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Old 05-19-2013, 07:15 AM   #1
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Looking for European houseboat in North America

Hi all,

I've been looking for information regarding my plans below. I spend some time searching the internet and your lovely forum popped up. I apologise if this is not the right place to ask.

Here goes. I currently live in Europe and will be moving in Canada sometime next year (if all the visa stuff goes well, *cross fingers*). Anyway, where I live, there are a lot of houseboats/liveaboards/.. like this: Woonboot Spits - www.boten.be - Andere boot Staal - Diesel

These are built from old steel barges 40 meters long (132 feet) and 5 meters wide (16 feet). You can generally buy and old barge in good condition for +- 80 000 $, and convert them for an additional 60 000 - 250 000 $, depending on how crazy you want to be. They offer a lot of space, and you can basically live in them like in a normal house, with the big advantage of not being stuck to one place. They are not meant to travel with regularly (although most of them have working engines).

I have been looking on Canadian and US websites/listings to find similar things. I looked for "barge" and "houseboats", but nothing similar turned up. Please note English is not my first language, and I am quite unfamiliar with the various terms regarding boats/ships/trawlers/barges etc. Which brings me to my first question: How would you describe a boat like this ?

Next, assume I find a boat like this. These are steel barges. I've read it's almost impossible to get steel boats insured. Is this correct ? These boats typically go in to the dock every 5 years to get corroded/rusted steel plates replaced if necessary.

If the above boats are non-existent in North America, are there alternatives for my wishes ? I am looking for:
- a boat with lots of room, comparable to a normal house
- I do not intend to use it as a boat often, only when I need to move for longer periods of time, eg for my job
- to keep the price low, I want to buy the basic boat, and then transform it into a housing boat myself or with the help of others. Are there any companies that have experience doing such things? There probably are, but I have no idea where to start looking or for what to search.

Thank you very much for any information you are willing or able to share !

Kind regards,
Digits
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:23 AM   #2
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Man that is one cool looking house boat. Welcome to the forum. Most conversions here in the South are Fishboats being turned into Live abord trawlers. Same concept but I would think the old shrimp boats would be easier to handle than a barge. Good luck with your visa. Paul
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:38 AM   #3
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You may want to investigate the laws where you plan to live in Canada. There may be restrictions on where you could moor a vessel such as this (outside of a marina). Also Canada has very strict laws regarding discharge of human waste on inland waters.

I have always liked the canal boats / barges of Europe and wondered why there weren't similar vessels on the inland waters of North America. Maybe something larger but along these lines.

Erie Canal Boats


Ted
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:50 PM   #4
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Canada is a big country

What part of it will you live in?? Relatively temperate coasts or hard freezing Great lakes?

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Old 05-19-2013, 03:51 PM   #5
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What part of it will you live in?? Relatively temperate coasts or hard freezing Great lakes?

Bob
Ah yes, good that you mention it. It will be in Manitoba, so the hard freezing areas. My goal is to live it all the time, so also in the winter, which means the boat itself will be heated.

I have no idea yet what else to do to make sure it survives the extreme temperatures/ice. I haven't done research in that area.
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Old 05-19-2013, 04:42 PM   #6
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Unfortunately the North American equivalent of a European Canal Barge does not exist. The barges you can find are typically 120' by 40' flat deck or hopper barges. These would be more-or-less impossible to get to Manitoba. What are available though are steel sectional barges, intended to be trucked to the inland location and assembled.

See Barges
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Old 05-19-2013, 04:47 PM   #7
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Welcome,

having lived in Europe, (the Netherlands, Germany and Italy) for years, there are a number of issues you may want to consider:
1. live-aboards that don't move very much, like houseboats, have not the best reputation in many cities. That is cities are tolerating the ones already there, but don't want any more.
2. If the boat is older than 25 years (steel or fiberglass), you may have problems with insurance. Wood is out of the question.
3. The Erie Canal boats mentioned are an option, but since we never really developed a narrow canal system, most of our barges were made for places like the great lakes and the Mississippi River.. Very different than the sedate canals of the UK, France or the Low Countries.
4. Manitoba winters are closer to Siberia than Belgium! Certainly closer Moscow than Brugges.

If you know for sure you may be in the plains of Canada, then investigate what boats are actually in the water (frozen in during the winter) year around.

Also, lastly, If in Manitoba, where can you do by water in any case?? They may have millions of lakes, but not much navigable rivers.

good Luck and keep us informed.

Richard
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:19 AM   #8
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Also, lastly, If in Manitoba, where can you do by water in any case?? They may have millions of lakes, but not much navigable rivers.
Thank you Richard, a lot of good points. Especially the one above. I assumed all lakes were interconnected with each other. Apparantly I was wrong.

I am trying to find a map now of the navigable waterways in Manitoba and Canada.
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:25 AM   #9
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Might be time to find a Plan B instead of a map.
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Old 05-20-2013, 07:38 AM   #10
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Hi Digits,

Why not ship a Laser Cutted Steel Plate Kit to Canada and weld it there together?

Ships easy in a container and might be the cheapest solution i know dutch people who did the same to Suriname.

Link: Euro Ship Services, 15 meter Barge
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Old 05-20-2013, 07:46 AM   #11
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Hi Reiziger,

it looks cool, but I am looking for a bigger one: 40 meters long (132 feet) and 5 meters wide (16 feet)

There are already similar boats as the one you mentioned located in Canada itself, so that would save me the hassle. However, since I am getting used to seeing these big houseboats here in Europe, I am first trying to find something similar in North America.

I'll put it on the plan B list

Groeten,
Digits

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reiziger View Post
Hi Digits,

Why not ship a Laser Cutted Steel Plate Kit to Canada and weld it there together?

Ships easy in a container and might be the cheapest solution i know dutch people who did the same to Suriname.

Link: Euro Ship Services, 15 meter Barge
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Old 05-20-2013, 07:50 AM   #12
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Hi Reiziger,

it looks cool, but I am looking for a bigger one: 40 meters long (132 feet) and 5 meters wide (16 feet)

There are already similar boats as the one you mentioned located in Canada itself, so that would save me the hassle. However, since I am getting used to seeing these big houseboats here in Europe, I am first trying to find something similar in North America.

I'll put it on the plan B list

Groeten,
Digits
Look at their website they can design and Laser Cut all you want, next link is a 20 meter barge;

Link: Euro Ship Services 20 meter Barge
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:56 AM   #13
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Manitoba "Praire schooner"

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Old 05-20-2013, 12:09 PM   #14
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I am trying to find a map now of the navigable waterways in Manitoba and Canada.
Lake Winnipeg is 258 miles long and up to 60 miles wide, a fair sized body of water........

Lake Winnipeg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:22 PM   #15
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Lake Winnipeg is 258 miles long and up to 60 miles wide, a fair sized body of water........

Lake Winnipeg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yes, quite big indeed. I am not looking for a detailed map, more something that would show which lakes are connected with each other by boat.

On Google maps I can see the Red river flowing through Manitoba, with pictures of boats on them.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:27 PM   #16
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The Canadian government publishes maps of navigable waterways. Might be a good place to start ...
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:29 PM   #17
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The Canadian government publishes maps of navigable waterways. Might be a good place to start ...
Indeed, but they are very detailed, and -as far as I can see- only published for the lakes themselves. Nothing in between.

This might mean that the lakes are not connected at all, or that there is simply not much demand for charts of those waterways.

//edit:
This is the link with their chart index:
http://www.fedpubs.com/mpchrt/charts/chartind.htm
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:50 PM   #18
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Lake Winnipeg is 258 miles long and up to 60 miles wide, a fair sized body of water........

Lake Winnipeg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It also freezes solid for several months of the year and temperatures of minus 45c are fairly normal.
Try living aboard in that!

Bob
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:36 AM   #19
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also take a look at some Canadian boating magazines, pacific yachting is the first to come to mind, dont think I have haerd a request like yours before, to cold for 6+ monthsof the year.
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:18 PM   #20
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Why not ship a Laser Cutted Steel Plate Kit to Canada and weld it there together?

Especially if the boat is large , getting a boat with a 16 ft beam delivered down most roads would be very costly.

So build it lakeside and keep it there.
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