Introduction: How to Get a Free Yacht

Picture of How to Get a Free Yacht

Step 1: Get the Free Yacht

Picture of Get the Free Yacht

This is the easy part.
"Wooden Boat" magazine has a "free boats" section in every issue.
Any harbormaster can show you some free boats.
They're especially plentiful in the northeast in the fall.
Divorce season, whenever that is, produces lots of project boats that
"must be removed from my yard before such-and-such a date".

My friend Patrick and I got the beauty seen here from an ad in the free section of
Here's how our baby looked in "Latitude 38" magazine in December of 2004.

Step 2: Rent a Marina Slip

That's where you'll put your new boat.
Our slip costs $200 a month because it's a 30 foot slip.
Our bowsprit is a lot of that length. We could saw it off to save rent, but it's a great thing to ride on.
Some marinas don't allow wooden boats because they don't like beauty or suffering.
Or boats older than ten years, or worth less than 40 grand or somesuch because they worship Moloch.
We found the Emeryville Marina, which is a righteous place.
Here's the application we filled out to get in.
It requires insurance, which in turn asks what marina the boat is in, which is a catch-22.

Step 3: Get Insurance

In order to rent your marina slip you have to get insurance.
Get whatever the marina requires/recommends.
The following companies wouldn't sell us us a policy because the boat is too old.
Geico, West Marine, BoatUS which is the same thing, United Marine Underwriters.
Progressive insurance did it online with no hassles. Yay! It costs about $300 a year.
I'm told is also good for insuring weird old boats, cars, etc.

Step 4: Get It Ready to Move

Picture of Get It Ready to Move

We swam around the boat with spatulas and brushes, scraping off the seafood that was thriving on the bottom.
When we were done the boat sat an inch or so higher in the water.
The diesel engine runs great, but the RUBBER exhaust hose leaked and had to be replaced.
There's a pump that sprays water into the exhaust pipe cooling the hot gas just as it hits the rubber hose going out the back of the boat.
That's apparently the usual way of doing it. We went to West Marine and bought a new one.
The sticker said "$7.71" and I thought that was very reasonable. We also got some flares which the coastguard, the DMV or somesuch requires.
The price on the hose was PER FOOT. $85.00 got us a rubber hose and four highway flares.
Definition of boat: "A hole in the water into which you pour money".
Here's Patrick harvesting seaweed and crustaceans off our hull.

Step 5: To Be Continued...


judyr48 (author)2016-08-23


My name is Jules and I saw this and said, why worry about auctions on ebay that I never win and ask people for a boat like this? I would love a boat. I do not mind being a river rat either. Did that in the Florida Keys and loved it.

MagalinaM made it! (author)2016-08-09

Hi I would love to get a free boat but since that's close to impossible I'm gonna try this.

I never been on a boat except a gambling boat 2 miles out in Cape Canverall Florida and I was inside the whole time so doesn't count.

I'm in Palm Bay, Florida now.

I want to just spend 2 days 1 day 1 afternoon on a boat.

If anyone has a boat and is willing to accept a guest that would be so awesome.

I smoke 420 aka weed but will respect if you don't I just want to go out in the water and the further the better.

You can contact me at

Thx maggzz

DavidC613 (author)2016-04-22

If. Any one has a good vesle I can get. Please call 229-410-9253

peanut315 (author)DavidC6132016-07-05

I change my number229-331-4587

Debbieofnatives (author)2016-04-15

I have 3rd stage colon cancer I have worked hard all of my life several jobs at the time I was a single parent my job of 36 years terminated my employment after finding out I had cancer two days after I asked off for the surgery to remove my colon if there is any soul out there that has a boat a large boat as possible when I can live on I would like to live on a boat before I leave this world that has always been my dream I'm not new to boats I know what it takes I know what the cheapest I know what the fees are please contact me at please contact me please any shape size condition all I'm willing to work on and I'm willing to fix it I would prefer one that's ready to go as I am medically has a disadvantage but please it doesn't matter contact me and let me know if you know of anything or if you have one you're just tired of yours you want to tax write-off whatever please call me text me email me email me for the phone number to call or text I'm a real person thank you so much God bless

fat basterd (author)2016-04-12

Looking for a free house boat in Ar, to restore. Or any small boat that nobody wants for a good home.

vodafonesertac (author)2016-03-29

Free full movie for Patrick

VincentJ2 (author)2016-01-20

Remember what b-o-a-t stands for... Break Out Another Thousand!

Dunk seymour (author)2016-01-19

will this work in the U.K. THAT is my question ?

teacher632001 (author)2015-09-27

Need a houseboat or sailboat near charleston. The larger the better. I need to be closer to my son.

alaskabill (author)2015-09-04

Looking for a 60' plus .., already have engines.. West coast..

alaskabill (author)alaskabill2015-09-04

Steel or fiberglass preferable

lesstripinmoresailin (author)2015-05-04

Another cool helping each other boat finding or sharing could be if you got a boat and need help with it yet you own a farm or other land that we would be working on it, is that you share let others fix their boats there and help you in exchange for letting them work on theirs on your property. You can get a release signed from anyone who wants to be part of the barter, so you don't have to worry about someone falling etc. We could start a fleet or remember the convoy song ?

lesstripinmoresailin (author)2015-05-04

What if we started bartering more. My idea of a decent barter in these situations is to have our own posts about example 1 first mate wanted - I have a boat needs TLC, and you could be my first mate send contact info if you can get to east end of long island or are out here. We can share for a while. 2- You have a boat need a 1ST MATE willing to share my boat with either sex as long as we are basic lyrics Yada Yada see what I mean.

mchau2 (author)2014-04-03

is this for real?

ArchConMan (author)mchau22015-04-23

Yes it is. Totally real and accurate instructable.

lane.weast (author)2015-04-17

For those hoping to find one, keep any eye out here.

They search them out an post free boats daily.

drewdoog (author)2008-02-19

Id just live in it.. seriously

TXcat22 (author)drewdoog2012-03-26

I have a Catalina 22 that I live on. Small, but comfortable. I have A/C, heat. power. stove........etc, etc...and Wifi. Paid $500 for it. Was given another by the marina which I salvaged the sails, motor and hardware from. Remodeling it now to sell for a larger sailboat and do it all again. A 35-40 foot is my goal.

Just got one of these, and beginning to outfit it for live aboard. What love to talk to you about your experience and your know how.

tmsmalley (author)drewdoog2010-06-21

Until you legally transfer the title (like you do when you buy or sell a car) you don't own the boat, no matter what the harbor master says. He just wants to get an abandoned boat off his property.

mpinson (author)tmsmalley2012-09-09

boats arent that much like cars at all in a legal sense, because the marine salvage act applies to them which esentially means that if a vessle has been abandoned for a period of time it can be retrieved by anyone and registered to a new owner, the title is only necessary if it still has an owner who still lays claim to it

ArtemisBlue (author)drewdoog2008-02-24

Same here. I'm only 15 but seriously considering living in a boat. How freakin' awesome would that be? Or just get free boats, fix em' up, and sell em'.

Xellers (author)ArtemisBlue2008-06-13

Sleeping in them in the Northeast is a bad idea. We had some friends who did that and they couldn't survive more than one winter.

ArtemisBlue (author)Xellers2008-06-23

Um, Blankets?

Xellers (author)ArtemisBlue2008-06-23

I'm sure they had blankets. And yet, they didn't decide to stay for more than one winter.

lucek (author)Xellers2008-07-28

I've done winter camping in Massachusetts and you need a little more than blankets. to survive a thermal insulated sleeping bag is a must. if your not prepared for harsh cold even in 3 inches of down you don't want to be in a new England winter with out a house around you.

phoenixbyrd (author)lucek2010-10-03

Please... I spent a whole winter living outside with nothing more than a thick winter coat in a tree fort to stay away from the ground critters. Massachusetts weather ain't that bad lol

lucek (author)phoenixbyrd2010-10-03

I can tell you plenty of times you didn't do that as you'd be dead ATM if you did.
Just because you did something stupid in a miler part of the state at a milder time doesn't mean anything. Being near to that cold gray ocean when winter is pounding the coast hard is something completely different.

zeroemission (author)lucek2010-03-26

the one time i camped out in winter in NY, i think i wore two layers of sweats/hoodies and had a couple of blankets and once i got the snow beneath me to conform to my body, i slept like a baby. it wasn't below 20 degrees, but i'd do it again in a heartbeat. living in the cold 24/7 though is a different issue. i hate sitting on cold toilet seats! LOL

MrRodrigez (author)lucek2009-08-23

LOL try Michigan..

lucek (author)MrRodrigez2009-08-23

rather not if it's worse. then again after 07 I'd like to see worse conditions apart from north Canada. I thankfully listened to the weather and avoided waking to my tent under a 7 foot snowdrift.

M-26-7 (author)lucek2008-07-31

As someone who has lived their whole life in Massachusetts, I can tell you that you do not want to be on the water in the winter. No offense, Blue, but that's how people die. They don't have enough sailing experience, or they're not prepared, or whatever and all it takes is one storm and they're gone. My advice would be to live up north in the summer and more docile months and then sail down to the Caribbean for the winter. All and all though I'd save that for something to do at the end of your life.

lucek (author)M-26-72008-08-01

no argument here. a boat on the open water will soon become toothpicks in winter, I was just commenting about the cold. PS: where do you live, I'm on the Quincy/Dorchester boarder.

M-26-7 (author)lucek2008-08-01

Out in the "wild west", ways from Springfield. It's pretty boring. I know some people who lived for a while in Quincy; it's a pretty cool place.

lucek (author)M-26-72008-08-01

1 T stop from Boston 2 buses from the blue hills its a nice balance. went visiting a friends aunt out your way. 3 hour trip but beautiful place.

Rishnai (author)Xellers2008-10-10

Try a winter in a shipping container in Gunnison, Colorado. I hear that's pretty brutal! (Not that I'd want to winter in the Northeast at all, a little too damp).

glorybe (author)Rishnai2010-05-09

         It's only damp above freezing. Once you get below freezing the air is dry.
         Insulate! Insulate! Insulate!

=SMART= (author)ArtemisBlue2008-06-12

hey selling them would be a good idea!

crickle321 (author)drewdoog2009-04-23

The major factor a boat owner should consider are the local zoning laws. You can get a pretty hefty fine for living in a non-residential zone such as a rent-storage facility. Plus not having running water, electricity, or long-term toilets can get inconvenient real fast. And hooking up to a near by ‘free’ source would not go unnoticed for very long since someone has to pay the bill.

glorybe (author)crickle3212010-05-09

        An acquaintance of mine used a hole in enforcement to get around the laws. He pulled a hull into the parking lot at the rear of his business. He gutted everything and lowered a camper inside the hull and bolted it in. He ran power from his shop. It turns out that the regulation of boats fell to our water police and they never patrol on land. And the building inspectors could do nothing as the boat was on a trailer. Even if some official had wanted to complain that he was living in that boat it would be very hard for them to prove. With the door closed even if they climbed on board it would be hard to swear that anyone was inside the camper. Oddly the guy did rig the camper in such a way that the boat actually could function on the water. He even took a long vacation on that contraption.

altgrave (author)glorybe2010-07-27

your acquaintance is a hero.

Rimwulf (author)glorybe2010-06-23

My parents had a truck camper free of my local yahoo group named "freecycle" from and we put it in the driveway for me to live it. Well about a month went by my mother said shes going to get rid of it because its useless if I can't live because code enforcement said no and I was thinking "how wold they know? They can't get in without a key and we can tell them that we don't have one proving that no one is living in it.." Needless to say she still said no- after all she's my landlord- it was a little time after I realized that she wanted to make room for another car.

crickle321 (author)glorybe2010-05-09

That's sounds pretty cool and sneaky. Could you post some pictures of the 'Winnebago-boat' if you have any?

=SMART= (author)drewdoog2008-06-12

same lol

cdltpx (author)2014-06-22

The boat does not have to be a hole in the water you pour money into it could be a free boat you part out and make pure profit on.

instinct317 (author)2013-06-21

This sounds cool I will tell my dad bout it

shizumadrive (author)2013-03-24

heh heh "because they worship Moloch". That is why they(most at least) wont let you live out of your boat anymore as well.

TruthHunter (author)2012-01-31

I just did some kayaking in Key Largo area. I saw a lot of house boats that
were in the free to skanky looking category. I saw one with an orange sticker
on the window like you see on dead freeway cars. Did the guy end up in a nursing home? also a bunch of old FG hulls with plywood shanties built on them.

In florida, you can anchor a lot of places as long as you are "cruising". Its kind
of hard to earn a living though if you have to keep moving.

Bishop's 4 Months in a Sneakbox describes the Riverboat culture that was somewhat of a revelation to me. They would build them out of cheap lumber in Pittsburgh, sometimes just salvage that got(stole) away from lumber floats. they would
float down the river through the winter months, gambling(ever hear of a River Boat Gambler?) hunting, fishng,rustling, etc. They'd sell the boats in New Orleans and take the Steamer back to Pittsburg and do it all over again. I suspect these Gypsy caused a lot of the laws that make living on the water difficult.
What we need is the nautical equivalent of Slab City!

T Bomber (author)2011-08-15

I've actually been considering the possibility of buying an old fishing boat and converting it.Fishing boats are relatively cheap if they don't come with a permit.Sell off the gear and equipment if it still has that stuff.But you could probably find just the boat.A 65-75 ft trawler would give you beaucoup room.

About This Instructable




Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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