Living on a Sailboat: 10 Years Building a Houseboat From Scratch

by Simplify

When you hear “houseboat”, usually what comes to mind is a small house sailing the peaceful river waters. For Sandi and Ian however, living on a sailboat was the perfect way to sail the South Seas.

Ian knew that he wanted to sail to that region ever since he sailed there with his brother as a young man; his DIY wooden sailboat helped him make that dream come true.

The Sombrio is a labor of love. For 10 years, Ian worked to build the wooden sailboat on nights and weekends, while also working in shipyards during the day.

The boat is made of 85 percent salvaged materials and includes yew wood, which is not often used commercially but is extremely resistant to rot. The boat has two 100-watt solar panels, making it environmentally friendly, though it can also plug into shore electricity when the sailboat docked.

The couple faced many obstacles along the way, including losing close family members. However, at a certain point, tired of moving from home to home, they decided to try living on the boat for a year. Seven years later, they are still enjoying living aboard Sombrio.

The boat itself is an Oceania model, with design by Al Mason. It uses a diesel engine, can store 50 gallons of fuel, and can travel 5 knots in calm waters, using half a gallon of fuel an hour.

This DIY wood sailboat is also equipped with 50 gallons of fresh water, with jerry cans for collecting rainwater and storing additional water, as well as a saltwater pump that allows Ian and Sandi to avoid using freshwater for unnecessary reasons, like washing the dishes.

There is also a wooden stove and a space heater for keeping warm during the cold days at sea.

Living on a sailboat

The bunk is 6 by 6 feet, with portholes that open for ventilation and a hatch that acts both to let in a pleasant cross-breeze and as an emergency exit if necessary.

Living on a sailboat

Sandi and Ian love talking about their process of building a sailboat, life on the water, and using their boat to sail the South Seas on the adventure of a lifetime.

For more houseboat stories, discover this pirate-inspired four-season pontoon boat in Wakefield, Québec, or this tiny house pontoon boat built from scratch by a professional woodworker.

To see more videos, check out the Exploring Alternatives YouTube channel.

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