventures last summer has given encouragement that winter will pass. Dianne and I got swarmed by people as we anchoedr close in to a beach. I didn’t even get a chance to take a swim when we became hosts to an impromptu tour of our unique boat, not that I mind as it’s this attention that has been encouraging me to draw up plans. This particular group came from much larger boats anchored farther out, picture mega yachts rafting together. They seem drawn to our little 17' X 8' boat, perhaps surprised how we can get so close to shore. We are also approached at Gas Stations, Camp Grounds (it is also our camper), Launch Sites, and on the lakes we travel. Many want a closer look and seem impressed with our multi-functional interior. Some come bearing gifts. So far two anchors, homemade honey/wine and countless invites for beverages have come our way often leaving us a little dizzy. The boat has been described as something out of the Forty’s and I’m pleased as this is the charming impression I’d hoped to capture!          

The interior has surpassed our expectations! On our first trip we experience the biggest advantage of this design as it rained for most of the first day. We were completely comfortable inside, opening the rear windows for just the right air flow. It was surreal to enjoy what would normally be a miserable wet day in most other boats. Later in the day we navigated down a long narrow channel (Lost Channel…really!) and thanks to our shallow draw of only six inches we slipped over submerged logs and rocks, settling into a wild lagoon for our first night on board. The bugs were horrible when I tied up and to set up a tent in the dampness would have been hellish but with screens in place, we paid little attention to our pesky neighbours and enjoyed a dry retreat. Hardly claustrophobic, with all the large windows we have almost a full 365 degree view. A simple supper from our modest galley was soon ready (camp stove, sink on a 36 X 32” counter and a cooler that doubles as our coffee table when under way).

After dinner the skies cleared and we decided to fish off the rear deck. It felt like we were sitting on the end of our cottage dock, with only the most determined mosquitoes finding us. We caught two small Bass for our morning’s breakfast. Back inside it took about 15min to convert the two couches into a bigger than Queen Bed and snap curtains Dianne had sewn on all the windows for complete privacy. Not that it was needed as few could venture into this beautiful lagoon.

Dianne is very pleased with the small bathroom that the back of the boat becomes. It starts with a small private head that is also a closet and change room (the portable or composting toilet pushed under the rear deck). The kitchenette is across the aisle and is use as a vanity. Bathing, if not in the lake can be done in a basin set in this aisle with a shower curtain to keep the surrounding woodwork dry (it’s sealed with epoxy anyways). In bed Dianne was surprised how comfortable and still our bed and boat felt. She was soon asleep as I lay awake enjoying the rewards of two years of building (mostly good weather weekends, about 600hrs). I was also enjoying the stars above through the skylights. The only other light came from a candle lamp that is our night light and used to discourage the night’s dampness from creeping in. It put a glow in the cabin that matched how I was feeling! The boat had served us well on this trip and a whole season lay ahead.

We always start our adventures with a drive, usually at highway speeds. Another important feature is having a boat light enough, 1500lbs empty, 1800 to 2000 fully equipped, it is easily trailered to distant destinations and as important we can lunch and retrieve from less than perfect launch sites, saving considerable expense. We have no marina or storage fees as she can be stored at home in our driveway where she has served as a “bunky” to house extra company. We’re satisfied with the 9.8 HP motor, which gives us hull speed, 6MPH, at 3/4 throttle! My thinking is we arrive at highway speeds so we have no need for the beautiful scenery we’ve come far to see, go by in a blur! If more power is wanted, up to 40HP works.

Shallow draft has been a wonderful feature. We slept through most of a horrible storm tucked high into a creek that only small tin boats could navigate, never feeling in danger. Thunder, lightning and strong winds tossed the boats anchored outside our creek, we later found out a small tornado had touched down south of us, blowing down a barn, no one hurt. Had we been out with the other boats, Dianne would never come on another overnight! Designed correctly shallow draft can still be quite seaworthy. We set out later that morning in still strong winds with confused chop handling it with no problem being one of only a few out in the rough conditions (many may have been catching up on sleep)! Confidence in such conditions come from a high freeboard, a cabin that can be secured tight, a strongly built hull with divided compartments and a boat with positive buoyancy. The size of the boat and the shape of the hull also help. In spite of larger boats having the reputation of being safer, it’s my experience smaller boats bob between waves like a duck, never dealing with two waves at once. DIANNE’S ROSE hull is actually a refined barge with “V” sections to smooth the ride. Not being overpowered we don’t run on top of waves, slamming as we go, but ride in the water as a displacement hull does! I took her out in 3 - 4 foot braking waves (not my wife, the boat) to test this theory. She performed well, light enough to rise over large waves and heavy enough to punch through smaller chop. There was lots of spray but not one wave broke on deck even when running broadside to the waves! Of course using good judgement is part of good seamanship, I intend to use her mostly on good weather days but I want confidence in case the weather turns!

On hot days we sit in the shade with windows and doors open, funneling cool breezes to our passengers. This is a social boat with room for eight (all finding a seat). Some boaters have passed by asking if it’s hot inside unaware how wrong they are! Yet the cold has not been a problem either as we have added a tiny portable wood stove that has warmed the cabin up when the outside is near freezing. This has doubled the length of our boating season. We had snow on the river banks the last time out and enjoyed viewing hundreds of water fowl on a stopover, readying themselves to head south. Smart enough to get south just before the water froze solid! At that point we too must give up! One day I hope to be smart enough follow their lead, taking Dianne my wife and DIANNE’S ROSE my boat! In the meantime we must make an effort to enjoy water in all its forms so I’m thinking of heading out to build a snow fort!...

"Study Plans" have been available for a while and now I also have finished the “Full Plans”… The "Study Plans" include; 8 X 10 color cover photo...13 page write up explaining the construction with 37 photos showing the progress during the build...a large draft with plan, front, side, and rear views...a five page article explaining the inspiration and details of the design, which was printed in Small Craft Advisor Magazine, issue #81 and a 11 X 17" color poster. They are $30 for US and Can (US dollars) and $35 overseas, includes postage and a receipt. Also now available in PDF for $25 US. The "Full Plans" are $285 US plus postage, includes full size templates for hard copy, and $230 US for PDF files. They include 21 large 18 X 24" sheets with drawings, photos and write up (as a manual). Also a large color poster of the boat's plan cartoon with color photos around the border showing its many uses. You can send a check or money order to...Roy A Schreyer, 177 Antigua Drive, Wasaga Beach, Ontario, L9Z 2S2, Canada. For PDF files inquire at I should mention to check my web site (work in progress) and see You Tube for my recent videos (type-royschreyer) as one video shows us out with snow on the riverbanks but we're warm thanks to a mini wood stove in the boat. My Youtube videos.

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