Introduction: Sailboat Living (+short Term Rental)

About: Building design/consulting in Vancouver, WA. Resource based problem solver... in other words, I always take a minute to look in construction dumpsters :) ---the way some have to workout everyday... i have to …

A boat anywhere is incredible!
Having it as a floating Tiny Home (and a place to rent out) adds a whole other dimension!!

In 2014, I converted a boat that had sat for 10 years in Madison in Wisconsin into a tiny home along the Chicago Riverfront. The boat paid for itself and the mooring in only a couple of months on airbnb (a 2016 ordinance makes boats illegal to airbnb in chicago :)

Here's how I transitioned my boat into a home.

Step 1: The Boat

The boat had spent 30+ years on the water in Madison Wisconsin. I named the boat Monona for the lake where it was kept before it landed in storage for 10 years.

The trimaran is a 1978 Tristar 25. A 25 ft boat with a 13' beam. Incrediblely it only has an 18" draft. An Ed Horstman Design, a book of plans are available on amazon to build your own!

I was the third owner and loved that two boat builders had owned the boat before me. Even still I had a series of project to make the boat sea worthy. Including patching wholes in both the pontoons. --the boat is a trimaran with a main hull and two side pontoons.

Step 2: Interior Refresh

Interior and cockpit both needed a lot of attention.

Here is my process for the refresh:

  1. Sailing Equipment - move to the three main drawer or milk crates and offload
  2. Cushions/Fabric - wash all materials. bleach all foam. allow to sun for 2+ days.
  3. Wood Boards (flooring/drawers/bed surfaces) - remove/wash/paint
  4. Deep Clean - all interior surfaces with a soapy water or bleach solution
  5. Paint - interior wood that is already white
  6. Epoxy - use a West Systems 207 Epoxy to coat/protect all exposed wood. The 207 protects against UV damage and lasts more than one season.
  7. Sink/Stove/Cooler - clean everything thoroughly. For the stove I cleaned all components in white gas and found new gaskets in the drawer.
  8. Electrical - disconnected panel and installed a new battery with 15 watt solar panel. (mine was from harbor freight. this 20 watt model with controller looks like what I would purchase today)
  9. Lighting - interior lights were in standard outlets with 12v bulbs. A separate string light system rain between one of the deck supports.
  10. Head - cleaned up the existing portable toilet, looked like this model. I thought I'd need to replace but it worked fine. Their was also solution already aboard.

Step 3: Bedroom

The interior provided for two twin beds. One could easily be used as a storage/living area as you'll see in the next step.

Step 4: Living Space

It is comfortable to stand for a person up to 5' 10" in the boat. The windows ring the interior and makes for a very comfortable space. Both beds can be folded back to make a very open living room.

Step 5: Galley

The entrance from the cockpit drops you right into the galley. Some of the earlier photos showed the details of the stove and the sink at each side.

Step 6: Detailed Shots

For hosting I would prepare a few items for guests. you can see how I provided one sink basin of essentials and a welcome basket. The guestbook received over 80 write-up that first summer.

Step 7: Living on the Water

Living on the water is something I miss. If you have the chance or can pull together a Tiny Home of your own in a marina I highly recommend it!

Certainly a bit of effort if you are like me and don't want to pay a premium.
Hope you find this post useful and that it's easier for you to get on the water!

Thanks, Jeff

Considering Airbnb? Here's my referral code,
----as of Sept 2018 you receive $40 off and I receive a credit of $20. Cheers!!

Message direct if you have any questions about the process of cities legislating against airbnb. I found it frustrating to get good information but learned about the process in Chicago.

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